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Ambition 2

During University holidays, I worked in a large bakery in Glasgow.

There was a young lad there who, during a tea-break, said, “A’m nae daein this furever”

“What do you fancy, then?” asked I

“A racin’ driver!”

“Have you got a licence?”

Hesitantly ..” Weel, I ken a guy………”   Then added, “But I’ve got a motor”

“What you got?”

“A Cosworth”


“Weel, ah havenae actually in fact got it yet – ma pal, Shugie, and me are still workin’ oot how tae disable the alarm system tae get inti it!”

Bit lip and offered silent prayer…….

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Half – Baked Tales

mcneil street 1

The Meenister’s Log – College Tales.

When I was a history student, I worked during my Summer break at McNeil Street Bakery (then the biggest in Europe – now closed). I was on permanent nightshift each year for the weeks that I toiled there.

I remember one occasion when one of the workers who was pulling a trolley of some kind of provender, saying “if I work like a horse, I may as well look like a horse” and with that whipped out his “manhood”

Then there was Wullie who had been working there so long (on permanent nights) that he couldn’t distinguish night from day. He’d bring in a fish supper with him every night but would leave it until break-time around 3 a.m (when it was cold and uber greasy)

At one point in the night, a trolley of hot scotch pies – freshly baked – would arrive from the ovens.

The cry would go out “the pies is (sic) here!” and the workers, myself included would descend upon the breadboards.

I was taught, on my first night there, that the best way to enjoy them was to poke a hole in the base to allow the grease to run out. The floor became like a skating rink, as a result.

I was “on the rolls”. A colleague would stand at one end of a breadboard, and I opposite. You can get three rolls in two hands which are placed on the board and then another three alongside – the board being wide enough for six; then on to the next row.

Once, the breadboard hadn’t been properly cleaned and the residue of something with raspberry jam on it was being absorbed by the hot rolls.

We questioned the supervisor who simply said “that batch is going to Govan – the huns won’t know any different” I took him to be a Celtic supporter.

Trollleys of breadboards were “parked” beside the loading bay with the name of the town or area of the city written on a piece of paper pinned to them.

One in particular caught my eye – it read “Mussy”. “Didn’t know that you sent stuff as far away as Musselburgh?” I said. “No, son” came the reply “that’s mussilanious” (miscellaneous)” LOL

What about Shuggie?  Well, he was tall and thin and a bit of a loner.  Once the cream cakes came down from the ovens, he would disappear for half an hour – he had “customers” patiently waiting outside….

Then there were the “ladies of the night” who would come in looking for a roll. Many got that – in both senses of the word!

And this brings me to Big Izzy and Wee Mary.

The female workers day shift overlapped by about an hour with the night shift.

One morning, Izzy came up to me – oh, she had a squint – and said “Mary fancies you”

I didn’t think she was talking to me because of her strabismus.  I thought that she was looking at Shuggie who was engaged in wiping cream cake crumbs from his mouth.

But ’twas I whom she was addressing.

And then she asked (and remember this is Glesga where such things matter), “Are you a Protestant?”


“Ah thought sae”

And to cut a long story short, I dated this rather lovely young woman, Wee Mary, for a couple of months.

I remember the first time we went out and she asked what I preferred to be called (Alex, Alexander, Sandy) and I replied “Call me irresponsible…”

…. to which she replied, “Oh, I wouldn’t say that!”


mcneil street 3

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