Jimmy Creighton 20/9/1943—29/1/2020
‘You’d be late for your own funeral’—I plan to be on holiday, somewhere nice when it takes place—anyway, here I was, struggling up Mountblow hill when the hearse and cortege passed. Flowers in the back that spelled out the word ‘DAD’. Jimmy was the father of seven kids, countless numbers of grandkids and three great-grand kids and I couldn’t even remember his second name. Me and names are a car crash waiting to happen. But I’d known Jimmy for thirty years, or more, since he moved down from Fullers Gate in Faifley and next door to the house in which my mum and dad stayed. The house that used to be Mrs Bell’s house. The house that my sister still stays in Dickens Avenue.
‘They kept themselves to themselves.’ That’s another Scottish saying. I didn’t really know Jimmy until the last couple of years. His wife died twelve years ago (and I can’t remember her name) and Jimmy retired from his job as a Project Manager with the Council. Something to do with kids. Jimmy didn’t talk about it much. I wasn’t really interested. I cut his grass for him and sometimes he’d jump into my van and I’d take him down to The Drop Inn, or The Cabin as it’s now called. My old man called the pub, ‘The Dancing Grannies’, but he died years ago. Don’t ask me when.
Jimmy was born in Pollock during the war years. It was very hush, hush but King George VI visited Scotland that year, but did not drop in on Jimmy’s mother, who also had seven children. Housewives listened on BBC radio to smash shows like Dance While You Dust. The Red Army had turned the tide on the Nazis and taken Dnepropetrovsk, city of steel and iron, a bit like Motherwell, only bigger. Men had no Rugby Union, no Scotland v England. No horse racing, no Scottish Grand National Celtic or Rangers playing, no football. I didn’t know if Jimmy was Catholic or Protestant. He was Protestant but married a Catholic from Sligo who he met while working in a grocery store when he was 15. Jimmy, a child of rationing and fifties Britain, was good at swimming and athletics which was useful because she gave him the run-around. And he’d COPD which wasn’t from too much swimming or running, but he couldn’t get a breath from too many fags. Everybody smoked when Jimmy was born, even the King, cigarette smoke was meant to disinfect your lungs.
I couldn’t imagine Jimmy not giving her his wage packet, which had been opened. Jimmy helped take care of his wife in later years. The years that I knew him, but didn’t really know him. He went to the Bingo in the hope of winning the snowball and came back with a packet of snowballs. Note to humanist presenter: Some jokes are best left unsaid.
I kept hearing about how independent Jimmy was after his wife died. He was lonely, I guess. I used to see him in The Horse and Barge. Later in The Drop Inn. Cathy was in tow by then. The fastest growing rate of sexually transmitted disease is in the cohort I’m moving into, which at least guarantees sex. Jimmy moved into Cathy’s house near where I lived. I used to see them ambling to the pub. I picked Cathy up from the path that runs into our scheme a few times and helped her into the house. And I could lift Jimmy as a dead-weight, pick him up and carry him home. I got good with practice. Sometimes he battered his head, but when roused he didn’t seem that bothered. He made a joke about it. That’s what men in Scotland do.
Cathy got taken into a home on Great Western Road. Jimmy moved back to the house next to my sister. That’s when he was really independent. Taxi to the pub. Taxi home. Oxygen tank on standby. Jimmy slipped away quietly at home. That’s the kind of crap we always come away with, Jimmy would have recognised that. RIP.