It’s all made up but some of it might be true

photo of a toy unicorn in a shop window

So I got an email from Govanhill.

Dear Cheers

Down with this sort of thing. The subject matter is wrong.

We don’t want stories about mice or rubbish or crime.

Well, sit down and strap in Govanhill because a real garden of delight awaits.

Dreamy tales of fluffy pink butterflies and cream cake unicorns, gumdrop buttercups and marmalade picnics, lollipop candyfloss and kisses on the mouth.

Dandelion cake and gingerbread house and bubblegum cottage with liquorice roof and peppermint walls and corduroy grass.

It’s a fucking jamboree, I’m telling you.

My true love and I are just back from gambolling through the meadow with flowers in our hair.

And who shall deny these poor mice the chance to tell their story, the moving story of a life snuffed out too soon, by me.

Same with falling down ceilings and abandoned furniture and the racket from outside. I must bear witness to their truth, their courage against the odds, their heroism, their stories of sorrow and survival and new beginnings. And sudden endings. Nae luck, mice.

And ancient monuments and non places and gentrification and ironic moustaches and Govanhill itself and wee Davy himself and self-improvement and pure shite and utter pish and a schmuck on wheels and cosmic drivel and the Dalai Lama, a brontosaurus and the revolt of the proletariat against the blood-soaked masters of capital.

So nae luck, Govanhill.

Wee Davy shall not be moved.


Lord Baldy and Lady Bulb

a perfect clean cut white family, mum, dad, daughter, son,  not really like families you see round here

Some families are notorious around Govanhill.

Cumbie, Tongs, Fleeto, Young Skinhead Kinty kill for fun. Tan yer jaw, rob yer hoose, even chap your door and run away.

Then there’s this mob. Lady Bulb and Lord Baldy with their weans, Slugger and Chib Boyle.

What a complete set of bastards.

Knew Lord Baldy from way back. He used to steal your money, beat you up and make you strip naked afterwards.

And see that Lady Bulb? She dangled wee Tam McCracken from a bridge over the Clyde one time just for a laugh.

The weans are destined for Longriggend, Glenochil or the Bar L too, stripping lead, stealing cars.

The wee lassie Slugger’s been expelled from school twice for dealing Valium and the boay Chib Boyle’s never oot the bookies. Wee colour co-ordinated bastards.

Usually you see the effects of ill-health, overcrowding and low wages round here. The ageing skin, the decrepit teeth, the all-encompassing stress of poverty.

But a complete set of bastards get to look like this.

Watch yourself, Govanhill.

Lycra, plimsolls, watch me go

I can be anything I want.

Fitter, faster, longer, stronger. Why can’t I be more beautiful?

Maybe I should go running, get outdoors, hit the road.

Burn off calories. Save money I’d otherwise spend on booze and fags. Avoid the hidden killers of salt and sugar in our processed diet. Put two fingers up to agri-business and the industrialisation of food at the same time, yeah?

Lycra, plimsolls, watch me go.

Through the back courts, up stairwells and down alleys, past tenements and basements and intersections and thoroughfares.

Keep track of my stats. Shoe size, pin number, dying wish, goal of the season, where I see myself in five minutes’ time. Help me reach my optimum self-loathing target.

But soon I feel lost and disorientated, breathless and sweating, red-faced and nauseous.

And that’s me just thinking about it.

Fatter, slower, shorter, weaker. Welcome home.

Cheers, Govanhill.

The wee fannies got greedy

a collage of mice, coloured red, helps signify that they're caught on the traps, yeah?

The mice are eating the food on the traps but not getting caught.

Strutting about the place, giving me the finger before scurrying off behind the back of the sink.

Wee bastards, outsmarting me.

So now I’m just laying on peanut butter and chocolate and cheese and other goodies for you to enjoy, is that it? Fill yer boots. Tuck in you’re at your auntie’s.

Aye, right. Wee shower of bastards.

The smorgasbord stops here, fellas. No more feasting at my gaff, no more free-for-all in my kitchen.

But the wee fannies got greedy. Kept coming back for more, returning to the scene of the crime after they’d cleaned it out and eventually the trap snapped.

You hear the crack from the other room and go through to see this wee grey body contorted into some strange hideous crucifixion death shape.

Sorry for the bloodlust and that, but one two three in a weekend.

Nae luck, humane removal.

The sheer up-and-comingness of Govanhill

Sofas dumped in the street in Govanhill

Why is there more furniture in Govanhill than anywhere else and why is it all on the pavement?

If you ever find yourself on the street reeling at the utter vibrancy of Govanhill, or you’ve had a few swallies and you’re a bit unsteady on your feet, just stand still and stay where you are.

An armchair will come flying out of a tenement window at any moment.

At least all the chairs and sofas mean there’s always somewhere to have a sit down, take the weight off your feet, rest up a while, risk a brief glimpse into that inferno of despair and anxiety inside us all before you think about your next move.

Very thoughtful. Cheers, rogue landlords.

After considering the sheer up-and-comingness of Govanhill for a while, I went home and lay down on my own couch, which is pretty similar to the one on Inglefield Street.

Almost started contemplating the spinning void at the heart of our being again. Instead, I looked up and saw my new ceiling.

a white box, apparently what my new ceiling looks like...

Cheers, Poland.

Non person in a non place

an underground car park, like a non place in the city wildreness

Every city has its non places. Unplaces, semi places, unseen and unreal.

The city wilderness in underground car parks, motorway flyovers, derelict land, demolished bridges.

The background sounds nobody hears. Traffic overhead, electric pylons, the groaning from the railway line.

Warehouses, underpasses, portakabins, with a function and a purpose that makes them invisible.

If you want to be invisible, you go to these non places too.

There’s never anyone else around, apart from the odd druid drinking mead, getting high, being mindful.

Why do you need to be in the desert to take peyote or mescaline and commune with your ancestral spirits?

This is a sacred environment too, an ancient gathering place, a setting straight from the gods.

Sit here on this discarded couch, on this patch of land, contaminated land. Connect with nature and contemplate your surroundings, the silence, the wildlife, the incredible vista stretching all the way to that broken window.

My flat is becoming a non-place. No one comes to my door apart from the occasional uniformed cop asking about a disturbance in the building earlier that day and did I hear anything?

No, I didn’t. Did you?

Aye. Cheers, Govanhill.

Fearless alien creatures out to take over the planet

a street sign reminding people to curn their dogs

Becoming worryingly sentimental about dogs these days. Wee hairy bastards.

Keep watching canine rescue stories and puppy documentaries on cheap TV and it’s playing with my emotions, man.

Sad eyes, undying loyalty, gentle but mischievousness nature.

I mean, how could a dog resist me?

But I’ve never had a pet before so I asked my sister.

It’s not going to bite me on the arse is it?

Not unless you want it to.

A friend outside my own species, maybe that’s just what I need. They’re famous for catching mice, I know, but is it fair to bring a dog into this world of tenements and stairwells and loud noises and rubbish in the streets?

I’m out at work all day too, then there’s the jobbies and the dog food and the vets’ bills.

Might take my mind off the mice, though. And the cockroaches. Jesus, those bastards. Fearless alien creatures out to take over the planet and enslave humankind, terrorising hard-working families in their own homes for millions of years. I’ve been there, we’ve all been there. Indestructible prehistoric nightmare.

So, anyway, dogs.

Nae luck, Fido.

I go to bed too late and get up too early

A mattress on the street in Govanhill

When a man is tired of Govanhill, he is tired of life, said Johnson, Rab Johnson fae Torrisdale Street.

Well Rab, I’m knackered, mate, mostly because you and Tracey won’t shut the fuck up with the loud music and the screaming all through the night and the people shouting up at your window from the street all day, you know?

I can’t get enough sleep. I go to bed too late and get up too early so you can see the problem. It’s a nightmare.

My bedroom used to be like a Sunday supplement photo spread. Inner-city sun pouring through tenement window on to luxurious double bed. White linen, fresh cotton, soft quilt, firm mattress, good price, flat pack, put it together, did it myself, job done, nae bother.

But then I drank six cans to celebrate and accidentally trashed it and now all I’m left with is this mattress.

Still can’t sleep.

If only there were a sleep industry to solve my problems. Help me with advice and strategies and techniques and, above all, technology.

Machines will save us, as they surely always do.