7 September 2010

Glasgow 60 Years On - Nothing Much Changes

I’m reading a book at the moment. ‘The Long Glasgow Kiss’, by Craig Russell and before you romantics out there think it’s bit of Scottish ‘chick lit’, a Glasgow Kiss is a headbutt designed to maximise the damage to an opponent’s  face. I’ve still to find out where the ‘Long’ comes from but needless to say, the story is a violent one with characters such as Twinkletoes McBride, so-called because he cuts off rival’s toes with a boltcutter, and ‘Small Change McFarlane, so named because he didn’t make as much money as his rival gangsters, Handsome Johnny Cohen (his good looks), Hammer Murphy (for obvious reasons) and Willie Sneddon (so bad he didn’t have a nickname).

See a previous article I did on Glasgow gangster’s names - http://tomsfrenchblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/no-mean-city.html

Russell’s book is set in Glasgow in the 1950s and whilst I was born in 1951, I grew up knowing many of the places he describes; Rottenrow the main maternity hospital; Dennistoun, an area once quite prosperous, but by the 50s, a slum; the Clydeside markets and the fancy tea shops in Sauchiehall Street.

Of course, the book is mainly about the gangsters who are portrayed by Russell as reasonable guys as long as you didn't upset them, but who could be psychopathic when the need arose. The fact that the vast majority of their respective victims were Glasgow’s lowlife and fellow hoodlums is used to give them a sort of sense of respectability they probably don’t deserve.

And so as I was reading this increasingly violent book, news came through on my Scottish blog feed about the latest outbreak of violence in Glasgow. Now to call this latest episode ‘an outbreak of violence’ is to refer to World War II as a skirmish.

Needless to say it’s an inter-gang dispute and whilst the police, no doubt, would happily let these modern-day gangsters kill each other off in an orderly fashion, they have a social responsibility to try and catch those involved and so the papers have been full of the police raids, the weapons recovered, the injuries suffered by the latest ‘victims’ and their relationships with those already dead.   

This latest bout goes back a few months when a gangster called Kevin ‘Gerbil’ Carroll (the mind boggles !) was gunned down in a supermarket car park. His fellow hoods and known associates are now being targeted and last week, a couple of brothers were caught and ‘punished’.

The first brother, a James Hanlon was caught in the street and whilst being held down by eight men, had holes bored in his head with power drills. As ‘Sponge’ Hanlon was recovering (it’s amazing what doctors can do these days), his brother Bryan’s, car was rammed and he was dragged out onto the street where he had his genitals cut off by a gang wielding knives, chisels and hammers. Needless to say, he’s in a bad way and I’m tempted to wonder what his nickname will be if and when he recovers –possibly Wee Willie Hanlon ? (I hope they don’t read my blog).

And so, as I head back to Glasgow at the end of this month for a reunion with my mates methinks I should stay locked up in my hotel. If they know Tam ‘The Bam’ Cupples is in town, who knows what they’ll try and do to me?  

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