Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Smile For The Camera

Making my way along Langlands Road to the shopping centre at Govan Cross. It's dead warm again and relaxing. My walk slows down to a leisurely stroll. On my right is the centre's carpark with only a couple of cars in it. On my left is the chapel hoose.

Two African men are taking photos at the edge of the pavement. One has his shirt off and is striking a pose, head and shoulders back with hands on the belt of his trousers. Behind them, in the empty carpark two 10 year old girls are circling on bikes along with a younger boy of 7 or 8.
I remember that easy, fluid movement of cycling in the warm freedom of the summer holidays. The girls look smug and satisfied, dreamily tracing figures of eight around each other. The wee lad is taking an interest in the photo shoot and stops in front of the two men to watch. This attracts the girls' attention and they ride over and watch the men too.
Before long, one girl pipes up, "Gonnae take oor picshurr, gonnae. Gonnae take his," motioning to the wee boy.
This keeps up for a bit, craiking on and on about taking their pictures and then the men must decide to give in or they'll get no peace, and so they agree.
The wee ginger heided boy with his wee national health specs gets in a pic alongside the shirtless black man with his sort of rippling muscles. Then the two girls cycle up on either side of him and sit all gallus on the saddles of their bikes and the man takes a couple of snaps of them all together.
The Africans start to pack up their camera and the one puts on his shirt and buttons it up.

"Ah hate yous," says one of the girls as she starts to cycle again. For no apparent reason, she just calls out, "Ah hate yous two."
The black man says in surprise, "Hey, hey, what is all this?" and he's laughing at the same time.
She stops a bit and says in a sharp wee whine, "Ah hate you, right!"
The men are walking away and one turns and says over his shoulder, "Yeah, we hate you too," but he's still laughing.
And then she shouts, "Yer a blackie. Ah hate yer black face."
The men don't even look back. Just keep on walking.
The cycling resumes in lazy circles of 8.


Ellen said...

So sad. So young, yet it's instilled in them already.

sandra said...

I remember in the 60's going into RS McColls in town. Ahead of me was a black man who was having a disagreement with the woman who was serving him over the price of something. He was speaking calmly to her but suddenly she lost it with him and out came a string of racial slurs. He turned to leave and I noticed that he walked with a limp and it seemed to take forever for him to reach the door, and all the while this woman kept yelling after him. I felt so angry with the woman but I was only about fourteen and didn't say a word. Neither did any of the other customers. I wonder if any of them felt as guilty as I did afterwards?