Posted in A to Z

G is for Gangs and Ginger

Glasgow. Gangs. The two go together like Morcambe & Wise, Torville & Dean, Brady & Hindly…

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I am from the greater area of Easterhouse. My wee scheme had 4 streets in it. Four streets and three gangs, the two biggest being the Rebels and the Fleet. One of the Big Enemies was the GYTO from Garthamlock. And there was hardly a brick wall without a ‘Tongs Ya Bass!” tag sprayed on it.

gang01Growing up in the East End in the 60s and 70s, you couldn’t avoid the gangs. There were regular running battles between rival crews, fighting with knives, chains, hammers, swords. In fact, the couture of choice for a gang lad was a long black leather coat. Imagine a greasy, flop haired Spike from Buffy. The long coats were ideal to hide the swords in.

I can remember one day walking through the dinner hall at school. There was blood on one of the tables where it had seeped out of a stabbed lad who had been laid on the table while waiting for an ambulance.

I can remember walking home from school and being hit on the head by a flying glass bottle.

I can remember walking home from school in the fog and being flashed at.

I can remember standing at the bus stop and hearing the zzzzzzzpp of an air pellet missing my head by centimetres.

I can remember so many things to do with gangs and the fear they engendered in me.

So lets talk about ginger instead.

Ginger is the Weegie umbrella term for fizzy drinks. You say lemonade? A Weegie calls it ginger. You say Cola? We say ginger. Limeade? Ginger. Orangeade? Ginger. Ginger comes in ginger bottles – what else – and when I was wee you used to get a penny or two back on an empty bottle.

I lived next to an industrial estate where Alpine, a ginger company, had a warehouse. Every week the Alpine van would come around, tooting his horn, and all the kids would go down with their family’s ginger order. They did a limeade which was a shade of green never seen outside a mad scientist’s laboratory. It was brilliant.

G is also for Garthamlock, where I went to school. But that’s enough of G’s. Time to go and think of tomorrow’s post. And have a wee drink a ginger.



Writer, photographer, creative fantasist.

13 thoughts on “G is for Gangs and Ginger

  1. Nettie – Such a tense and awful way to grow up, with gang activity everywhere. I, for one, am very glad you made to adulthood anyway so you could tell us about ginger 🙂

  2. I really enjoy posts about Glasgow- my granny was from near there- she wouldn’t recognize it from this post…she moved to the States back in 1940…

    Ruby is participating in the A to Z Challenge
    Ruby Wilbur

  3. A great series – my partner is from Hamilton, so it’s interesting to follow your challenge topics. Good luck with the rest of the alphabet!

  4. You know, I never really pictured gangs in Britain. We always assume things are settled by tea or some sort of well-mannered duel across the pond. Being from Las Vegas, I’ve seen my fair share of gangs and the strife that comes along with them. I guess they’re about the same everywhere. Except for the swords. Never seen anyone in a gang with a sword. Admit, it makes me feel like I missed out a bit.

  5. My husband remembers the ice cream wars. Years later when an SHO at the Royal Arthur Thompson’s son (Fatboy) was brought in and proudly announced “See me, I died here twice”. Not long later he did .. for good.

    1. Oh, yes, I almost did I is for Ice Cream Wars but went for something lighter instead.
      I went to school in Garthamlock, as did people from Ruchazie, where the ‘wars’ took place. Scary times.

  6. They were exciting times Nettie. I lived in Kirkcaldy (still do) and couldnae wait tae read the Record an’ Express on a Monday mornin tae see whit gangs hud been wreakin’ havoc in the center o’ Glezga on the previous Saturday. You used tae get all the gory details wi a list o weapons that were bein flailed an thrust an flung, including the ever present swords an bayonets. I can remember of reading about pitched battles taking place in the middle of Glasgow with up to 200 gang members fighting it out.
    I agree wi’ cassam101 that the main gangs were young men but ye also had the wee versions and the tiny versions, e.g. The Tongs, The Wee Tongs and The Tiny Tongs & co., usualy grouped in ages.
    The main gangs were late teens up to around 30 somethings. The wee gang was early to late teens and the tinies were from about 10yo to early teens.
    The Paradoxical 60s, eh? In London, hippies were going about with flowers in their hair and chanting, Make Love not War while in Glasgow, gangs where running about, cutting each other up. Oh! The good old days.

  7. hi i lived in ruchazie in the 60s and went to garthamloch school i was a member of the ruchazie fleet our main enemies were the g y t the cody and the cranhill fleet and the blackhill toi had a few skirmishes with them

    1. Hi George,

      Thanks for stopping by. Life was very different back then, for us all. I hope you are well and happy wherever you are now.


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