Mr. McCall is happy, affa happy, unco happy…

Date: 22nd January 2022

Mr. McCall is happy, affa happy, unco happy…

It is time to put the tinsel away in the shopping centre in mid Maryhill…

It has been a tough year and the problems around COVID have made things doubly bad. Just at its height there were decisions made by “the high heid yins” that caused rancour, bitterness and made people feel, well to be honest, relegated to the lowest point they could be.

But then came back, Mr. McCall and all was made right again…

Picture the scene…

Mr. McCall was once the store manager. It was a few years ago and he always brought a feel good feel to the staff. Just before he left he was dishing out generous contracts and just being the guy who could make you go out and sell twice what you thought you could. The store was a happy place.

Then Mr. McCall got a bit sick, and things went sour for him. He left.

He never really explained why but as soon as he got a wee job down the coast and got things back on track, a few years after leaving, the store were always muttering in the corridors that it would be good to get him back.

And so, the middle managers listened and when they could, they asked him to return.

The McCall effect was not immediate. There were people at the store who never knew him before and they needed to be cleared out so that he could spread his magic touch.

Then came that relegated feeling.

Mr. McCall was incandescent.

That was unusual because usually Mr. McCall was quite a calm figure – never too boiled over in a  conflict and he had a genuine love for the store. He loved being here and he loved being a part of it all, so to see him in a furious mood did not sit well with him or those who cared about him.

Christmas was perfect for him and, you guessed it, he would not let anyone else play Santa for the Christmas party – socially distanced, not in a garden and not a works do – of course.

This time round there was something different in Mr. McCall.

When he had been the manager before it had been quite a tough time. People whispered about him and there were quite a few who plotted – Mr. McCall had been in charge for a while and things were getting stale – according to some. He was affected by that. His confidence waned a little and given that he had been at bigger stores, like one in Dundee, people thought this strange. They didn’t find him leaving strange, but it was the abrupt way it happened.

One day he was doing interviews and the next day he was gone.

The time out seems to have made him happier and that translated into how he worked with people and made them feel like they were on top of the world.  They knew that their store was the best store in the world. They knew that their customer service was the best customer service in the world and the toilets, well they were, definitely, the best toilets in the world.

Christmas was simply the conclusion to being part of the store for a whole year. People loved it. And people loved Mr. McCall.

But now the tree was gone, the decorations were back in boxes and whilst they were not the busiest store in their street it was a long way from the times that Mr. McCall was not at the store. He was standing in the middle of the store holding the last bit of tinsel in his hands. People were gathered awaiting his wisdom.

And they got a familiar story.

It was the one where the rival store sent their managers over for a wee drink after an awards ceremony down the Chamber of Commerce. The rival store manager Mr. Smith was very respectful. He knew that Mr. McCall losing the award was sore on him. He kept his counsel. His assistant a cheeky chappy, well known in all retail circles, a Mr. McCoist, was unable to hold onto his ego that night. He asked Mr. McCall if he had noticed that he, Mr. McCoist, had won not one, not two but a hat trick of awards the week previously. Mr. Smith was trying hard not to giggle when Mr. McCall burst out laughing and the tension was eased. That was Mr. McCall all over the place – able to see the funny side of things.

And here he was with the tinsel in his hand, the last vestige of the celebrations just gone and his team were smiling, loving life once more. They had won an award last year and the high heid yins had been banned from coming to see them celebrate. That was him too – he had the ability to remain true to his feelings.

As he surveyed the scene and saw that there were some who might not make it to the next Christmas – their store transfer requests were on his table and in his in tray for dealing with – he knew that things had improved – he had improved, and the staff were being sought after by other stores. There was gratitude around the store, and he felt he was back where he wanted to be. Who knows if there would be more celebrations at the tail end of the year when he could be back amongst the big boys in the Premier League of store and retail management?

He cared not a jot.

He went back to his office, his inner sanctum, and there poured himself a cup of coffee in a  Styrofoam cup, because when life is on its axis everything tastes good.


Whilst the author asserts his right to this as an original tale, there is no evidence that Mr. McCall  ever ran a store in Maryhill, unless you know differently, therefore this is clearly a work of fiction, though it does use the interview in the BBC of Mr. McCall as its inspiration.

The fact is that Tom English went to see Ian McCall to interview him for the BBC. In it, the fact that McCall had banned the SPFL and SFA from coming to the Partick Thistle celebrations when they won the league title – his second ever league title, BTW – and how Walter Smith and Ally McCoist had been in his “inner sanctum” for a wee drink after a game with McCoist after a cup game they had squeezed through with McCoist telling his tale of his hat trick in a game the week before, and then being pictured in his big Thistle coat with a warm mug of something in a Styrofoam cup, made me smile. The lower leagues have legendary figures that have given so much for individual teams – McGraw and Campbell being ones that come to mind but Ian McCall for Ayr United – for whom he won his first league title – and Thistle have added this man as a legend – why? Cos he is.

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