I need more eyes

Photo of glass eyeballs

Mice. Thrice. Wee bandits.

I don’t want to believe it but I have to because it’s true.

Haven’t seen them for a while, the little imps. Maybe they’ve been on holiday, away visiting cousins in Westmoreland Street or something.

Now they’re back, in the bathroom, behind the toilet, scampering around without a care in the world. Wind in their hair, wagging their tails, excited to be here, delighted to see you, always a pleasure.

But now I need more eyes, so I can see out the corner of them.

Every time I enter a room I need to scan so many surfaces to see who is scurrying over what. Both sides of the sink for a start, and then also the floor. That’s three places right there but I have only two eyes. You do the mathematic.

I just don’t have enough eyes to cope.

Don’t know what it is with wildlife and me. Is it payback time for my destructive lifestyle? Could be. There’s too much destruction in the world, it’s true.

I also believe children are the future. But not mice. Nope. Sorry, chaps. Not having it. No way.

Getting myself a cat, a lynx, a lion, a tiger, a leopard. Keep a jaguar in the backcourt, a puma on the landing, a cougar guarding the parking place outside my gaff.

Stick that in your lunch box, mice.

Just hope Lidl still have those panthers in stock.


Never knowingly been to Strathbungo

Very colourful photo of the inside of a fruit shop in Govanhill

Living in the city, roads and streets and lines in every direction.

Never short of places to go and ways to get there.

Yet you follow strict routes which very rarely vary.

From home to work to shops and pubs and friends and family and whatever.

Streets only a few yards away that you never go down.

I’ve never knowingly been to Strathbungo, for example.

Nae offence, like. Good people, I’m sure.

But it’s not quite Govanhill, is it? I mean, where are the vast crowds, the busy intersections, the fruit shops in full bloom, bowls of yellow and purple and orange and green, Govanhill with flowers in its hair.

Actually, think I did pass through Strathbungo once. Some hungover Sunday morning, limping shamefully, trying to get up the road as quickly as possible.

It all looked so prim, man. Modern parents having brunch, a baby in a papoose.

A bit of light drizzle and their kids are encased in waterproofs.

Your wean isnae a trawlerman and this isnae the North Sea, okay?

Jeez, lighten up will ye. Have a drink, have a laugh, let yourselves go a little.

Try waking up lying in yer ain pish outside a high-rise block in Dalmarnock.

It’ll change your life, honestly.

Cheers, Dalmarnock.

It’s not that, it’s this

Photo of colourful equipment in a school playground, with tenements in the background

So I was on the internet looking up a quality of life index.

You know the kind of thing.

Access to running water? Army check points nearby? Regular missile attacks on hospitals and schools?

Then I looked more closely and realised it was referring to a post-Brexit UK. Or Syria. Can’t remember which.

So I kept looking and found another one. More middle class. Whiter.

Can you cycle to work? Sure thing, bro.

Buy organic food? No probs, man.

Green space nearby? Too right, buddy.

Bars and cafes? Pure hunners, mate.

But this is a Govanhill lifestyle blog, isn’t it, packed with curated digital content on fashion, wellbeing, shopping, food, and more, so we need our own version.

Prams blocking the entrance to your close?

Music from upstairs keep you awake at night?

Bin bags piled up on the landing?

The word on the street, inner city trimmings from chaos converters and ghetto plasterers.

4 best corners to buy weed

3 routes through the backcourts to escape the polis

2 lampposts to lean against when throwing up

93 places to find a hip urban audience enjoying invisible social privileges they don’t understand.

So aye, Govanhill. That’s where we are. Cheers.

Pishing on a copper’s shoe

photo of a city street at night

People think Govanhill is just about vegan food and Irish dancing, but it’s not.

It’s not all central Europe and gentrification either.

Living here is about your work. How you’re not paid enough and how fewer and fewer of you have more and more to do.

It’s about your flat. How your landlord still hasn’t fixed the boiler and there’s that leak in the kitchen and the rent’s going up again, isn’t it.

It’s also about the football, following your team, how the midfield is rubbish and we need a new striker and should we sack the manager as well?

It’s about Brexit and Supertrump and the rise of nationalism and the mobilisation of the far right and, you know, historical materialism and the inevitable overthrow of the bourgeois mode of production.

Then there’s the weather round here, Jeez, I mean, why does it have to rain all the time?

And you’ve been having those headaches lately too, haven’t you. It’s fine, like, no need to go to the doctor or anything, although you did fall over twice last week.

It’s about the movies you watch, books you read, music you listen to, the global corporations which have eaten you.

You know, brand names as hinterland.

And it’s about being blootered in the city centre on a Saturday afternoon and getting lifted because you pished on a copper’s shoe.

Sorry, what were we talking about again?  

Aye. Govanhill. Cheers.

Crossing the frozen Arctic tundra on foot

Photo of a sign with cartoons of kids being active outside a primary school in Govanhill

People sometimes ask me why I don’t move out of Govanhill and I say I can’t and I won’t.

I know there are other places I could be, other things I could be doing.

Sipping tequila on a houseboat in New Orleans. Winching some brunette art teacher against a wall in Krakow. Playing the bongos in an all-night shebeen in Sierra Leone. Watching daytime TV in a temporary furnished flat in Cambuslang.

But I’m not. I’m here, spinning through the city of Govanhill and its inner streets, hanging about, walking around, meeting people, buying things.

I could be a respected commentator, local influencer, distinguished blogger. A regular at book festivals, music festivals, night clubs, gallery openings, degree shows and record launches. You name it, I’d be at it.

I might even be addressing the United Nations on the grand delusions of late capitalism.

But it’s not that, it’s this. You and me both, Govanhill. Isn’t it?

I know I leave you to go to work or see other people or watch my team but I’m back most nights because I don’t know anywhere else that would have me.

So it’s not that, it’s this. Like the flat, love the city, I am where I am, I come from this place.

Big world out there, I know.

Even bigger one in here.

Cheers, Govanhill.

All that’s left is what never was

photo of graffiti on a wall in Govanhill

Wee Florin scrawled his name on the wall of a tenement.

We’ve all been there. I was here, wasn’t I? Tongs ya bass, isn’t it? Kinty, Linty and wee Malky McGinty.

So well done, wee Florin. It’s your street, not mine or the council’s or your landlord’s. Nor homeowners or shopkeepers or uniformed cops.

I remember when I was a kid, proud that my older brother helped me scratch our names with a key into a wall in an alleyway.

Close to the primary school, down by the bowling club, next to the garage.

I remember going back to that wall years later, looking for those names and not seeing them and thinking about things lost and never retrieved.

Words left unsaid. Silenced voices. What could have happened, should have happened, but didn’t.

So leave your mark, Florin. Have your say, wee barra.

Maybe this is your first family home. Maybe, in the future, as a grown man or an old man, you’ll come back to visit what might have been.

You might look for your name and it might not be there and all that’s left is what never was.

Maybe it will remind you of a simpler time, before Brexit, before ten in a row, before world war four.

So aye, cheers Florin. Good luck and that.

Dust is a must

In the seventies Glasgow washed its face and sandblasted its tenements.

Scaffolding everywhere, people decanted, and when the covers came off it was all glowing blond sandstone in west of Scotland light.

The smoke and the soot from the factories and the yards, the thick fog it caused too.

It was hard for us back then. Dirty faces, covered in snotters, dressed in rags.

And that was just me and my brother last weekend.

We’d been out drinking, propping each other up, finishing each other’s sentences, roving from boozer to boozer in Govanhill, Queens Park Café, Paddy Neesons, the Vicky Bar. The golden triangle, as nobody calls it. We had our passports with us so we even made it across Pollokshaws Road to the Allison Arms, until finally he fell asleep at the bar in Heraghty’s and I helped him outside and into a taxi and back to the Gorbals because that’s where he lives.

Sorry, what were we talking about again?

Aye. Sandblasting tenements. Before then, every building in the city was as black as this.

The owners in this close may have decided not to pay at the time, so it was left undone. Looks good now though, eh. Faded glory and that.

See, dirt is good, grime is fine, dust is a must, thank goodness for that.

Come ahead, mice.