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wait a cotton-pickin' minute

The statement by Peter Kearney, the Catholic Church's spin doctor, about us RCs being the blacks of Scotland brings memories flooding back of life on the plantation in the deep south of Glasgow.

Walking along the banks of the Brock Burn to my segregated school and singing: "He don't plant taters, he don't plant cotton. Those that plant them's soon forgotten. Old man river, he just keep rollin' along."

Those Househillwood Burning nights when the glare of the fiery crosses outside the window made sleep impossible. And to think the very sheets on their backs had been bought through the menage my mother ran.

Putting up with the ignominy of the Sean Crow laws. Having to step off the pavement to make way for Protestant folk. Having to sit up the back of the bus. Being thrown off for singing our protest anthem "The front of the bus ain't got no natural rhythm."

Sitting round the fire at night while pappy told folk tales of how great-grand-pappy was herded into a boat and brought across the Irish Sea and on arrival at the Broomielaw sold into employment by gang masters. How great-grand-pappy rejected his slave name Alasdair Farquharson and would shout to the skies: "My name is Paddy McGinty, an Irishman of note."

How we black Gorbals Irish were promised 40 acres and a mule after emancipation but only got a four-in-a-block house in Pollok. But at least we could keep the mule in the bath.

How the Protestant folk kept the best jobs at Glasgow Corporation to themselves and Catholics had to get elected as a Labour councillor and then become lord provost.

That stirring speech: "I have been up to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there to Ibrox with you. But I want you to know that one day some of our people will play for Rangers."

The other dream that colour will one day be irrelevant. Orange girls will walk hand in hand with green boys. She will ask her mum: "Guess who's coming to tea?" He will say "That's a lovely painting of King William on his white horse."

l The author is a well-known Uncle Tom who has spent 40 happy years of Glasgow Herald wage slavery with his master George Outram.

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