Posted by celticman on Sat, 12 Jan 2013
I didn’t go out expecting to meet Jimmy Reid, after all he’s been dead for over a year, maybe longer. It was a cold but sunny day and I walked down the canal path into Dalmuir. My mind was on the next thing that I’d write and I’d already decided on a title ‘God Made Me Ugly for a Reason,’ an autobiographical look at my early upbringing. I’d already begun jotting down memories. I went into William Hills to put a football line on. I’m still not sure whether I’ve nothing in my pocket or £98, but will find out later. Dalmuir Library is a two minute walk from the bookies. I moseyed about and selected a few books. Before I left I wandered into a little side room that is usually used for local exhibitions. The door is always open, but there’s nobody ever in attendance and today was no exception. The pictures on the wall were photographs of kids that had made what looked like a polystyrene bust of Jimmy Reid. It was little more than a head, but the contours of his stocky body, moustache and lamb-chop sideburns were evident. There were also headphones and a projection onto the wall of things people has said about Jimmy Reid. He was famous of course, for leading, the UCS worker’s work-in when the Heath Government sent an axe-man to shut the yards, even though the order book was full. The image that is always played back is of Jimmy Reid speaking to the workers and telling them ‘There’ll be nae bevying,’ when the work-in starts. It was a short-term success. Most of the yards are closed now, but at the time they stayed open and Heath was succeeded by Thatcher. Oh dear. Oh dear. The ex-Communist Jimmy Reid went onto write a column for The Sun. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear. I never met the man, but my mum’s sister Aunty Phyllis moved from a damp hovel in Kimberly Street into an altogether better class of Council house in Perth Crescent, the kind of house that local politicians and apparatchiks allocate themselves. She died in that house, but she never forgave Jimmy Reid for trying to charge her –with a family of six- for an old hall carpet he’d left behind and she’d flung onto the dump. So when I hear Jimmy Reid’s name now I just shake my head. The class of a man is what he does when the cameras are no longer rolling.