Ferguslie Park, by Tunnock McNulty

Posted on November 6, 2014 by


[Editor’s Note: Tunnock McNulty sent a preview of this essay to KLF founder and performance art renegade Bill Drummond, “as he is known for his interests in psychogeography and the minutiae of pop histories.” Drummond, who also provided a foreword for McNulty’s book Fun Buggy in 2004, returned the following feedback … ]

Sitting in café in Gibson St
Nursing an afternoon pot of tea
Waiting for 5:30 meeting across the rd
Last Thursday discovered a host of email hiding in the Junk File
Working my way through them
Caught the easyJet from Luton to Glasgow earlier
Clicked on the attachment to the
Remember Tunnock McNulty email and read and read
But all the reading is on my iPhone
And my iPhone is playing up so I cannot email back
Almost six months after it was sent
I read and I read
And it makes me feel all kinds of different emotions
How come he gets things so right
As in you
When there was no way he was there
My father was a desert rat with Monty
And I was into the Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter
Why did they put up with all the air raids?
Night after night?
And on the beaches?
So we could grow our hair long and listen to Wild Man Fisher?
One small foible ‘Rockabilly’ was not a word used in these parts in the 1950’s
It did not come in until a retro fashion came in
In the 1970’s when the art school brigade were in search of the real thing
And not what Schwaddywaddy had to offer
But hey that is no reason not to acknowledge these words you have sent me
Even if everything is already down the drain
Will email you when I am back at mine later in the week
And I will check my junk file at least once a week
Yours was not the only lost and lonely
Thank you and hope you have had other positive responses
See Ya
Bill Drummond



Think beyond the urban sprawl: Motorways, airports, retail parks, pylons, Corbusier, industrial decay, mobile phone masts, and advertising… think now on greenery, canals, embryonic railway lines and mines and rows; no hot water, or toilets, money even… Radicals and militia, vagabonds and cutpurses…. Think way way long gone when iron stone was like purest diamond. The foundations were laid. The blood, muscles and bones forming. People coming out of the mists. Living hand to mouth. Back then Billys were Dans and Dans were Billys. They had Fomorian-Danu battles along the iron horse path. The very stuff that kept them from the gorta lay down in the sweaty deeps of the earth. In the hot perspiring stuffy dark, with no latrines and the attendant stench. Odourless death gas waited round the corners to billow out. Not an honest Irish mans days work as such. A family affair; all trudging to the abyss and then back to Steam Boat Row. That road wasn’t dusty all that often; muddy and marrow chilling or steamy and gleggy. The Inkermans, Redans and Balaclava frontiers folk had music, poetry and firewater; porter and potcheen, dark ale and whisky. They had lava in their hearts and steel in their bellies. Myths and mirth were sung about on long winter nights when the Carlins, Tods and Burkers sneaked about in the wild dark. Those very same long cold black winterish nights soon died when summer’s sweetness burst through. The poems became illuminated like the folks. The peoples of the rows were the seeds ready to germinate and become the genetic foundations and the mythical bedrock of Ferguslie Park. It’s not a normal place, founded as it was by these pioneers who suffered much but never accepted defeat. Kings and Queens of the wild frontier!


Two men in the drizzle waiting waiting
Stolen pistols faces wrapped in scarves
McCuddygill and Gilchrist
Hands and hearts black with the dust of the earth

They await a coach
As the purple curtain falls and the corbie crows
Pishpot! To this life of death and drear
In the distance a fox or banshee wails

Gilchrist passes McCuddygill the bottle of moonshine
The swipe at the midges fluttering at their eyes
The Renfrewshire air is damp and salty
The Hallions wait still like beinn cats

The coach can be heard in the moistness
Trundling along burdened with its fat gouty occupant
The horses trot as though sensing danger
McCuddygill pulls the flintlock
Out leaps Gilchrist pistol in hand
Stand and deliver you old devil you!
Inside still bewigged and bepowdered as last century
Sits the old bloody code knight

McCuddygill eels from the gloom wraith and lets loose the fire
Clouds of blood flow and spiral just like the battle of the Brig
Like spunkies travelling through the luminal from time out of mind
The legend of Ferguslie has been born



History noise chuff chuff through the night just like the famous Californian Silver Ghost zipping to Frisco Bay. This one zipped up to Glenfield. When the Devil’s Carousel was still red hot with Imps the train would side up and let loose Pressed Steel’s EMU’s


On goes the ghost train. Bugglekelly. Legend says that during the war the train would roar around the night track as chirpy grim faced Tommys in full Highland gear would take ball lightning shots at Nazi bombers in the blimpy sullen sky. No one ever really rode this train as a passenger; reading the paper waiting for the tea trolley and the stale buns. There was an excursion to Stanley and then the resplendent wildness of the Glennifer Braes and a drink from Rab Tans well. The jaunts didn’t save the line. All Change. They say that the East West Line used to stop off at Dykebar Hospital to deliver coal and oil. Back then in the myth times when Spanky and Phil were still slabbing it close family and friends gazed out of the stoory barred windows as in came the train…. The remains of the huge siding shed are still in the grounds of the hospital. If you squint your eyes the right way you can still see the scars of the Dummy Line. Running up the Chain Rd like a rocket …


After those doom laden yet strangely life affirming dark days of Haw Haw slashed chops, doodlebugs and bombers; suddenly along came the yuletide sundance kids. As the ’50s flourish into a kind of utopia these babies of the boom come out into the warmth from the cold. For a little while. It was as dark and cold as those Ned Kelly old time mine days of rows and raws. Rationed Christmas. Still not even a holiday. But folks didn’t give a damn. Scores of wee skinny legged cowboys, newly attired, chucked out into the December rain to catch that varmint Billy the Kid. Ma and Da were inside as the bricket burns; maybe sweetness together, maybe not. Ma’s cooking the old boiler chicken. Da’s downing the ale or whisky. Corner Boy proto Rockabilly big scuds and primordial Teddy Girl big skin and blisters stand in the close mouths to smoke and watch the Wild West showdown. They take a few pop shots and pretend to fall over dead as Jesse James. There were never any Sitting Bulls doing a ghost dance out in the sleet or drizzle. Only cowpokes and bandits. The hole in the wall gangs were yet to come…. The brother Spankys go back to steal some beer, leaving the sisters to dream dream dream. The three foot gunslingers go bang bang in the quickening twilight as the sun sets and plum puddings boil like the chooks. Cap gun Mexican standoffs down Candren Rd fade like the dipping sun. The real Wild West has been and is yet to come …


Drain pipes, DAs and creeping crepes. The great grandsons of the ore diggers are riveting in the shipyards. The great granddaughters swing in the mills or catch the ferry to Singers. Soon to become meat robots and canteen staff in the devils carousel hammering up the four wheeled polluted Detroit future. These New Britains slip out dreaming of Americana. A hot fix of honky tonk, boogy woogy, coffee foam and Brylcreem. On the road and crazy eyed all the way up to the dancing up the toon. You could jump in and out of white hot jobs like jumping jack flash and then go cappuccino cognito in a cafe of an evening. Then came the fear. The tanned flea house seats and stomping Toffy boys bloody on the top deck of the night tram. Rumours. Tales. But these New Britains of stock from Caledonia, Hibernia and Tuscany even, are nothing new. When you got nothing you need to make a show of it right? If you can’t —stand and deliver— Mr filthy Rich from his carriage you can make his clothes look better on you. Much better! Just like the gallus cudgel twirling moss troopers of old Inkerman town. Or the age of depression and King Kong Konks looking like Cagney and Billy Boys marching through the morning. Suited and booted razoring about the town. All hail the New Caledonians sparking through the rye done up in the finest duds that money can buy!



Come out of the arches and onto the Main Rd. Millarston football fields and the Candren Burn. Mind out for the Millarston scheme team. Was there ever a Millarston team? Someone’s kicked a ball out onto the road through a hole in the rusty fence. Ignore it. Keep going past the Chain Rd and Newton Terrace. Go on past the remains of the old Glasgow Corporation tram depot eaten away by blue beautiful mother time. When the hoolet calls and you listen with your heart you might just hear the shooglies clatter and rattle, the blether of folks long gone and the buzz of electricity. Keep going through another railway arch. There’s a motif here somewhere. Keep going Main Rd mainline and take a port swing up Patricks Glen. There it is next to the playing fields: The Magic Carpet Factory. Looms shunt and shuffle all day and all night. Trucks wheel out from the warehouse with the finest Paisley Indic swirls for the bourgeoisie. Out back huge tanks and forklifts motor around. There’s the acid pit that an apprentice fell into leaving nothing for his maw to greet over but a bucket full of bleached bones. All the time the looms keep on warping and woofing tantra tantra. The burn made of Brandy fresh as the Boyne from the Braes flows and twists the length of the factory cutting through and under. Feeding it with fresh silveryness. And yet trout still rise and catfish wriggle in the darkest bits of the pools. Then you pass the canteen; best chips in Elderslie! Tea urns boil… at the head is the shop and the offices and design room. The zig zag loom buildings create angular shadows like a sea monsters crested back as the sun comes out to blaze through the soppy clouds just for a change. In the offices Spanky and Phil spirits rip the pish resonantly from the very concrete and steel. Real time slab boys churn away; sloshing out rainbow hues for the lovers of arabesque luxury. Those looms keep up with the motoric beat. An honest day’s work. An honest day’s work. Right at the top where the glen is wild and lushly overgrown the shade in the Lum hat and buckled boots keeps pacing the witching hour wondering what happened to his whisky stills. In fact where did it all go…!?


Down in Feegieville with the imminent Halloween Jack threat of atom split megadeath things and times were changing. The Christmas cowgirls and cowpokes became the pilots of the future and cosmic commandos. All was good the giant mill chimneys still puffed out smoke and the gyres of industry were still spinning. The corner boys became corner dads and new breeds emerged through the railway arches… Jimmy junior goes out to the Inkerman bowling club with his old boy. June night warm but drizzled. Blackbirds flit from the hedges in the rain. The M8 carnage looms in the distance looking like a future vision of a Somme style battle of attrition. Young Jimmy dreams of Strawberry Fields as his dad tries to stop dreaming of the desert rat days. He wants to buy the boy a couple of pints of 70 mibbe a wee whisky and ask him where he’s going. Weans these days looking like Jesus and playing the guitar day and night. Jimmy and son graft in a shipyard down in deepest Renfrew. But young Jimmy’s in a band and wants to set the world on fire. Because it’s like someone has dropped a culture bomb. The soma function has been restored like a long absent queen. Jimmy senior’s into Jimmy Shand and young Jimmy digs the Incredible String Band… bomb blast ripples… Ferguslie Park’s got good and bad. But folks can make an honest buck and have a modicum of self respect; toiling in the mills, yards, and plants and all the smaller businesses that feed off them. And at the boom bomb time of the winter solstice gunslingers and spivs there was a net for those who fell. You didn’t need to go begging to minister or parish priest. Buses run everywhere and trains and trams and planes! There would be no stopping them. Mibbe it will be okay thinks Jimmy senior.

Young Jimmy walks down New Street not with the blues
He wants to slip round past the wee Kirk with the mossy tombs
Slide onto Causeyside Street

It’s a day of rain and golden streams of sunburn
The very day to meet an angel!
He saw her once raven haired and hazel eyed

Asked his buddy Desmond to ask her out
He just laughed; turn it up! Faint heart and all that!
He had to speak to her himself

A cinema visit perhaps …
His young heart thunders as he walks into the CO-OP
The place where faery queens dwell


Darkwood. Dark night of the soul. From boom to blootered all in the blinking of an eye. We’re cut off here you know? Hemmed in by the railways. Surrounded by pooka swamps. All the forces that kept us flowing are spent or burning out like sputtering candles. The car plants, mills, yards everything. Gone. DEAD. Men and woman change suddenly over night from oiled cogs to loose rusty nails. The binds have been cut. Fear comes now. What more to do than one drink down?



Disciples bat out of hell it through the railway arches led off by the top Jockmaican Rough Rider in the west of Scotland. But dark times are coming forming like clouds of blood in a Gaelic poem. The Wasteland cometh as do the hollow men and their Dalek Queen Bee. No more trams trundling in from Glasgow. No more works train chuffing up to Stanley through Ferguslie and Foxbar. Too many people are finding it hard to do an honest day’s work. N.E.D.S are sparkling and firing into becoming like scally Whirry cows not having real masculine archetypes to morph into. They will remain lost boys in men’s clothing trog skulking on the periphery of life. The edges are cracking as Scotland flatlines. Gang slogans are being slapped onto the walls. Litter blows through the streets. People are beginning not to care. Diamond dogs form in packs and chase ice-cream vans out of the scheme. The mills are remains – skeletons now ready to fossilise and implode. The Devil’s Carousel convulses on its post industrial sickbed vomiting workers. As society becomes no such thing the short terms panaceas of alcohol and heroin come to the fore. The Wasteland is complete.


Canals, lost rivers, and industrial dummy trains running up to Glenfield along the long and winding Chain Rd. The Candren Burn canal looks deep weed choked and polluted. An eel slip slither, shopping trolley and frog plop oily waterway. The misty ghost of poor Robert Tannahill stands on the canal bank singing. Trams buzz and shake into the corrugated dome of the depot. High rise happy living in the Millarston hill skyscrapers overlooks the park and the cemetery or the Campsies and the urban crawl of Glasgow. The mills are crumbling turning from stone to dust like a Fairy tale bugbear or a Tigon Vampire. Orange corporation buses motor on taking nobody to nowhere on hot new tarmac. All change all moving, constant flux. That’s the way of the universe. For some. For the 7.84 (and rising) change is slower somehow, like sap running down a tree in April. Somehow the rivers of milk and honey keep running for them. And progress gets force fed to us bottom feeders.


Where did all the normal folks go? The bus clippie that pierced folks ears for tuppence using a hot potato? The McCaffertys? The Johnstones? Gone, extinct like one of them dodos. One day Tommy McCamphill is coming home drunk and bendy singing into his Friday fish supper after a hard day’s work in the factory. The next day you’re watching a boy with a shaved napper sniffing yellow glue from a Presto bag and vomiting up sick and words about space invaders. The Baldies? The butchers more like. Hellish so it is. Half the houses are empty now. Windows boarded up like pennies on a dead man’s eyes. The young ones are in them shooting up they drugs. You see them hanging about like zombies. Grey skinned and beetle eyed and they scuttle off into the dark places. But they’re waiting ready to pounce on you to take your pension. No mercy. Some of them used to be nice kids too. Shocking. Some days you pray for rain to put out the fires from stolen cars. The fire brigade won’t come. Thon punk rock echoes from the dark light giro drops like broken faces. Jezzo Gerry boy wouldn’t recognise this place now. I can’t for the life of me. Last week I watched some ten year olds beat each other up with golf clubs. Murder Polis. Another day in Feegieville… If it wasn’t for the social club I’d be digging my own grave …


The summer of love. S’miles better. Garden Festival up the road. And soma is back (Kinda) with a late ripple of cosmic novelty. Better ride it before it washes out. Golden sunshine shimmers on everything when the spirit of ADAM is in you. Much better than shooting the sun. You see the poor bastards waiting to slurp down that green horror at the chemists while Granny Murphy’s getting her Askits. Does it fight the miseries? Then there’s the bad boys in the chippi clobber drinking LD and carrying badness. It’s like the Bogside this neighbourhood. You see the old fella’s on the tins of creeping purple drinking down the park. Fuzzy eyed. Poor souls all. But give me ADAM and these people become illuminated from devils to angels. Holy Buddha’s. Belltree’s Crescent becomes the yellow brick road to Moksha. No Kidding. Bring on the repetitive beats. Aye Man! That and some blow. Blow away the dust. But when it wears off and the blood comes down. Aw Man! I look out of the dirty windows. Burned out twocs. Garbage. Damp mouldy plastic bags flap on the barbed wire. Weeds grow up through the cracks in the scrawled on pavement. A train blurs past heading up the coast. I could do with some of that fresh salty imramma air. Get away from this metallic wasteland stench. Like rust and dog shite. Too many dugs here. Nothing better to do than walk a wolf. I need to refresh the spirit of ADAM and become illuminated again. Make Feegie magical again. Gaze up at Oakshaw’s bejewelled Spires and Domes. Aye Feegie’s Smiles Better! Ferguslie Park Forever.

He heads up to Oakshaw
Looks down over Feegie
Through the green trees

Lifts one leg up
One arm behind his back
Shuts one eye

Crane style vision
Lungs full of herb
He can see the past the future the present
All the Benjamin Day ghosts of Inkerman and Ferguslie
Like clouds of blood in a summer stream …


Feegie Park Forever. Old Feegie with Patrick’s works in mind: The futurism Teddy Bhoys angular and looking shark sharp as the townscape chimneys exhale black dioxide and the cranes stand like dinosaurian exhibits in front of a burning mustard sky. The feline is from the scheme you can tell. The retractable’s are out…. Back further as Scotch-Irish bushwhackers bound through the great morass taking Barry Lyndon pot shots at each other after a cargo of sweet drink. Take their minds off of the hardships of working in the dangerous bowels of the earth for tokens. Wild colonial boys. Pioneer days. Inkerman, Redan and Balaclava are ghost towns now. Ambient memories. But the beat goes on. From Steam Boat Row to post war joy via economic depression and occult Wars of the World. Gerry by osmosis takes up the muse of Celtic soul with Joe and helps the world feel like a miner’s son from Ferguslie Park. Another drink down that’s the way to go gazing up at Millarston and Foxbar on the hills. Folk Songs. The circle dragon eats its own tail with tragic Robert Tannahill going to dance with the eels in a canal pit but leaving us Waltzing Matilda and Wild Mountain Thyme. Just like Gerry left us New Street Blues and Stuck in the Middle. From Stealers Wheel to stealing wheels. Dischargex studs, plooks and evostick. Linwood gets shot in the heart by the wicked witch of the South and Ferguslie Park slips from grace. Rockers and Mods become Skins and Neds. Buzzing glue, shooting smack or downing wine and eating jellies to numb the pain and horror of being a NOBODY. People don’t have a role anymore. Families disintegrate. Casuals and the soma function. Rootes gets razed and from the ashes THE PHEONIX. 24 hour shopping. Multiplex cinemas and fast food the car is the king now. City of Quartz dynamics in the Rain Town damp. Part time work for young and old. Ferguslie Park’s back perhaps…? Long Live Feegie ya bassas!


Tunnock McNulty is the author of Fun Buggy, a “pop-poetic study of Scottish soft drink”, as well as several plays. He would like to direct interested readers to the Battle of Linwood Bridge by Brian S. Skillen for more on dissension in the highlands, The Devil’s Carousel by Jeff Torrington for inspiration from the former Rootes Car Plant, the “Battle of the Braes” at the Dummy Railway site for details on competition in midcentury train line development, and to various accounts of Robert Tannahill’s song Thou Bonny Wood of Craigielee being the melody for Australia’s unofficial national anthem.

As well, shouts of thanks to Gerry Rafferty, Martyn Bennett (Paisley Spin), Iain Banks (r.i.p.) and the very Rev Eugene McDaniels, also respects to Patrick aka John Byrne the polymath, Joe Egan, Stealers Wheel and Humblebums, Slab Boys and Stoddard’s folks, 1820 Heroes, the venerable Bill Drummond, RG MacCallum and to Buddies everywhere….

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