Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Old Greenock Characters - Wee Erchie

Princes Pier, Scotland's Places

Another of John Donald's Old Greenock Characters. As ever, we make no presumption to edit the pieces, presenting them as they were originally intended by the author.

Wee Erchie the Cripple Whistler was to be seen every day about West Burn Square. He would be from ten to twelve years of age some forty-five years ago, and was a really fine performer upon the tin whistle, with an inexhaustible repertory of reel, strathspey, jig, march and song music. Not over three feet high, supported by two crutches, with large head and eyes, pale, intellectual features, square shoulders, small arms terminating in thin hands with long delicate fingers, and short legs, which, often crossed, seemed to dangle between the wooden props. Erchie’s aspect was interesting and apthetic. His skill as a performer brought him such showers of coppers from sympathetic and admiring auditors that he extended his sphere of operations to river steamers and special gatherings, such as cattle shows and sports meetings. A boy himself, it is no wonder that he was often accompanied by a swarm of youthful sycophants, who tumbled over each other in eagerness to do him service, sing his praises, and, incidentally, collar a big share of the good things Erchie bought with his cash, if not of the cash itself. “The child is the father of the man.” How true!

On returning to my native town after a long absence, I was informed that as he grew older Erchie developed an undue partiality for strong drink, which brought him to a tragic end. On an occasion when the late Duke of Argyll (then Marquis of Lorne) passed over from Princes Pier to his castle at Rosneath, wee Erchie stationed himself as near as possible to the gangway leading on board the steamer and played up “The Campbells are comin’” with great vim. He “tuned his pipe” and blew with such “birr” as to attract the notice of the Marquis, who conferred a handsome douceur on the musical oddity. Fatal generosity! Poor Erchie, got tipsy, fell over the quay, and was drowned that night.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Open All Hours - Magic Torch Shoppe

Today Magic Torch charges headlong into the late 20th Century with the launch of our new online sales facility or "wee book shop".

For now you can buy our first two books, Tales of the Oak and Downriver, as well as our new reprint of a 1950s comic Captain Kidd Buccaneer. All profits are used to help run projects which promote local heritage and folklore in Inverclyde. There's also a few links to free stuff, cos we're nice like that.

We'll be adding to the selection over the year, because as well as our Heritage Lottery supported FREE books Wee Nasties and the Tales of the Oak comic, we have a few new ebooks coming out later in the year. Anyhow, fill yer boots.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Our Bonny Green-aik Tree

Written by John Crawford, a local man who was born in 1816 in the room where his relative, Highland Mary died and dedicated to the Greenock “folk.”

Gae sing o’ saunts an seers o’ auld-
Nae patron  saunt hae we-
Our faithers maskt their hamert maut.
An’ drank its halesome bree;
An as their drouth they sloken’d down,
They sang wi’ cantie glee-
“Oh! Stately fair may flourish aye,
Our bonny green-aik tree.”

An’neath its spreadin’ branches wide,
When storms our lift o’ercast,
May buirdly chiels for aye be rear’d
To brave ilk threaten’d blast;
An’ when a foreign soil they tread,
Or stem the briny sea,
The homely chorus let the raise-
“Our bonny green-aik tree.”

Oh. Ne’er may pleasure warm the heart,
Nor beauty smile to bless
The bairn wah slights a mither’s hearth,
Nor langs he haun to press-
Wha thinks na o’ his kindly hame,
Tho’ distant far be he
That wadna then the chorus raise-
“Our bonny green-aik tree.”

Our faithers drank their nappy yill
Our gaucy mothers span;
Ilk lassie busket trig and braw,
To win a young gudeman;
An’as they trippet fair an’ fond,
They sang wi’ lightsome glee-
“Our sunny shore, our bonny braes,
An bonny green-aik tree.”

A crooked steeple tower’d na then
Aboon our neighbour toun;
The bairnies toddled thro’ the glen
To pu’ the gowden broom,-
Whan circlin’ roun ilk grassy knowe,
They sang wi blithesome glee-
That ne’er a plotted bell wad hing
Aneath their green-aik tree.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Slenderman Comic by Inverclyde Academy

Away back last year we worked with 1st and 2nd Year Pupils at Inverclyde Academy to put together a scary comic strip - hopefully we'll get a chance to do it again this year. The pupils devised the story and situations, helped us script them up and then Andy worked up the pages.

Here is what happened when internet nightmare meme The Slenderman visited Greenock...

And if you're feeling all freaked out by Slenderman, why not for a moment just try and imagine how he feels...

Monday, 4 March 2013