Marie Ross 26/08/46 - 19/04/10

She wore no jewels, nor costly diamonds,
No paint or powder, no, none at all.

Born to Peter and Mary Kelly on 26/8/1946 my mum grew up at the "pre-fabs" in Stane Place, Shotts before moving to 120 Tulloch Road, Springhill in 1961

An only child she lived there with her parents and her Uncle John Brown and for a little while her Auntie Peggy. Her mother’s sister Kate Gill, her husband Wullie and son William lived nearby and were an ever present part of her life.

She grew up in a mining family, in a mining community, she inherited from her parents and family a firm sense of right and wrong and a deep seated intolerance of injustice. Her father Peter's life had three firm foundations, the Catholic Church, Glasgow Celtic and the NUM, Marie inherited all of these and did her best to carry them on to her children and grandchildren.

She went to Saint Patrick's Primary School, passed her 11 plus and attended Holy Cross in Hamilton with her friends Maureen Cusick, Margaret Hill, Cathy McBirney, Cathy Connor and Patricia-May Hughes. She always regretted spending more time in the Carlton Cafe in Hamilton than studying. When she wasn’t in the Carlton, she’d be off to Galbraith’s to pick up fresh butter for her mum.

Summers were sometimes spent with the Cusick's at Drumlish, County Longford. We were all often regaled by tales of travel on the cattle boat leaving the Broomielaw and the privations that went with this.. It was around this time that Marie made a pilgrimage to Lough Derg, sadly, not all of us have followed in these footsteps of hers yet!

On leaving school she got a job as a computer operator at Glasgow City Council then found a position at Honeywells, following in her fathers footsteps she became a shop steward there with the AEU

Around this time she met Pat as they travelled to Parkhead with the Shotts Celtic Supporters Club.
They fell in love and got engaged to be married, the ceremony taking place at St Pats on 05/10/68. To celebrate their engagement Pat took Marie to the pictures to see Guess Who's Coming to Dinner at the Odeon in Glasgow. Pat had just finished a nightshift and slept throughout the film, presumably he didn't snore then the way he snores now or the whole thing might have been called off.

The wedding might have been earlier but for the expense of Pat going to the European Cup Final in Lisbon, but he did take with him the green and white tammy she had knitted for him, maybe it even brought the team a little Shotts luck.

They were blessed on 1st of August 1969 with the birth of their first child Michael, the first of 6, Peter, Stephen, Marie, Gemma and Gary following over the next 13 years.

Bringing up a family in the 70's was not an easy task, but with the help of her ever present parents, she was able to bring up her children and support her husband as Pat tried a number of careers, including Insurance Sales and running a mobile shop, before finding his feet in the licensed trade and moving to Motherwell. She even worked for a short while at the famous Timpo Toys factory in Torbothie, but never brought home enough soldiers or cowboys for Michael and Peter.

She was very protective of her children, fearing the corrosive influence of Punk Rock and Top of the Pops, she took Michael and Peter to Thursday Night devotions at St Pat's for almost two years, unfortunately looking at the way all six of us have developed our musical tastes over the years I'm afraid it didn't quite work. Eventually she came to accept, if not always appreciate the music we played in the house. As a huge fan of the Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners she was, at least, able to share our fondness for the Sawdoctors and the Pogues even joining us on occasion at Barrowlands for gigs.

Marie was the disciplinarian in the house as Pat spent so much time working, in the pubs and earlier jobs, every one of the children felt the wrath of her slipper across their backside, but rarely more than once.

She regretted not getting as much out of school as she could have but she was determined to make up for this later, going to night school to get her higher English in the 70's and joining Peter and Michael at OLHS to do O grade Spanish in the 80's

When Pat took over the Railway Tavern she tried to keep the family in Shotts, a place that always held a special place in her heart, but the anti social hours Pat was keeping made a move to Motherwell inevitable and the family left Shotts in the winter of 1983. But Shotts came with her, her parents and aunt and uncle came down almost every day to help out with things needing done in the house and garden and helping her to care for her family. They’d get off the bus outside the library in Hamilton Road every morning around 10Am, and during school holidays would find themselves besieged by a horde of weans demanding sweets.

The family home became a place of refuge and comfort for generations of young people, from Motherwell and beyond. Friends of her children, from all over the town and wider afield would gather round the dining room table for tea sympathy and pieces. Aside from the six of us, the 12 grandweans and 10's of neices and nephews there were at least a couple of dozen school and Uni friends, many of them who joined us at her requiem mass, who knew her as Auntie or Mammy, or Auntie Mairead. She helped all of these through family bereavements, relationship breakdowns or countless crises big and small.

The family didn't stop at 6 however, with Michael marrying Judith, Peter marrying Angela, Marie marrying Bobby, Stephen marrying Leighanne and Gary marrying Joanne. With that came the grandchildren, 12 to date and one more on the way. All of these additions were welcomed and cherished and all felt her warmth and love.

She lost her father in 1993 and eventually as her mother became increasingly frail she came to live with her and Pat in Motherwell, caring for her mother took a terrible toll on Marie, but she took the task on with bravery and compassion until Granny Kelly passed away in 2006.

Her last few years had given her so much joy, spending time with her grandchildren and enjoying the house she and Pat had bought in Spain. It was this new found sense of happiness that made the diagnosis of cancer seem such a cruel and bitter blow, she fought it hard and fought it bravely, but this last fight, in the end was too much for her. Thankfully Pat, the children and their husbands and wives were with her at the end and we know she will be with us for ever.

She did not die an unlived life.
She did not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
She chose to inhabit her days,
to allow her living to open her,
to make her less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen her heart
until it became a wing,
a torch, a promise.
She chose to risk her significance;
to live so that which came to her as seed
went to the next as blossom
and that which came to her as blossom,
went on as fruit.
(with apologies to dawna markova)

Gowanvale Jonella, "Gemma" RiP 9/11/95 - 5/10/09

I never thought I'd find myself writing an obituary for a dog, but we had to put our labrador Gemma down yesterday and remain absolutely traumatised by the whole thing.

I've never owned a pet before although Judith's family had dogs when she was younger.

Gemma was a wedding present given to us by her Uncle Howard and Aunt Pam Nightingale, we got her from breeders in Kendal the family had used for a while, Gowanvale Labradors run by Mr and Mrs Concannon.

She was a lovely puppy but a typical labrador, we had tons of stuff damaged, carpets peed and pood on, kitchen fitting gnawed and despite all of this, a whole lot of fun, she was a lovely dog, although I regret not taking her to obedience classes. I remember letting her off the lead in a field near our house in Wishaw and struggled to get her to come back, when I eventually got a hold of her she was starting to chew her way through a dead seagull she found. I'll never forget the sight of this thing wagging from the side of her mouth as she ran away from me!

She was just over 2 when Barbara was born and loved both girls with all her heart, when I brought Judith home from hospital with Barbara I remember the dog nervously creeping up to her and the baby to investigate this strange new bundle, Barbara moved her arm and the poor dog nearly jumped out of her skin with fright. She bonded with the kids almost instantly and seemed filled with almost maternal pride when we'd put Barbara and later on Mary Kate in the pram at the front of the house to enjoy the very occasional sun. Woe betide anyone with the temerity to walk by our house when Gemma was on guard duty.

Her special friends were my Gran and her sister my Auntie Kate, the first time they met her I remember them muttering that the dog didn't like them, almost immediately they became fast friends although I think a quarter pound of chopped pork might have played a major part in winning her over. She was at her most excited when pulling in to Tulloch Road in Shotts and would be practically hyper with excitement when we would get to 120, slobbering with anticipation over whatever my Gran would have in the fridge for her. We all took my Gran's death hard, but I sometimes think that Gemma took it hardest of all.

She bore the occasional tail pull from the weans and even one or two nips and slaps with grace and serenity, a wonderful family dog. Always happy to see us, enjoying walks in the neighbourhood, down the Strathy or further afield. When we moved to Motherwell she got to see the rest of the wider family more often.

She struggled from time to time and was in real pain for a while when she tore her cruciate ligament in her right hind leg, thankfully our fantastic vet Ms Nardini in Wishaw was able to source an orthopedic veterinary surgeon who managed to repair it. On seeing the bill I said a little prayer of thanks for the pet insurance we'd only taken out a few months before.

She hadn't been well for a while and found the wet and cold of winters especially difficult and it was clear from the last couple of weeks that she was struggling with her joints even more than usual, she stopped eating on Saturday, Barbara took her out for a walk on Sunday morning and she collapsed on the pavement outside next door. When we took her to the vet yesterday I think we both knew it was inevitable. Part of me regrets that few of the many people who loved her dearly were able to see her near the end, but with her obvious discomfort it would've been a crime to postpone her suffering.

It was quick, painless and merciful and at the end she even seemed happy again.

We get her ashes back on Friday. One of the happiest times we spent with her was in the spring of 98, Barbara was a tiny baby and her, Judith, her Dad Derek and I rented a fantastic cottage in Glenfinnan for a couple of weeks, my folks and some dear friends also came up to visit us. Gemma was in her element there, bouncing about the heather, crossing over to Skye on the ferry with us, splashing about in Loch Shiel and anywhere else bigger than a puddle. The kids are off school next week, we'll find a day to go back up, scatter her ashes, and remember her in one of the places she was happiest. But we know she'll live on in the hearts of everyone who knew her.

Mid-life crisis edition

I won't bore you with my doings for the last year or so, but I turned 40 at the beginning of August and have been musing on Life and other museable things.

Thankfully, I have resisted the urge to buy a motorcycle, but I have embarked on a, possibly, equally doomed task.

I am trying to read Joyce's Ulysses for, I think, the seventh time since I turned 18 and bought the book. I think my previous best would have been somewhere around chapter 8, but, either through cussedness or an accreted, deeper understanding of the subject matter I have now made it as far as the end of chapter 12, other a third of the way through.

It hasn't been easy, but I am finding it enjoyable. I do now realise that I made a mistake back in 1987 (I think) when I bought my copy, mine is the "Gabler" edition, now apparently roundly condemned as the most inaccurate version of the book, unfortunately, it's now far too late to start on another version, I'll just hold on for grim death and see where the book takes me.

Anyone interested in joining in?


So despite my best intentions, August and September and most of October saw a lot of backsliding. Mrs Whiskypriest and I finally went back to the diet class a fortnight ago to find out the damage, 6 pounds for her and around 12 for me. Not great news, but understandable.

We went back because we are serious about the process and also because we knew we needed to do something to halt the slide before the annual festive bloating begins.

The first week back was full of good intentions, but the last week has been almost entirely faithful. I'll let you know.
  • Current Music
    The Big Elastic Band; Jimmy Shand's on the Wireless
  • Tags

Nine freaking pounds!

Not on. Off!!

Colour me surprised. I've not been pigging myself all summer, but I haven't been exactly observant either, two weeks in Spain, a fantastic Continuum in Leicester and a few other diversions.

But something certainly worked and although I've got a few events to attend in the next few weeks I've now got the impetus to carry on.

I'm not the man I used to be!

I'm 9/10ths in fact!

4 more pounds off takes me through the 10% barrier (yes, add all the previous entries up and you'll get my grim starting point)

What pleases me more was that this was achieved despite all the little weak moments and deviations.

I'll concede that I shouldn't have celebrated by sharing a kebab and some pakora with the kids, but I felt I was due a treat.

I won't be weighed for almost a month now, what with Spain and Continuum in Leicester coming up, but I reckon I've put down a good foundation for progress.

Thanks for all the support.
  • Current Mood
    ecstatic ecstatic

5 pounds!

Breathes sigh of relief.

I was really worried after last week, despite myself I knew I had struggled with buffets at various functions and succumbed more than once, including my nephew's first birthday party yesterday.

However, this was just the fillip I needed, now to keep up the run until Spain in July.

Thanks for all the support!
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    Talk Talk: Eden

A Victory, of sorts!

As I've said, I didn't have a great week last week, I must confess I'm struggling this week for different reasons. It's the last two weeks of the school year in Scotland, this means that as well as the usual round of residents and other meetings I attend, I also get invited to loads of school shows, school leavers services, prize-givings etc. Nearly all of these come with food attached, I have managed to be "good" and resist the heaving plates of egg sandwiches and sausage rolls, but sometimes either the temptation is too much, or the desire to conform wins out.

On top of this I'm off for dinner with the Papal Nuncio tonight, it won't be a private affair, possibly 150 or so others are going to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the Diocese. I know I can fore-swear alcohol, I'll have to see about the rest though.

But now the victory. For ages I've been left with no choice but to buy my suits and business atire from the "Fat Boy Shop" aka High and Mighty, at outrageous prices. However, yesterday, I tried on one of my old shirts, admittedly one with a 19" collar, and it fitted. So if nothing else it is a reminder that good times do await.

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    Talking Heads: Heaven Is a Place

No change!

I'm surprised, baffled in fact.

I've been having my shakes and soups as directed, admittedly with two stumbles. on Thursday I partook of some of the buffet after the Police Board meeting, but even then I only ate the bottom half of the various rolls (including the filling of course) and on Sunday after Mass I had a sausage sandwich and some bacon at my mums.

When you consider what I had to eat the week I only lost three pounds I still should have shed something. I am surmising that maybe the reading last week wasn't as accurate as it should have been. 13 pounds over two weeks would have been fine, if slightly lacking in dramatic effect.

But, I'm in this for the long haul, so I'd better pick myself back up and stop whinging.

More next week. Hopefully I'll be in a better mood.
  • Current Mood
    gloomy gloomy

Thirteen more pounds!

That was a surprise. I really didn't think this was going to be such a good week, I just didn't feel I had lost so much.

Granted, only 1 of the 28 meals this week wasn't out of a packet. I'd been to a funeral in Edinburgh and had gone to a board meeting through there. It is a long standing co-operative tradition to feed the board prior to meetings and, despite having my measuring jug, hand whisk and packet of shake mix with me, I gave in to the temptations of steak pie with all the trimmings.

I'm really buoyed up just now and looking forward to next week, my only real hurdle is the Police Board meeting this Thursday in Paisley and the meal afterwards. Must remember to be strong.