PLANS for a marine engineering centre at Old Kilpatrick on the Clyde reminds us of the old Clyde shipbuilding stories that have appeared in The Diary over the years. One of our favourites was told by entertainer Andy Cameron who recalled the classic tale: "Jimmy McCrindle, aka The Pig, was a legend in Govan. The gaffer was passing him one day and enquired, 'Is that whisky ah can smell off your breath McCrindle?' The Pig replies, 'It better be, or that licensed grocer on Govan Road is gettin' a doin’.”

Bottled it

FUNNILY enough, drink appeared regularly in Diary shipbuilding tales. Shipyard painter Bob Starrett chronicled the UCS work-in with cartoons which were later published. He told the story of Wee Bunty the shipyard worker and her team who had sneaked in a half-bottle to their work. When it was finished she asked one of the painters to fill the empty bottle with turps.

Wee Bunty carefully replaced the cork, went back to the off licence, innocently explained that it smelled a bit off to her, and when the assistant reeled back from smelling it, he promptly replaced it with a fresh half-bottle.

Height of nonsense

TALKING of the UCS work-in, one of the trade union leaders then, Jimmy Reid, was not averse to telling the occasional story. He once told us of the shipyard worker's wife who approached him, concerned about rumours of job losses. "They're laying off six fitters," Jimmy told her. "That's a relief," she replied, "ma man's only five foot six."

Union benefits

WE also met a veteran of the work-in later in life when she was well into her eighties, but with no loss of zeal. She said she had been encouraging her granddaughter, a nurse in a Glasgow hospital, to join the union. When her granddaughter questioned the benefits of joining, her grandmother argued: "Well, for a start, you'll no' get back in gran's hoose until ye dae!" which seemed to convince her.

Boiled over

THE later foreign investment in Clyde shipyards also led to a few Diary stories. We were told about a boilermaker in the Govan yard during the brief time it was owned by Kvaerner of Norway. One day he was walking across the yard when they were accosted by a large Norwegian manager, who asked them, 'Can't you walk any faster?'. Look pal, this is a biler suit am wearing – no a track suit,' replied the boilermaker.”

And during pay negotiations at the old John Brown's yard, a shop steward declared: "Ah've tellt ye ... nae mair moolah, the bears are oot!" An American executive turned to a local colleague for elucidation, only to be told: "Basically, he's sayin' the ba's on the slates.”

Oh Danny boy

NICKNAMES in the yards were legion. We have only room for one – in Yarrow's one engineer foreman was called Danny Kaye. It was because his response to being asked anything mildly out of the ordinary was, 'Ah canny dae that'."

Bowled over

A STORY from management as Sandy Stephen, the last managing director of famous Clyde shipyard Stephen of Linthouse, told of HMS Kenya being commissioned during the war and the ship manager, Sanny Brown, losing his bowler hat while having a good refreshment at the farewell party in the wardroom. Sandy said the bowler hung in the wardroom for years and became dishevelled. When the ship returned to the Clyde the officers organised another party, invited Sanny, and yet again he was helped home a second time minus his bowler hat.

Dragged up

TOO macho the shipyards? We end therefore with a story from travel writer Patrick Richardson's autobiography where he wrote: "I went with a friend to a pub in Edinburgh's Portobello Road where she picked up a man and I picked up a sexy-looking, reddish-haired young woman. We took them back to a friend's flat where I was mortified to discover 'she' was a Glaswegian shipyard welder in drag.”