At the time of writing we are into the second week of the Glasgow Fair. I know the Glasgow Fair is not what it used to be but, until very recently, it was always the time, the last two weeks in July, when I would take my Summer Holidays. As a child I associate the Glasgow Fair with the excitement of getting a taxi to St. Enoch’s Station and boarding the steam train to Saltcoats. The Hogwarts Express was nothing by comparison. As a family, we would always stay in the same boarding house, where the proprietors had a huge Dalmatian which we simply called Spotty Dog. Every year we couldn’t wait to see that dog, and it was as if the dog was excited to see us as well. We would go to the beach every day, enjoy a paddle in the sea, build sandcastles, and eat ice-cream cones, even when it was raining, or when it felt as if the temperatures were sub-zero, our skin turning blue, and our teeth chattering. We were on our holidays! Apart from the beach, by day it was train spotting from the railway bridge and taking down the numbers. At night it was chips with hot peas and vinegar from the local chippie. The steam train back to St. Enoch’s was a sombre affair - holidays over.
In my working years with the Singer Sewing Machine Company in Clydebank, and the Olivetti Typewriter Company in Queenslie, that is, between the years of 1969 and 1975, I always took the Glasgow Fair for my annual holiday as well. I don’t think the factories actually closed at that time, as they used to do up until the 1960’s, but it just seemed the natural thing to do. Old habits die hard. Most of those Glasgow Fairs were spent on the Isle of Barra with some madcap friends, who continue to be friends to this day, and as mad as ever, even though married with children now, and even grandchildren. We meet up every now and again, when their wives will let them out, but that has all been curtailed during lockdown.
In 1975 I joined the Passionists. During student years the summers were different, we had pastoral placements of varying kinds, but I continued to take the Glasgow Fair as my summer period for going home to spend time with my family. I wouldn’t do a whole lot but I enjoyed catching up on some old haunts in Glasgow, and simply taking it easy. My younger brother, who worked for 46 years in National Savings until poor health forced his retirement last year, would always take the Glasgow Fair as his holiday, so it meant that he was home at the same time that I was there. That became more important after our mother died in 2001, after which the Glasgow Fair became a really restful, peaceful, catch-up time for both of us together. That lasted until I returned to Glasgow in October 2016 and, since then, it has been a bit different. In fact, despite what Father Gareth and Father Antony might tell you, and unlike them, between one thing and another, I haven’t actually managed a holiday of any kind for the past two years and, when it was pointed out to me, two Mondays ago, that it was fair Monday, it took me quite by surprise. But then, I suppose I’m not the only one as we can easily lose track of all kinds of things in these strange times we are living in.
As mentioned before, in this lockdown period, there have been quite a number of funerals, but now, during this next period, I am getting ready to celebrate a wedding, and also a baptism, still with all the protocols in place, so it will be interesting to see how those go. I will let you know. Father Justinian continues to do well and is enjoying his tidy room, although he says he can’t find where anything is. Father Antony keeps up his healthy routine of walking at night, dropping into his mum, and then popping into the Supermarket on the way home if we need any shopping. My mind still boggles with trying to respond personally to all the Mass booking requests, and I have recently been trying to finalise accounts with our auditor, so those early and leisurely lockdown days seem long gone at this stage. No word from Father Gareth after his long phone call last week when we discussed plans for his return when his mum’s shielding comes to an end on 16th August. We can’t wait. Can you?
As always, protect yourselves and your loved ones, and protect Christ in your lives.