Flapping tongues and slanging rhyme

Polish/Romanian shop in Govanhill, Glasgow

The rich languages of our streets. Unknown accents and blunt throats, the flapping tongues and the slanging rhyme.

Home counties English, Irish Gaelic, Romanian, Slovakian and Polish. Urdu, Kurdish, Arabic and Somali. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iraq. Cowcaddens, Bishopbriggs, Thornliebank.

The immigrant’s tale in every city. Unskilled jobs, minimum wage part time temporary labour. Living in crowded, dangerous, noisy neighbourhoods, with the most exotic fruit shops, the best takeaways and dozens of pubs.

Who else is going to work in our hot foam car washes, meat processing factories, warehouses, all-night restaurants and multi-storey car parks? Who will be the delivery drivers, cleaners, packers and crop pickers, except me and my fellow immigrants?

Cheers, global capitalism.


Nae luck, Manhattan skyline

The Glasgow Gurdwara, Sikh temple in Pollokshields, close to Govanhill

There’s a beautiful moment in the life of everyone who walks down Pollokshaws Road, looks left before they reach the Tramway and sees this.

It’s the Gurdwara, beside the hidden gardens. If you can’t find the hidden gardens, email the Dalai Lama. He visited a few years ago. Think he got the 59 bus.

The Gurdwara is one of Govanhill’s many ancient monuments.

They include temples and synagogues and churches, Neeson’s bar on Allison Street and old Mick who shuffles along Cathcart Road, jumper tucked into his trousers, carrying tinned peaches and strong lager in a poly bag.

Some of the pubs round here were built around the same time as Stonehenge. You can still see the odd druid in for a quick hauf.

Neeson’s closed for refurbishment a couple of years back. Opened up six months later looking exactly the same. Cheers, Govanhill.

It’s all true although I might have made a lot of it up

Dear Govanhill, a letter from Queen's  Park

So I got an email from Queens Park.

Dear Govanhill

Great little blog, love what you’ve done with the place, don’t even mind you borrowing our architectural wonders and passing them off as your own.

However, we regret to inform you that your use of a capital T in Eglinton Toll is incorrect.

Moreover, we think you’ve been unfair to your cheese plant.

Furthermore, we would prefer you to at least get our name right, yeah?


A letter from Queen's Park with a massive apostrophe

Sake, Queen’s Park. Calm doon.

We all make mistakes. I mean, some people just live in the wrong part of town.

Anyway. Everything here is true although I might have made a lot of it up.

Get over yourself, cheese plant

living room ceiling fell in and left a big hole

Living room ceiling fell in. Bastard.

Came home from work one evening and thought, something looks different here. Then I noticed the chunks of plaster and dust all over the couch and the floor.

Only other damage was a leaf off the cheese plant. That bastard won’t stop growing so it needed taking down a peg or two, wee prick.

Jesus, though. I lie right there on that very couch all the time, staring at the ceiling, grinding my teeth like we all do at the infinite nothingness of a fathomless universe which doesn’t know or care if we live or die.

Lucky escape, I suppose. I could have been killed, or covered in plaster dust at least.

Insurance won’t touch it. Bastards. Wear and tear, they said.

Glasgow tenements, eh. Crumbling walls, broken pipes, collapsing ceilings, cracked windows, rickety plumbing, dodgy boiler, carbon monoxide, canny breathe, here we go, ten in a row.

Aye, cheers Govanhill.

Why Govanhill is just like New York 2

Eglinton Toll and the Flatiron building in New York...coincidence?

First there was the building on the left, at Eglinton Toll.

Then, mysteriously, the building on the right appeared in New York City.

Coincidence? Getouttahere.

Also, Queens sounds a lot like Queens Park, doesn’t it? And so does Central Park.

Quit trying to rip us off, Noo Yoik. What’s next, Govanhill Street Blues?
The Wolf of Westmoreland Street? Forgetaboutit.

At least Govanhill has its own cutting-edge financial district, just like Wall Street.

See these shop signs in Allison Street and Pollokshaws Road.

Shop signs in Govanhill, global software consultants and global accountancy practice

Not just city-wide or regional or national or pan-European or international but global, man.

That these shops are being consulted on software and practising accountancy on a global scale blows my mind, literally.

So, yeah. I will have a nice day, buddy.

Don’t you worry your sweet ass about that.

Grass, absinthe, limeade

A van with Michelango's David on the side parked in Govanhill

Don’t eat much veg, should eat more veg, don’t eat much veg.

Apart from my greens, of course. Grass, absinthe, limeade.

The filthy habits of west of Scotland dead man. Heavy smoke, big drink, eat shit, live alone, lying down.

Fear, blood pressure, poverty, heart attack, loneliness, depression, dementia. Patron saint of bowel and pancreas and prostate and colon.

Of course I want to be healthier and wealthier. Who wouldn’t?

It’s impossible to conceive of not living as long as possible and making as much money as you can.

It’s your nature, your duty, etched into the very essence of your being. To not want those things is non-human.

Hi, my name’s Dave and I want to be ill and poor.

Welcome tae Glasgow, ya madman. Whit ye huvin?

Govanhill never sleeps but I like to

lots of neon signs om a wall

This is a mad street I live in.

Post-pub shouting and singing, yelling and screaming through the evening, kids running up and down all day.

It feels like their only power, the only way to convince themselves they exist, is to make as much noise as they can.

Know the feeling, kids.

But then I remember going to visit a pal last year in Penilee, a pleasant wee suburb on the south side.

Neat council houses, trim little gardens, mature trees, wide pavements.

Sitting in the back garden with a can of beer, peace and quiet, lazy summer’s evening, this is the life.

Got dropped off on Victoria Road later that night and the place was bouncing.

People on the streets, talking or in groups, on their way to the pub or the off sales.

Fruit shops still open, crates on the pavement, the colours from the street lights and the traffic lights, the smell from the takeaway joints and the restaurants, the pizza place and the chicken shop.

The laughter, the chatter, the way everyone was moving.

The toddlers in the back court will be inside the bins again tomorrow.

But tonight, cheers Govanhill.

My byclist days are over

bikes in govanhill

Never had a bike when I was a kid.

Never understood the gears and levers and spokes. Manoeuvring, momentum, forward motion.

It all seemed so unattainable to me.

Tried cycling once. Kept going round in circles. Then I pulled on the brakes and went over the handlebars.

So much for momentum. Smacked my face into a tree. Never there when you need it. Broke my nose in two places. Too much when you don’t want it. I remember blood spurting out at right angles.

My byclist days are over.  

I’ll be a cycler no more.

You’re better off walking anyway. You meet more crackpots that way. I’ve got feet and I’m gonna use them. Good feet, huge feet, clown feet, massive Monty Python cartoon feet squashing all before me.

Hang on, wrong story…