Saturday 2 February 2008

A trip to Paisley

I picked Lesley up on a filthy afternoon last Thursday to drive through snow showers and gales and rain to Paisley for Frank's funeral. Before heading to the Woodside crematorium, Lesley and I did the obligatory tour of the old landmarks. We got stuck in Paisley town centre's new road layout that has more or less killed off what little commerce was able to survive before the advent of the massive shopping complex at Braehead.

Glenburn too was quite an eye-opener. Approaching from the "Grants" end of Fairway Avenue I was perplexed by a large swathe of green and an unbroken view of the line of the Braes. The view south from the Fairway Avenue bus terminus is now uninterrupted as the tenements of Fairway, Skye Cres, Bute Cres, Iona Drive and Lismore Drive are all gone, save for a line across from the shops at the corner of Colonsay Rd. On my last trip up to Glenburn one of the tenements in Fairway Ave was ablaze, a not uncommon occurrence as the demolition men fought a losing battle to keep the vandals out.

The area bounded by Glenburn Rd, Fairway Ave, Skye Cres shops and the "Park" running alongside Colonsay Rd was once my life, save for daily forays to Bushes Primary school. How small it seems now! About 400 metres square; the walk to primary school was about half a mile. The gaps left by the demolition work diminish the scale of the scheme. You can see from one boundary to the next with the merest head turn. The terraced houses that remain seem to hug the gently sloping terrain for fear that they too will be uprooted and ground into rubble. The bleak weather didn't help.

Sometimes it is instructive to get down to the boys' height and see their perspective on the world. The house stairs look huge when you see them from Rowan's viewpoint. Maybe that's how it is with the places of your childhood: the scale was different then compared to now. It's the same with time. Finn's fourth year will represent 25% of his existence; my last year was only 2.5% of mine. No wonder we have different views on life!

Frank's funeral was as enjoyable as these things can be. It was a humanist service featuring some Scottish Country Dance music, aptly "The Horticulturist", and an excellent reading from Grigor who had been instructed by Frank that there was to be "NO GRIEVING". There were certainly some smiles as Grigor told stories of Frank's time in the police and his prviate celebrations, such as his birthday "triathlons": 50 lengths in the pool, a 20 mile cycle and then a good walk in the afternoon.

We left in a gale to meet up at the Watermill Hotel. It was good to see the cousins again but we're so spread out these days that it's only at times like this we're likely to get together. As a case in point, Grigor was dashing off, at Dorothy's insistence, to catch a flight to New York where he'll be celebrating his 50th birthday with a cruise on the Queen Mary. Dorothy, not surprisingly, was tearful and tired looking but her independence borne from life as a policeman's wife should hold her in good stead as she faces up to life without her husband of close on 56 years.

Rest in peace, Frank.

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