Motorway signals Glasgow approaching and it lifts your heart, it always does.
Back to the city. No more beach or hillside or holiday home, no tourists with backpacks and bumbags, nor fish and chips that Tripadvisor says are the best in the region.
No more timetables or roadworks or departure queues, just yer ain bed and yer ain shower and clean clothes to wear again.
Thank God for the city, the imaginary city, with chimney pots and parked cars and apartment buildings that aren’t being shelled at least.
It’s the city not the suburbs so it’s walking not driving, public not private, shared space not fenced off.
I know what it’s like in suburbia. I’ve been there, man. Seen it with my own eyes. No municipal parks or skating rinks or swimming pools or department stores or football pitches with red or black ash, nothing.
Here it’s tenement blocks and busy pubs and crowded streets that look global but act local.
Hindustan Times, Donegal News, Evening Citizen Saturday pink edition.
The beat of our shoes on the pavement, scruff shoes, Charlie Chaplin shoes, mostly.
The four guys at the corner look like they’re staring you down but they move out the way as soon as you approach.
People with nae teeth, skinny legs and brass necks who smoke too much but whose warmth keeps you dry during the rainy season, where a total stranger gives you a straight answer and if you don’t take yourself too seriously, you’ll be just fine.
I’ve always lived in the city, an imaginary city, and now I am Govanhill and Govanhill is me.
If it didn’t exist I’d have to invent it and where would I start?
An imaginary city, an invisible city, a unifying place, Pittsburgh, Prague or Pollokshields. Wherever you are, that city is with you, for ever and ever, walking alongside.
Foot-high toddlers with kites in the park, Polish mademoiselles strolling arm-in-arm, an Indian family kicking an evening ball past jogging runners and cyclists.
No fantasy city or invented place, not theoretical but realitical, real-life reality of crumbling walls, dogs barking and bins unemptied since medieval times.
Back in the city, that’s where we are, and wherever you are, I wish you were here.