A place you don’t meet every day

A mural depicting an orangutan with its hand held out

Inevitable walking in parts of the city that aren’t Govanhill.

The quiet southside of Battlefield, Camphill, Langside, Pollokshields.

Some of these places get a hard time from us superior Govanhill neds, though not as much as Strathbungo, for obvious reasons.

They have leafy avenues, grand tenements, softer air.

Winding streets, unlike the perpendicular grid you see in most of Govanhill, and sudden villas which appear as if from nowhere.

Less density, less of everything, fewer languages. Fewer people too, and the ones you see are better-dressed, with bigger cars, higher ceilings and a cleaner close.

Then there’s Shawlands, an area of Glasgow, Scotland, located around two miles (three kilometres) south of the River Clyde with an approximate population of 7000, with over 82% dwelling in flats and 79% living alone or with one other person, according to local legend. Or Wikipedia.

We like Shawlands. It’s been there for centuries. I remember it as a kid. Shawlands, we used to call it. Sometimes Shawlands Cross.

Govanhill’s slightly better-off cousin who looks a bit sharper, has a well-paid job and lives in nicer flat with rounded bay windows.

Shawlands is popular with folk from former dry areas of the southside that still have very few boozers, maybe Mount Florida, Newlands, even Castlemilk.

It has solid Glasgow pubs like the Georgic, similar to its brothers and sisters the Viking in Maryhill, the Smiddy in Partick, or the Brechin in Govan.

There’s a Nepalese restaurant in Shawlands, a massive Romanian supermarket, two dormant nightclubs, murals, bookshops, Pollok football ground close by too, so it’s not exactly a wilderness.

But I don’t know how much we have in common any more. Whenever I’m with you, I’m thinking about other places, like Govanhill. We want different things.

I want the weirdness of Govanhill, teeming with exotic lifeforms, interesting boutique shops, drinking dens and dive bars, squealers and dealers and total bastards. Cardboard gangsters, kid-on tough guys, plastic hardmen from the rubber scheme.

That big-city feeling with the brown faces and unusual clothes, looking more like London than any other place in Scotland.

The glint in the eye, the grit on the tongue, the mud and the blood and the beer.

So close, Shawlands, but so different. I think we should see other people.

And then Shawlands Cross got drunk with Eglinton Toll and nine months later Tollcross happened.