I’m not sure when George was born, late ‘67, the year Celtic won the European Cup, or early ’68 when a storm lashed Scotland, taking many roofs off tenement buildings, 20 people were killed and many left homeless. I think there was a bit of both the glory and destruction in George. He’d once volunteered to play for the Dropp Inn when we were short of players and looking for bodies. I knew well he could play, having come up against him when he was younger and fitter. By that time he was about three stone overweight and half pissed, but then again we were a pub team and he rolled back the years by winning man of the match, which was picked by opposition teams (they should really have picked me – but for some reason, never did). George played another few games and I think he even went to training, but then he didn’t. The Hurricane part of him meant that he was always in a hurry for something else.
When he played you at pool, he’d also play the puggie, watch the racing on telly and slag somebody off at the bar for something they said. He beat me most times, but in the very odd occasion, when he beat himself and I won, he’d shake my hand. Sometimes he’d play cheeky, one-handed against me, but I’d play with one hand too. I’d a better chance of winning when we played with one hand, because he could play with two and I couldn’t.
Sometimes George appeared behind the bar. He’d been manager of the The Cawdor Vaults and liked to help out. He just couldn’t sit on his arse. You’d open your front door and George would be doing deliveries for The Canton Wok. But The Cawdor neck of the woods was where he came from and where he was brought up. They’re knocking the flats down now he used to stay in. St Andrew’s school, a five minute walk for him, is now housing. George said he never really got over the loss of his mum. The Ramseys are one of those families like the Henry’s, if a stone dropped from the moon in that area odds on it would hit a Ramsey or a Henry.
But you could never remember all the Henry’s names. Ramsey’s were easy. They were all called Chop Ramsey. My elder brother Stephen (RIP) went to school with Sammy (Chop) Ramsay, who was a bit of a handful, even for a Ramsay. Then there was Joe (Chop) Ramsay. I went to school with Chop-Chop Ramsay (John) and then there was George (Chop) Ramsay. And they had a sister, Chopess Ramsay (OK, I don’t know her name).
They all married young and breed like Mormons or Irish Catholics, where women were meant to show their love by having twelve children or more. George and Anne quickly had Paul, Peter, Scott, Ryan, and Natalie, the baby of the family. Chop wouldn’t allow me to call her Chop, but the four boys, Chop, Chop, Chop, Chop, then Chop wandered away, probably for a pint and to put a bet on.
When Coral bookmakers were held up a few years ago, Chop chased the guy along the road and into the Business Park. Just imagine, as they used to say when he was playing fitba, if he was fit. Just imagine he caught the guy with the knife. He wouldn’t have shut up. You could hold a knife to his throat and he’d still tell you what’s for. I’m sure Chop couldn’t have given a shit if Coral lost money, but he was protecting his own, looking after his clan, Emma and Rachel that worked in the shop, also worked in the pub.
He used to shake his head and said, ‘I cannae watch Celtic, cause they’re shite’.
No point arguing with him, he supported them but they were shite. In Just a Boy’s Game, Frankie Miller played Jake McQuillan a hard man that worked in the yards, he was a crane operator. You’ll see a bit of Clydebank and what it was like in the seventies, when we were growing up. George was also a crane operator.
That’s a big thing. My dad worked in the yards too, but crane operators were always Protestants. Catholics were viewed as being unable to work complex machinery. Ironically, my next door neighbour, Mrs Bell was a crane operator during the Second Word War, but then again, she wasn’t Catholic. Crane operators were the elite and well paid.
George as well as being a crane operator was also the Trade Union official. He put his big mouth to good use. The person he didn’t represent well was himself. When he went on the sick with depression, he quit his job, because the storm brewing inside him was too much. He had to do something. Wouldn’t listen to anybody. Always moving.
Ironically, the last time I saw George was when we did the clappy thing outside The Dropp Inn, for Barry Brennan’s funeral at the start of Covid 19. Wearing a pair of shorts and t-shirt, because it was a scorcher of a day, Chop bounced out the front door of his house, next to the pub—which used to run a cable into the pub for bootleg Old Firm football matches—and he started hooting with laughter and slagging Big Pat off, right away. Might have been a funeral, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t slag you off. He knew everybody and everybody knew him. What’s not to like? After a hurricane, silence.