Peter Mullan has an enviable and estimable record of appearing in and directing marvellous movies. His greatest works of genius, I contend, are the directing of Gary Lewis in Orphans and the reopening of Govanhill Baths.
The latter should be henceforth known as Calder Street II: Just When You Thought It was Safe To Go Into The Water.
The Govanhill Baths were, of course, known to the aquatic community of Busby, then home to myself and other water babes, simply as Calder Street. It is where we trekked for an afternoon in the water, though only when we could not break through the crust of sewage on the Cart.
It may seem unusual to those accustomed to modern times that the nearest baths to Busby were some miles away. However, facilities for recreation in those days were restricted to strips of grass where we assaulted each other in the blessed name of football, a septic river, a couple of big trees and, well, that was it.
We had to make our own entertainment in those days and parents made sure we made it as far from the house as possible. This strategy occasionally involved them giving up their hard-earned dosh for a visit to the baths.
What seems a routine trip nowadays was a veritable expedition in the old days. It first involved getting on a bus, trying to avoid a fare and being thrown off short of destination. The half-fare for children was a cause for general merriment. There were guys who had more hair than a Yeti who insisted they were 12. Conductors, understandably, accepted these assertions on the basis that they wanted to finish their shift in the pub rather than in casualty.
Arrival at Calder Street made Mumbai airport during a security alert seem a haven of calm. The queue would stretch so far that one would be forgiven for believing Calder Street contained liquid gold rather than water so chlorinated that its fumes once watered the eyes of an astronaut on a moon landing.
Entry to the baths was gained eventually and booths were grabbed for the quick change into tatty trunks.
Then followed the big moment: entry to the pool. The noise and turmoil in the green-hued waters was so violent one thought the mass of swimmers were being attacked by a shoal of sharks. This is absurd, of course. No shark would have had the bravery to confront a South Sider taking the waters. It is why Mullan was never in Jaws.
The water levels in the pool were at dangerous levels because of the amount of swimmers packed into its restricted area and, perhaps, because most of them had consumed at least a bottle of ginger on the way to Calder Street.
The seething huddle of young Scottish humanity was a frightening sight. There were reports of kamikaze pilots refusing to dive into these waters. It did not, of course, deter the pride of South Side youth from "bombing" into the pool from a great height. The bath attendants, fearful of their own safety, made muttered protest about this to little effect. It may be best just to say that if the teenagers had been in charge of "bombing" Germany during the Second World War it would all have been over by Christmas.
The frenetic spell in the water that bubbled as if it was Bovril infested by piranhas was brutally short. You were hauled out after what seemed like minutes to be replaced by another white body with black knees.
There was the traditional fight on the way back to the changing booth. There one found a towel so flimsy that it could not soak the drool from your grandpa's chin. And, believe me, we tried.
It only remained to spill out – we were more water than human – on to Calder Street. There was no prospect of a bus home because any fare was about to be spent on the diet of champions.
There was a cafe that sold a carton of peas swimming in vinegar, though it may have been chlorine. It may have been in Craigie Street. It may have been in Allison Street. Who can remember? But, equally, who can forget Calder Street?
Peter Mullan knows the script. He now just needs to cast Gary Lewis as a "bomber".