Over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing testimonies and devotions from some of our band members.
Today we want to share more devotions from Willie Young.
Here is a little conundrum for you; but first, some background.
When I was a lad at home in Crofthead Crescent, we had three regular weekly visitors. In order to continue, I must evoke some names from the past, which I hope will revive good memories for many of you.
Firstly, old Mr Crosbie would come round the crescent with his horse and cart selling vegetables (straight from the farm), fruit and other odd-looking consumables. Because Mr C’s grandson, David, was my class-mate at school, we both enjoyed the privilege of leading the old mare round the streets and delivering “stuff” to the households…at least I did, whilst David sat on the cart helping himself to the grapes! We’d stop off at certain houses well-known to us: Mr & Mrs Aird’s, the Connor’s and a few others. When we finished “our day’s work” (questionable!), we would scamper off wondering what to spend our well-earned sixpence on.
Then, Ricky Donaldson would arrive on his BSA motorbike to collect the S.A. Assurance Society money, always leaving me puzzled as to why this crazy biker could control a machine with one good hand and a metal hook at the end of the other.
Lastly, Jackie would turn up in his butcher’s van – the same Jackie Dickie, “Uncle Jackie” so fondly remembered by many as the bandmaster of Bellshill S.A. band and who played a major part the lives of many young people.
So! This is where the conundrum comes in. Can you think of a sentence (any sentence) which contains the word “and” five consecutive times? (Read on if you want the answer, or pause for a moment while you think about it).
Jackie was a partner in a butchery business which had a shop on Almada street in Hamilton, which had the legend “Hunter and Dickie” painted above the shop window. At some point, it became necessary to renew the sign, so they engaged a local painter to do the “art-work”. When the job was completed, neither Messrs Hunter or Dickie were too impressed with the spacing of the lettering, pointing out to Mr Picasso (and here is the solution to the conundrum, remembering the sign read “Hunter and Dickie”) that :-
“There is a wider space between “HUNTER” and “AND” and “AND” and “DICKIE.”
(Viz. HUNTER AND DICKIE)
Well, I’m sure that didn’t give you too much trouble to work out. I will be pleased to hear about your own versions of that conundrum.
Whenever I think back to people such as Mr Crosbie, Ricky and Jackie, adding to the list of folk like Lachie Aird, Margaret Binnie, Charlie Yuill and many more whose memory and influence still live on today (and I am certain many of you who read this page will think sweetly of so many other people whose influence on you has been significant, whoever and wherever they are), a sense of awe and humility settles on the brain and in my consciousness.
History is crowded with the names of people who have influenced the great, and with the great who have influenced entire generations…in much the same way as the “example” we pass to our young people, mostly when we are totally unaware of it. Imagine throwing stones into the sea, one after the other (“not trying to fill the sea: not trying to empty the beach”, as Norman MacCaig has it), and being oblivious to the effect of the ripples those stones create. That’s just how those “examples” we leave and the influences we set in motion work: every ripple spreads outwards and, at some point, touches the shore as surely as it will the life of a young person.
I hope we value the acts, the words, the wisdom of those who consistently work with young people; those who have specific responsibilities and those who simply smile at a child, share a “high five”, and ask them how things are at school…those ripples will touch land somewhere, sometime. Who knows what that young life will remember about us.