“I built that” by Jade McCarroll

In early June, Catherine Murray sent me this story. Her niece had written it about her papa, a Blantyre man. Catherine told me, “Dad Jock McCarroll (68 yrs just now) grew up in the pre-fabs in Mossgiel Street, Blantyre and Jade McCarroll, his granddaughter was 16 years when she wrote this poem about her Papa.” She is now 22. Pictured are the pre-fabs Jock grew up in during the 1950s. I thought Jade’s story below was intelligently written and interesting. She displayed a great love for her grandfather, in very mature writing.

“I helped build that Bridge” or
“When i worked on the rigs, I had a pet puffin. It used to sit and watch us build things.” or “I stopped World War 2, because the Germans loved my porridge so much”

My papa has always loved exaggerating and as children, my cousins, my sister and I would sit mesmerised as he wove tales of war and his exploits out of thin air. So good is he at storytelling, that even now its possible to escape for a short time into one of his stories – to feel the crisp sea breeze and the spray of the grey waves. O good is he at telling stories, that you could forget the world.

As we strolled through Blantyre one afternoon, the fiery leaves crackled below our feet. He stooped crouching to my level so I could see what he was pointing at. Before me, I saw what appeared to be some kind of shop. My gaze shifted to his cheerful grin, as i questioned his reason for pointing out such an ordinary place.

“That”, he began, “is where i was born and raised. Up on the top floor.” I looked up in wonder, absolutely fascinated. How could the area we live in change so much, so fast? We quickly moved on. I kept us both amused with the childish awe I regarded everything with – including the mist drifting from my nose, every time i breathed. Re-entering his house, i was almost immediately by my gran’s side, a flood of information about our walk spilling from my mouth before she had the chance to speak.

Until I started school, this happened almost every day. I would always be amazed by the sheer amount that my papa knew, and it quickly became apparent that i had the same capacity for learning. Primary school flew past and I was always content with whatever time I could spend with him. However when I got to High School, whatever confidence i had began to slip from my grasp in this alien environment. I would come home almost in tears at the foul words spat at me by my peers simply because i didn’t fit in with their sheep like ways. I wasn’t interested in celebrities or mainstream music. My mind always yearned for tales, like the ones my papa used to tell me. On particularly bad days, I would go and visit my grandparents only to lose myself in my papas stories once again. He helped me rise above the sea of stress, until I had the ability to swim in it on my own. Without him, I would never have reached anywhere near my full potential. 

In the past year, I have had more than my fair share of problems, but my papa was there every step of the way, his bright eyes watching me and his gentle hands ready to catch me if i fell. Nowadays, his stories are as creative as ever but in my years, i have learned to take them with a hint of scepticism. I’m now well aware he wasn’t even born during the war although often when he tells us he built certain things, I believe him. He is an incredible man, with a host of talents and qualities which never cease to astonish me. I love him more than anyone in the world and words cannot express how much i care for him. Best of all, I adore watching him play with my younger cousin Mark, taking him walks in Blantyre, stopping every now and again to say “I built that!”

On social media:

  • Marian Maguire My husband John Maguire was brought up in 33 Mossgeil Street in the prefabs with his two brothers, do you know what number Mr McCarroll lived in I don’t remember the bing at that angle as the bing I remember was roughly between springwells and the timber houses. Do you know if this is a picture of Mossgiel street? As it must be just when they were built as most people had privet hedges and fences dividing their properties. Lovely memories.
    • Jade McCarroll Hi! My papa says he lived in number 8 Mossgeil Street which was between Afton Street and Lochlie Street.
      The Blantyre Project The picture is Ellisland Street in High Blantyre prefabs, looking down to Mossgiel Street with Auchinraith bing in the background. There were 4 areas in Blantyre where prefabs were built post WW2. This one pictured was the largest and had 8 streets, all associated with Rabbie Burns. (Alloway Street, Afton Street, Armour Street, Burns Street, Ellisland Street, Lochlie Street, Mossgiel Street and Nith Street.) When they were demolished some of the names were resurrected in other new housing estates in Blantyre.
  • Andrew Little Lived in 20 Ellisland St from 57 to 67 when we moved to Pieter Place just off Burnbrae Rd – memories!
  • Jean Miller We lived at 13 Burns St till they were demolished @ 68- loved it there! Where was Alloway St? I can remember the rest but not that one……
  • Eleanor Rodgers Wemyss Same 13 Burn St with sister Jean Miller.
  • Lauren Bell Yasss I always liked this piece of writing!!!!
    • Mary Crowe I was born in 3 Lochlie Street
      • The Blantyre Project Here’s me thinking you were a Blantyre Village girl, Mary!
        Moyra Lindsay When my mum was in the army in London during ww2 a girl came to stay in the same barracks and the officer said to mum you’ll know her, May, she lives in Blantyre in a small house at the foot of a mountain. Later mum saw her and realised she was from the houses at foot of that Bing!
    •  Bernadette Meek beautiful story jade brought tears to my eyes x
    • Carole Mackie Rickard My mum grew up at 43 Mossgeil Street
    • Jane Loughran Beautiful story Jade  xx
    • Joanne Mclean This is great Catherine! You must remember these houses too Michael Loughran x
      • Michael Loughran Sure do. My uncle John and aunty Agnes stayed in armour st. Me n Joe used to have great fun visiting. grin emoticon
    • Colin Wotherspoon We stayed at no11 Ellisland St remember most of the streets the bing and the wooden houses and the coop round the corner went for many a message there
    • Gord Fotheringham Why don’t THEY rebuild these houses…..they were fantastic as far as I remember
      • The Blantyre Project 3 of the 4 prefab housing estates in Blantyre were built with asbestos. Thats a pretty good reason not to revisit that era, although I’m sure such a housing estate would be popular again the way it was laid out. A real community.
    • Anne Marie Murray Well done Jade x
      Elizabeth Daley a fantastic story x
    • Drew Macfie 11 mosaic st wi the McDonald’s berry’s mcguigen pipers
    • Mary Mullen Great story xx
    • Helen Ward Gartlan my uncle john duffy had a prefab house in Blantyre x
    • Sharon Paton My husband Robert lived at 35 Mossgiel St, he says the pit Bing was between Auchinraith and Springwell.
    • Linda Gourlay McKay Catherine Murray… well done you for sending in your neices short story to share with us. I hope she has kept writing as she clearly has a talent for it.. and how lucky that your dad gets to know how much he is loved (whilst still warm and above ground) xx
    • Michael Loughran Went to school with big jock. Played fitba wi him as well. ! No a bad goaly if ma memory. Is rite. Mibby no. ? Onny jokin wink emoticon
    • Michael Loughran I went to school wi big jock. Also played fitba wi him tae. No a bad goaly wis jock. ( a think)  wink emoticon
    • Colin Wotherspoon was the pit bing behind the Terrans the other type of Prefabs just before Springwells
    • Mark Irvine That story reminds me of my papa, he was a miner down the pit in Blantyre. He had the most amazing stories, so wonderful when I was a wee boy.
    • Maureen Mulgrew Great story
    • Elizabeth Montgomery Lovely memories

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