A week ago on Thursday as I awaited the platform announcement for my train home from London, Fliss texted me with the news that a long time family friend, George, had passed away earlier in the day. He’d been of poor health for a while and the combination of that and old age finally got the better of him.
Going back, I’m not exactly sure how George became woven into the fabric of our family – I think he’d go and watch the football at East King Street park back in the day and got talking to Cousin Iain. For whatever reason, George didn’t see anything of his own family, so as is common with our lot, he was welcomed into the fold.
If it was Christmas or a birthday then there’d be a place at the table for George, and once he became a regular fixture it was hard to remember a time when he hadn’t been around. Of course, we’d lost my Grampa back in the May of ’89, so George conveniently fitted into that grandfatherly role – more for Cousin Iain than myself, I suppose.
For reasons that I’m still not clear on, about 12 years ago George gave me a Glasgow Rangers pint glass that had details of the club’s past championship success and the like on it. As a busy 20-something I thanked George for the glass and stuck it on my shelf, but never thought as to exactly why he’d given it to me at the time.
It was only later when I took the time to look at the glass that I realised it had been produced to mark the 1873-1973 Centenary of Glasgow Rangers. Myself, being a relatively new Rangers fan at the time, I couldn’t really place the value of it in terms of what it represented. But, I mean, wow – it didn’t seem to be the kind of thing you’d cast away without a second thought.
In later years, as George got older, it became increasingly challenging to hold a conversation with him. He was kind of deaf and, for my part, I always struggled to know what to chat to him about. So we’d talk about Rangers, usually, although having lived in England for almost eight years now I’m out of touch when it comes to talking Scottish Football. Even so, I’d do my best to agree that we’d had a bad/good game at the weekend and occasionally remind George that I still had the glass – by way of letting him know I was taking care of it.
And that I have. It’s not on display or anything, but it’s kept at the back of a cupboard and has rarely been used for drinking out of – the day Rangers beat Celtic to the league title on the last day of the season a couple of years back springs to mind, but aside from that it’s in the same condition as it was the day he handed it to me. However, even as I look at it now, I still don’t know for certain why George gave it to me.
All I can think is that he was passing it on to me because he had no-one else of the younger generation to give it to whom it would mean anything to. He was much closer to Cousin Iain, but Iain was an Aberdeen fan, so by default – and quite undeservedly – I gained an impressive memento that was made just the year after I was born.
The reason this is relevant now is that although I thanked George when he gave me the glass, it was more of a “cheers, George!” kind of thankyou than a real recognition of what he was bestowing upon me. Of course, I realised later that I should have properly thanked him, but, as is so often the case, it’s something I never got around to – save for reminding him that I still had it now and then.
And this Christmas he wont be at the table or in the living room for me to remind him or to thank him. So here is as good a place as any to say, George – thanks for the glass. I’ll take good care of it and once in a while I’ll have a wee drink out of it if the occasion demands it. And, hopefully, I’ll pass it on myself to someone more deserving when the time comes.