So I’m walking through Govanhill the only way I know how, slowly, repeatedly, religiously.
Walking these streets is just like going to church.
I don’t mean worshipping dead leaves by the railway line, praying on your knees before a boarded-up shop, or seeing the face of baby Jesus in a used nappy on the pavement.
I mean because it’s boring, it goes on too long and can’t I just stay in bed?
There must be a quicker easier way for my sins to be forgiven.
I could try being rescued by the dogs in the park, the freedom and abandon of these charismatic wee bandits, running around, chasing a ball, legs twirling.
Redemption every morning watching a puppy do a shite on the grass.
Walking these streets doesn’t clear your head either, it just muddles your thinking, adds extra complexity, a burden of truth it’s impossible to ignore.
Confusing your thoughts, darkening your outlook, multiplying grief, just like Shawlands Cross or Eglinton toll.
Rubbing salt into your wounds, pepper in your eye, mustard up your arse, just like Langside Avenue or Battlefield Road.
Forward into oblivion, or Pollokshields East at least, Pollokshields West at best.
Walking these streets doesn’t clear your head because your head is never clear, nothing ever is, you understand less, certain of nothing, trust in everything.
I walk therefore I’m not.
I do it because I don’t.
I can’t because I won’t.
See? Nothing is clear. Litter on the road, the rattling in your ears, dust in the creases of your face.
So you head out from Govanhill, out towards the light where the sky opens up, where everything looks bigger, things might be better, and you might be too.
Higher ground, clearer path to the truth and the light, the same light as on the tenth floor of that high-rise block, one solitary light on at seven in the morning, someone just finished work or just starting work, who gets up early or goes to bed late, or both at the same time, watching Starsky and Hutch, listening to Radio 4, tending their plants, rubber, cheese, succulent or savoury, too skint to turn the heating on.
There’s always a hill to climb, a decision to make, a puzzle to solve, so you keep on walking because it’s all you know, there’s nothing else to do.
Aye right, fresh air.
Nae bother, steps.
Very good, exercise.
It’s just daft shoes on black ice in dull darkness and cold wind and look and feel ridiculous.
Three cheers, Govanhill.