Raising A Glass…
Interesting. Listening to Planet Rock,jI just heard that Royal Mail will issue a special set of stamps to commemorate Queen. My favourite ever band-though I never bought anything by them after Hot Space,which was a f…..g car crash of an album.
Reminded me of about six years ago,a fella on CQN-but US-based-mentioned that US Mail had issued a set of Jimi Hendrix commemorative stamps. He would send them over to me,and if anyone wanted one,I could send them one up. It was a block of sixteen,maybe about 10″ square.
Well,I was fine with that. Happy to be the middle man. Only gonna cost about eight quid or so if all are taken,no big deal. He posted as RWE,and we had a bit of background due to the dreadful illness his youngest son suffered from.
He kept us all up to date on occasion at a very difficult time as his son Tony went,in his early thirties,from the early diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease,straight through every horrible stage of that most horrible of illnesses,one which leaves you totally aware mentally of…
In the later part of his illness,John-RWE-asked members of CQN to mail a special memory of Celtic,or to post it on the blog,so that him and his wife Pauline,and his elder son Martin could compile these into a Book of Remembrance.
While Tony was still alive,because he was mentally alert and could read them all.
And yes,it was a hundred,a billion times more difficult for them,to do that than it is for you to read this. Or for me to write it.
But before that,John had suggested on CQN that it would be great if anyone knew a Celtic legend who might be interested in coming over to entertain Tony while he could still interact. Well,I did-except I didn’t! So I couldn’t say.
I got a call from the much-missed THEBARCAMOLE the following day. John is in North Carolina. Franny,THEBARCAMOLE,was in Cebu in The Phillipines. I’m working nightshift in Swindon! No chance of us all being on at the same time…
“Why did ye no’ say,Mick? The guy’s crying out for help!”
“I mailed ye about it!”
“Oh. So you did”
Result was,Franny knew a good few Celtic legends. And very well indeed. Bertie Auld was the man for the job,and he was delighted to do this. He and John discussed it,while Bertie also had a wee conversation with an equally delighted Tony. Plan was for Bertie to come over with HIS good pal,Evan Williams. Franny and Evan were well close too,obviously!
All arranged,just put us up.
Last minute,Bertie’s wife Liz fell ill,and it had to be cancelled. But that wouldn’t mean that it was over. Not when Bertie is involved.
Bertie still called Tony every week. For as long as Tony could respond. And even after,when Tony could no longer respond,because we knew he could still hear. Despite the pain from it,as it reminded him of how his best pal had left him about a decade previously. Franny had exchanged numbers for Bertie and me,and I had told him that I was so grateful for him doing that. His reply was that he’d do anything for a young fella,especially one with that disease
Because Jimmy Johnstone was his best pal. And,well…
That’s yer Celtic family,right there. Not a thought for ourselves,not a single one of us. Only to help as much as we can,those that we could. In whatever way. And of course I was,well,to be honest I was dumbstruck at the selflessness of them,that completely obscured the fact that I was helping a bliddy Lisbon Lion help someone else!
Does that make sense? I suppose it does if you’re one of our legends from our era,it’s what they do. Again and again.
On Monday,another Celtic supporter was born. His forenames are Evan William. It’s a bit of a play on words,his grandfather’s name plus a homage,apparently,to a man who made a difference to them. For Franny,that good pal of Evan Williams,was a bloody good pal to many.
I’ll raise a glass to John and his extended family in North Carolina. And to the selfless acts of Bertie and Evan. And to every other one that they and others have done,unheralded.
I’ll raise a glass too,to my pal Franny McClure. It’s not often you meet a bloke in a Crombie at Central Station and just say-pint? That was without an introduction,btw. We had never met before,I just walked up and said-pint,Franny?
I’ll raise a glass to never going into a blue taxi again too. Franny was right. Franny was always right,and I took a leaf from a bush while I was inside Estadio Nacional on 25 May 2017 as we celebrated our our world shattering-and it was!-win fifty years earlier. I blew that leaf away with a silent prayer and a rare sentimentality on the day that our great pal Franny was buried.
His timing,canny beat that. I don’t know whether to jump for joy now or drown my sorrows on the 25th.
Bastert. I’ll settle for a smile at the memories.
Franny was back in the UK often enough,that’s why so many people knew how grand a fella he was. He wasn’t just a bloke at the end of a keyboard. I wish he had been,saved me a fortune in ear defenders!
And he enabled an inevitable end of life to be so much less difficult,even if you can’t really make that less difficult. As did Bertie Auld,who just loves someone to talk to!
And of course,I’ll raise a glass to Tony Conway,a tragic loss at such an early age,and to his family who suffered every inch with it. They are such lovely people,I’ve met them a couple of times,and I’m so grateful for that. I truly am,and if you ever meet them you will understand why.
I’ll raise a glass to Jimmy Johnstone,who Bertie had to watch wasting away before his eyes-though Jimmy still had his fun,and a certain incident on an aeroplane springs to mind.
But most of all,I will raise a glass for Evan William. Our latest recruit. And if I’m lucky,his Mum might join us for the next Hootenanny. With the original not quite ‘Evan William’ sitting there with an abacus and a stopwatch!
Oh,the Hendrix stamps? My young pal,magic guitarist,had just got married. Had a son and has three now. Called his first Hendrix
They protected the stamps,laminated them and made a mobile from them. I think they play subliminal rock overnight to their kids. Great fun,the lot of them.
Above by BMCUWP