You would think, three women, what’s scary about that? But let me tell you, I have never come across a more intimidating group, not in Govan, not in the classroom, not anywhere. I know for a fact that if you have these three on your side, you’ll get things done and nobody will stand in your way. But if they’re not on your side…
They’re all in their forties, one married, one divorced, one flitting from one partner to another. Their children are teenagers, but they live to be mothers still, thanks to unemployment benefit. The eldest is of course the leader: she juts her chin out more than holds it back, and walks with a strutting kind of purpose. The other two always wait for Hilary to pick sides and speak out, before they make a move. If one gets on a committee, the others follow. They all use the same shade of hair dye, and their cuts are all in varying lengths, but an identical style.
In fact, I didn’t know they were sisters until I saw them all together, volunteering for the school committee. The middle one laughed and sang out “Sisters gonna do it for themselves”. It was actually themselves: no-one else dared to join up after that. They do get things done, especially if they’re all together. Last year, everyone had to contribute something for the raffle. This year, the sisters have got all the shopkeepers to donate huge amounts instead. Their children are mainly quiet and docile – maybe because their mothers take up all the decision and conversation space in the house. That’s not to say that the sisters are in any way unpleasant or unkind. If somebody in the community is in trouble, they will rally. They’re at every funeral, every march, every occasion. They know everyone by name, what car they drive, where they live, how many children they have. When I meet the eldest on the street, she smiles and I think she knows everything about me, even though we’ve never had a conversation.
Brotherhood has long been hailed as an unconquerable force, but if you saw these sisters, you might admit that there’s a power as strong, if not stronger.