Okay then Ruby, cheerio, bye

Old Bungalow Cafe sign on Victoria Road, now a pizza place

The old Bungalow Café on Victoria Road, now a pizza place. Delicious fare, friendly staff, Napoli team photo on the wall.

Almost start telling them about another football club, a better one, the greatest in the world in fact, but I don’t. Maybe later. 

So I ask if they do takeaway and they say yeah no problem but I phone later and it’s like no, we’re not doing takeaway and I’m like, bummer man.

My own fault, really. I mean, who orders sausage and fennel at three in the morning? Sorry, guys.

Back in the day there used to be another Bungalow Cafe at the end of Mosspark Boulevard.

Man, the ice cream from that place was famous in our house, big jugs of it. A stop-off there on the way home the delicious highlight of a visit to Auntie Ruby’s in East Kilbride.

Nae luck, Ruby.

The dear green places of the south side when we were kids. Dumbreck, Bellahouston, Pollok estate, all mountains and rainforest and wide desert plains with Highland cattle, brown bears, antelopes, even a sabre-toothed tiger, according to wee Ned McGeown, though he was always a pure spoff.

We came from dark streets with buildings that went on for ever, but here it was vast open space and leafy avenues, the possibilities of it all, how it showed us another world was out there.

Just like Pollok Free State, until they bulldozed a motorway through it.


We’re going nowhere, Sammy boy

Small head shot of Samuel Beckett, with a black background

You know what it’s like, lying on the couch watching television and you forget who you are.

We’ve all been there.

Is this the first time I’ve seen this topical panel show with pithy jokes about recent events?

Or is it five years later and here we still are, in the same flat, same sofa, same clothes, watching a repeat of the same programme?

Don’t know. Can’t remember. We’ve forgotten.

Change channel. Christ, a BBC4 documentary, this time on Samuel Beckett.

Waiting for Godot, is it? Aw naw. What have we done to deserve this?

Lie back instead and think about that time last week, when you were left standing at the bus stop in the rain for ages. And on Saturday, on Vicky Road, trying to get served in the pub and feeling like you’d been there for ever.

Tantalised by the prospect of the number 38 or of someone to pour you a pint but really, inside, knowing it’s just a foolish dream. No one is coming and you’re waiting around for nothing to happen, twice. You know, like watching Motherwell.

Can’t go on. Must go on. Can’t go on.

I know. It’s away to Dundee next week.

The blissful energy of a second hand sandwich

Photo of a shop in Govanhill called Cheap Shop

I try to be awesome, I really do. Smiley face, flowery writing, milky feelgood pom poms.

But I’m not sure it’s working, especially when I read this kind of thing.

“Food functions as a medium through which to engage in the significance of both social ritual and of the everyday, in the value of community, tradition and home.”

Sorry, but it’s screaming out at me here. How this needs a dose of gritty realism from G’hill’s mean streets. Cops, robbers, hookers, hustlers, pushers, punks, pimps, mods, rockers.

But I won’t. It’s too obvious, too Govanhill.

Aw jeez, they’re at it again.

“Fellow creators and brave doers, magical safe spaces where people gather, share tables, break bread. Joyful eating, a vibrant community where generosity will thrive.”

I mean, there’s big red lights flashing all over the shoap here. Barefoot kids begging on the pavement, maybe a burned-out sofa in the backcourt.

It’s an open goal, isn’t it? Pretentious youth, high on their own importance, bringing it to our streets.

Maybe I’ll finish with a crack about street food being a half-eaten sandwich on the ground. Not to be confused with street art, which is a pool of vomit on the pavement.

Enough clichés for us all there? Happy now?

Cheers, Govanhill bingo.

Otis, Jimi, Beach Boys, Doors

A collage of eyes, with different coloured lenses

Memory’s great, isn’t it? I remember this, I’ve forgotten that, this used to be here, that was over there.

Memories, remembrances, come from the past, mainly. But whose past and whose memories? God, I don’t know. Wish I’d stop asking stupid questions.

Mooching around the flat the other day listening to the radio. Hit songs from yesteryear, back in the day, the days of yore.

Otis, Jimi, Beach Boys, Doors, Beatle bones n smokin stones. Great songs, memorable ones, classic tunes, legendary music, all from the past, those formative years, sixty six, sixty seven, sixty eight.

Them must have been the days. Post-war economic settlement in its prime. Welfare state, full employment, national health, council housing, public services, nationalised industries, trade unions, counter culture, civil rights, anti-war, black power, better music, better drugs, more sex.

And what a football team we had back then too, the most charismatic side in Europe, revered across the continent for their genius manager and the verve and skill of the players.

At last, a past you can believe in.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember it.

But where are the pigeon binoculars?

some shopping trolleys lined up outside a supermarket

Weekends are when I really let loose. I might read a newspaper, wash the dishes, bite my toenails.

Sometimes I visit the supermarket to look at the totalitarian blur of colours and shapes and numbers and dreams.

I can’t really shop anywhere else because I only get jealous. A quid for satsumas, one brand of shampoo, the thrill of the unexpected.

Oh no, what’s this, I don’t understand. They’ve gone and changed the layout.

I can’t find the owl wings. Why is the glass soup where the camel baps should be?

This is madness.

Passed an elderly couple on the way out. He had an inflatable cactus under his arm and she was carrying a diving suit.

The woman was giggling like a teenager at some private joke between them, the old boy with a satisfied look on his face. She was always his best audience, and he was always the funniest person she knew.

Wish someone would laugh at my jokes.

Anyway. That’s now a couple of stories about the best supermarket in Govanhill.

Any chance of some sponsorship here? Maybe a lifetime supply of bison dungarees?

How about it, Lidl?

Didnae think so.

Hello, is that Aldi….?

People make better smiles, Glasgow

mural showing some glasgow people and some street scenes

Look, hipsters. I know you’re probably from Canada or Edinburgh or Strathbungo or somewhere, but this is Glasgow, working-class Glasgow.

Cheeky chappies, rough and ready, in your face. Aggressive friendliness is our speciality.

We start talking to you in a shop or a café, on the bus or down the pub, and we know what you’re thinking.

Who is this guy with the bad skin and the red nose and why hasn’t he told me I’m awesome yet?

Our bony, nicotine-stained fingers. Virtually no teeth. Face covered in chib marks.

Too many post-industrialists in love with the knife of Stanley.

But just wait. Any minute we’ll start with tenement tales of mean streets and hard men and razor gangs, outside toilets and our ma throwing jeely pieces to us in the back court.

People talk about cosmopolitan Glasgow. Finnieston, west end, Merchant City.

But I tell thee, go into a pub in the Glasgow of Govanhill and the Gorbals and the Gallowgate and the Garngad, especially on a Saturday, especially after a game, and it’s Spanish and German and French and Scandinavian, all taken with the easy interaction, the clatter and the noise, the singing and the laughter and the rumbling.

People better make smiles, Glasgow.

Why shoulda, Buddha?

abstract shapes, squares, in a red and green and blue grid

It’s a crowded place, the moment. Everyone’s trying to live in it.

Me, I get distracted too easily. The shouting from the flat across the landing, the burst pipe from the guy upstairs.

I’d love to improve my relationship with the universe. Happier, more creative, less anxious.

But how coulda, Buddha?

Can’t really see me floating up out of my body and looking down on myself from above. Or ever understanding that suffering is caused by ignorance and desire and every living thing possesses the same eternal soul.

Why woulda, Buddha?

I should try to reach enlightenment, nirvana, or the Champions League group stage at least, because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it, where everyone wants to be, among the best in the world, playing the biggest games. Glory, victory, an end to this gnawing sensation that you’re just a burst bag of meat and gas and bones floating in this deathless, colourless universe.

So that’ll be three lager, a vodka and coke and one for yourself yes please thanks mate cheers.

This bus stop kills fascists

a poster on a bus stop with 'Brits First' graffiti

Graffiti at a bus stop on Victoria Road recently.

Is this the new-look, post-Brexit, rebranded First Bus?

Maybe Brits are first in the queue because they have the correct change.

Or is it Britt Ekland? She starred in the Wicker Man, a film about closed minds in an obscure death cult on a small island.

So aye. Could be.

Or is it Brit pop? A Jeremy Clarkson-inspired rock ballad, Boris Johnson on vocals, Jacob Rees-Mogg on maracas, with an oiled-up Tommy Robinson – real name Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon – dancing in a cage?

Is that what you want, Brits First?

Cheers anyway, Brits. Cheers for the racism, stupidity, ugliness and dishonesty.

Cheers for the German-Greek head of state, and the divine right of kings and lords and ladies and earls and dukes and princesses and barons and viscounts.

Cheers for Ann Widdecombe, too.

Cheers for the football team you support, the websites you visit and the newspapers you read. Cheers for knowing nothing about yourself, like all empires.

Because we’re all immigrants here, especially mongrel Brits.

Wasn’t even me who ripped it off the poster. So cheers, Govanhill.

And get it up ye, Brits First.