I’VE been thinking a lot about the ways I was coerced into behaving as a wee boy. The one, I’m sure most if not all readers will be familiar with, is the infamous “Maggie Murphy’s Home”.

I’d be acting up as a wean, perhaps asking too many questions or just being difficult in general. In the midst of my tantrum, my granny would very calmly reach for the house phone.

“Who ye phoning?” I’d ask, through tears and snotters. “Maggie Murphy,” she’d reply, with more than a hint of threat in those four syllables.

“Naw,” I’d plead. “Please don’t. I’ll be good,” I’d plead and then behave until further notice, afraid that Maggie would come and take me away.

Maggie Murphy was the owner of a supposed home for bad and unruly children.

Its location was unknown to me however it must have been close to Garthamlock and the fact that the proprietor was able to come and collect any child at a moment’s notice, no matter how small their crime was, and still is, quite scary to me.

The fact that my pals in my early years, through nursery and primary, had also been threatened with a visit from her, only led more gravitas to the threat.

I do wonder where this story came from. Did a load of parents get together to create it? Did they all decide that they had to create a believable boogeywummin and that that would be the only way to keep us weans in check? Or is there a real Maggie Murphy out there somewhere?

What about the other woman who seemed to run a similar operation known as Rosie’s Home? Real or imagined, they’re both terrifying.

There was another, perhaps even more sinister cautionary tale my granny once told me. On dark winter’s night, she sat me down, after a long day of me being a nightmare, and relayed this story to me.

A young woman was once working on a tottie farm, picking the totties out from the ground and putting them in a wee basket.

She came across a tottie that was different from the rest. It was bigger and also seemed to have some hair on it.

A bit scared but curious, she put it in her basket and took it home with her.

Later that night, she heard some heavy footsteps and a deep, rumbling roar that appeared to be getting closer to her.

My granny punctuated this story here by slapping her hands on the couch to imitate the footsteps.

I was terrified. “Wit wis it?” I asked, shaking with fright. She said that the footsteps then stopped outside her front door and all went quiet.

My granny went silent for effect, letting the story so far hang heavy in the air.

Then she slammed her palm against the table and told me that whoever or whatever it was at the lassie’s door started knocking on it.

My granny lowered her voice into a growl and said, “Then the hing said suhin. It said where’s ma hairy toe?! And burst in and ate her and took its toe back.”

I remember I had to stop myself from actually screaming here. “The hing’s name wis Hairy Toes.” The story was so scary that she didn’t even have to describe what Hairy Toes looked like, just his words and actions were terrifying enough.

The story coalesced in my mind to create a mental image of the monster. I imagined it was about seven feet tall, glowing red eyes, horrible sharp teeth and giant feet ending with nine large and hairy toes.

I was told that if I didn’t eat all my dinner Hairy Toes would get me. If I didn’t stop moaning, he’d get me.

If I took too long to get ready for school, he’d get me. I find it funny that parents and grandparents come up with these stories to make weans behave when really just the threat of being shouted at off them would have been enough to make me be good.

I also love hearing people threatening their weans with the “Bad Fire”.

There’s nothing more scary to a child than telling them that their actions are so bad that they’re literally going to be dragged away to hell for an eternity of pain and punishment. Or the more simple threat of “The Man”.

A mysterious figure, a mercenary I assume, who is always available to “get” children. I liked when my maw would point to an innocuous-looking guy and tell me that he was going to get me.

I assumed they were all the same guy but he could shapeshift or something. He could be seen in the Forge, Easterhouse shopping centre and even up Robroyston all on the same day.

Maybe we should get my granny to sit down with the coronavirus and tell it if it doesn’t go away she’ll be on the phone to Maggie Murphy, Hairy Toes and The Man.