Ten club king size mate

close up of a mural, two men smiling, one with a beard

People sometimes ask me who the hell I think I am and what the hell I’ve ever done for Govanhill and I’m like ffs, calm doon, I only came in to buy fags.

But let me think about it.

I don’t sit on any committees, it’s true, nor any board, working group, task force, or forum. I was on the panel for a while, but that’s a different story.

I’m not an entrepreneur or a social enterpriser either.

Landlord, stakeholder, partner, investor? Aye, right.

I don’t even like hanging out with my dog, listening to true crime podcasts or baking.

I am nobody, unknown nobody no one knows.  

The only places I’m a regular are the pavement, Celtic Park and my living room.

But I’ve walked the streets of Govanhill more than ever before. I’ve appreciated it, written about it, painted its pictures, sang its songs. Endured it, stood up for it, taken the piss a little.

Also howled at it in the middle of the night, slapping my forehead, gnashing my teeth.

I’ve never shut up about Govanhill, to be honest.

You were always on my mind.

Because I’ve always been here and always will be, for ever and ever, amen.

There was never a different time or a better time, only this time.

I was there back in the day, the old day, in black and white photos of old Govanhill, how clean it looked before car ownership and home ownership, fast food and disposable culture, austerity politics, social media, gig economy.

Remember the wee guy picking his nose and staring at the camera?

I haven’t changed a bit.

I wish my fishmonger were still alive and that mass unemployment had never been invented.

If only the dry cleaners hadn’t closed down and people worked reasonable hours and had nice homes and a pension.

Where is the haberdasher and how come my phone knows everything about me?

I just want to go home.

But you are home.

I know.

In Govanhill.

Yes. I want to go home but I don’t know what that means, where it is, or if it even exists. It must be a place in your head you can always come back to, like a dream or a never-ending story.

Sorry, what are you talking about?

Ten club king size mate.



Attack of the 50 Foot Mango

close up of a cardboard sign with mangoes on it in the street outside a shop

Govanhill is the fruit capital of Scotland.

Vineyards, plantations, vast orchards of pistachio, chocolate chip, vanilla.

We like chips and pies but we also love our greens.

Grass, absinthe, limeade, remember?

What I mean is, Govanhill has the best fruit shops in Glasgow.

Kumquats and blood oranges are as much part of our brand as crumbling tenements and stupid trousers.

I agree with fruit, I support it, plums are my friend. Back in the day when I worked in an office I had a fruit bowl on my desk, next to the ashtray, the spittoon and the ejector seat.

These days I wear a big Velcro hat, Carmen Miranda-stylee, with watermelon, kiwi, pomegranate, maybe six cans, in case I fancy a mid-morning snack or some afternoon delight.

You’ll also catch me strolling down Westmoreland Street in my big banana boots, cherry on the end of my nose, belly button pierced with pineapple ring, impromptu coconut shell earphones.

Community acupuncture with ambient beats here I come.

Heavy is the heid that wears the crown but so make sure that Carmen Miranda fruit stack disnae topple over.

Blue velvet, green tambourine, red lorry yellow lorry.

Anyway. What I really mean is, Govanhill is the mango metropolis of north Britain.

June till August every year is Feast of the Immaculate Mango, Our Lady of the Blessed Mango, all over Govanhill and Pollokshields, with boxes of sweet honey mangos imported from Pakistan piled up outside every fruit shop in the area. Night of the Living Mango, Attack of the 50 foot Mango, Last Mango in Paris.

Forget the terrible puns kids, put down those swedgers and try this sweet yellow flesh instead.

Juice on your eyebrows guaranteed.