Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Change And Decay In All Around I See

That's me, feeling sad again. Another beautiful building abandoned, allowed to fall derelict and now set alight; this time, Broomloan Road School. 
Me and my bro pass today at 5.15pm, three hours after one of the buildings went up in flames. We could have snapped a picture, but I hadn't the heart for it.
Instead, here are class photos from happier times. 
The first is my Grandpa's class. He is back row, second from left. He was born in 1903, so this is probably about 1913. 
Second photograph is my Granny's class. She was born in 1913 and looks about 5 or 6 years old here. 
My Ma lived just up the road from the school at 161, but my Granny sent her to Ibrox Primary, as everyone referred to Broomloan Rd. as the ragged school. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Bit Parts

I appear as an extra in an article by journalist, Peter Ross, who writes about an upcoming NTS production, "The Tin Forest", which features Govan.
It's good - you can read it here:  "Telling Glasgow's Stories"

I don't get a menshie - but this is my quote . . .
“It makes me sad when things disappear,” says one Govanite interviewed for this article. “I love it here. Sometimes, when I walk around, I feel like I wasn’t born, but grew up out of the ground.”

And on that note, get yourself over to this site and sign the petition to make sure the Govan graving docks don't get filled in!

Click the link below to do your bit and make a difference.
Save Govan Docks

Friday, 16 May 2014

Dodging The Dentist

After a disappointing start, the sun's warm rays gradually penetrate grey cloud-cover and filter down into the back court. This heat trap is fine for drying towels in the fresh Govan air - as long as you keep an eye on them.
A babyface hooligan and a gangsta rapper are in conversation with shockheaded Peter, just out his kip. Two of them are sitting on crates and the rapper is dancing to the beat in his head. They're talking fast and in low voices.

 Babyface casts his eyes over to me, and I make eye contact briefly, but look away nonchalantly, like I absolutely didn't. Just a few towels and a pair of sheets; I peg them and as I bend down to get the last one, Babyface and Rapper skip past me towards the close but stop at the sound of Shockheaded P, "Ho, haud oan, gents," as he clambers to his feet. They wait as he shuffles towards them, his matted hair spiked and dishevelled, his clear blue eyes wide and staring. 
Babyface dances on the spot impatiently and the Rapper cocks his head to one side,
"Aye. Whit?" 
"Mind, whit Ah told ye aboot gettin' in the back way. It's no a joke. It's no a bother, but the dentist can be lookin' oot that way. He's a'ways like that, dodgin' aboot, lookin' up n doon, so remember," and here he puts his hands on their shoulders in a fatherly fashion, "yiv goat tae watch."
"Aye, we will, we will." says Babyface, clapping Shockhead on the sleeve of his tartan lumberjack shirt. "No problem big man, thanks and away ye go n sit in the sun."
The shockhead of hair is rumpled again and P ambles back to his place and sinks down for a spot of sunworshipping. 

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

One Or Six - What's The Diff?

A worry shared is a worry halved; this belief is half-felt in the heart of many of Govan's ladies, but very often not practised. Without sharing, a worry ferments and multiplies. It sits heavily in the pit of your stomach. You try to keep it out of your thoughts, but when someone tells you good news or something funny, you can't be fully happy or laugh wholeheartedly. For a moment, you vaguely wonder why not. Then the worry hits you, swirls round your head and sticks in your throat and a feeling of nausea sweeps over you.
It can be about a man, a child, an illness, money. Unfortunately, it's your own burden to bear.

Moyra's leaning over the railings, drawing on a cigarette, listening and not listening to the laughter and chat going on around her. It's mid-afternoon, that quiet hour before the bell rings and mayhem starts up again. It's warm, sunny, relaxed. Theresa's telling a story that ends with, "An they says Ah owe a thousand quid. As if. A thou-sand!"
Moyra remains leaning over, her head is bent and she shakes it from side to side. Her yellow hair is pulled back into a ponytail, tied with a green band that accidentally matches her tracksuit top and the stripe down her joggies.
"Ye've nae idea," she whispers. "nae idea. Six thousand Ah owe them," and here she lifts her eyes and raises her voice. "N see if they were tae come t ma hoose n take everythin', they widnae get wan, never mind six."

Monday, 5 May 2014


Hughie has prophesied that the new Govan Road layout is an accident waiting to happen. “Never any problem in the past 47 year Ah’ve been here,” says he, “n noo ye’re gaunie see the results a bad plannin’.”
Here’s my eye witness account of the prophecy coming to pass on this May Day holiday.
Govan's holy terrors congregate outside Coffee Joe’s. In their late 40s, they’ve earned a status by keeping vows of violence. Snarling and laughing raucously between themselves, they present a blank countenance to the world. Unexpressive, unapproachable. You wouldn’t dare.
They’re chatting back and forth with a pal in a black hatchback, parked in the new bays at the roadside. Suddenly, he pulls a U turn into the oncoming traffic and honestly, just misses by half an inch, a professional cycling man, with all the gear. I draw in breath in short, sharp stages, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, and hold it there as the bike goes skidding sideways towards the tarmac island that’s risen up out of Govan Road. The car speeds off towards Govan Cross. Five men and twa dugs stop at the corner of Stag Street to watch. The cyclist skilfully stops himself crashing completely to the ground. It takes a moment, with a line of cars behind him, but he manages to get the bike upright and then turns his gnarled face to glare at the men on the kerb. Is he going to roar in a rage? Is he going to charge over, in his cycling shorts and shiny helmet?
Two of the men are unconcerned with him, sorting each other out with a light. The third, with massive dome, slits for eyes, and downturned mouth, stands solid and staring till the cyclist, with a curse, pushes down on his bike pedal and flees Govan.