John McGinley would sometimes amble down and play, when we played fitba, about twenty-a-side at Singers, but he was a busy man chasing down Maggie McIver who lived two doors down from his house in Shakespeare Avenue. Swings and roundabouts. He ended up living back there with his saintly mother, Nan and still chasing Maggie in his later years. He wasn’t bad. Fancied himself as a big Shuggie Edvaldsson with Jinky Johnstone tanner ba’ tendencies. But what made him stand out was Maggie was quicker on her feet, and just about everywhere else than him, and he wore a Hib’s top. He used to go to the games at Easter Road. A Hibees man. They’d not a bad team. Celtic were on their nine-in-a-row glory years and every time we played Hibs, Dixie Deans filled his boots, scoring hat trick after hat trick. I don’t think John was that bothered. He supported the Hibees, not Celtic to spite his da, John senior. Later on in life John junior grew a moustache so he wouldn’t look like John McGinley. But he ended up looking even more like John McGinley than John McGinley that even when he shaved it off he went missing for a while, until it grew back again.
When the world was younger the great love of John’s life wasn’t Hibs, or even the glorious Glasgow Celtic, but Maggie McIver. Or so we kept reminding him. John didn’t get ratty about that, or anything much. He’d just sup his pint and laugh. He was an easy-going type. Nothing much riled him. The Horse and Barge and the bookies liked him. William Hill’s flag is flying at half-mast. Brownie told me John once won £1200 and they wouldn’t pay out. Had to check his moustache a few times to see if it was really him. Then tried to hive him off with a payment plan, as if he was applying for a Provie check under the name of Walter Matthau and not trying to cash in a winning coupon.
The only topic off limits was his mum Nan and wife Marie, which was fair enough. It’s a sobering thought to think that his brother PC’s birthday and his wedding anniversary were both on the same day they buried him. And it’s a sobering thought to think his stepdaughter, Bernie’s daughter, Princess Stephanie, is no longer a teen, because for us older guys time stops. We still imagine kids being kids and remaining knee-high. In the same way, I guess, we imagine we’ll never get old. Never get cancer. Never die.
Brownie did a nice wee speech at the funeral mass. Telling us that John started work in Singers. For us older guys we remember it not as a train station, but the factory that used to get bombed by the Luftwaffe. It’s probably no coincidence that when John started work in the stores he was sent for a long wait and when he came back the factory closed. Then he worked in the flooring business. But his real glory years were as part of the Chuckle Brothers, Independent Traders and Builders, with Tam Collins. I’m not sure what part Clank played in their organisation, but he was always on standby to offer independent advice. Drunk or sober you always got John the one way. One of the good guys. R.I.P.