Ballistics will go ballistic

A 'stand here' sign on a pavement to help social distancing

So I was with my brother in Paddy Neeson’s and I might have been dreaming but I can’t really remember.

Maybe it was the Victoria, or the Café or the Hampden, there’s so many around here.

Penny Farthing, Star Bar, Bell Jar, they’re everywhere.

Heraghty’s, Rum Shack, Allison Arms, know what I mean?

Titwood, Prince Regent, the Bungo, there’s only so much you can take.

Or maybe it was somewhere that’s no longer there, like Kelly’s, Sammy Dow’s or McNee’s.

The Albert, Maxwell Arms, Pandora, remember?

Or even the Govanhill Bar, which was really in the Gorbals.

Wherever it was, we might have been there and we might have been talking that way brothers do.

Got any painkillers?



I know.

I think it was my brother, but I wasn’t really sure. He was keeping his distance so I could hardly make him out, you know how it is when you’re asleep or you’re drunk.

You look like a chalk outline.

Like a dead body at a crime scene?

Aye. You’d better get the results to the lab.

The DA will be on my back.

Ballistics will go ballistic.

We both laughed and were getting up to leave when I saw a fat bluebottle throwing itself at the window again and again.

I thought these dafties had six pairs of eyes, but I went over and opened the window anyway.

Here’s your chance, big world out there, go wherever you want.

But it stayed on the inside, banging its head on the glass.

Remember, Govanhill. It might have been a dream.



Daddy, Haystacks, Nagasaki

A person dressed in black sitting on a couch with a hat pulled down over their face

So I was sitting at home keeping my distance, staying indoors, not going outside.

Thought I’d put on a mask, help keep me isolated from my own face and head.

Kendo Nagasaki himself would be proud.

You’d wear a mask too, if you were me. You know you would.

At least there’s no chance of me looking in the mirror now. Wouldn’t see much if I did.

I don’t trust mirrors, with their double meanings, twisted reality and sleight of hand.

There’s one in the bathroom. I don’t like the infinity of it, that something so small contains the whole world, the universe reflected in just one piece of glass.

Plus it makes me look like I have a fat belly and a tiny cock.

I remember cutting my own hair the night this photo was taken.

Didn’t even have to take off the mask, just worked round it, bowl-cut style.

Lost the end of my beard at the front and the tip of my pigtail at the back.

It was a good night, a Saturday night, and I might have been drunk but I can’t really remember.

I was taking a break from learning a language and baking a cake and practising yoga on the mantlepiece.

Alone in the kitchen, cans from the fridge, the sun was shining, even indoors.

New hip hair, haystack affair, high heels on. Wrestler’s trunks, light strappy dress, don’t need a mirror to make you do your best.

No time like the present, no place like home, it’s all we can do.

Here we fucking go, Govanhill. Cheers!

Butterfingers Biggins got fingered in Butterbiggins Road

close up of stained glass with blue abstract shapes

So Tom Cruise rang me up to say he read about the guy with the nuclear bawbag and saw great potential in the role in these uncertain times.

I was like cheers Tam, appreciate the call and that but I see him as a younger dude whose preferred methodology is not Scientology, and Tom called me an asshole and hung up the phone.

Then I was like sorry, Idris, I was on the other line but aye mate. Radioactive spunk, honestly.

It’s not the first time a Hollywood bigshot has been on the phone to Govanhill. Spielberg, Scorsese, Lulu, Krankie.

Like Noo Yoik, Hollywood stole a lot of ideas from here (including Holyrood secondary’s name).

Charlie’s Angels was based on sisters Daisy, Annette and Allison and their adventures trying to escape the polis in Govanhill in the 1970s.

All helicopters, jumpsuits, teeth and tits.

Their other sisters, Garturk and Niddrie, were in the original production of Rabbie Burns’ Broadway show, When Cinderella met Tam O’Shanter.

Even artist Jackson Pollok used to live round here, which is how the Shields, the Shaws and Pollok estate got their names.

He was a bit of a drip, apparently. Pure tramp too, always wearing paint-spattered clothes.

It’s also a probable fact that Christopher ‘Butterfingers’ Biggins got fingered in Butterbiggins Road, and that radio eejit Edith Bowman used to live in Bowman Street.

Eminent psychiatrist RD Laing really was born in Govanhill, even though Laingside stole his name.

He wrote The Divided Self.

Know the feeling, RD.

Sorry, what were we talking about again?


Tom Cruise.

Or the Krankies.


Turns out I pure love you all

very blurred and put of focus picture of people in a row

Brothers are great, aren’t they? Sisters too. Parents and that.

I know I said some things before about my brothers. How it’s like listening to my own stupid self all the time, how I can’t live with them, can’t live with them.

Turns out I was only joking, lads.

Turns out I pure love you all. I love you to bits, so I do.

O brothers, where art thou? Stuck in the hoose, like everybody else.

Take care, you complete set of bastards. Stay indoors, wash your hands, stand two metres apart, and will you stop talking shite for one second and get a round in please?

Oops. Thinking about the past there, back when we were together, having a drink, down the pub.

It’s hard not to think about the past, isn’t it? It’s all we have. We know there’ll be a future – there must be – but the past is much clearer, much easier to see.

Naw, Willie O’Neill was the thirteenth Lisbon Lion no big Yogi, okay, get a grip.

Sorry, there I go again, looking back to the old days, the good old days, a happier time, a simpler time.

You can’t help it. You think back to things that are gone and wonder if you’ll ever see them again and then you think of course you will, you know you will.

Anyway, never mind all this bollocks, where’s that twenty quid you owe me? 

See? Business arse usual.

Told ye, Govanhill.


This pish used to write itself

close up of a lilac flower

So I’ve been writing this blog for about a hundred years and I’ve seen a lot of changes over that time.

World wars, moon landings, vegan sausage rolls.

But not this. No one’s ever seen anything like this.

Think I might need to shake up the blog in these difficult times.

This pish used to write itself. Not any more.

I need to raise my game, improve the standard, step up to the mark.

More dramatic openings, for a start.

Once upon a time.

Woke up this morning.

It was a dark and stormy night.

Maybe some kind of cliff hanger or weighty dilemma faced by the main protagonist, ie me.

Lentils or barley, White Lightning or Eldorado, Lionel Messi or Henrik Larsson.

Larsson, obviously, but the point is I could still do with well-rounded characters, sharp dialogue and a consistent sequence of events.

Maybe I should bring in a grizzled detective, a maverick cop who doesn’t play by the rules but who gets results.

Recovering alcoholic, probably. Still in love with his ex-wife.

Make it all like a rollercoaster where you fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride.

So, aye. Good luck with that, me.

Anyway. Your rubbish football team, those bloody roadworks, strolling hipsters who get on your tits, none of them matter any more.

Now it’s your future, my future, the nature of love and the foundations of the universe.

So, aye. Cheers, Govanhill.

No eyebrows but his cock glows in the dark

abstract photo of glass skyscrapers

You can hear the tap tap tapping away on laptops all across Govanhill.

Dystopian sci-fi thrillers, great clunking short stories, yeah yeah yeah.

Global pandemic, viral infection, spreading contagion, yada yada yada.

You can hear the gears shifting, the wheels turning, the metaphors wheezing all over the shoap.

A computer virus versus a human virus, how technology will save us if nature doesn’t kill us, climate change and the industrialisation of food, the isolation of our future lives.

Maybe even something about a compliant population and a police state and machine-generated conspiracies about the terrorists, no the Russians, no the Chinese, and facial recognition and vaccinations and 5G and stupidity so stupid it’s stupid even calling it stupid.

Me, I’m working on a movie script.

A hero vows to defeat the virus after it kills his wife and son in a cruel and unusual way.

He’s immune, somehow. Radioactive spunk, probably. No eyebrows but his cock glows in the dark.

He’s from Govanhill, obviously, and his name’s Jack, or maybe he doesn’t have a name because the virus killed off names too, like it did football and pubs and restaurants and shopping and public transport and office working and holidays.

Haven’t decided what happens next here.

Or maybe I’ll just keep going with the hard-hitting lockdown diary, coronavirus curfew capers.

Day 73. Ate the dog this morning, fried in onions and garlic. Neighbour downstairs is looking juicy, yum.

Haven’t decided what happens next here either.

Let you know, Govanhill.


Govanhill will

close-up of empty cans of beer

I often feel there’s something missing in my life, something I lack.

I don’t want that to be cans.

So I started panic buying years ago. Not because there’s a shortage of cans, just a shortage of time in which to drink the cans. I don’t want to take the risk.

But I’m only drinking as much as is sensible, of course.

I am a responsible adult, after all.

I’ll know when I’ve had enough.

Until then, there might not be any toilet paper but don’t worry, there’s sixty cans in the fridge. Whisky, rum, vodka, gin, tonic wine too.

No, I don’t have fifteen bananas or eight loaves of bread but I’m sure there’s some kind of peach schnapps thing back there. Probably Ouzo as well. Cointreau, Tia Maria, Midori. Must-haves, all of them. And what’s that coconut one again? Aye, Malibu. Classy.

Anyway. I only drink to keep myself safe.

And the best way to do that is by getting drunk, instead of being drunk.

Getting drunk, you know what I mean, the best part, the bubbly part, the first, second or third. Loosening tongue, flush in the cheeks, fresh air in your head.

Better than being drunk, the clumsy part, when your eyes have gone and your balance is gone and you repeat yourself over and over, again and again.

So keep on becoming and it might start being better or it might stay the same or it might not be either, but whatever goes on it will come to an end then we’ll think about starting all over again.

Let you know, Govanhill, but we will, Govanhill, cheers.

Mutton dressed as mutton

the empty inside a tenement with no walls, bare rooms open to the fresh air

I had big plans for this flat. Thought it was going to be my forever home.

But I was walking down the street one day – ages ago, so long ago it was like a different time – and I got so annoyed at the turn-ups on some hipster’s trousers that I went home and wrecked the place.

Phoned my insurance company the next day and they told me to fuck off, so I went round and wrecked their place too.

I’m joking, of course. I trashed the bank next door. It made me feel like I was more than, and that was okay.

Anyway. You don’t get many forever homes in Govanhill. Your landlord’s either putting the rent up or kicking you out to get more money and if you own your flat, it’s probably falling apart.

Back when the world was still turning, when we could go outside and breathe, I would come home from work every evening dodging chunks of plaster falling off the walls in the close.

When real life comes back – and we know it will, it has to – I think I’ll move to a new flat, a penthouse flat. A massive, huge, enormous flat.

Throw lavish parties, show off my vast wealth, become a great benefactor and noted philanthropist.

But I am what I am, mutton dressed as mutton. I exaggerate things, edit scenes to make myself look good, blame other people when it all goes wrong.

Could try some lipstick, but not sure it would work.

Sorry, Govanhill.