"A born writer, especially a born story-teller. Dr. Sutherland, who is distinguished in medicine, is an amateur in the sense that he only writes when he has nothing better to do. But when he does, it could hardly be done better." G.K. Chesterton.
Continuing the series of Dr Sutherland’s childhood memories of Glasgow.
My playground was the Necropolis on the hill to the right of the Cathedral. To enter you cross “The Bridge of Sighs” which spans a valley through which the Molendinar Burn once ran, but on the bed of the burn is now a road. On summer evenings, when the gates of the Necropolis were closed to the public, I played among the trees, vaults and tombstones with Donald Grant, whose father was superintendent of this city of the dead. We had no fear of ghosts, and the place was quite cheerful. In the rock facing the Bridge of Sighs was a cavern closed by gates of iron bars, but it was possible to climb over the gates and within the cave were barrels of gunpowder kept for blasting. From the magazine Donald Grant and I obtained powder for our toy cannons and hime-made fireworks. I think the lad is now a missionary in China.
I often passed along the road under the Bridge of Sighs on my way to Dennistoun Swimming Baths; and once on that road I saw a sight that few have ever seen. There was thunder in the air, but rain had not yet fallen. I was walking on the pavement, and saw in the centre of the road alongside me a globe of dazzling light about four feet in diameter. It ws moving along the road faster than I, and was soon twenty yards ahead of me. Then came a loud report, and it shot straight up into teh sky. On returning home I reported what I had seen to my somewhat incredulous parents. Years later I read of ball lightening, they mystery of which, so far as I know, has never been explained. The thing left an indelible impression on my memory. For several years I would sometimes dream of a ball of yellow light coming towards me. I had no fear until I realised what it was — God. Then my yells aroused the household, and I would awake bathed in perspiration.
From A Time to Keep (1934).
Photo credit: Photograph of Glasgow Necropolis by Finlay McWalter.