Friday evening 21 11 08 - to the Beechwood Centre in Shortroods for a ‘wee night’ to celebrate the contributions made by local volunteers to the running of the centre and it’s many clubs and activities, the hall looked fine in the half light with little coloured bulbs around the edge of the walls. A lonely apprehensive man stood in front of the stage with a keyboard in front of him, he was the cabaret, at this point he looked more like the buffet but it was early yet. In the time honoured Shortroods tradition it was a “bring yer ain bottle” night, this arrangement saves money on a bar and also means that you can’t get refused another swallie on the grounds that you’ve had enough by the barman, because of course you are the barman/woman.
The lonely ‘one man band’ struck up at 7.15 pm and by 7.20 the floor was heaving, have you ever noticed that it is mainly women who take the floor, it’s a Scottish male thing I think, the wee musician knew his audience and any flagging in the dancing was sorted out by another “line dance” an incomprehensible affair which they all seem to do as if hypnotised but good fun for all that, here is where you learn that “the way to Amarrilo” is a bloody serious business. At one point I realized that it was not just the case that mainly women took the floor but quite alarmingly it dawned on me that, if you excluded the hall keeper who was dragged up to dance, and the band who, talented as he was could not cope with playing and dancing, there were only 3 men there, me, Cllr. Tommy Williams and Cllr. Kenny McLaren, armed as always with pens and small note pads to cope with those who see any meeting with a councillor as an impromptu surgery. There were about one hundred women and by now, three rather nervous men. Group jeopardy bonded us despite political differences as we were persuaded to dance by an assortment of partners of all ages, I know it isn’t a pleasant thought, me and the other two on a dance floor but refusing was not an option. By this time, many revellers were thinking that they had been drinking invisible ink and no one could see the antics of them, dozens of mobile phone cameras were no deterrent.
We survived to cope with the magnificent buffet and the inevitable ‘Bingo’ we three councillors gave out certificates of merit to the worthy volunteers and a great night was had by all, I could probably do it all again, once I get the stitches out that is. By the time the ‘band’ was playing “auld land syne” he could have been wearing boxing gloves and no one would have noticed.
The ‘Beechwood’ is a constant in the lives of the people of the area and as such is a fine example of community spirit and commitment. Renfrewshire Council supports them and it is well worth the effort, I love going down there, I remember many great nights and the enjoyment my family had there years ago, my children were involved in everything that went on, we will I’m sure continue to provide this support and I’m sure the centre will continue to thrive, well done to all of them and best wishes for the future.