Guard Duty

A wee short published back in 95.


Saturday mornings were good for me. The wummen would put their babies out in the prams and I would watch out for them greetin or droppin their dummies or bottles.
The Maw’s couldni run doon every time a wain started cryin, and anyway, some of the wummen stayed in the top landin.
So I would keep an eye oot, for a tanner or a shillin, sometimes two bob or even a hawf croon.
No on a Sunday but, on a Sunday you were more likely tae get hawned a ginger boattle for yer trouble.
And that was pointless, because on a Monday night you’d gaither aw the gingies out of the middens anyway. Naw, a Saturday wis best, as long as it wisni raining.
The prams, aboot twenty of them, wid be lined right doon the street, aw parked up against the football field fence. They were all shapes and sizes; from wee go-chairs to thon big prams with the big back wheels and wee-er ones at the front.

It wisni often that one of them was dumped. If it wis, then you had knocked it off.
Don’t get me wrong, any set of pram wheels wis good if you wanted tae build a bogie, bit thon big fancy wans, now you’re talking de-luxe.
Another good thing about Saturday mornings wis Big Bainey goIng for his Maw’s fags and papers at Camerons wee shop. Big Bainey wid always stick a packet of custard creams or jaffa cakes on his Maw’s tick bill an then share them oot wi me, roon the back.
“Will yer Maw no fun’ oot?”, I would say.
” Naw, she disni know whit she’s spent hawf the time”, would be Big Baineys answer.
Big Bainey hudni turned up that morning so I went round the back to see if he was there, thinking maybe he had duked me intending to eat all the biscuits himself.
There was no sign of him.
But it didni matter.
Not now.
Ye see, I spotted a set of pram wheels in behind the upturned bins. Hardly visible at first because of the rubbish strewn about them. And it wis the fancy wans into the bargain. I decided I wisni gonni bother with the dummy dropping patrol. I had work to do and if Big Bainey turned up he could help.
Anyway I started masel’.
Whit I wanted wis an auld plank, two wee bits of wood, some nails, a hacksaw, a couple of bolts and a bit of washin line for steering it.
So I got all the stuff together and pulled the wheels out of the midden and that’s when I saw the wee lassie.
Just stawnin, starein through the railings that separated the middens.
“Whit’s up hen?”
She didni answer, she just put her dummy in her mouth
I’d ignore her.
There wis still nae sign of Big Bainey either.
I carried on, and first, with the hacksaw, cut through the metal that holds the bit of the pram that the baby lies in, so that I’m just left with the wheels on their axles, that’s always the hardest part of building a bogie, then jine it to the wee bits of wood, by hammering in the nails and then bending them back over the metal.
Every time I looked round, the wee lassie was still stawnin, looking.
“Dae ye want tae gie me a hawn?”
Nae answer.
I could have done with a hawn right enough.
Where was that Big Bainey, well, I knew one thing, I widni be daen the pushin, no after me daen all the work.
The next thing tae dae, was nail all the bits of wood to the plank, with the bigger wheels at the back, making it look like one of thon American drag racing cars.
The wee lassie was still there, just stawnin, watchin.
“Is yer Maw no in?”
Nae answer.
I carried on.
I battered two holes through the plank, one at the back and one at the front, and then a hole through the middle of the wee bits of wood that had the wheels jined on to them. To do this I had to hammer nails in and out the wood until it made a hole, big enough to make the bolts fit. Once that was done, I just put the bolts through the plank and then through the wee bits of wood with the wheels jined on and that was it almost finished.
All that was left to do was put on the bit of washin line an find a seat for it.
Ye see, I had forgotten aboot the seat, so I had to look for another bit of wood.
“Will ye watch ma bogie fur a wee while?” , I asked the wee lassie.
Nae answer.
Coming out of the close, I met Big Bainey.
“Where huv you been?”
“Ma Maw fun oot aboot the biscuits.”
‘Whit happened?”
“I got leathered.”
“Nae luck, anyway, A’ve been makin a bogie, it’s got the big Silvercross wheels tae.”
“Where did ye get them?”
“Roon the back of the midden.”
I telt Big Bainey tae go and look at it while I tried tae find another bit of wood for the seat. I found a bit in one of the ootside lavvies.
Then, when I came back, aw I seen wis Big Bainey running up the cobbles with a guy chasing him wi my hammer.
The wee lassie wis now stawnin, hawdin the rope for the bogie.
“That’s ma Daddies, he’s gonni make a barra.” she said, as she dropped her dummy.
I picked it up and eased it gently into her mouth.
Habit I suppose.
Between adding the biscuits tae his Maw’s tick bill and being accused of wrecking the pram wheels that belonged tae the wee lassie’s faither, who, by the way, had intended makin a barra fur gaitherin scrap from the prefabs, Big Bainey;s Saturday didni turn oot too good.
It was a few days before I seen him oot again.
But we got fourteen gingies that night.
Monday’s were good for gingies.


5 thoughts on “Guard Duty

  1. Just now catching up on my blog reading. This piece is delightful! Thanks for putting it on.

    I’m learning quite a bit of the dialect thanks to (what I hope is) a good dictionary. 🙂

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