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Brother Bradshaw

To Crieff for Jotter's annual date with the Catholic secondary heads, a grand occasion which is always a happy mix of spirits and the spiritual.

This was a particularly noteworthy year for it was the swansong of Tommy Bradshaw, the denominational sector's answer to Billy Connolly, whose day job is as heidie at St Timmy (sorry, Tommy) Aquinas Secondary in Glasgow.

Bradshaw was almost upstaged before his after-dinner speech got going when he was introduced by fellow heidie Bernie Fagan of St Ambrose High in Coatbridge as "the man who put the ache into panache".

Bradshaw is a fully rounded Bellshill man, brought up there and lived there for the past 37 years. His affection for the place is palpable. "Every time I go home by train, I'm filled with a sense of wonder," he said. "I wonder if my car's going to be there . . .

Bellshill, he mused, would be "a cultural desert" if it wasn't for the bookies and the bingo.

There is still a drive to teach English, Bradshaw revealed. One local was heard to ask: "Gie's a drink of coke?" To which his helpful pal replied: "Have you never heard of the word 'gonnae'?"

Things have changed in Bellshill, where employment for boys used to be in the steelworks. There was one lad, Bradshaw recalled, whose name was R Slater but was inevitably nicknamed "Heid First". Say that one again.

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