Tuesday, 30 June 2009


Zebra Striped Bombshell

Two guys come into the cinema bar, I guess Spanish, skin shade and the language they are speaking. But its one of those cases where I’m only catching fragments from where I am sat, and they could just as easily turn out to be Polish. One of them is quite tubby, probably the older of the two. His belly sticks out, his upper torso is meaty, his hair is scraggly thin, and he has a tufty attempt at a beard. He is dressed entirely in black. The other guy has a better build, looks younger, healthier. His hair is a little thing on top, but not nearly as bare as his friend. The two sit at a table with 3 chairs, sat opposite each other over a table, with the third chair cornered against the wall. They sit and drink beers and chatter away cheerfully. Then the bombshell arrives – she is wearing heels, gives her something of a sway to her walk; she is wearing sheer black tights on long legs; she is wearing a figure hugging zebra patterned dress, its glossy, its shimmery, it screams sex, it rides up her thighs as she sits, it clings to her ass regardless, it dips at the front where her cleavage is shoved into your face, along the back its baggy, and open, so you can see bare flesh, and the pink clasp of a bra; her hair is wavy, Mediterranean, sculpted in gentle curls, dark to her shoulders, except for blonde highlights through her fringe. Yeah, bombshell, and she is with these two guys? They make her clamber past them for the free seat, and almost as soon as she has sat down she has a camera out. She takes a picture of tubby, flash. She takes a picture of skinny, flash. Tubby takes a picture of her, flash. Then he encourages skinny and her to sit together, so she climbs into his lap like a cat. Flash. Once there she stays there, his hand straying into the gap in the back of her dress while they talk, stroking at the naked skin. They kiss. He unfastens her bra, one end of the clip in each hand as he looks at her, teasing, waiting for her reaction. She scowls at him till he fastens her back up, and she takes that as her queue to return to her own seat. Minutes pass, tubby suddenly stands up, and leaves – it seems surprising, the couple look at each other for a moment. But it seems like a good excuse for her to crawl into his lap again, so she does. They kiss, loudly. He says something. She slaps him, classic movie star slap. Then they kiss again, the drama! Another five minutes and they stand up, take their tickets for their film and head up to the screen. Eyes turning to watch her as she leaves, that clinging dress seeming to sparkle. Well, that’s that. Except another five minutes later, the tubby guy staggers round the corner back into the bar. Stops in front of the table where they were sitting, looks confused, then leaves again.

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Monday, 29 June 2009


Dancing In The Street

Every record shop has stacks of his records. Shifting as many as possible in the wake of his death. The HMV in Buchanan Street which took over the still cooling corpse of the Zavvi that was there before, has speakers mounted in the door way, blasting music into the street. Looping his hits. It hits Thriller. Two girls walking down the street, right by the speakers, take a moment to do a step, to swing their arms in front of them like the shuffling dead. Moments later, couple coming up the other way, on the other side of the street, nudge each other, and without missing a step, they do the arm thing as well.

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Hands Free, Phone Free

Coming up to a road that cuts across the pedestrianised section of Buchanan Street, there are lights at the crossing. Cutting across there is a guy, grey t-shirt, greying blue jeans that are knee length shorts. He is heavy built, short dark hair, trainers, and seems to be holding a conversation. But then, it’s the modern condition, people in the street holding conversations are probably on the phone. His arms swing loose at his side as he shuffles and limps along the curb. Well, ok, maybe its an ear piece, one of those blue tooth things you see inserted their like it’s a physical implant. I hold back from walking to the curb, because if I don’t he will walk into me, as I do so I watch him, checking for the ear phone, but no, he doesn’t have one. He is, in fact, talking to himself, and from the tone he is giving himself a hard time. I watch him pass on his way, a couple along stopping from stepping into his path, similarly they watch, with bemused looks on their faces in response.

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Girl Changing Shoes.

I’m having a quick bite to eat, sitting by the window, and I glance out the window, which looks out into lane. There is a Chinese guy, coming out a side door – I think there is a Chinese restaurant just at the front. He waves a hand, then holds up a finger – ONE! I glance around, surely he isn’t indicating to me, so who is he? But no one by me even notices him. I glance back, as he approaches the car parked right in front of the window, which is when I realise there is a Chinese girl sitting in it. She gets out and they exchange words. She is dressed in a grey top, long sleeved, with a baggy front, which hangs loose so that you can see that she is a more fitting white top underneath. She is wearing grey black jeans, and brown black cowboy boots. She slips the boots off, leaning against the back door, chucking them into the back seat, as she slips on smart flat soled shoes. Slipping off the lemon yellow socks which she wore with the boots isn’t wearing with the shoes. (This is the second time this weekend I’ve seen a girl changing shoes in the street, something which I’ve actually seen with some frequency – the night before girl was changing from flat soled flip flops, into higher heeled strappy shoes for going out.) Then it’s into the boot, pulling out jackets, a flask, a couple of bars of some kind of Kinder snack, and clutching cinema tickets. A polished metal flask, small sized one, maybe a couple of small cups worth, a curious thing to see someone carrying to the cinema on a summer night. They juggle these between them as they get ready, he watches her pull on a smart black jacket, then she takes the stuff back. He is wearing jeans, with a key chain hanging, and a blue t-shirt with some mass produced design on it, as he pulls the boot of the car down I’m conscious of his biceps, this guy works out. With the chocolate in her pocket, the flask in one hand, tickets in other hand, she exits the alley and heads round corner to cinema. He pulls on his crumpled green jacket, and follows.

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Wednesday, 24 June 2009


Pescatarian Photoshop

In the basement of this bookshop there is a branch of one of the chain coffee shops. One of those places I often wander to on a Sunday afternoon after a browse. Its quite late on this time, hitting closing, I’ve cancelled what I planned to do due to a headache – decided to grab a coffee before just heading home, maybe relax a little, read a little, see if the headache will go away before driving. It’s the same three members of staff that are usually on at this time. The blonde girl, with short hair, usually clasps, a huge chunk of hair gone dark – a style or neglect? The girl with the Gaelic name that looks unpronounceable, with the dark hair in a pony tail, always giggling as she is mocked by the others. The guy, with short dark hair, burly, bit of a spiked style, always probing the girls with his questions. Today the blonde takes orders, the guy makes orders, the Gael is on cleaning tables – last time the girls were the other way round. He says something, blonde says – no, I’m a pescatarian. A what? It means I eat fish. He gets scornful, tries to come up for what it would mean if someone only ate chicken. She isn’t impressed. As I approach the counter I scan the shop, spot the staff, the customers. There is a girl near the counter, fuzzy hair, tied back. She has a pad on the table in front of her, scans me as I scan her – and I wonder, is she writing me as I will writer her? How curious. She packs her bag as I take a seat, meticulous in the way she does so, only so much space, and so many things. Behind me a group, a family across two tables, who just seem to be sprawled, killing time, only fragments of conversation carry. Two teenage boys, one with a “fantasy art book” he is paging through – why is it all photoshopped instead of drawn – he complains loudly. Turns out the coffee shop closes earlier than the book shop, so rather than spend an hour relaxing, I feel more hurried. People are turned away - we're closed. Book staff member comes round with a guy, has whatever he has lost been handed in - nope. So I drink up and leave, hitting the super market for headache pills on my way home.

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Tuesday, 23 June 2009


One Armed Bandit (A Title Too Hard To Resist)

Two guys and a woman swagger down the street. The two guys in sleeveless t-shirts - its been a warm day. They have that air to them, that says they would cause trouble at the best of times. They have that air to them that says they’ve been drinking. The taller guy is the more threatening - a base ball cap, base ball shoes, stamping on the ground, talking loudly, his gait that of someone looking for a fight. There is a plastic bottle of water on the ground, half full, he takes a good swing and kicks it hard, so that when it lands it does so with a hearty thump. The two policemen in their bright yellow jackets stop and turn around. They watch the guy continue to roll down the street. The senior of the two gives a nod, and the two policemen approach the trio. The big guy sees this and puts off the next kick, instead bending to pick up the bottle, announcing loudly that he is just going to put it in the bin, walking by the police as though they couldn’t possibly be wanting to talk to him. But they persist, so he turns, and in doing so, I can see for the first time that he only has 1 arm, the other a stump below the shoulder. But his body language remains aggressive even if is placatory enough that they are allowed to walk away, though the police watch every step, waiting for him to act up again.

Update. It’s about a week later the next time I see the one armed guy. He is taking on the role of the homeless man, whether he is or isn’t I can’t say. He is obviously part of one of the groups of these people you see. He sits by one of those concrete posts in the pedestrian part of the street, which don’t seem to serve any apparent purpose. He leans his back against the pillar, sat cross legged, again a sleeveless t-shirt to emphasize his body – shouting at people that pass for money, waving that stump around in an exaggerated, look at me, look at me fashion. A couple of feet in front of him the rest of the group sit on one of the street benches, black metal bars welded into shape. There are about four of them, all scruffy and ragged, like most of the homeless you see in the city. When there are no people passing he chatters with them, as though they are taking turns – its his shift to collect money, while they put their feet up and chew the fat.

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Monday, 22 June 2009


Car Cage

Driving to work, I spot a car ahead of me with a cage on it’s roof. Balanced on a roof rack its several foot square. Its bright and clean and painted, one pair of sides is painted white, the other pair of side is painted red. Like something out of a circus I can’t help but think. And I get to wondering why he doesn’t have an animal in there – perhaps a tiger, pacing back and forth while he drives. How bizarre that would be! But then its not a particularly big cage, and transporting any animal like that would likely be cruel, and in the end, I have no idea what that cage is really for.

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Cat vs Cat

It’s just before 7am. The streets are entirely quiet. The only sign of life as I pull out into the main road is two cats. One white with black, crouched and defensive. One black with white, overbearing, a familiar bully amongst the local cat population. The two of them stare at each other, oblivious and uncaring as I turn and leave them behind me.

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Friday, 19 June 2009


Visit To Parcel Depot

Wednesday I get the email – next day delivery on that CD/DVD pack you ordered. And I wonder, how big is this thing? Will it fit through the box? What are the chances? Sometimes, a particularly shitty postman will leave parcels on the door step. Thursday and I’m watching the rain bouncing off the ground and planning who to curse first if I get home to find a soggy parcel on the doorstep. Fortunately, its been done properly. Its too big for the letter box, so they’ve left a card – we tried to deliver, you can pick up from parcel office. Parcel office is fine, its on my way to work anyway. The parcel office is open from 7am till 12 noon. Which leaves a pretty narrow window for someone working. But Friday comes, and I pass there about 7am ish most days. So I stop, grab the postcard and head round the back of the post office, weaving path, various gates. There are new signs up now, parcel office this way, go here, go there, do not cross this line – the van park, delivery entrance is on other side of the fence, they must get people crossing over all the time or something. On the bright red door, another sign, ring bell and enter. So I do, but it never seems to make a difference. The little entrance way, the glass windowed counter, the little office behind with pigeon holes stacked up, odd shaped parcels all over. There is a grey door, locked, with a glass panel, its got vertical stripes clear then white, so you can just see the movement of figures on the other side. But I wait. A woman passes the window on other side of office, catches sight of me, shouts be there in a minute. No worries, I smile, and wait. She takes the card, and like always, the parcel is never in that room, she has to go somewhere else to find it. I take it, thank her, and leave. On the way back out, a right here, a left there, a right here, and so on, there is an older man coming in, squat and balding, looking harried, clutching his own familiar postcard, I hold one of the intervening doors open for him and then exit. In front of the post office, another car has just parked behind me. A body builder type gets up, wide chest, big arms, tight t-shirt, short, short hair, and sure enough he too is clutching one of those postcards. Everyone hitting that 7am opening on their way to work, so I climb into my car, and go to work.

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Work Character (2)

The student is a summer placement. One of those unnaturally tall youth who remind you that that you are getting old and that all the kids are so tall these days. Bit of a floppy hair cut, without being particularly long. The stooped shoulders you often get with someone so tall and skinny. He plays the game, shirt and tie like the rest of us weary professionals. But he has a perpetual smile on his face, which is bemusing. Fridays are dress casual today, so today he looks more like a student than ever, green branded t-shirt, a big baggy backpack on his shoulders and a thick grey fleecy hoodie. occasionally you'll hear snatches of him regaling bemused old guys with youngster's stories - like the time he went paint balling for his 18th birthday, and they were firing at him non-stop as he ran for it, and somehow only hit his gun, or that fancy dress party, and there were two guys in the back dressed as Men In Black, really. He has that habit of going into too much detail, geeky detail, a sincere form of TMI as he bobs his head and grins. The other day someone asked him to do something, and he laughed, that’s one of those tricks isn't it, that you play on the new guy, next you'll be sending me for tartan paint! Like I say, its Friday, Friday is bacon roll day, in an hour or so, he'll go round his department with a post-it pad taking people's orders. Maybe glance at us, squatters on their floor, even if we were here first.

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Thursday, 18 June 2009


Little Trouble In George Square.

We’re sitting in a bar along side George Square, with a window seat.
In the square we spot a young couple, she is lying on her back and we
aren’t sure how she got there. She kicks her legs, martial arts style,
as though she is Bruce Lee and is about to pounce to her feet in an
impressive fashion. Instead she looks more like the cast of TISWAS
doing the dying fly. He stands over her, offering to pull her to her
feet. After a couple of attempts she gives up and takes hi hand. Once
on her feet she starts to unbutton her top. We look at each other in a
wait a minute fashion. But she only takes the blouse off, shoves it in
her fat white hand bag. Standing there with a dark blue vest top and
pale blue denim shorts. She swings her bag around, takes a fighters
stance and they circle. But sensibly he stays out of her range. Then
they move over to sit on the plinth of one of the square’s statues for
a bit. Then they are up again, she pounces, he retreats, but she has
his leg, and he goes down. So she sits on him. A bus goes by, blocking
our view. When its clear again, he is now sitting on top of her.
People are passing the whole time, it’s a typical Saturday night. Some
slow and comment, bemused by events, some apparently concerned that he
is attacking her, but its quickly clear that they are just kids
playing games. Back to sit at the statue, she must be feeling cold -
he takes his shirt off and drapes it round her shoulders - despite the
fact her own top is in her bag. Then he stands and smokes while she
remains seated. Once he is done, she stands up, slips her arms into
the sleeves and they continue on their way across the square.

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Wednesday, 17 June 2009


Kisses On The Neck.

She is skinny and young. Slight vest top, green with grey stripes.
Baggy hipster jeans, with her hips showing like icebergs, jutting out
from the flesh and threatening to take you down. She stands up from
the table, pulling the bag of college books up to her shoulder. He has
a goatee, and a Watchmen smilie cap on his head. He wears a black
t-shirt with the Autobot Transformer logo on it. Sunglasses throw a
petrol reflection from where they stowed in at the neck of his
t-shirt. He is playing with his phone, still sat at the tables. She
paces before getting bored waiting, and leans over him and kisses his
neck - repeatedly and with loud smacking lip sounds each time. Which
she does until he takes the hint, and stands up, and the couple leave
hand in hand.

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Tuesday, 16 June 2009


Muscle Boy. Funny Idiot.

Muscle boy. The coffee shop in Buchanan Street is where I most often see him loitering. He seems to spend hours there. Always wearing a sleeveless green t-shirt, showing off his rippling muscles, a hat and sunglasses - regardless of the weather. Usually he gives the impression that he is only there to talk to girl, always hitting on someone, regaling the latest attractive woman with his stories of how cool he is, between flexing those tattooed arms. The girls usually have glazed expressions, nodding in a way that says they are politely humouring him. Tonight he is standing outside with a shaggy haired guy with a beard, and they are talking to a pair of girls. The body language says that if he stops talking for a second they will leave so fast, their bodies already half turned in preparation. I carry on to the book shop and potter about before going for a coffee in there. And muscle boy appears, I’ve never seen him in this one, so I am surprised. But apparently has friends waiting here for him. After a while they pass me on the way out. Muscle boy clowning around, dancing to the music, but in a gorilla fashion, stomping his feet, slumping his shoulders and swinging his arms. His friends nudge each other and snigger, exchanging “what is he like” glances. He reaches the exit, pulls himself up straight and muscled, and spins on the spot, before stepping out like he was something from Zoolander. The girl coming giggles as she passes, shakes her head, funny idiot.

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Some Of Us Don't Want To Be Here.

In the noodle bar, a young woman, barely twenty, loudly over confident. With an old man, presumably her grandfather? She is overweight, a big girl, dark hair, in a bun, glasses, a green cardigan over a t-shirt and blue jeans. He is bald on top, but has eccentric hair, flaring back and long at the back, pronounced and bushy. She goes to the ladies, sat at the far end of a table so she goes round. On the way back she decides to cut along between tables - where the space is particularly narrow. With no attempt to excuse herself she bumps into me as she passes - hard, without warning, for a second it feels like I’ve been punched and I’m quite surprised. Once food arrives she makes a big deal about explaining it all to the old man. He struggles to grasp the purpose of the chop sticks as he tries to stab the tempura with one in each hand. The bento box arrives, which he places to one side, nervously, clearly not quite ready to approach it. She is condescending in her attitude towards him, and he understandably looks uncomfortable about the whole thing.

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Thursday, 11 June 2009


Ghost Station (3&4)

Texaco the sign used to say. That familiar logo on a big display, the current fuel prices listed below. There used to be a mini-supermarket to go with it. Almost all petrol stations these days have shops – but some have shops, and some have mini-supermarkets. But of course, now, this has neither. They’ve torn out the pumps, the nubs of concrete plinths remain. This was one of the biggest stations in the area, so its now a big empty concrete space, with a carapace suspended by steel struts. There is a red brick wall along the street line, crumbling now, the remains of bricks at the corners turning to flakes. There is a fence round the property, to stop people getting in, no doubt a safety measure. But a half hearted one for all that, often you’ll see kids in groups in that concrete space, kicking a ball back and forth.

After the Texaco there is one last ghost station in this radius, but its hardly worth mentioning. Just another empty lot now, like the crumbling old bingo hall a few doors up, which was burnt out last summer, perhaps the year before. Two empty spaces, levelled, waste ground now. Proper fences round the sites now, painted and spiked. The occasional digger trawling across the ground as though something might happen at some point. Ok. A word or two about it. Its beside the post office, in the mornings the vans park up on the pavement in front of the station. It used to be a BP one, which crumbled apart. The pumps were attacked, the facings coming off, the guts of the pump open to the environment, all going brown and orange. One of those place you think – next time I pass, I will stop and take pictures – till they throw an 8 foot high wooden fence round it, a security sign. For a while we thought they were refurbishing, doing something new, then the wooden fence came down, metal rails went up, and its sat empty, ever since. I think this one was the first to go, if memory serves.


Ghost Station (2)

Five miles from here, and five miles from there, on a country road, dotted by lonely cottages, and isolated bus depots, there is a petrol station. Strike that – there was a petrol station. I remember stopping there, during the night, the guy telling me how at the weekend some guys stopped by demanded all the money from the cash register, or they would burn him out. Freaky times, he was shaken. Probably not long after that they stopped being 24 hours, who needs the risk of being alone in the middle of nowhere if someone decides to rob you? It survived for a while longer. But it didn’t survive. A casualty of the fuel wars. An isolated, independent station, prices soar, people go elsewhere, it takes longer to go through stock, so they can’t catch price dips quick enough. One thing leads to another and it sits empty, orange traffic cones, with the luminous bands set out to cover the entrance. The sign where the prices were displayed flakes and crumbles, the scratched and marked “clear” plastic door clatters with the passage of cars. A circus has stopped, and slid a poster in there so that those passing see the advert, it stays there, even after the circus has been and gone. The guy who owns the place has taken steps now, revived his ghost property. For safety he got a load of wood panels, constructed frames round each of the pumps, boxed them in so that hopefully no one will hit them, no one will blow them up with the ghosts of fumes. And now he runs a shop there, from 6am to 5pm, cars stop for bread, milk, newspapers, for hot rolls and cold drinks. I’ve been in a few times, looking for milk, but usually their shelves are half empty – waiting for delivery. At that time it was still spring, and a young girl stood behind the counter, a huge thick jacket on, her arms across her chest, shivering between the need to serve periodic customers. The owner, pottering around in the back, his sports car parked outside – a relic of better days?


Ghost Station (1)

The flutter of polly bags catches my eyes sitting at the lights. The bags are looking a bit bedraggled now, how many years have they been there? Wrapped round the nozzles of the petrol pumps. This abandoned corner, which if it had been built after a certain point would have been illegal – there are clear access laws about the access and exit of fuel trucks, of where pipes stick out from the ground, of how a garage is run – this place, stuck in a corner of the road, concreted into the top of a hill, breaks everyone of those. But it’s a dead station now anyway, one of many in this area, it used to be one of the few 24 hour stations – you’d pass late at night and folk out of the pub would be wandering up to the window, or taxis pulling over. No more. Its closed. Even for a while, someone bought it over and did run it just as 24 hour shop, but that’s gone too. Now? Now it’s a car wash, one of those micro businesses that sprung up, another car wash of many that sprung up – populated by Eastern Europeans, sat on boxes looking sad and weathered during the quiet moments, working the production line of soapy cars when its busy. While all around them the infrastructure of an already old station just gets older every day, greyer paint jobs, rustier exposed points. Some of the others have been gutted, reduced to lots with fences round them, but this one remains, particularly abandoned at 7am, ghost station.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009


The Way You Look At Me With Your Goldfish Mouth.

Two girls wander through stationary. Long dark hair, purple duffel coat, and a turquoise hoodie, with black jeans, and a kind of khaki grey satchel. The other shoulder length brown hair, fitted white coat, brown leather hand bag, blue jeans. They have been browsing separately, but their paths bring them together at a junction between shelves. They say something cheerfully to each other, then smile, as they take the other girl’s face between their hands in a clapping motion - which almost looks like a double mini-slap. Then they mouth at each other like goldfish, or perhaps like they are singing in a particularly exaggerated fashion. They do this for a moment, before releasing each other, and hurrying off to join a third girl who is waiting for them so they can leave.

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Feeding Cheese To Pigeons

Two girls wander down the street together. T-shirts, brown hair, tied back. Sunglasses propped on their heads. Shorts and flat trainers. One has purple shirt and purple socks. The other bright orange shirt and socks. They walk slowly, looking back at the man feeding the birds. He sits on the stub end of the entrance to Buchanan St Underground. Me in middle, three kids to my right, him to my left. A plastic container of chips and cheese. He flicks contributions to the pigeons, a dozen vying for scraps. Till a seagull swoops down, throwing his weight around, twice the size of any of the other birds, it snaps down the biggest portion in one bite. Two friends stop to talk to the guy, so the seagull gets bored and wanders off. But the pigeons are persistent and wait for the friends to wander off. Once he is finished eating, he puts the tray down and the pigeons fire in at every scrap of cheese, a dozen pecking enthusiastically. The boys wander off, and are replaced by a passing blonde girl. Big curls and sunglasses. A white floaty skirt. Her shoes are thick soled, clumpy. She slips them off, puts on the first sticking plaster which is already in her hand, then pulls out a couple more from her bag. Plasters in place, she continues on her way. By then, all the cheese is gone, the last half of the pigeons wander in circles waiting to see if anything else happens. The guy lights a cigarette and strolls away.

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Work Character (1)

This guy is like the classic Mr. Bean character, cranked up to a special level of the grotesque. This morning he is walking round to the passenger side of the car, doing something there, while his brief case still sits on the ground on the passenger side. Whatever he is doing, it is footery enough that despite being out of his car before me, I am still at the back door of the building well before he is. Everyone walks rounds the path from the car park to the security door, but as I swipe my pass through the reader, I glance to the right, and there he is – striding across the grass, which will have involved a clamber over a hill, and taking a path no one else takes. And it gets me to thinking about this strange man. Yesterday, he was coming in behind me, on the path, a great big handkerchief at his nose, trumpeting like a dying elephant, like an elephant dying of some vile and excessively viscous plague. The sort of sound you really want to take a stick to keep him at bay while shouting – go home! You are too ill!

His car is a small thing. An old thing. A kind of car they don’t make anymore. Not quite one of those clichéd 3 wheeled things, but it looks like it got that fourth wheel under false pretences. It’s tiny, old, rusting, blue. One day the boss said he was coming in on the motorway, and there was this car in front of him, it was all over the road. He could see the driver, who seemed to be twitching and spasming like a man possessed. A hazard to all around him the boss insisted, so he was horrified when this tiny, old, rusting, blue car came off where he did, took the turns he did, parked in same car park as he did. As you see the guy wander around you see those little twitches – the “mannerisms”. He is a tall man, with great bulbous belly, like someone who is ex-forces gone to seed some time ago. His hair has a peculiar shade, a peculiar texture; it only seems to cover peculiar parts of his head – is it real? The speculation is that its not. But if you were going to wear a hair piece, surely you would get one that covered more than that?

Sunday, 7 June 2009


Poison Ivy, A Rabbit And A Kangaroo Dance In The Street.

Walking down Buchanan St and I spot a girl in a green leotard, green net tights, a bright red wig, and carrying a bucket. Of course, I notice her before I notice the guys in the kangaroo and rabbit outfits, but they certainly register next. It’s a city of sound today, I’ve just passed a bongo player and the requisite guy playing Oasis covers, further down from this point are the four teens in kilts, playing drums and bagpipes. The kangaroo and rabbit jump around, rocking hips back and forth in a crazy dance - the rabbit is short, pink, really getting into it. I step out of the flow of people, and fish in my bag for my camera, but too late. The kangaroo gives up first, whips off the kangaroo head and stands there looking too hot in this outfit. The rabbit takes the hint and gives up, and I lose the potential for the shot, as they turn and head back up the road. But the girl dressed as Poison Ivy takes a moment to give rabbit man a huge hug, and they all laugh.

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Saturday, 6 June 2009


Secret Signing

At first there is only one girl at the information desk, then two. There are announcements for members of staff to call a number. Couple minutes later there are 4 girls at the info desk. All dressed differently, but the name badges on lanyards and the red uniform shirt. Three of them chatter. One disappears to be replaced by a guy. He carries his shirt screwed up in his hand - just starting his shift as he puts it on when done here. He picks up the card, reads what everyone else wrote, then adds his contribution. Another member of staff’s birthday? The rest summoned to the information desk hidden at the back of the store to take turns signing it in secret.

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A Little Slap & Tickle

Two guys and a girl walk along. She is wearing a brown summer dress, with bare arms and shoulders. She shorter of the two guys reaches out, gives her arm a quick light slap. She yelps a little at the contact, turns on the taller guy, who is her boyfriend judging by her reaction. She starts to tell him off, despite his protests, which go ignored. The shorted guys face going red with suppressed laughter. She turns back the direction they are walking and the tall guy punches his friend - thanks!

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Friday, 5 June 2009


Smiling In A Happy Fashion

She sits in the corner of the carriage. A mass of barely contained curls, unruly and wild on her head. She wears a short sleeved, cut off cardigan over a vest top. A mass of barely contained cleavage threatening to pop from plunging neckline. Blue jeans, black sports shoes, a black branded bag, something professional, then a big hand bag, white, with pink flowers. She footers with her MP3 player the entire journey. Watching its bright screen, pink head phone cables swallowed by the valley. The music is loud, across the aisle we can hear a woman’s voice, some pop snarl, and slow soul beats. I glance over at the start of a new song, and she is just smiling in a happy fashion. While everyone else looks bored or anticipatory - people checking their hair, their make-up, reading the free papers. Not happy, not obviously.

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School Train

Arriving at the station I realise it’s the school train. At this point I am the only adult customer. Girls and boys sitting on every surface. Short skirts, short sleeves, sunglasses. 8am and its already 20C. Even the woman selling tickets is tiny - taking a break from her big bowl of little cereal O’s to take my money. As we get nearer the train time more adults arrive. But as we board and they yelp and call names, the kids compete for seats, to be sat by their friends, just as they do every morning.

Boasts of last nights adventures. Jumping, shouting and kicking. Swaggering bravados and their hangers on, made up girls looking bored by the same old banter. More artfully dolled up lolitas with lush blonde hair and tiny shorts watching other girls going by, and criticising their fashion choices. Balancing absurdly large and chic hand bags on their laps.

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Thursday, 4 June 2009


A Familiar Dance

A boy of about 10 walks along the street. Traffic whizzing by on this busy afternoon. Its sunny, so he is wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Cheerfully he is in mid-swig from a bottle of cold juice. Sighing content, he screws the cap back on. But in mid-twist, he stops, and jumps. He does a familiar dance. Head back, startled. Shoulder turning, his body twisting. His foot raised for flight. Eyes full of how startled he is. The steps are ones so many of us have done before, most folk would recognise those motions, be able to join in. That dance called - WASP!

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Bleeding Buses

A woman sits in the bus shelter. Long dark hair. A haggard face. She wears a white top, something blue beneath that. White jeans. She sucks on a cigarette, watches for the bus. He rakes through a bag, back to the street, standing by her side. She has a big blotch of blood at her nose, covering her top lip, but she seems entirely too casual for that.

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Wednesday, 3 June 2009


Got It!

I’m in the centre of Glasgow for a day course, an unfamiliar building, unfamiliar people. We’ve stopped the session for lunch, had a bite to eat, and all individually filtered outside to enjoy the sunshine. On my way out I stop at the gents, in front of which there is one of a number of open “public” areas. Here there are two sofas and a table. The guy sits with his back to the wall. He is young, maybe 18 or 20, doing his best to look smart and professional. She is a few years older, blonde and more casual. She wears a vest top appropriate to the weather, dipping neckline showing off ample and bright pink cleavage – it looks tender and sunburnt. There is something about the little of the conversation I hear, of the body language that says this is an interview. Though having it in such an open space seems a little odd to me. As I head down the stairs it sounds like they are wrapping up. A minute later, as I stand outside scanning the shops in this street decide where I’m going to go in the fifteen minutes I have available to me, he comes outside. He looks at me, recognising me from a moment ago, and he grins, he pumps the air with his fist. Shouts - Got it! Before happily wandering down the street, now pushing the buttons of the phone that was clamped in his fist, keen to share the good news.

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The Last Noise

There's a little child in the office. Someone brought him in and now he's making noise like you've never heard in your life. It is a screech, it is a quack, it is a bellow, it is a sneeze it is a toot. It is all of those at the same time. It is Old Mac Donald's Farm regurgled into one diapered little body.
The screech penetrates the walls of the meeting room and those inside twitch.
"That's the sound of the bird pig flu", one of them quips. A hint of Stephen King's Last Stand settles on the meeting.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009


Tiger Idyll in the Zoo

The great big tiger has his great fuzzy head backed up right against the glass wall. There is a mere nothing, a few centimeters of invisible glass separating his chewing maw from the tourists, and the tourists, big and small, are full of excitement.
The great big tiger ignores them. He is chewing at a haunch of some kind, there is only a small leap of imagination separating it from a human leg. He rips unfussily through the tendons and the yellowish skin. Stringy gobs of meat dangle from it like a dancer's fringe and twitch impetuously. The great big tiger has great fuzzy ears and dinner plate sized paws to give you a dinner plate sized smack across your gob and knock your teeth out. His great big body stretches lazily along the glass wall. His paws are round and tender and strong as they dig into their prey.
The tourists have only very tiny silver cameras infront of their faces and flash red lights into his face, but the tiger isn't bothered. He tosses and teases his haunch coquettishly and his tail lies curled up and peaceful on the ground.
The tiger's tiger friend comes over to look at the haunch but the tiger ignores him too. Then the tiger friend throws himself on his back and rolls around on the ground like a purring cat to distract him. The tiger raises his head in disdain and chews.
In the back, two tiger kids pause their play to prick their ears to a sound. One shakes his hear earlier and seeing his friend still preoccupied, lunges forward and bites him in the foot. This is cat humour, and there is a look of predictable cat smugness about him as his friend jumps and dashes away. The usurper thrones on the clearing like a prince. In the bushes, a smarty pawed avenger plots his return.
The great big tiger chews his haunch. Bloodied strings of meat dangle serenely from his jaws.

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Monday, 1 June 2009


Mothers & Daughters. Ice Cream & Ice Pops.

A group of women from the local community come into the gardens. With their brightly coloured saris, pushing prams, daughters in more subdued clothes trotting behind. There is a large Muslim community locally, this was the venue for the annual Sufi festival just a few years ago. They do a circuit of the gardens, coming back round the woody path to the lawn. They spread out a blanket. The mothers sit in a huddle - bright clothes, dark hair in pony tails, and dark skin. Daughters pottering around them.

Three boys play football on the grass. Kicking the ball back and forth. Goals made from discarded toys. At a couple of points the ball clatters into the tables. Knocking chairs flying. I am so sorry, the boy who comes for the ball shouts, in a voice that says he is being a smart arse, loud and sarcastic, but no one can say he didn’t make the gesture. At one of the tables his mother sits with the younger kids, he shouts at her - can I have an ice cream? Don’t be stupid, she shouts back, why would you want an ice cream? Ice cream is the most inconvenient food, she explains, who ever thought it would be a good idea for this kind of weather was daft! But I want one, he informs her. You’ll just make a mess, besides, we’ve got ice cream at home, you can wait, she concludes changing tactics.

In mean time, the little girl has trotted off to where the group of women in saris are sitting. At this point they are distributing ice pops to the girls. They obviously have enough to share, as the little girl shortly comes trotting back sucking on a bright yellow shaft of flavoured ice. Where did you get that? The mother asks. The girl points back at the group. Did you say thank you? The mother asks. The girl says no. You go back there right now and say thank you! The mother snaps. The girl backs away, sucking at the ice, but not going back. If you don’t go back and say thank you, I’ll take it off you! Two of the daughters trot up, and a conversation breaks out, the two girls looking at the mother and wondering what all the fuss is about, they gave the girl an ice pop. Big deal.

Eventually the little girl finishes the ice pop. Bins the polythene wrapper. Then trots back and announces - I think I’ll go get another. The mother snaps again, don’t you dare, that would be so rude! The other girls pass again, she doesn’t have her shoes, one of them observes curiously. Yeah, I don’t know where she has lost them, the mother says. One of the group of mothers comes by, the mother leans over, are they your daughters? The woman says they are, lovely girls, she observes, lovely girls. Which probably translates as - well behaved and do as they are told, unlike my kids.


Dinner In The Garden.

The staff take their breaks in the gardens. A coffee and a book, with his feet up. When I arrive it’s a guy, highlighting key sections of that books. When I have my dinner it’s a girl with curly hair and red framed glasses. Beneath the table she has an Obama bag, fist pumping victory. She eats a salad, then reads a floppy book, makes a phone call, receives congratulations from one of the other girls who stops by between clearing tables. When I talk to you on the phone its an American girl. She complains on the phone how they have too much staff, how she has to keep taking breaks. She leaves through pages of a magazine. She drinks coffee, while explaining she has a change of clothes, she will buy booze on the way to the party. Then someone else she tells about missing family and how hard it is to be so far away. We chat and laugh till my phone goes dead. So I go back to reading my book, drinking a cold drink.

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To Sun or Not To Sun

A group have dragged chairs onto the grass. Up against the fence. Using its shade as shelter. Two girls sit nearest the fence. Strangely wrapped in blankets/shawls as though it were cold. When in fact its easily the hottest day of the year so far. The guys sit further out, as though in the shade by accident. The creeping line of the trees thrown. Patterned dark and light, provided by the leaves of those trees behind the fence.

Further up, two girls lie on a blanket they’ve dragged into the shade. The sun is burning hot, and I’m starting to suspect I’ve been fool hardy to sit in its full beam myself. One of them adjusts her straw hat, protecting her head. By contrast, two girls and a guy are the only people sprawled on the garden’s lawn. Bare legs and bellies on the girls, bare chest on him. Slathering on sun lotion as they soak up the full rays.

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Hide 'n' Seek

The kids run through the trees in the hidden gardens. One of them left behind, behind the brick wall, where the hot houses are, counting at the top of her voice. As the others scatter, diving behind bushes, disappearing round to the island, making for the gazebo in the woods, hiding behind walls. One trailing, a tottering girl child shouting - wait for me! As the others vanish into their hiding places. The boys wear t-shirts and shorts, or short sleeved shirts hanging baggy. The girls in sleeveless summer dresses. The youngest of a group of three sisters wears orange, with stripes, and white leggings, her hair tied in two buns. The second wears green with black leggings, her hair tied in a tail. The oldest is wild and free and grown up, she wears a short red dress that billows with her movement, white polka dots across it, her hair flying free, bare legs, she canters like a wild foal as she gallops with the delight of summer.

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A Door Flung Open.

The clunky transit van stops in the exit from the petrol station. The door flung open, as a portly Indian guy steps out and rushes back to the pump. The door lying open beside him, no doubt keys in the ignition. I can only guess that he has left his credit card in the pump, since that station is one of the few with direct pump payment units. The lights turn green and I drive on.

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Hoping For The Final.

At the weekend there is a group of teens that hang around at the intersection of Buchanan St and Sauchiehall St, sitting on the steps of the Royal Concert Hall. They have a hip hop fashion, mixed with American sport’s shirts. There are an unusual number of black kids amongst the group, though the style is the same regardless, as they lope around loud and cheerful in those bright shirts and baggy trousers. Walking along Sauchiehall there are three skinny young teenagers, perfectly “respectable” looking. One has a white shirt, which sits open, I can’t see what he is wearing under it. But as three of the hip hop kids come towards them and me, the last one starts to shout - Orlando final! He names teams, presumably related to who he and the other kid support. The kid doing the shouting doesn’t sounds like he is from Glasgow at all, his accent not local, perhaps its more London. The kid in the white shirt nods and smiles, happy and uncertain. The shouting kid grins and trots to catch up with his friend, the guy in white shirt does the same.

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