What's new with Janey
11 September 2009

Shopping Bags…and Dead Men

M&S charge you for a plastic bag to carry your food home, yet they don’t charge you for a plastic bag to carry your clothes home after purchase. They also don’t charge you for all the plastic that they wrap around the food unnecessarily either, I wish they would make up their minds.

I now have a ‘shopping bag’ which I take to the shops and put my food in to bring home. I recall years ago that my mum used to have a special shopping bag, like all Glasgow mammies had. It was brown, plastic, deep and smelled of potatoes and tobacco with an occasional Embassy fag coupon floating about the bottom of it. Your mammy made you carry it to the shops with a list of stuff to get and then you had to lug it back home again, feeling the handles strain against the weight.

My daughter was aghast to hear that us kids -back in the 60s had to go to the shops and carry a wee bag of coal and some sticks on our shoulders all the way back to our home!
I recall the day when I was considered ‘big’ enough to get the coal from Joe Lafferty’s in Shettleston Rd. He had those big tin posters of Cherry Blossom shoe polish, with wee kittens sitting in shiny boots right beside the coal stack. He helped balance the bag full of coal on my shoulder and watched me walk precariously out the door, all proud to be old enough to carry coal!

The chopped fire sticks would dangle on a string beside your legs and give you skelfs (splinters) as it bounced off your thighs and later you would have to dig them out of your skin with a hot sterilised needle! Shopping was different back then!

We used to wait the queue in Curley’s which was a big grocer shop; they sold all the cold meats, butter, cheese, cans and household cleaners. The floor was covered in black and white tiles and the staff wore white aprons then you had to go queue at the local butchers to get the butcher meat.

So we are back to the days of proper shopping bags, and that’s a good thing in my eyes! I am hoping shopping trolleys make a come back as well, as I have a tartan one in the cupboard.

Ok, some news about Glasgow -seems John Friel, an old gangster died last week. I recall him from 1979 when he parked his jaguar car outside my (soon to be) father in law’s bar in Shettleston; he managed to clip my leg as he backed up. I didn’t know (nor care) who he was, all I saw was a tall balding man wearing a beige camel coat getting out of the car and ignoring the fact he just hurt me. I ran towards him and lifted one big blue Kicker clad foot and kicked him squarely on his spine; his beige coat had a big muddy footprint on it.

“What the fuck?” he shouted twisting his coat round to look at the stain.

My prospective father in law laughed loudly and nodded at Mr Friel “that’s my son’s girlfriend”

“She needs to stop kicking people” Friel snapped.

“She probably wont” My boyfriend’s dad laughed again and the incident was over as quick as it started.

We did meet up years later and he was always absolutely courteous and lovely to me, though once he told me to get out of a nightclub I was in as he was annoyed that the women I was socialising with worked as prostitutes and he knew them.

“You should be at home with your husband and not out here with these working girls” he snapped at me. This was in the dark days of 1980s East End Glasgow, women back then weren’t allowed to vote, speak loudly or read at that time, unless accompanied by a female tutor or virgin/spinster companion.

Me and John Friel argued for about half an hour until he conceded defeat and accepted that I was allowed to socialise with anyone I wanted, especially after I threatened to penalty kick his spine again!

I recently read that he was involved in some spy ring, the IRA and a host of underground activities; I always thought he had kind eyes and a nice smile. RIP Mr Friel…may my footprint for ever be on your coat!_