A RETIRED Arbroath man has had a book published more than 50 years after conceiving the idea.
Set in post-war Glasgow, it is the true story of his childhood, which was one of enduring poverty and hardship.
As a boy, Allan Kelly had fancied the idea of being a writer, and even then he felt his unusual childhood would make a good story. He had always loved reading, and writing was his favourite activity in class.
But deemed a failure at school, he didn’t pursue the idea. Leaving with no qualifications, he went from one labouring job to another. Variously he worked at Wills cigarette factory, Collinses clothes factory, and on Glasgow Corporation buses. Later he found himself working on the construction of a stretch of motorway at Provanmill.
With unemployment rising at the end of the 1970s, he moved with his family to Arbroath where he worked at the Foundry for several years before setting himself up as a self-employed window cleaner. It was meant to be a temporary measure, but he ended up sticking with it for 25 years.
Yet during this time he still harboured his childhood dream of writing a novel. Finally, with his own children grown up, he set down the story of his childhood in Glasgow. Even then the book sat in a drawer for 10 years gathering dust before it was typed up by his grandson on computer. Now at the age of 66, Allan is delighted to finally see his story in print. When asked what motivated him to write ‘Boy of the Garngad,’ Kelly explained: “I always felt I had something to say. I guess because my father was killed in the war when I was born and because my mother suffered as a result. Plus, I think a lot happened in my childhood that was unusual.”
He added, “I believe it’s true that everyone has a story to tell.”
A few days after Allan was born, his father was killed in the Second World War. In the book, he recounts his mother’s struggles with debt and deteriorating health as she tries to raise two children on her own.
There was another motivation for the author: he wanted to sketch out a portrait of how life was for folk back in the 1940s and ‘50s. Allan said he felt impelled to describe a way of life from a bygone era for future generations to look back on. Who now can recall the backcourt singers, the rag-and-bone man, or street games like moashie? Well, it’s all there in ‘Boy of the Garngad.’ A boy’s dream is finally achieved.
The book is on sale now at www.boyofthegarngad.com as well as Amazon and other online bookstores.