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From today's Wickers World
Here are a few samples of one of the most endearing characters of that era,
clippie Big Aggie MacDonald, whose down-to-earth humour and laser-like
delivery will, I hope, raise a chuckle during these dreich January days.
Her aff-the-cuff humour was certainly raw – she didn’t pull any punches when
dealing with passengers:
“In aw yer time oan the caurs, huv ye ever had an accident, Aggie?” asked a
regular on the No. 14 to Kelvingrove.
“Nut wan,” replied Aggie emphatically.
“Ah wid o’ thocht it could be a right dangerous joab, especially oan a
“Well,” admitted Aggie, “Ah’ve been hit o’er the heid wi’ a handbag, had a
bag o’ chips tossed at me, an’ my ankle nipped by a wee dug.”
“An’ ye don’t call these accidents?”
“Nut on yer life. The buggers did it oan purpose!”
The queue at Partick Cross was huge but the tram was almost full. Big Aggie,
standing on the rear platform, roared: “Wan only!”
At the head of the queue was a Glasgow worthy and his greyhound. As he
stepped forward to mount the platform, Aggie moved forward. “Ah said wan only!
“But it’s only a dug.”
“You can get oan, or yer dug. Naw both!”
“Well, nane o’ us will get oan in that case!”
A lady, second in the queue, moved onto the tram, Aggie rang the bell and off
went the caur. The man with the greyhound shouted after Aggie: “Away an’
stuff yer tram up yer jumper!”
Aggie yelled back: “Aye, an’ if you’d stuffed yer dug up yer jumper, ye’d
baith huv goat oan!”
The lady of easy virtue sat upstairs smoking. She wore bleached hair falling
in crimped waves beyond her shoulders, had a tiny nose and a large pouting
mouth. Her eyes were deep-set and dark.
She had finished selling her charms for the night, and managed to catch Big
Aggie’s late-night tram home.
“That you away hame, hen, tae get a bed tae yersel, then?” was Aggie’s
observation as she collected her fare.
The young man who had just come on board looked around for the conductress.
“Hey! Do you know that the front destination board on this tram says it’s a
15 to Baillieston but it has number 32 on the side?” he remarked with a smug
“Well, let me tell you something, Mister Smart Erse,” replied Aggie. “This
tram is goin’ furrit, no sidywize!”
“Ferrs, pal-leeze! Noo, where are ye going, mister?” asked Big Aggie.
“Ah’m goin tae ma first wife’s fur ma tea.”
“Can the new wan no cook, then?”
“How lang have ye been on the caurs noo, Aggie?” enquired one of her regular
passengers. “An’ before that, did ye have a war record?”
Aggie: “Hey, that’s two questions. Twenty years and three by Vera Lynn.”
The auld fella, obviously fleein’ drunk, had got on at Charing Cross. He had
already given the unwilling company on the lower saloon deck two renditions
of “San Francisco”.
When Aggie arrived for his fare, he searched every pocket in vain. “Looks
like ah’ve left ma money wi’ ma heart, in San Francisco, darlin’,” he
smiled at Aggie.
“Well, ah left MA heart back at the depot. Aff. O-F-F, aff!”
Aggie had taken the opportunity during a quiet spell to repair her make-up.
As the tram trundled along, out came the perfume bottle which she applied
At the next stop, which was Anniesland, wee Inspector Campbell came on board.
He sniffed a number of times before commenting: “This tram smells like a
brothel, Mrs MacDonald.”
“Speakin’ fae experience, then?” replied Aggie.
One of the passengers was an ex-conductress, wee Bella, who had left the
trams some months previously when she married. “So, how’s it goin’ wi’ you
and that new man o’ yours?” enquired Aggie.
“See him,” replied Bella, “ah’ve goat him eatin’ oot o’ ma haun.”
“Ach, well, replied Aggie, “saves ye huvin’ tae wash the dishes.”
The two stony-faced sisters sat together downstairs every morning on Aggie’s
tram. They continually followed Aggie’s every move in a critical frosty-eyed
silence. Finally Aggie could stand it no longer and the next day, as she
collected their fares, she remarked: “Huv you two come oot again an’ left
Cinders in hersel?”
The Adventures of Big Aggie Mac-Donald the Glasgow Tramcar Clip-pie is
published by Vital Spark, an imprint of Neil Wilson Publishing, and should be
available from local bookshops, priced £5.