Only wan Govanhill but

close-up of a pink flower on a stem with a blue sky behind

Queen’s Park, everyone’s favourite 60-hectare green space at the top of Victoria Road.

I’ve loved it since Victorian times, back when I was a gentleman in a top hat promenading with a lady in a bonnet, enjoying a little light music at the bandstand, throwing stones at the ducks on the pond, then joining the chaps for a game of fives while the chapesses grabbed a quick hawf at the pub over the road that keeps changing its name.

A central meeting point for the whole of the southside, busy residential areas all around its perimeter.

Our own city non-place, urban version of the countryside with municipal verges and tarmac but a steep hill too, obscure paths along its sides and clumps of trees, tall trees, and wooded areas and secret trails.

On a pleasant summer evening a citizen of the world can stroll past the glasshouse, read feminist graffiti on gendered family roles and the patriarchy, smell the basil and rosemary from the allotments, look over the tennis courts and bowling greens.

And the cricket pitch, jeez, the speed of the bowler and the distance the batsman gets.

Serious-looking groups of young people having a picnic, cheese n crackers, maybe leaning against a tree reading a book.

Tea in the park. Too civilised, middle class, well-behaved.

No one shouting or being drunk or building fires. No lurking neds in sportswear, bottle of Buckie in the back bin, no black Alsatian dogs.

A couple of hipster types trying to play football. Aye right, lads.

Back in our day a kickabout in the park drew a crowd of thousands, a wee guy hitting a Mitre 5 against a wall was live on TV, match reports of three and in were on the radio every day.

The 23-a-side kick and rush on the big open space at the end of your street, occasional grass and broken glass, wee Frankie Devlin goes on a mazy run and beats eight men, mad Slugger does what he wants because he’s pure mad so if he pushes you out of the way or uses his hands you just let him get on with it.

So aye, everyone’s favourite green space that isnae Celtic Park, Hampden Park, or Jurassic Park.

There’s a Queen’s Park in London, a Charing Cross too, probably other areas of both cities with the same names.

Only wan Govanhill but.

Londinium wouldnae dare.



Cheers Govanhill, Govanhill Street, Govanhill

A cactus looking like a tree on the bonnet of a car with a streetscape behind it

You know me, an imaginary wee nyaff sitting at home making up things about his gaff, but every time I step out on to that main street I bump into someone I know or start talking to some passing stranger about their dog, like does it shit on the bed, chew up your plants, pish on the carpet, bite you on the arse, chase the postie or bark all night?

To which the answers are no, yes, sometimes, hang on, who are you and why all these questions?

The people I meet, though. Woman who works in the shop, guy I know from walking around, neighbour from downstairs, another guy I know from walking around.

Makes you feel part of somewhere, from somewhere, of a place, in a place.

Familiar but always surprising.

A baby on a bike with its mama, a drunk man punching a wall, wee Jeanie who’s just left her flat for the first time in a week.

Pakistani boy with a white stick, vision impaired but fast moving and confident crossing over the lights and down the stairs to the railway platform.

Four teenage girls striding arm-in-arm down Vicky Road. Get out of our way, suckers. And you do, of course you do.

A dog walker with nine puppies on a lead, the Yiddish cafe opening soon with pay-what-you-can, the man in cowboy boots drinking tea and smoking a cigar on the pavement outside the bookies.   

Palestinian flags, BLM murals, anti-Irish stickers on our lamp posts.

Cyclers, byclists, beardless beards and sunglassed tattoo fringes. Freshly grounded coffee and a low-impact life store, all walnut wellness in a piece of bread.

Where are we?

Could be Second Avenue, Third Lanark, Forth Street.

Sesame Street, Coronation Street, Abbey Road.

Or a street with no name, no beginning and no end.

Three cars outside the same building all clamped for not being road taxed. A dead seagull lying as if crucified in the middle of the road. A shouting match between two Romanian families outside someone’s close. Man, they’re loud.

Shared spaces on pavements, backcourts and tenement stairwells for people to drink alcohol.

A plate of whodka, a dish of visky, a pan of vine.

Fastbuck bottle bones, cheap lash purgatory.

That’s where we are.

Blond sandstone in evening sunshine of west of Scotland in early summer with clear sky and lazy air in hazy light.

Then wind in your face and rain on your head, windows rattling, bams square-going and ominous tenements blocking the view everywhere you turn.

Cheers Govanhill, Govanhill Street, Govanhill.