The beginning of the watery autumn sunlight did little to alleviate the metallic tang of the rusting barbed wire fenced aedificiums that served as my beloved city. Where once proud girders of metal and iron had encircled the girded loins of famous ships in parts of undress, now stood solitary and gazing down, stripped of their prized brass rivets and forlorn against the gentle pale green tile of corporation paintwork. Quiet moments in a silent world, a tired old ghost heaped in bricks and moss tinged stone, nothing stirred other than the early morning corporation buses leaking diesel and the hissing oath fae the drivers as they stumbled through yet another quagmire of fumbled gear changes. The fine rain was soft, if not insistent, just enough to be welcoming without casting ripples in puddles or broad droplets to spoil what promised to be a traditional family day in Glasgow.
We gathered, each in our resplendent wedding finery. A group of unfortunately intertwined families and friends, flawed by both gene and marriage, greeting each other with turpentine kisses and ice fingered handshakes that did nothing to mask the aversion of eyes, the bigoted blindness, the one vision of bitterness that had had such a devastating effect on us all. Religion, the ultimate beast, had cast its evil net over generations of usually sane people. The very crux of religion, allegedly begun with the killing of a holy man on a hill at Golgotha, somewhere near Jerusalem at the hands of others, now reuniting us at the tomb of prosperity that had once more risen from the Drumchapel ashes after the last war.
I ached not surprisingly for the morning taste of alcohol to wash away the complexity of getting through the black crows chapel scenario at the marriage of my niece. All around me stood blistering paint-peeled walls of which many an ancient fitba had been kicked against. I smiled inwardly at the memory that my own childer bring to me when I look back to my childhood days. The delicious waft of chubby little sausages cooking and spitting in the skillet as we scraped tatties from their skins and popped stalks fae fresh mushrooms as we told tales about how they were really tiny tables used by the aos sí in the woods. Gullibility in my children was a joy to behold in those wonderfully formative years. Shiny pieces of scattered Lego, Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars littered the dining room carpet, crayoned drawings and insane montages of sharks, bikes and Superman covered the fridge and scullery to remind me of the creation of life. I was, for the first time, a huge broad smelly horse that would vault around the hallways with excitedly whooping weans riding my broad back. Wonderful laughter as string tied to loose teeth via the auld oak doorknobs in the once catholic chapel, bounced high amongst the vaulted ceilings and gurgled repeatedly as raspberries blown on exposed bellies completed the mix. So many happy Glasgow family memories. This, as well as sausages, was to remain my only religion.
Glesga Bangers and Mash
4 Cumberland sausages (long, curled or pork bangers)
2 cloves garlic peeled and finely sliced
1 bunch fresh sage (leaves picked)
1 dash of olive oil
1 bunch fresh rosemary (leaves picked)
2 kilogramme's Irish tatties (peeled)
300 ml Scottish milk
120 grams Scottish butter
1 pinch of sea salt
1 pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 medium red onions (peeled and finely chopped)
80 ml balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
2 stock cubes (beef or chicken)
If you're using the traditional round Cumberland sausage, tuck the garlic and most of the sage leaves between the layers of sausage. If you're using normal sausages, untwist the links and squeeze the meat through, rolling them into a tight circle and pushing in the garlic and sage as you go. This will give the sausages a delicious flavour. Secure the sausages with a couple of skewers or some sharp rosemary stalks. Place them on an oiled baking tray, drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle them with rosemary leaves. Cook in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until crisp and golden.
Five minutes before the sausages are ready, remove the baking tray from the oven, place the rest of the sage leaves next to the sausages, drizzle with olive oil, and return the tray to the oven. The leaves will go nice and crispy. While the sausages are cooking, chop your potatoes into rough chunks and boil them in salted water until cooked. Drain well, using a colander, then return them to the pan. Mash until smooth, adding the milk, 70g of the butter. Season well to taste, then put the lid on the pan and keep warm at the back of the stove. Making the onion gravy is simple. Fry the onions really slowly in a little oil, covered, for about 15 minutes until soft. Remove the lid, turn up the heat and, as soon as the onions become golden brown, pour in the vinegar and boil until it almost disappears. Turn down the heat, add the rest of the butter, crumble in your stock cubes and 2¼ cups (560ml) water and stir well. Let this simmer until you have a nice gravy consistency.
To serve, dollop some oozy potatoes on the plate, chop up the sausages discarding the skewers, put them alongside the mash and spoon over the onion gravy. Scatter with the crispy sage leaves. Serve with a pot of tea and lots of company.