Scotland the Mad, Part I - Shanghai Georgie
It is a blessing as much as a curse that the 'Scottish Mail on Sunday' columns authored by the Hon. George Galloway MP are not available online. Let us merely say that he is no Mencken.
However, sometimes his columns do throw up interesting snippets - such as when he exposes himself as an author of drivelling rubbish.
The Scottish curse is parochialism, I know, but there are times when parochialism tempered with local knowledge can be useful. You see, Galloway is not a Glaswegian - he is instead a native of Dundee. Bear that in mind, it is important.
In a piece about why-we-should-all-love-Kosovar-asylum-seekers called 'If Jack wants immigration, why banish Elvis and co?', Galloway wrote,
"The Vucaj family left behind them a trail of broken hearts in Glasgow, a city seldom sentimental about asylum seekers.
When my maternal grandfather arrived barefoot on a cattle boat at Anderston Quay, the local lodging houses had signs saying 'No Dogs, No Irish', and he had to keep on walking the road and the miles to Dundee".
That there were ever boarding houses in the Anderston district of Glasgow displaying 'signs saying 'No Dogs, No Irish' is something of a revelation. Two of my own paternal forebears, my great-great-grandfathers Patrick Kelly and Peter Lyden, natives of Donegal and Galway respectively, found lodgings and settled in Anderston in the 1870's and 1880's, and Lyden's descendants live there to this day.
My father, a native Anderstonian, advises that he has never heard of such signs, nor that he ever heard of such signs being mentioned by any of his own relations.
One calls Galloway a deliberate liar at one's peril - so let us instead suggest that he is mistaken, and point him in the direction of Richard J. Jensen's 'No Irish Need Apply: A Myth of Victimisation' (hat tip - Peter Brimelow) and James Fulford's interesting little blog entry "NO DOGS OR CHINESE" Mythical Too.
Perhaps Galloway is like 'the old residents' of Shanghai to whom Fulford refers - the ones who said that such signs had formerly existed, but no photographs survive...for unless Galloway can confirm the date on which his grandfather arrived in Anderston, and the names and addresses of the boarding houses which displayed signs saying 'No Dogs, No Irish', then the experience and recollection of Anderston residents must surely carry a little more weight than Dundonian fireside lore.
Until he can produce such particulars, he shall be called 'Shanghai Georgie' in this space.
Surely Galloway of all people would not want himself thought of as a teller of tall tales - surely?
(Update, October 17 2005 - Yesterday, I forgot that another paternal great-great-grandfather, John Maguire, a native of Enniskillen, also settled in Anderston in the 1870's)