THE BYRE on a Friday - Circa 1953

A case for Store Street at least!

 By Exile


I suppose it must have been the war,

That drove the men tae drink,

And women into places ,

Other than the kitchen sink,

At least there was consistency,

The war aye got the blame,

When things got lost, like nerves or hair,

Or faithers frae their hame,


If life was tough in Stanley,

It was tough the  whole world o’er,

The work was hard the pay was low,

They dare nae ask for more,

It wasnae any good complaining,

They just got on wae their job,

Looking forward until Friday,

When they’d get a couple o’ bob,


And they’d spend it far too quickly,

Once they got into “The Byre”,

Sinking pints o’ beer in seconds,

As though their tonsils were on fire,

A pint o’ beer, a rum and pep,

“We’ll have the same again”,

“Make sure that rum’s an OVD”

The pub would close by ten,


And so it was, the race was on,

 Tae pour it down their throats,

Standing cheek by jowl together,

At the bar like thirsty goats,

Loudly shouting out their orders,

To get heard above the din,

They would reach out offering shillings,

Bringing pint o’’heavy’ in,


They would open up their mouths and pour,

Their throats were just like tunnels,

They must have a’ had hollow legs,

And been filled up to the ‘gunnels’,

Due tae a’ this quick consumption,

The air would turn fair blue,

Empty stomachs hit wae alcohol,

Was a recipe for spew,


And many’s a time that happened,

An eruption frae their gut,

Parting company wae their false teeth,

Wished they’d kept their big mouths shut,

But the ‘Byre’ was ‘spit and sawdust’,

Where hard drinking was the game,

Men would have their bit o’ glory here,

It would be different at hame,


Wae glassy eyes that widnae focus,

On unsteady legs they’d lurch and sway,

Staggering homeward through the Pen Close,

Having spent most of their pay,

And when we saw them coming,

Just wee bairns, we ran awa’

For we knew they’d kick our backsides,

Just as hard as they’d kick a ba’,


Khaki “piece-bags” on their shoulders,

Wae their bonnets at a tilt,

Like the houses round about them,

They were tired but solid built,

With a touch of trepidation,

They would stagger to their door,

Their drunken looks betrayed them,

As they’d hand their money o’er,


That was always how it happened,

Clarky’s Bar had done the trick,

They’d go home and eat their dinner,

Spend another week on “tick”,

We’re no proud that these things happened,

It’s a fact, it must be said,

But our mothers filled our bellies,

And we were warm in bed,


We had nothing, but were happy,

All the families were the same,

What we had was scrubbed or polished,

We were proud to call it “Hame”,

And while these times were difficult,

More ‘difficult’ than ‘dire’,

You wonder what we could have had,

If it wasnae for ‘The Byre’.

 COPYRIGHT – Calluna Publishing 1998