Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Fun With Handcuffs?

Three women sit in the corner of the cinema bar. It’s about half full, but you can hear the three pretty clearly, they are being quite loud. The girl in the middle is first to draw attention, she is the focus, on a rare night out. Checking her phone every five minutes to see how her partner or baby sitter or whoever is getting on with the kid. Perhaps I should cancel, she suggests, skinny and full of anxiety, smartly dressed. The other two tell her off, every time she pulls out the phone they tell her to put it away. The one of the outside has short dyed hair, a heavy cream coloured woollen cardigan that looks thick, but still describes a lumpy kind of figure. The other, sits with a t-shirt, pale blue, a larger woman, heavy arms and a big round face. The two are dirty, teasing the mother about how naïve and innocent she is – how on earth does she have a four year old daughter? She used a turkey baster, one of them guffaws loudly. The innocent makes a comment about handcuffs. The one in white says about how the problem with that is, you have to do all the work. The one in blue moans about how boring that gets. They both laugh, loud, and filthy. The one in white confesses last time she got fed up and left him handcuffed while she went to sleep in the other room. The conversation continues in this vein, you need to watch all of that show Benidorm! The one in blue agrees with the one in white, now that’s an education! The woman checks her phone again, looks embarrassed, wonders aloud – how do I not know all these things?

Monday, 27 April 2009


Two Unkempt Men.

Two men sit in a bar. Unkempt. They are shaven, but both are balding, greying, with untidy and uneven hair. One is stretched out in the heavy comfortable arm chair, feet way out in front, and his eyes closed. He has ear buds in, white cables from the ear phones, listening to music as he dozes. The other sites sideways, a large hard back book full of text and photos balanced on the arm of the chair. The bag for the newly bought book sitting stray on the table in front of him. He scours the pages, looking at pictures and captions, taking his time, but not long enough to actually read as he turns the page again. He hunches over the book, pushing thick, black framed glasses back up his nose as he peers intently, his face barely inches from the page. The sleeper wakes, gives a roaring yawn and looks around, he watches his friend read, and sits there looking a little lost and abandoned now that he is awake.


Afraid Of The Brush

The street is narrowed by the wooden fence round the building site on one side, painted green, with black and white swirling patterns to make it more attractive, less of a long term eyesore. By a bin and phone box on the other, next to that a man from the council, cap and jacket to prove it, brushes the street. A man is coming towards us with a dog. The two women in front of me step towards the green fence. The man steps out to go round them, but the dog is having none of that, diving the other way. The red leash threatening to wrap round the woman in the red coat, while her friend makes a dash for it. The grey black snout of an uncertain kind of dog coming towards me on that side, before the man is able to tug and pull him around, setting the woman free. Sorry, he apologises, he is scared of the brush! The dog being dragged passed the man who has stopped sweeping while all this goes on . The woman in the red coat laughs, nervously, looks at me to see if I caught that, then to her friend, who she calls to - did you hear that? Afraid of the brush! The unspoken subtext it seems, that of what about her, what about her being afraid of the dog shoving at her? It was not a small dog! But its done, and without missing a beat her friend continues their previous conversation.


Starting a Fight

Pink is roaring "I wanna start a fight!" but the kids sitting on the parliament balustrades don't look like their hearts are in it. They've come to demonstrate against the school reform, the school has given them time off for that. Now they're standing there, 50 kids, some of them are smoking, dangling their legs. They don't look like they're starting a fight. They don't look like anything really, just bored.
Kids these days, you're bound to think, and the adults driving past growl misgivingly that they should be in school, working like the rest of us. But these kids, the ones with the bored eyes and the downturned mouths are the ones who still think that standing there counts, that somewhere, somehow they are making a difference. They haven't defected to McDonald's yet, like their friends, for a day of giggling and sunshine. Perhaps they lack the imagination.

Sunday, 26 April 2009


You Don't Have To Dress Up.

Well, if you don’t want to dress up, you don’t have to, he says into his phone as he passes me on his way into the coffee shop, whatever you’re comfortable with. A skinny bloke, looking for someone, the phone pressed to his ear while he multitasks. His skin is a well tanned colour, perhaps a shade of olive. He wears a loose Joker t-shirt, one of those Heath Ledger ones everyone was wearing for a while - white shirt, with that exaggerated smile and the splash of black for eyes. Over that he wears a light, and open, black cardigan. He wears knee length shorts, blue, with white pin stripes, and pockets like combats. On his feet has black and red checked converse, and woolly black socks. His head is shave around the sides, to a stubbly 2 or so, leaving a couple of spiked inches on top, sculpted in some way with product. His voice is quite camp, and it carries as he walks in and back out again, not having found who he is looking for. A couple minutes later he returns with a girl, who has been wandering round the bookshop while she waited. She is obviously not feeling the heat the same way he is, a heavy jacket, a scarf, full length black trousers, a bag over her shoulder. As they get to the counter she must say that she is hungry, so they stop, and he suggests they go for pizza then. She points out that he has already eaten, and he tells her he’ll just have a salad then. Where will we go, he asks I don’t know, where do you want to go, she asks. I’ve made you wait for an hour and a half, he says it in an apologetic, incredibly embarrassed kind of half joking whine, its up to you . Look, I am not choosing, she raises her voice, and I’m reminded of how many times I’ve had this conversation myself before. And they leave. And they return. Standing back at the counter, trying to decide what kind of paninis they are going to go for, till they eventually get served and take a seat.


Encounters With Chuggers (1)

Chugger. Charity Mugger. It’s a sunny evening. There are two of them in deep conversation, the afternoon peak has died down, the evening build up is only at light stream level. They have the look of scruffy students, earning a bit of money by stopping people in the street and asking them for their bank account details for charity. I worked for an organisation that was involved in these kind of things, its something I have issues with, I admit it. I’m hoping that I will get by them unnoticed, like I did when they were out on Thursday as well. But of course, the conversation ends. He goes in one direction, she turns in mine. There are other people wandering towards her, closer, but their tactic is to pick people by themselves, as its easier to delay them than groups. So despite being a good 20 metres away from me, she starts waving her arms in the air and shouting at me. I can’t make out a word she is saying, but I can guess, if it weren’t for the red jacket with the charity’s name across the back I would come to the conclusion that she was a crazy woman - this is not reasonable behaviour. From that distance I raise my voice and say NO, I hate raising my voice. She keeps coming anyway, still shouting away, still incoherent, I shake my head, I mouth no. She keeps on damn well coming. I keep saying no. At last she is within audible distance, perhaps about 2-3 arms lengths. Come on, 30 seconds, she hollers. At last I lose my patience. I. Make. My. Feelings. Known. I. Say. It. Bluntly. Fuck! Off! And I have passed her. Well, she calls behind me, trying to hit me with perky sarcasm, you have a lovely Saturday night sir. Thank. You. I. Will. And I just feel tired.

Saturday, 25 April 2009


Dishevelled Collectors

The dishevelled old couple wander round the book shop café. They collect all the magazines they can find. Even approaching tables where people are sitting to remove them from the tables. The guy does the scavenging - excuse me, have you finished with this? Wary nods. She carries them, building up a fat pile of glossy paper. This way, he says, and they disappear into a back corner with their collection. As they do so the music that has been playing stops, and it gives the whole thing an air of significance, as though their actions made everyone go quiet and look.


New Scarf

A woman and her grand daughter sit on the train with their feet hidden by bags of shopping. The woman is rugged and grey, likely in her sixties and showing it. But she does so with a dignity. Her hair is short, a couple of inches thick, a dirty ash grey. She wears smart black shoes, and grey dress suit jacket, with a striped grey and pink top visible in a V beneath. The girl has shoulder length brown hair, a black zip up top, puffy combat shorts and black tights. The girls pulls a shawl style scarf from one of the brown paper clothes bags, folds it in a triangle and drapes it and ties it round her neck. She smiles a little, restraining the sense of pleasure she has. She glances at her grand mother, in a look at me fashion, the old woman laughs, looks away in a get her fashion. The girls whips it off, suddenly embarrassed, balls it up. Then, she changes her mind, ties it again this time taking more care. Adjusting it, preening, making sure it doesn’t choke her. This time, she sits, composed, her legs crossed, that little smile, as though she were royalty.

Friday, 24 April 2009


Cirque de Zombies?

He is tall, wears a black jacket, with a Cirque De Soleil logo and text across the back. He is going through the crime section of the book shop, trying to find something that catches his attention. She has leopard print trainers, skinny black jeans, which fit with an inviting gap against pronounced hip bones and flat belly. She wears a black jacket and a purple scarf, with a leopard influenced print round her neck, and a tight bound red kerchief over her head, holding her long dark hair out of her face. She doesn’t show too much interest in the books, until I put the copy of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies back on the shelf, having been skimming pages of it, with its 3for2 sticker promoting it on the cover. She grabs at it, with the motion of someone just spotting something special. She follows my example, flicking through it, before putting it back.


Sandwich In Mouth Disorder

The Chancer plays for the company team. He is the late addition. He plays in goals. In the lead up to this last game they have hit a problem with strips. Strips sponsored by the company haven't arrived, but a photographer will be taking pictures for the company magazine. How has this become my problem, he moaned. The answer is the usual, because he can't resist getting involved. Because with a nod and a wink he is your man, he has to be. The morning after, everything resolved. They got the strips, the got the photos, they won the game, they got the trophy. There they all in the photos, standing proudly with the shield, with their personal trophies. And slap bang in the middle, the chancer, looking like goofy, with a cheese and pickle sandwich hanging out his mouth while everyone else looks cool and professional. Oh no, he moans, flips to the next picture, where you can see him chewing. In the next picture, again everyone standing nice, and he appears to be chewing the ear of someone standing in front of him. Then the next one where is actually behaving himself, but instead, someone is holding a baby over their head.


Quick! The Umbrella Signal!

A couple stand in the drizzly street, about 9pm on a Thursday night. He is taller then she is, her head about his shoulder height. She has a contained blonde mass of hair, he has short spikey dark hair. They are both dressed young, studenty, casual. She has her phone pressed to her ear, peers down the street in the direction I've just come, looking for something. She holds her umbrella with her other hand, raised so that it shelters the pair of them. The conversation leads to a point, she raises the umbrella, up and down, like a signal. Then she laughs with delight, cries "there!" The phone call ends and she gives him an attack hug, arms thrust round his neck as she grabs him into an embrace and kisses him furiously. I can only guess that somewhere at the other end of the street there is another couple, standing beneath an umbrella, bobbing it up and down in return to show that they recieved the message and are on their way.

Thursday, 23 April 2009


There Will Be Sandwiches.

There are sandwiches there, the stoop shouldered, hesitant man shouts. The man who always seems to liberate a tray for no obvious reason, as though somewhere along the line he has made a pact - a sandwich tax on all meetings. Lifting the plastic lid from the black tray of catered sandwiches, left over from a meeting in the conference room, and watching them react. They flock like small birds, rapid and eager, almost, almost quicker than the eye can see, swooping down, emerging once again with fists full of bread cut into tidy triangles, before they disperse back to their workspaces, their conceptual, if not literal, cubicles. The sandwiches are liberated after the scheduled lunch break, so they all peck away, guilty, in full knowledge that they have all already eaten.


Interview With a Professor

He is a rarity, an imprecise German. Folds of rmpled suit draped over him, white shirted belly drooping out over his pants. His tie, that small geometric expression of a man's personality, is bright purple with blue squiggles and yellow dots. His face is saggy too, full of age, crow feet in the corners of his eyes. And why oh why do men do this - long strands of tousled, dyed hair are combed from his ear over his balding pate, sorry hair, hair that has been dyed and frizzed and combed so often that it has reached the limit of its endurance and wishes only to fade to grey in dignity.
He needs almost the entire Café table for his elbows, his pokes and gestures and his ideas. He expounds his theories so animatedly that the tousled front strands begin their slide over his eyebrows towards his nose. He has 20 years of theory to expound. He says,
"...much better for them than to sit at home infront of the tv all day, watching...what's the word..."
"Talk shows?" I suggest.
"PORNOGRAPHY! That's the word" he shouts through the Café, delighted. "You make me say such things! Pornography. I suppose I trust you for the wrong reasons."
He continues his theories about car companies, Calvinist work ethic and the necessity of sunglasses for snow blind rescue dogs.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009


tells us stories of salvation

Every weekend the old man stands in the street and tells us stories of salvation.



She is seventeen, and displeased. She flings her brown hair backwards in a dramatic gesture.
"I need a different cell phone contract. This one is rubbish". Her complaints have the rhythm of the often repeated. Her hunched shoulders, her little moué, all express misunderstood frustration.
"What's wrong with it?"
"I'm always out of minutes, that's what's wrong with it!"
Her father says, more mildly than is his wont, "It works just fine for me."
"That's because you don't text as much as me", she cries out. Her voice becomes shrill with the unfairness of it all. "I have a party to organise, do you haven any idea how expensive that is?"
There is a pause as her parents quirk their lips, thinking how familiar they are with the word "expensive", and what a surprise she is in for once she reaches a passing familiarity with it herself.


Never Played Snakes & Ladders

Did you ever play snakes and ladders as a boy? He asks, clearly expecting the answer to be yes, so that he can make a witty comparison to their current situation. Oh, the person he is talking to on the phone has clearly said no. Um, well, you have snakes, and you have ladders, and if you step on a snake you go down! And Fred just stepped on a snake! He laughs, but it’s the empty laugh of someone who has had to explain their joke, at length.


Trousers Round His Ankles.

yes ray.
i can do the graphs for that ray.
i'll get everyone together and we'll discuss that ray.
if we order those materials today it should be ok ray.
well, thanks for..
oh. ok.

one side of a conversation on the mobile phone. all i can see of the person talking is his feet. his trousers round his ankles. then the blank facade of the cubicle door. personally, I can't see any phone call being that important.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009



Miriam Makeba's Pata Pata echoes all over the square, rustling up the crowd, driving the rhythm right into their feet and meaty butts. The sunday folk press groaning against the barriers, pushing cameras into the faces of the runners. Sometimes they shout or clap or blow their whistles, sometimes they bang red inflatable sticks together, issued by Number Four Telecom Company that also makes an Indian in a turban drive around the milling spectators in a red rickshaw for marketing purposes.

The runners take the last meters in large, gulping strides. Sweat streaks their bodies, everything but the last few calories, the last jerks of the muscles, the last shreds of determination drained out of them. There is no lying in those last couple of meters. You run the only way you still can. Every flaw in your motions, every pebble in your shoe, every desperate thought and ache of glory in your eyes is stark against the glare of the too hot sun.
Sometimes one of the runners lifts his arms in a last sweaty triumph: Cheer for me! and the crowd shouts and cheers and sucks in his moment with wide open mouths. Now he belongs to them. Everyone is a winner now, everyone passes the finishing line, the runners once, the cheerers again and again and again.

In the wind shadow of a taller man, one man runs crooked. His spine is arched backwards, paroxysm-like, his fists are clenched, his face screwed, pushed upwards by a trembling chin. He moves tightly, wrongly, left side, right side, left side, like a tin puppet wound up too hard.
They have seen him before. Every year they say, "how can anyone keep that up for 42 kilometers?" and "you'll see, in a couple of years his body is fucked." They don't cheer, he makes their joints ache in unwilling sympathy, he is ugly. He runs every year and never opens his eyes as he passes the finishing line.


Entirely Too Awkward.

With the office moves I now have someone new sitting across the aisle from me. I’ve seen him around, passed his desk before, was even on a course with him. I noticed his quirks, though embarrassingly not while at the course where I was actually interacting with him. But now that he is there, his presence is a constant reminder. Sitting watching him biting his nails, listening to him use the phone, watching as he types on his laptop with one hand. Always with one hand, because he only has one arm. The other is plastic, a replica, which either sits on his knee in casual conversation, or hangs by his side, as he sits working, in a manner that he must be used to, but looks entirely too awkward to me. A replica which just screams plastic, its colouring a strange shade of really not skin at all, its texture distinctive, but still enough that you may not notice on first glance.

Monday, 20 April 2009


How Was I Supposed To Get That Then?

Three guys swagger up the street. Its dark now, nearly 10pm on this Saturday night. One walks ahead, the other two behind. One in a white sports shirt, the other two in black. All with track suit bottoms and branded trainers. They have a football. The short with the glasses gives it a kick, too hard. The other guy in black stops in his tracks, removing the plastic spoon from his mouth, holding the cardboard cup of fast food chain ice cream in front of him and looks at his friend, then at the ball. The whole look says “how was I supposed to get that then?” The guy in white gets the ball, but instead of kicking it back, he kicks it forward, much, much harder. The three of them watch, mouths open, whispers of “shit!” as it goes arcing over the heads of people in the street, and they wait to see who it will hit. Instead it batters off the display window of one of the mobile phone shops, bouncing back hard and hitting the pavement with a thump. The guy in white bursts in to a trot, going after the ball to get it back before they get into any more trouble.


A Crowd Will Gather.

Saturday lunch time and the city is buzzing. The street cleaner grinds by, brushes churning away, while a Billy Connolly impersonator tries to sell people trips to Blackpool, where he will be putting on a tribute show. Up Buchanan Street a homeless guy rubs his eyes, wobbles, struggling to stay awake. The guy who does the balloon animals pushes his cart along, the little jack russell trotting along by his side. There are football colours scattered around the crowds, teams playing today. A group of American kids, tourists who’ve just hit the Celtic Supporters Shop, freshly kitted out in jackets and bags for the team. Further up on the street, one of the members of the Scottish Opera Company stands on the steps of the Royal Concert Hall, belting out Nessun Dorma to drum up some business. A man walks by, long haired metal kid, with a long fox tail appearing out the back of his jacket - several feet long, bushy, and artificial and a little odd. Round the corner a one armed man crouches in a door way, playing the mouth organ, begging for coins. A group of bag pipes chat to man with an orange suit case, an orange bowler hat, both on their way to do their next street sets. You stop for long enough, a crowd will gather and take your picture, they stop for everyone.

Sunday, 19 April 2009


Sweeping For Glitter

Sitting in the bar, we can see the lights behind the curtain to the hall we were in earlier, while waiting for the next show in another hall. We can see the flicker of strobes filtering through the glass to the lobby where a DJ plays to an empty room. After the events of the theatre festival are done for the night, they will have a club in these halls. The Holdin’ Fast performance used handfuls of glitter, thrown about, swished about, coating every surface. Now there are two men, their brooms and feet visible beneath the curtain as they sweep up all that glitter, trying to tidy the place up before the club starts.


Tunk tunk Tunk

Tunk, tunk, Tunk. John Moran is sitting on stage playing some morose song that he wrote for the woman he stole from Jeff Buckley. A fact he explained in detail before he started to play. He picks out guitar parts and grins looking at the ceiling of The Arches as trains go over head. “I love that”, he comments as an aside. Tunk, tunk, Tunk. He stares happily till the next singing bit comes and turns back to his lyrics. Tunk, tunk, Tunk.


I Look Like A Prostitute!

You can see them from a distance, two girls with their long bare legs amongst a group of guys, wandering away from the city centre. I pass them, and enter the shop on my own way home for the night. The one with the blue dress stands at the counter beside me as I get served, her friend is looking at her face in a mirror. “My god I look like a fucking prostitute!” she moans, wiping at her make up. Turning round, she looks t her legs, and I can see that beneath the dress jacket she appears to be wearing a tiny top. I look away and smile, resisting the urge to make any comment as the accuracy of her summary of her appearance. “Cellulite? How did that happen? That’s it, no more skirts!” she insists, walking over to join her friend, “from now on, only trousers!” Her friend ignores her, and she goes back outside. As I leave she has been moaning to the guys, one of them makes a move to give her a sympathetic pat on the head. She ducks aside, yelling “Don’t you mess with me! I’ll kick your fucking head in!” I walk on.

Friday, 17 April 2009


Fire Drill

The rain drizzles down. The shrill beeps of the fire alarm spill through the glass doors into the street. 100-something employees mill about infront of the kebab stand, faces mirroring muted annoyance.
The fire engine whines past, drops off five firemen infront of the door and rushes on. The firemen saunter inside casually in their chunky blue overalls, with the yellow writing on the back. You can see them gesticulating behind the closed doors. It is dry, inside.
The rain drizzles down from a dirty grey sky. 100-something wet employees chew their kebabs, casting dark glares at the firemen inside. Mutterings arise. The atmosphere turns, hotheaded words escape, fists clench around lamb and spices.
The fire engine rushes through again, breaks hard to gather in the firemen, saves them from the kebab fuelled mob.

Thursday, 16 April 2009



TGIF round the corner has a French waiter. He has an adorable accent and a slightly haggard look as he whips around with his black apron and his half smile. "Alabama Slammer?" "Jack Daniels Flat Iron Steak?" (Jaaaaacques Danielles..?)
The French guest however is perturbed. He leans forward, a darkness in his round features. "What is a Frenchman doing in this place?" he whispers in a tone of horrified sympathy normally reserved for Dickensian pauper scenes. An American Sports Pub so far from home! Au revoir Filet Mignon, bonjour rumpsteak tristesse! The waiter responds in an embarassed flurry of French.
"I have been here for six months", he explains. "No no, I still cannot speak their language."
The French guest leans back, relieved. "Ah. I will take les potato skins."

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Ironic Powder Blue AC/DC Shirt

We are sitting in the bar playing cards between attempts to use the WiFi. I’ve come down with a cold a few days ago, symptoms are lingering. There is a table of a half dozen folk, who end up being the audience to the night’s event, with their funny hair cuts and hair colours, sat in the middle of the restaurant part of the bar. At one point I blow my nose, trying to clear it enough to breath. The camp, plump guy in the ironic powder blue AC/DC t-shirt, that rides up to show his belly, is looking at me the whole time. He has short dark hair, but he has kind of tried to make it stand up like some kind of pseudo-quiff. To go with his t-shirt he is wearing 3/4 length blue shorts – though perhaps how long they appear to be is related to how low he is wearing them, several inches of equally blue boxer shorts, branded with the repeated words "Calvin Klein", clearly visible to all and sundry. When he realises that I have noticed him watching he says in his camp voice "Get it all out son!", to which I reply, "don’t worry, I will."


There is a kid dressed as a Dalek!

It’s the day after our encounter with Sleazy Tom and we are walking up Buchanan Street, when we are surprised to have another Dr. Who encounter. "Look, there is a kid dressed as a Dalek!" one of the girls shouts, and we all marvel at the outfit, even though being some way from the Dr. Who exhibit it seems remarkably out of place.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009


Telegraphing His Movements

Dundas Lane leads from the side entrance of Queen Street Station to Buchanan Street. I am walking in that direction when I see a Japanese man coming towards me. He has short, dark hair, and black framed glasses. He is dressed smart, though that is contrasted by the zipped up parka jacket he is wearing on top. As he walks he holds his hands out in front of him, telegraphing his movements, pointing his hands away from me, fingers outstretched as though to indicate he is going to go round me. Like an air hostess directing passengers to the emergency exits or a traffic cop directing traffic. As he passes, I catch the hands raise out of the corner of my eye, a stop motion and he comes up against the denser flow of people behind me. He seemed to think he could stop people this way, so that he could continue on his way, I didn’t look to see how he got on.


Sleazy Tom

There is a Dr. Who exhibition on in Kelvingrove museum. Perhaps unsurprisingly the exhibit is sold out when we arrive on Easter Monday. But there are still people in costumes wandering around the entrance, for photo opportunities anyway. One of them sees the two girls I am with and makes a lunge towards them. His hands are outstretched as though he is about to grope the pair of them in his lecherous charge. But as he gets closer, he brings his arms down, and whips on a broad smile, and in the broadest Scottish accent ever asks which one of us is the “fan”. By which we are bemused. N is wearing a band t-shirt with a cat picture, “So, you like cats?” he asks trying another tactic. “Um, it’s a band shirt, maybe the band likes cats?” she replies to him, her tone all WTF? This impersonator is by turns sleazy and amusing, and the girls end up getting their picture taken with him in front of the TARDIS anyway, but Sleazy Tom remains a joke for the rest of the day.

Friday, 10 April 2009


Mind That Hole.

In a novel I read once there was a guy who wanted to dig an illegal hole in the street without anyone noticing. He stole gear from the council, put cones round it, and no one asked him anything about it. The three guys with the pick up blocking a lane leading to the roundabout, cones round the van, make me think of that plot device. These guys don’t look like anyone you would trust to close a road. One guy stands in the back of the van, where there is a generator sat, and he hands cones down to the guys in the street who are obstructing more of the road. Coming level with the truck you can see that there is already a hole in the road, big and square. The long haired guy stands staring at traffic, the straggly length of his hair catching in the gusts of wind. Hard hat on his head, yellow vest over his work clothes, he strokes his moustache. They don’t seem to be the most involved of workies, he steps back, forgetting about the great big hole they’ve dug and he stumbles, one foot disappearing, before he manages to catch himself. Standing astride one corner of the hole he gathers himself, steps to one side, grabs a cone, and moves it to cover the edge he just fell over as though that was his intent the whole time.

Thursday, 9 April 2009


Hi-Viz, Low-Viz

It’s the back of 7am. The guy in the hi-viz jacket, bright orange with reflective panels, weaves back and forth, round pot-holes, on his bicycle, cars swerving round him. He is wearing camouflaged green combat trousers, his legs pumping away. The contrast between the high visibility jacket and low visibility trousers strikes me as an irony as I pass him and I wonder if he is conscious of it.


Tufty Haired Piper

They crowd round the tufty haired piper, who is stood at one of the junctions of Buchanan Street. He has gone for the whole gear, the green tartan kilt, the black jacket and everything. No doubt it earns him more money. Though he is probably on YouTube already, everyone seems to be filming him. The Pakistani kid with his hoodie up, using his mobile phone, his mates tugging on his sleeve, come on! The dumpy tourist woman, holding her digital camera steady, her heavy rain coat protecting her from the drizzle. The business man, suit and rain coat, his brief case in one hand, looks like he just stepped off a train at Queen St Station, and on his way to a connection at Glasgow Central, fumbling with his pocket camcorder, flicking switches as he turns it on. The teenage piper playing one of the old classics all the same.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009


World Pillow Fight Day

His stripy pyjama makes him look like a work camp inmate who just wandered out of the door into the sunshine. He walks around, tall, lanky and leisurely, not the type of person to participate in a flash mob pillow fight. But there he is, in the middle of the hullaballoo and the storm of goose down, swinging his big blue pillow at people swinging it back at him.
I'm crouched on the ground with my camera. He has a stripy pyjama, that is prime photo material, don't you think, and there he comes towards me, lifting his pillow, kind of cute, I lift my camera and - BANG - he bangs his pillow into my face. The camera cuts into my eyebrow and I'm baffled because it hurts. "Hey!"
He looks me straight in the eyes, I stare at him. So he bangs the pillow into my face again. He doesn't look cute anymore at all. I think I'm even bleeding a bit.
I take his picture.


Tuesday, 7 April 2009


Too Tired For Balloons

The professional looking Asian woman wanders round the stationery section of the bookshop. It isn't until she passes from one aisle to another that the bunch of balloons she is carrying becomes visible. This strikes me as quite odd, for a moment, till the tiny girl, perhaps 5 or 6-years-old trots along behind her. Clearly her daughter, they both have the same look, the same hair style. But the girl contrasts her mother by wearing a pink jacket. The little girl stifles a yawn, rubs at her eyes, this is really getting to be past her bedtime, it would seem - her expression says that she is now too tired for balloons, though mum needs to keep carrying them, just the same.


Too Much Information Desk?

The girl at the information desk has bobbed brown hair and is petite. The guy in front of the desk loiters, scruffy hair and unshaven, increasingly looking like he is probably her boyfriend waiting for her shift to end. She stares into his eyes, leaning against the desk with her elbows. Something in the conversation makes her stand up straight, no longer leaning, she pumps her arms in the air, waves them from side to side as though dancing. Then, full of delight, she runs her hands through her hair, as though ravishing herself gleefully. Mouth open, eyes wide, she raises her chin and her eyes meet mine, sitting in the coffee shop up above, and she gives me a “caught” smirk, before leaning back against the desk. He is much taller than she is, though they are both wearing striped tops as though it were planned to show their connection. She wears a white top with pink stripes beneath her open, red, work shirt, contrasting his red and black thick striped woollen jumper. When customers appear he loiters at one of the book tables instead, waiting for them to go away. After a customer walks away they are talking again, and she makes a weighing motion with her hands like she is imitating scales, before seamlessly cupping her hands in front of her chest, and weighs those as well, grinning coyly. Not long after that someone turns up to take her place, and hand in hand they slide off together.


An Audience With Busker

There is a busker playing Irish folk music in an alcove between shops. Several people as they get close enough suddenly shout yee and ha. A group of swaggering trendy guys start clapping along loudly. There is a sudden drizzle, umbrellas erupt in response. The guys discuss which route they are taking, while out points out the girl with the full bodied pink Mohawk who wanders by with her newly erected umbrella, the Mohawk is thick like a horses’ main, and they all turn to watch her head up the street.

Further down, there are two girls busking, last time I saw them they were in that space where the guy is now. The blonde girl is the sick kick, with hair extensions added since last sighting, she adjusts her glasses and clanks the tambourine. The brunette’s hair is curly, tied back in a loose tail. She plays guitar and leads the pair in their Oasis cover version. Half a dozen kids stand and watch a couple of feet in front, loitering the whole set, ragged punk metal kids who look like they turned up to encourage their class mates, but at the same time probably put off anyone else from stopping.

Monday, 6 April 2009


O Bunny!

She crouches down in the tramway station, her arms full of stuff. The tram pulls in, just as the Easter Bunny comes hopping out of her crotch.

The Easter Bunny!

It remains, serene in the rush hour traffic.

Saturday, 4 April 2009


The Streets Are a Buzz With People

Its one of those early spring days, 4-6 pm, people coming out of work, school, college. The streets are a buzz with people, all kinds of people, all layers of clothes from t-shirt to jacket, levels of intentions. There are too many stories going on, everywhere I look, to keep up with. The school girl, dark hair, Asian face, blue tartan skirt, smiling as she reads texts from her friends. The security guard outside the coffee shop, white shirt black tie, talking on his phone, tells the person to repeat themselves, before telling them to turn the radio down because he can’t hear them over it. The two Chinese mothers with prams, the heavily, heavily pregnant one stopped to adjust her jacket in the spring warmth, while her daughter reaches out and bats it with her hands. There is a group of kids, doing street dancing. Warming up on the way down, with a large crowd on the way back up, and neither time do I catch them doing anything particularly. There is a blue haired guy, sitting outside the underground waiting for someone. A pink haired girl in the comic shop, not laughing at her colleagues lame jokes, watching the clock for when its her turn to go home. Over dosed on stories I stop to eat, to drink, to write, and they keep on coming. The girl that serves me tea and pannini is Australian. Writing the things I’ve seen down, I can hear the quick fire chatter of Cantonese somewhere behind me. While I eat a friend of the coffee boy comes in with enthusiastic greetings and gushing praise of the weather. As they seat themselves, the three Chinese women leave, each short haired, but ranging in age from 20-something to 30-something. The latter two both have fat soft toys, oversized as key rings, one clasped in her hand with her keys, the other hanging from a black shoulder bag. Two girls come in separately, one a pony tailed Scottish brunette, tiny shoulder back, long purple jumper. The other is a red-haired American, sun glasses balanced on her head, wearing a jacket, too tight trousers describe the curve of her ass, the legs tucked into beaten cowboy boots. The Scottish girl gets tea and a sandwich, the American a fruit cocktail and a coffee, the Scot takes a table inside, the American one of the handful of tables outside. I finish the pannini and stop writing, drink my tea and read other stories.

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Friday, 3 April 2009


...in case he changes colour

She wins the prize for best first sentence to tell a stranger:
"I couldn't come here last time because our office chamaeleon was ill."
She goes on, "I know it sounds funny, but it was awful! I was supposed to give him his medication, and I was wondering why there was so little left in the bottle. Then, after I'd given him the full injection, I reached into my bag and found the right bottle. It turned out I'd given him the eightfold dose of an antibiotic! I called the vet. She said I'd have to stay now. In case he changes colour."
She says, "I know it sounds funny! But it wasn't! His little stomach and his bum hurt!"

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Thursday, 2 April 2009


TALL MAN, tiny dog.

Last week this would have been 6am, with the clocks changes we are at just past 7am and while its not dark, its not daylight yet either. The roads are still quiet, but its definitely work traffic building, occasional people waiting for the early buses. A tall man walks along the road by the station. Its not raining, but he wears a black branded hooded top, with the hood up. He it tall, willowy, that hoodie, over black trousers that look industrial somehow, with the large brown rectangles around the knee areas. At the end of a straining red leash there is a tiny dog, which looks entirely out of place for a man of his height.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009



I am trying to sleep in the bus, but the woman with the muslim headscarf is not shy. She has a German for Beginners test coming up and she needs help, dammit!
She points to this word and tries to pronounce it. Looks at me. Right?
I shake my head. Like this!
She tries again.
I nod.
She points to the next word. I see that she has a whole sheaf of papers in her hand and sigh. It's good that she's trying to learn, right? Right. I nod.
"Got a test?" I ask her after page 3.
"Yes!" She nods excitedly. I smile.
"Is it difficult?"
She cocks her head.
"Difficult? Hard?"
"It is in 11th district", she informs me.
We ride on. Pages 4 to 6. I tell her, very good. Good luck.
She nods, unhurriedly. Reaches into her pockets and presses two hard boiled sweets into my hands: "Thank you!"


Skater Girl

Orange silk scarf, paisley pattern band round the edges. A black PVC jacket. Beneath that a green hooded top. She strips the layers off, wearing a sleeveless white short t beneath that, and a longer white vest top beneath, around the rim of the lower shirt a splash of dirt dried in. she places her long board down the side of the chair, on the floor. Her hair is rumpled, curly blonde, trails of it coming down on either side of her face. A blue cord hangs round her neck. The upper t-shirt has a scoop neck, which hangs down when she bends over to dig the photographs from the bag, hinting at cleavage, which the lower white top contains. Black jeans and green all star trainers. Her smile creases her face, full of white teeth, her chin resting on her hand. Her nose glints with the light, reflecting off the small metal stud through the flesh of one nostril. The green top has a row of black buttons off set to one side, which would give a fold down opening at the neck. Her accent has a twang, a gentle lilt, somewhere between American and Irish. He wears baggy blue jeans, a paler blue hoodie top, a red back pack; he uses a napkin to wipe down his board, its patterns and green wheels. Her board has red wheels, plainer than his with two thick green stripes on its upper surface.

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