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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Joco Geordie - an appreciation

15th July 2013

This appreciation of the life of George Philp was first published in Lallans. The Centre is grateful to Lallans and David C Purdie for allowing us to reproduce this article here.  

George Philp passed awa lest Novembar aged 81, no sic a lang life bi the days standarts, but a life leived that weel, ye wunner whit wey he haed the time tae dae aa he did.

Maist Lallans readers wull ken that George wis howdied i Dunfermline, gaed til univairsity in Embro an practised as an osteopath in Glesca.  Yell ken forbye that he wis ane o yon mensefu collogue that, in 1971, trystit i the Royal Miles Wee Windaes Hotel tae foond the Lallans Society, nou the Scots Language Society or Scots Leid Associe.  An theyll ken o his michty darg wi Scotsoun alang o Allan Ramsay Allan bein The Sorcerer an George, The Sorcerers Apprentice.  Ive aye said that ae day somebody wull airt oot this undeimous traisure cried Scotsoun an Scotseen an Itll be Tutankhamun aa ower agane.

But I wint tae screive mair o George Philp, the man, an whit he meant tae me, an tae sae mony o the fowk that kent an looed him.

George cried hissel Joco Geordie an, certes, he wis cantie an cheery.  I cried him Vesuvius acause he wis heichtie an aye eruptin wi new schames an idaias lik the Robert Fergusson Statue.  Gordon Wright, a fere o baith George an the late Willie Neill, kirstent him Doc Rigbane.  That pleased George, the mair sae whan Willie Neill expoondit, The rigbane rins frae yer hause til yer erse!  That nem, or onywey the Doc pairt o it, gies ye the clue til Geordie acause he wis a medic, he aye tuik a bienlie interest in his fellow man.  Whaurivver he gaed, he wad get on the crack wi fowk an syne he wad hae waled thair hale life history ooten thaim.

I got involved wi the Fergusson Statue acause George haaled me alang til a meetin o the steerin comatie.  I wisna that shair I wintit tae jyne, but or lang I wis aa for the schame hert an sowel.  Ilk time I see Rob Fergusson steggin frae Cannigait Kirks yetts an heidin ower til the Poetry Leibrary, wi fowk cuddlin him an gettin thair photies tuik alang o him, I gie thanks for ma braw fere, Joco Geordie.  Embros best looed statue wad nivver hae gotten thare gin no for his drame an his ettle tae mak that drame come aboot.

I haed the plaisure o bein a gast o the Philps in yon braw hous in Ashton Road in the Wast En o Glesca, whaur George practised his osteopathy an whaur sae mony o the Scotsoun recordins wis made (it suid raelly hae a Blae Plaque pit up) an at Bogton Road, on the Sooth Side o Glesca forbye.  Whit baith thir hooses haed in cowmon wis the cosh walcum an the blythness that eiked intil ilka ruim an aiven oot til the gairden whaur the gryte man tentit his belovit sweet peas.

An aye thare wis Sheila, his ain lass an his muckle looed guidwife.  Its weel kent that ahent ilka gryte man is a guid wumman an Sheila wis that, quate, suithfast an leal, bidin i the backgrun but aye ready tae pit on the kettle an mak a haip o her braw sandwiches.  I mind her aince tellin me hou shed ingaithert seiventy different miniatures o single mauts ower ten year tae gie til George on his seiventieth birthday whit a douce an thochtie thing tae dae.

O coorse, George didna juist hae the ae lass thare wis his dochters forbye, Alison, Marion, Helen an Jean wha he looed weel an that looed him forbye.  He haed five granbairns an I ken hou muckle he dotit on thaim.  Forbye, thare wis Riach, his speiritie wee dug that thocht his maister wis the maist wunnerfae human bein that ivver draaed braith.  Surroondit wi sae muckle luve, its sma wummer he wis joco.

George haed his ain idaias on hou the Scots Leid suid be screivit an I ken fu weel that gin I win til the bit hes gane til, the first thing hell dae is gie me a tellin for no stickin til the principles o Scotscreive in this treibute til him.  Houanivver, the guid thing aboot George wis that ye cuid hae a guid flytin wi him an he nivver haudit it agin ye.  Yed mak yer pynt an hed juist lauch syne agree tae disagree.

George wis a Life Memmer o the Associe an naebodie wis mair wordy o that honour.  He suid hae been an MBE or Sir George Philp but, aiblins as a Scottish Nationalist that wadna hae been for him.  In time, itll dawn throu on  the warld juist hou mony chuckies he funged on Scotlands cultural cairn. 

I jalouse, houanivver, that for him, the luve o his faimilie, his frienships in the Scots Leid muivement an o sae mony o oor natiouns leiterary an artistic feigurs wad be honours eneugh.  Tae quit this life sae weel thocht o an wi siccan muckle darg duin is no gien til ower mony.

Fare ye weel Joco Geordie, we looed ye brawly for ye wis ane o a kynd.


David C Purdie