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Off to Alclutha

Yes looking forward to a day and evening of football, friends, food and fun. First of all to the Sons v Peterhead game where I’ll hopefully meet up with BLFP correspondent and Blue Toon follower, Ken Fitlike. This evening there’s a comedy dinner at Dumbarton FC and amongst the “turns” is another correspondent, the irrepressible Stu Who?

The fantastic photo below of the French Prison at Dumbarton Rock and Strathclyde Homes Stadium comes via Bill Heaney. Alclutha was the Celtic name for Dumbarton and literally means “The Rock on the Clyde”


The Weekend Waits – Singapore

We sail tonight for Singapore,
We’re all as mad as hatters here
I’ve fallen for a tawny Moor,
Took off to the land of Nod
Drank with all the Chinamen,
Walked the sewers of Paris
I danced along a colored wind,
Dangled from a rope of sand
You must say goodbye to me

We sail tonight for Singapore,
Don’t fall asleep while you’re ashore
Cross your heart and hope to die
When you hear the children cry
Let marrow bone and cleaver choose
While making feet for children shoes
Through the alley, back from hell,
When you hear that steeple bell
You must say goodbye to me

Wipe him down with gasoline
’til his arms are hard and mean
From now on boys this iron boat’s your home
So heave away, boys

We sail tonight for Singapore,
Take your blankets from the floor
Wash your mouth out by the door,
The whole town’s made of iron ore
Every witness turns to steam,
They all become Italian dreams
Fill your pockets up with earth,
Get yourself a dollar’s worth
Away boys, away boys, heave away

The captain is a one-armed dwarf,
He’s throwing dice along the wharf
In the land of the blind
The one-eyed man is king, so take this ring

We sail tonight for Singapore,
We’re all as mad as hatters here
I’ve fallen for a tawny Moor,
Took off to the land of Nod
Drank with all the Chinamen,
Walked the sewers of Paris
I drank along a colored wind,
I dangled from a rope of sand
You must say goodbye to me

Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour

A while back my friend Alastair gave me a couple of discs containing just about all the Bob Dylan Theme Time Radio Hour shows up to that point. I downloaded them all on to my MP3 gadget and often listen to them. I particularly enjoy listening to one on a trip to Glasgow in the car. The hour is then taken up with not only fantastic music spanning much of the twentieth century but also a wealth of comment and quirky information from the Bobmeister.

For instance yesterday on my way to Cambuslang I was treated to a show initially broadcast in January 2008 on the theme of walking. As well as music from Waylon Jennings, Fats Domino, Lou Reed, Jimmy Rogers, Count Baisie and others, (you can download the very show here ) Bob treated me to some fascinating information and two things in particular caught my ear.

Firstly he was talking about Murder Incorporated which was the name given by the FBI to the organised crime groups in the 1920’s to 1940’s responsible for 100’s of murders on behalf of the Mafia and Jewish crime groups. The hit men apparently had conditions of employment, holidays and a pension scheme! (or maybe that was Bob’s little joke). However the irony was that one of the founders of Murder Inc., Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegal was also one of its victims.

Ever wondered where the expression “jakey” came from? It is of course a derogatory term here in Scotland for a habitual irredeemable heavy drinker. I’d guess it came from another subject on the show I listened to. Jamaican ginger extract (known in the United States by the slang name Jake) was a late 19th century patent medicine that provided a convenient way to bypass Prohibition laws, since it contained between 70-80% ethanol by weight.

(From Wikipedia)

Jake was not itself dangerous, but the U.S. Treasury Department, which administered the Prohibition laws, recognized its potential as an illicit alcohol source and required changes in the solids content of jake to discourage drinking. The minimum requirement of ginger solids per cubic centimeter of alcohol resulted in a fluid that was extremely bitter and difficult to drink. Occasionally, Department of Agriculture inspectors would test shipments of jake by boiling the solution and weighing the remaining solid residue. In an effort to trick regulators, bootleggers replaced the ginger solids with a small amount of ginger and either castor oil or molasses.

A pair of amateur chemists and bootleggers, Harry Gross and Max Reisman, worked to develop an alternative adulterant that would pass the tests, but still be somewhat palatable. They settled on a plasticizer, tri-o-tolyl phosphate (also known as tri-ortho cresyl phosphate, TOCP, or Tricresyl phosphate), that was able to pass the Treasury Department’s tests but preserved jake’s drinkability. TOCP was originally thought to be non-toxic; however, it was later determined to be a neurotoxin that causes axonal damage to the nerve cells in the nervous system of human beings, especially those located in the spinal cord. The resulting type of paralysis is now referred to as organophosphate-induced delayed neuropathy (OPIDN).

In 1930, large numbers of jake users began to lose the use of their hands and feet. Some victims could walk, but they had no control over the muscles which would normally have enabled them to point their toes upward. Therefore, they would raise their feet high with the toes flopping downward, which would touch the pavement first followed by their heels. The toe first, heel second pattern made a distinctive “tap-click, tap-click” sound as they walked. This very peculiar gait became known as the jake walk and those afflicted were said to have jake leg, jake foot, or jake paralysis. Additionally, the calves of the legs would soften and hang down and the muscles between the thumbs and fingers would atrophy.

Within a few months, the TOCP-adulterated jake was identified as the cause of the paralysis and the contaminated jake was recovered, but it was too late for many victims. Some users recovered full or partial use of their limbs, but for most, the loss was permanent. The total number of victims was never accurately determined, but is frequently quoted as between 30,000 and 50,000. Many victims were immigrants to the United States and most were poor with little political or social influence. The victims received very little assistance, and aside from being the subject of a few blues songs recorded in the early 1930s (e.g. “Jake Walk Papa” by Asa Martin and “Jake Leg Blues” by the Mississippi Sheiks), they were almost completely forgotten.

Dylan played another record, Jake Walk Blues by the Allen Brothers.

If you’ve never heard a Bob Dylan Theme Time Radio Hour make the effort. There are complete shows and clips all over the internet.

They are a absolute joy.

The Times – They are a Chargin’!

Indeed I see Mr Murdoch’s newspaper is planning to charge readers for access to its online content. The charge of £1 per day or £2 for a weekly subscription means that this occasional reader will now rely on the BBC and countless other online services which are roughly £2 per week cheaper than that and Mr Murdoch can go forth and multiply I’ll have to factor in another charge to the household budget.

Mind you the quid may be worth it for the quality of their foreign correspondents in general and getting the right man to cover the right story in particular. For example this correspondent seems particularly well qualified to comment on his story.

Roger Boyes

Shame on you if you thought Roger Boyes was a made up name.