Today saw the last full council meeting of the present Renfrewshire Council and the last meeting for the seven people pictured below. All seven are retiring as councillors after 140 years of service between them. Longest server 35 yrs. shortest 8 yrs.
Barbara Adams 8 yrs a councillor and daughter of two MP's Irene and the late Allen, mother of Mirin 8yrs. A dynamic young woman with energy, and commitment to the cause, we will here more of her in the future.
What makes her different from the others apart from being an attractive young woman is the fact that she has her own teeth and doesn't have a deaf aid. A fierce intellect and a tongue like an adder - a go ahead business woman, lecturer and politician, a right clever clogs in fact - we will miss her.
John ( papa ) McDowall reputed to be around 70 yrs old, claims that the dead sea was only sick when he was a boy, life long member of the 'Paisley Man Society' ' puts a fork in the sugar bowl ' before having a hip replacement he asked the surgeon if he could have the old bone for the dug. 35 yrs a councillor with Paisley Burgh, Strathclyde Region and Renfrewshire Council, ex taxi driver who once took suit cases to Glasgow and left their owner standing at Glasgow Airport. Ex Provost and Mr. Popular ( he knows where the bodies are buried ) a good natured and genial old buffer with a permatan and an outrageous dress sense, in a previous age he would have been referred to as a 'dandy' sometimes gives the impression that he doesn't have both paddles in the water but many have found to their cost that he's as sharp as a tack - we miss him already.
Bob McGerty 'BIG BOAB' to everyone, 19 yrs. no remission, another survivor of the Strathclyde Regional Gulag, an honorary Renfrew man originally from the wild Northern Glasgow area of Springburn. A musician and singer of some repute, his neighbours have been known to smash his windows when he is practicing, the better to hear him says Boab. One of the genuine 'good guys' I haven't met anyone who doesn't get along with 'big McGerty'. A survivor and gourmet who leaves at a time when everyone was convinced he was trying to burn down the building with his cooking in the wee council kitchen. He wears the same size clothes as he did 40 yrs. ago despite putting away grub like a starving dug in a black puddin factory, like his fellow Renfrew man Cllr. Alex Murrin he never leaves the house without his knife and fork in a wee case in his pocket. He has been a constant fighter for the rights of workers, race and sex equality and many more good causes he typifies the good decent Labour man and is a Socialist to his fingertips. He intends now to spend time with his wife Joyce, at the caravan with her and the dog 'jooking' out for a pint then into the bookies, back for a wee hauf, we are all jealous. Good luck big man.
Burns, 'Ronnie' - Provost of this parish, over seventy since you ask, reputedly of Glaswegian origin now domiciled in Linwood, old style trade union fixer with a long memory, 20 yrs service. Clings to Glasgow roots by regularly visiting well known football shrine in the east end, possibly Shettleston Juniors ? Known for getting the job done and no nonsense, could easily have been a stand up comedian, you wouldn't dare not laugh. A comrade of the old school who knows the score, you can't replace experience like that. His motto was "Genghis Khan didn't become great by calling meetings, he did it by killing all his opponents" Happy Retirement.
Jim ( Tony Soprano ) Harkins - ( The Boss ) - ( Big Jim ) ( Mr. Johnstone ) and the leader of the council and of the Labour Group, a well nigh impossible task carried out with aplomb by him, 23 yrs. service. Known for his prodigious memory and his habit of swatting aside his political opponents in the chamber like flies, could have been 'done' for cruelty many times against the hapless SNP leader Cllr. Mackay and the bumbling Lib. Dem. leader Cllr. McCartin both of whom are destined to carry the mental scars and bruises that he has inflicted on them, they beamed with content and relief as Jim said farewell today. His whole family are Labour stalwarts and they make up a formidable team. Jim leaves a legacy of New Schools, New Elderly Homes, New Respite Centres, A smoke free council, and much more, he has left his mark, when the Queen visited Johnstone locals were heard to say "who's the wee wumman talking tae big Jim" Happy retirement.
Manser, Richard - Able Seaman in a former life, once boarded a Chinese Junk in Hong Kong Harbour to search for contraband and, while struggling to climb the boarding net he passed his rifle up to the smiling wee Chinaman who was watching him with bemusement, thanks China said he when he got on board, it's bloody well true, honest to god it is. Hard line Marxist Socialist who has never taken a backward step in his life, incredibly hard political worker with a brain like a gin trap - generous to a fault and a talented scribbler - by contrast can become a big sixties softy hippy with an encyclopedic knowledge of the beatles but, above all, a loyal and faithful friend and comrade - the Labour Party needs more like him, he doesn't want or need your sympathy or even your agreement, he settles for being allowed to put his argument, which I can assure you is formidable. The first name on the team sheet when the going gets tough.
McNally, 'Rab' 12 yrs. a 'trustee' - an Erskine man but, sound for all that, originally frae Partick, ex trade union convener in Babbies and a fan of Partick Thistle nil. All time winner of the award for the funniest heckle I've ever heard, we (Labour) pulled a stroke in the chamber which caused the SNP Cllrs. to explode in fury, shouting, swearing, threatening, foaming at the mouth and chewing the carpet, amid all this uproar and hullabaloo McNally was heard to shout "they don't like it up em captain" cue chaos, everyone, including those who think themselves above this kind of thing were completely undone and fell apart at the hilarious brilliance and timing of Rab's intervention ( I still wonder if he had it planned, was he saving it up ? ) Everyone, including the most senior of senior executives gave in to laughter, as chief whip responsible for discipline I also gave up and laughed myself into a black knot. When Rab isn't singing (his description ) he is working out ways to wind someone up. Best of luck to him.