Tue, Nov 20th - 11:49AM
Major and Me
“Ma, can I get a
Bay City Roller Jumper - they are selling them at the Co-op for £1.99?” I
shouted through the toilet door to my mammy. "Everybody has one" I
My dog Major was at my feet begging to be taken out for a pee, his toe nails
were scratching and clicking on the cold lino. Maybe he heard my Ma peeing and
this set him off.
“Where will I get two quid from? is that thon tartan bastards that cannae
sing?” my Ma shouted back over the noise of the loo flushing. I peeled some
woodchip wall paper off as I waited...I put it in my mouth and quickly spat it
Major lifted a black claw and scratched my leg, his brown eyes pleading with
me. This was useless.
“I am taking the dog out,” I whined back and grabbed the thick metal dog leash
off the door handle in the lobby and clipped Major’s collar, only to be dragged
off at speed and clattered down all the stairs in the close and yanked outside.
My Jesus sandal buckle came undone and I hobbled about on the grass clods.
I needed to think of a plan to get two pounds to buy a tartan Bay City Rollers'
jumper; everyone at school had one except me. I needed one, why can't adults
just know I need one as well?
Major stood like a statue in the back yard and peed for about ten minutes (he
never got out much and had a bladder this size of a scatter cushion). He kept
one leg cocked whilst scanning the back court for pigeons or cats to attack the
minute he was done pissing. He was always on the lookout for a victim was
Major. He was an angry dog with long memories of being beaten by a floor brush
as a puppy by previous owners, he was in luck in our house, my mammy rarely
cleaned the place. I was getting bored.
“Hurry up, Major, I need to figure out how to get two quid!” I hissed at him.
Even my dog looked at me pitifully. He knew there was no chance of me getting
that Bay City Roller jumper before the shops shut at 5pm. He finished his pee,
scratched the ground with his back legs, flicking up pee-soaked soil over my
jeans and tried to pull off the leash to chase imaginary cats. I couldn’t let
him free; he would bite the first living thing he spotted and I couldn’t bear
to get into a dog dispute today.
Our back yards were a square set of twenty blocks of flats with open closes
which led through to the front streets; all the individual closes had
penned-off back yards which were segregated by green painted railings. Major
loved getting into other people’s yards.
I ran around the back court holding his leash letting him sniff bins, scratch
at the ground and snuffle through the long grass near the railings. He looked
up at me pleading to be let free. He wanted to run about but, every time I had
let him go in the past, he slipped his bony body through the metal railings and
shot off on a bite fest and, although I was wiry and fast, I couldn’t climb
over those spiky fences and catch up with him. He was an expert escapist.
Before I knew it he would be on the main road attacking pensioners and babies.
He was mental and very scary looking.
“No, Major, you will run off and bite people!” I answered as he stared at me.
He sat on the cold ground and lifted a paw at me and gave me his best cute
look. So I let the leash snap off his neck. He started walking slowly around
our confined fenced yard lulling me into a false sense of security and then he
suddenly shot off and leaped over the first fence in a flash. “Oh God!” I
shouted and started after him. I climbed over three sets of metal railings as
he slipped through or jumped over them and made off through the opened close of
flats across the backyard. I saw his tail disappear through the close into the
I panicked and kept climbing over the four foot high railings till I reached
the close he had run through. I could hear screams from the front street. My
heart was pounding. I was exhausted and sweating. Why did I let him go? On
entering Vesalius Street, I saw one old woman with a steamie pram pinned up
against a front garden fence with Major barking at her feet.
The dog spotted me and ran off in the direction of the big main road that ran
through our wee scheme.
He had a go at the local priest and that wee man who isn't the priest but
always hangs about the chapel and has a club foot.
He slid past big lorries that trundled down the busy road; he sped through the
traffic and made it to the opposite side of the road. It took me ages to let
the traffic past before I could run across and chase after him. He barked and
snarled at passers by. “Get that dog on a leash!” a man shouted. The leash was
wrapped around my hand as I panted and gasped my way up the road. His pointy
tail was visible and the barking kept me on his track.
Finally, he came to a stop. He watched me over his shoulder; he sat on the pavement
quietly as I approached him stealthily. I fully expected him to bolt off again
as I got closer, but he didn’t move. “Major, you bad dog!” I shouted as I
clipped the leash on him. He just stared at me and padded off quietly.
My clothes were sticking to me with the sweat of running and jumping so fast.
He merely hung his tongue out and happily jaunted off as if he was the happiest
dog in Shettleston. We got stuck at the main road, the traffic was heavy, buses
were speeding past and I was nervous crossing that road, as I had been knocked
down by a car two years previously near the spot where we stood. It had taken
me almost a year to walk again and, at twelve, I still had a slight limp.
I heard a familiar voice shout “Janey!” from one of the buses as it drove past.
The bus stopped near me and loads of people spilled out of the back opening.
There was my old favourite uncle John. “What are you doing out with that mad
dog on the main road?” he asked.
“He ran away from me,” I explained.
Uncle John was my pal. He was a lot older than most of my uncles and had
neither kids, nor a wife and was often ‘away’ though we were never told where.
He never had a home of his own and usually stayed with family members and I
loved him. He was quirky and had funny ways of explaining stuff. I once asked
him why he never fought in the Second World War and he told me: “Well, you see,
with all the men away, the women of Shettleston needed someone to replace their
light bulbs in their lobbies and I didn’t have a fight with the Germans; they
never personally upset me, so I don’t see why I should be a paid killer of
someone else’s son.”
Turns out my old Uncle John was a bit of a ‘Lad’ and traded guns with crooks
and never fought with anyone unless he had a personal gripe with them. He was
occasionally in prison and never really settled with anyone anywhere.
“Look, here’s some money for you. Now don’t tell your Ma that I have cash. Say
you found it," he said and pulled a TEN POUND note from his pocket. Ten
pounds was a fortune to me at twelve. I stared at the note; I don’t think I had
seen a ten pound note close up in my own hand. Major sat quietly and wagged his
tail at Uncle John; he was about the only visitor to our house that Major
“That’s a lot of money, thanks Uncle John but I can’t say I found it. Are you
sure you can give me this? I will need to say something,” I stuttered at Uncle
“Well, learn to lie and hide it, Janey,” he laughed and walked off.
I stared at the money in my hand. It felt so… wonderful and rich; the texture
of the paper had me stroking it constantly - the swirly writing and just the
overwhelming fact that I had ten pounds to myself made me feel giddy.
I immediately set off to the Co-op and dragged Major with me; I now had the
dilemma of how to get into the shop with my dog. Major could not be tied up
outside, he would bite folk.
The big glass door to the Co-op jangled as I entered. Major growled low in his
throat. He hated new places. My dog was rather autistic and anal for a
domesticated animal. Things set him off, like a door bell, a floor brush and he
despised goldfish and fish tanks - he attacked them viciously - he tried to
bite the glass fish bowl in my bedroom. He was like a drunk Oliver Reed.
“That dog can’t come in here!” the woman with a pinched face behind the counter
“I have ten pounds!” I shouted back and showed her my cash. “I just want a
white Bay City Roller tartan jumper for my size,” I added and stood at the
She relented and I tied Major to the big pillar at the side of the counter. I
begged him not to bite anyone or bark. The woman held out the acrylic top for
me to see, I nodded and guessed it would fit me. She wrapped it up in brown
paper, sellotaped the edges and held it to me. I tucked it under my arm and
carefully wrapped the change into a small bundle and bent down to tuck it into
my sock. Major licked my face as I bent down. “Stop that, Major, your breath
stinks,” I giggled.
I ran for home with my parcel, Major trotting beside me and all the while
thinking up a good lie to tell my Ma about the jumper. She could smell a lie
and money in seconds and possessed the ability to get the truth out of anyone;
I was surprised that she wasn’t an interrogator for the government.
I spotted the butcher's shop on the way and decided to treat Major to some
scraps, as he really did get me the jumper I reckoned. Major was barred from
the local butcher's as he would run in and try to drag a side of beef off the
butcher’s hooks and was known for his daring raids, so I tied him to the
lamppost outside. He wouldn’t bite anyone as he could smell the meat and that
“Can I have a soup bone and a wee bit of liver please?” I asked. The butcher
checked the door for Major. “He is tied up, Mr. Cross” I explained. “He is
sorry about the dead cow he pulled down.”
The butcher smiled and wrapped up some liver and a big bloodied bone in
greaseproof paper. “It’s OK, Janey, no charge for the scraps and keep that
crazy dog back from my shop.”
Major wolfed down the wee bits of liver and chomped down on the bone and we
both marched home, happily. I realised that, if Major had a bone in his mouth, he would never
bite anyone, so maybe we had to keep him supplied with bones forever?
Ma was never told about the jumper or the cash, she never saw what I wore to
school and it eventually turned up in the washing bag. I had duped her!
The change from the ten pounds was stuffed up the disused chimney shaft in my
bedroom and I managed to eke it out for months, buying myself sweets and a
chicken supper at the local chippy - all, of course, eaten outside in the back
court with Major at my side.
So thanks for reading, if you want follow me on twitter
@JaneyGodley for updates.
Hello Podcast fans, Janey and Ashley here, as you probably know award
season is coming around and it’s not just the movies that are in the running. “The
village voice” is running the internet awards and we were both hoping that
you’d vote for us as your best podcast!
Follow the link below and in the podcast section write Janey Godley’s
Podcast then simply click submit – NO FORM FILLING - we hope you vote for us and we hope you
continue to enjoy the podcast (No 34. Best Podcast): http://tinyurl.com/ct47rxu