City of splinters

'Way out to Victoria Road' sign at the top of of stairs with a fence on either side and tenements behind

I’m in a really bad place right now.

I don’t mean mentally. I mean Strathbungo.

These might be the worst pavements in Scotland.

Too many runners for a start. All that jogger’s forehead is putting me off sitting on a bench in the park drinking cans.

Too many aching hips, productive starter-uppers brimming with ego and wellbeing. Heavy lesbian day too, autonomous space, new moon yoga for the winter equinox.

All those science-based foundations for a happier bourgeois life.

It’s the blood and soil I miss. And the myce.

Lady Govanhill is not without grit, has both affordable rent and slum landlords, the world’s coolest streets, the greatest local journalism and the best homegrown businesses in the country, perhaps. 

The empty tins of Strongbow on the corner where pavement collides with tenement.

Kurdish beard trim, digestive biscuits, men in wigs or nail varnish.

Back here on Victoria Road we can’t even hear the crows, afternoon crows in winter sky, pale sky with mild sun, weak sun but no rain, at least there’s no rain.

The sound of walls crumbling in the close, bins not emptied since medieval times.

Cropped hair guy with scars on his face kicking in doors along the pavement.

A phone goes, with the same ringtone as your work mobile and immediately you decide you never want to hear that noise again.

Because now it’s early evening and your teeth hurt, your ears are getting cold at children screaming in seven pm street traffic and tenement living rooms with the big light on.

Are they our kids? They must be, they have to be, the children we had back in the day when we walked everywhere and labour was manual and we didn’t love ourselves quite so much. When we had steady jobs and warm homes and food on the table and schools and trains and hospitals that worked.

We didn’t live as long back then, and we won’t now again either, but our sons might, our strapping sons of six foot not gnarled like their old men because of a healthier diet of less Irn Bru, fewer chips and better drugs.

Because today we’re in love with the whole splintering city, its big quick river wintry bridges, its brazen black Victorian heart. Apologies, Liz Lochhead.

And welcome home, Govanhill.

No hills and not even part of Govan.

But at least it isnae Strathbungo.