Govanhill is a good place to find yourself. I found people who look just like me. And a guy who punched a car.
Matthew moved up to Glasgow to study at the art school and heard about this great neighbourhood with proper tenements, really cheap, really diverse. Now he shares a flat with a photographer and a web designer, a furniture maker lives upstairs and a chef on the top floor.
We used to have barbecues together in the backcourt. Now we do it online, which is better. Now I don’t have to eat that sourdough bread which tastes like dust.
The close is full of signs reminding residents to keep quiet, close the door, don’t buzz in strangers, separate the recycling, and more.
But Matthew doesn’t mind being told what to do. It helps him make the right choices. And if the people on the ground floor are a bit rowdy, that’s just what happens when you choose to live somewhere cheap.
I knew about Glasgow’s hard reputation but it’s so not true. It’s such a vibrant place. I did see a guy punch a car last week, but he said the car was asking for it.
I don’t know any actual Glasweegies but they seem friendly, talking away, thinking you understand what they’re saying. If they start injecting heroin into their eyeballs, I just keep walking.
I knew about Govanhill’s reputation too, but I haven’t seen kids being sold on street corners or anything.
Matthew’s friend Mark is a music critic, Luke writes a food blog and John is a film maker, although they’re also unemployed. They have a lot in common, such as queuing for coffee on a deserted pavement.
Everyone wants to be with their community, don’t they? Otherwise, you wouldn’t get out of the house. We’re here to support each other, Govanhill or not.
Most of us have side hustles too. Staring at the floor, not washing our hair, crying uncontrollably for no reason.
Matthew loves the diversity in Govanhill. All the different languages you hear on the streets, food you don’t recognise, specialist shops, start-ups. Vintage stores really improve a place too. Without them it’s just charity shops. And the choice of bread is much better than it was.
I love how there are so many communities in Govanhill, and how everyone’s so supportive. Trans activists and radical feminists, socialistas and nationalistics, even the Third Lanarks and Partick Thistles gambolling down Victoria Road arm in arm. It’s such a vibrant place.
My home is still my parents’ house in Brighton. If it doesn’t work out here, I can always go back there. But I chose Govanhill because it’s cheap and it has an edge and it makes me feel alive.
Money’s not an issue. I don’t judge people because they’re poor. Some of my best friends are poor. Rab fae Torrisdale Street, mad Tracy who torched her flat that time.
You just can’t avoid these characters in Govanhill.