Immigration enriches a place, refreshes it, reminds a culture of its own neglected parts.
Things people used to do but don’t anymore.
Street football, street food, hanging around street corners.
Remember that was us? Immigration brings us closer to home.
Kids from Romania, Kurdistan and Somalia playing football on the basketball court in the park, just as we did when we were young, a Mitre 5 or a plastic job from the corner shop, black sannies or a pair of your granny’s wellies.
Sacred working-class knowledge passed down through word of foot.
We always played football, especially as adults, a game with the brothers every Saturday in the park, whatever the weather and whatever the hangover, then back to the cluttered house swirling in smoke with the endless stream of visitors and friends, relatives and neighbours, the hiss of beer cans opening and voices raised in drunken discussions about politics or Celtic and dad shouting at us to keep it down.
And now a fool like me is kicking a ball around with kids at the end of my street.
The global language of keepie-uppie, noble pastime, a pastime straight from the gods.
An Iraqi boy, fourteen, good player.
Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, head, chest, both knees, even that catching it on the back of the neck thing which always annoys me because you can never do that in a game but I let it go man, he’s only fourteen.
Then he passes to me – what, with my hamstrings? – and a clown’s hooter sounds or a comedy trombone starts up as I stumble and flap in mid-air and the ball bounces from my face to a car bonnet and out to the main road and as I run to retrieve it I’m nine years old again, a bus driver beeping his horn and shaking his fist, me giving him a cheeky wee wave. Hope he doesn’t call the fuzz.
So cheers Kurdistan, Romania and Somalia, for reminders of the old city, city that’s always changing but where a good first touch always remains.
We belong to Glasgow.
Drink, smoke, football, die. That’s what we do.