This is my most widely published, widely performed poem. It dates from my days living in a semi-furnished flat provided by social services, out on the fringes of what counts as the ‘West End’ of Glasgow (the posh part), a few months after i crash landed homeless in the city.
Tag Archive: maryhill
There are those days that spin by in a beautiful frenzy, that make your head burst in glorious plumes, where you throw yourself from trees and put your faith in the infallibility of safety harnesses.
you dig your nails in here and there, trying to leave an impression, to capture an instance, an amalgamation of above and below; something to mark the passage of fleeting.
Where you can but hope that it makes as much sense after you get it off your chest and into the white space, that you get it down before it evaporates in the morning.
I’ve had one of those. Good things should blossom.
Maryhill, where i park my meat, is a kinda rough area of Glasgow. The surrounding pubs reflect this fact being somewhat down and out and cheap. Perfect, right? In some circumstance yes but if you wanna get out of the house and do a little writing you know, breathe the fumes of humanity, get a change of scenary, you are faced with a problem. Its the kind of activity that attracts attention in pubs where karaoke in the highlight of the week. People are gonna make assumptions. People are gonna get curious. These things are not neccessarily conducive to the act of writing. They are however conducive to the topic of a certain Elton John song and fuck me if it ain’t saturday.
About 15/20 minutes walk away from where I live is Glasgow’s fabled West End. Fabled because it is considered considerably up market; filled with classy eateries, drinkeries and ice cream parlours. Much better places for the writerly to lurk. Well, somewhat. People aren’t going to pay much attention to a solitary figure scrawling away. Not in an area with such a high affluent student population. The problem is that it is too far the other way. It’s too wealthy, too classy. It’s too pretentious. I can’t get comfortable.
I am not a classy soul.
I can pass muster. I knows my ps and my qs, but i don’t fit. Not here.
Not there either.
Why can’t there be somewhere in between? A shitty pub in Maryhill with a decent jukebox and booths to hide away in?
Or maybe I should stop being so fussy about where I write.
Last night I decided, due to certain skull fucking circumstance, to go and get wasted. Wanting the process to be in some way produce apposed to purely destructive I decided to make it a bit crawl and write a bit about each place. Below you will find those impressions. Shit gets a bit random.
Oh dear. The first place. I’ve walked into has all the life of a 2am kebab. I don’t think I can stay in Maryhill. I don’t think I can even go to the west end as I am completely sick of byres road. In the back of my head I knew this would be a failure but a maryhill pub crawl did present a certain wayward charm; plus I could visit every pub around and at least pick a favourite. But, no. I crave more meaningful noise than naff celebrity tv reminiscing. The odd look I got from the barmaid should l tipped me off really. A kinda “what the fuck are you doing here?” expressed performed exclusively with her eyes. Still, the price was right. £2.60 for a pint of san miguel. Framptons on maryhill road. Don’t tell them i sent you. Time to finish this pint and fuck off.
Sauchiehall street. Just past nine. Entering budda bar I note the misspelling and consider how much cooler it would of been if they’d called it bubba bar instead. Reminds me of the bill hicks joke. At the door I get my first random, who shakes my hand and calls me Ian, because apparently he meets a lot of Ian’s on a Wednesday. I have my doubts. Later, whilst I’m drinking and writing in my booth, he comes over and asks me if I’m okay. I explain that I’m on a mini crawl but have nobody to drink with so I’m writing instead. Glancing at my notebook and seeing the name of the bar he asks me if I’m writing my life story. Seems like a nice guy. He points to a woman and says “there’s one for you!” I tell him i have a girlfriend to which he replies “that doesn’t matter”. Again, I have my doubts. Music leans towards chart R&B. At least it has a beat. Sky sports on the TVs. Time to drink up and fuck off.
Nicos cafe bar now. House on the sound system. No televisions thankfuck. Middle aged men line the bar. Not much life here, made all the more apparent by the bright lighting. Have turned to the lowest common denominator in the form of a pint of Tennents. They do jäger bombs here for £1.80 so I may have to indulge, minus the red bull because I actually like the taste of Jagermeister. A man and a woman sit at the bar and argue about movies, each trying to convince the other to watch a particular film, the ones in question being Brick and Drive. I stand up from my able and tell the. They each have to watch what the other is trying to convince them to see. For the record Brick is the better movie. The house music continues.
Oh, shit. I think that was Craig David just now. Time to leave.
The Box now; not to be confused with the shitty music tv channel. A pint of thorntons for £2.80. I’ve even here before; a friend’s hip hop crew got signed to a small edinburgh label and they threw a gig here to celebrate. Was a good night. Tonight, bands play for edification. Right now though it’s all CDs… Or mp3s. Whatever. I doubt I’ll stay for the next band. There is a bit of a wait and I am in no mood to stay still. Also, I think this guy is giving me the eye and I’d like to avoid confusion.
Okay, I’m still at The Box. I went out for a cigarette whilst the next band were tuning up and got into a conversation with a guy who started out by mocking my “where the fuck?” English accent before we descended into a discussion about he whole Catholic/Protestant Celtic/Rangers thing. Something to do with he Irish potato famine. He ave me a cigarette then I went in and ordered a shot o something cheap and nasty for a quid and a pint of tennants. Came to four quid. This and are all over the place. A little rocky. A little indie. They have no concrete identity. I must make a note of their name because despite of that they do not suck. Like, someday, maybe. Whatever.
I returned to the same table and that guy is still giving me the eye. If I was single and gay I’d be well in there. Time to down this and keep moving.
I am surrounded by rutting. Men and woman and lust. I feel it. I have no desire to take part. The screens wake themselves from a sate of No Signal and a WWF DVD flickers into florescent half life. Definitely time to leave.
The band were called Alavano. They have a couple of tracks on soundcloud. They sounded a lot more varied on stage and told me that they are in the middle of writing and recording some new stuff.
A wetherspoons. £2.15 for a pint of carlsberg. The fact that tennents is not a cheapest points to the lack of local soul in chains. In ASDA or Tescos you will pay more for 2 litres of irn-bru than you will in a shop run by Pakistani immigrants. Legal immigrants, I might add. Not that I give a fuck about the whole immigration debate. Please, come to the UK on and all. Piss off the natives. It amuses me greatly.
Two men creep up to he puggie machine in front of me. The one watching as the other presses the flashing buttons couldn’t look more out place. He leans and tuts in the right places but you can tell his heart ain’t in it. Behind and to the right a middle aged man drinks alone.
This is the second time I’ve run up against apologetic bouncers. I tried to go into Firewater because I heard they played rock music and I crave the loud and abrasive. There is a policy against the individual in certain locales on sauchiehall street. Basically, if you ain’t in a couple you are fucked. Guess they cause less trouble. Us losers drinking on our own cause nothing but pain which begs the question of when exactly did nightclubs develop feelings? Also, this tendency towards the reinforcing of he heteronormative is somewhat disturbing.
I’m in a pub, A pub pub, just off sauchiehall street. It’s called The State and wonder to which state it might be referring. The word has several contexts it could be used in. A pint of tennents costs £3.05. I don’t even like tennents really. Is a pissy lager on par with carling which is often seen declaring itself to be probably the best lager in world, or some such shit. At the bar some Polish are in deep conversation with at least one Scot – now they are gone. I just caught last orders and now they are gone. Guess they know when to escape. Still, two guys at the bar speak Polish to each other. Several other people make to leave as Daft Punk’s latest single plays. Ten minutes to drink this and move on.
I think I may be done. Time to go home.
I guess I’m not done. Those Polish people turned out to be Russian. They don’t want to stop and I end up following them down the street in an amused fashion as they carry on all raucous. I try to lead them elsewhere but there’s something about a mass of Russians that puts bouncers off. They bailed on me whilst I took a piss in a lane and took the advantage to sneak past them nto a bar called Bloc whilst they tried to argue their case. I find it a little, not ironic, but perhaps cognitively dissonant (okay, that might be the definition of irony) that a bar which pretends at a sense of solidarity with the soviet union (and whose website domain is registered in Russia) won’t let a bunch of drunken Russians in. Maybe it’s the fact that, as I was told by a barmaid on a previous visit, it’s just bullshit posturing and pretension.
I seem to have stripped a table of its occupants. What is it about a guy alone in a bar that causes such revulsion? In younger, less confident days, this might of troubled me. Now I’m just glad of the space. Aaaaaah.
A guy from a different table comes and asks me if I’m okay. Jesus fucking Christ. I know I shouldn’t complain about people showing concern but I really need to make some more friends to drink with. Still, I’ve enjoyed the experience of writing of my misadventures and I wouldn’t of been able to do that if I’d been being all social and shit. So, anyway, I get talking to this guy and his friends. I don’t notice someone slipping in behind me and start flicking through my notebook. When I do suddenly become aware of their presence I turn around to see an alternative looking girl in a trilby.
“It’s okay. I’m a lesbian.”
This counts as one of the best random introductions in a bar I have ever experienced and we end up chatting. We go to swap numbers and it is at this point I notice that my phone has been stolen. This is quite annoying but not the end of the world as it was a piece of shit pre-android pseudo-smartphone hand-me-down and gives me the excuse to get something that a wired individual such as myself could do with to do my thing with maximum efficiency. I write her number down in my notebook, designating it under KT, because that’s what she told me to do. KT, if youe reading this, I’ll call you as soon as I get a new one. Like I said, I need to make some new friends.
Things get a bit murky after this so I’m just gonna stop here.