Thursday, 23 July 2009


Medicinal Encounters.

We are in the Black Medicine café place. C is waiting at the counter for our teas and coffees, when the stubble haired guy leans forward and starts talking to him. He is dressed in black, a thick black jumper, black jeans, black boots, chunky esoteric metal chains round his neck. His hair is shaven short, maybe a 2 gauge? He wears glasses with yellow frames. There is something feral in the way he speaks to C, I watch to see how the conversation develops. Nothing seems to come of it, and after the guy has left we discuss how he was just asking about C’s phone, but there was something edgey about his manner. As we had noticed for the rest of his stay. The furniture is made of stray pieces of wood, giving it all a rugged feel. We sit at a table, the girls G and L on one side, C and I on the other. He sits behind the girls; a shelf built into the back of their bench, his mug sitting there, while he is propped on a stool. A guy with a window seat brushes by on his way to the counter. From here the conversation is fragmentary, but the gist is that they he is growling in challenge – what the hell do you want? The other guy looks surprised, I’m just passing, if I brushed you I meant no harm. He looks barely satisfied with this response. Having ordered he tries to return to his seat, the growler looks at him in challenge. Then he stands up, faces off with the guy as though he is going to start something, then grudgingly steps aside. Another customer arrives, spots something on the growler’s shelf, engages him in conversation. Can I take that? You can try, but I’m finishing my coffee here. He reaches across the growler who is not cooperating, who is obstructing. The guy is easy natured, something of a chancer, he fails, then shrugs and turns back to the counter. The growler leans precariously, waving his arms with voluble gestures, his mouth snarling silent swear words and threats. We drink our teas and coffees, we catch up, we are all conscious of his seething presence, as he glares around looking for his next victim, before finally leaving after receiving a phone call.

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Two Little Girls, Two Little Brollies

At the crossing point of a busy junction a man stands with his two daughters. Two young girls standing on either side of him, holding his hands. The rain is heavy like the traffic and it looks unlikely they’ll get across any time soon. They look miserable, pouting some, though they are both dressed for the weather. Smart in the jumpers and skirts, the brightly coloured PVC rain coats. Each girl, in her free hand, holds a child's size umbrella, with a Disney design. One is green with Tinkerbell flying, the other with, I guess, Cinderella in her ball gown. The traffic shifts and I drive on, while they still stand there, waiting in the rain.

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Tuesday, 21 July 2009


Pictures From The Car Wash

Driving up to the lights round the corner from work, they are red so I am slowing down. There is an old car yard to the left, used to be a mechanics, hasn’t been in ages, now it’s the latest version of a car wash. One which claims to be open 24 hours, the only sign of which is that a few times this early in the morning I’ve seen one guy sitting snoozing on a chair. This morning there is a motorbike sitting, quite a big one, blue and white. One guy sits on it, short sleeved green t-shirt, blue jeans, his arms crossed to give him a manly, confident look, even if the sub text of his expression suggests he thinks he’ll get caught any minute. The other guy wears a baggy coat, green patterned shorts to his knees, and traditional Wellington boots (it is a car wash), and smoke wafts from the cigarette in his mouth, while he takes pictures of the guy on the bike, holding the digital camera two handed.

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Monday, 6 July 2009


Old Folk Dancing Like They Were Young Again

High Tease & Vegas 4th of July special, a mix of big band and burlesque and the crowd is mixed. Dress is not strictly enforced, but a lot of people have made the effort. Once the show part of the evening has finished the back of 10, the DJs start playing music, while a couple of showgirls take turns dancing on stage with their feathers and sequins. The audience is very mixed, covering the age spectrum, but there is this one couple, this old couple, who look like they were probably dancing like this when it was first invented and are still dancing like that. There are young couples standing with their jaws dropping, at various stages of the night there are girls lining up with the old woman carefully trying to follow every step that she makes, while boyfriends cheer them on. She is in a vintage dress, looks like it was new in the 40’s, he is wearing a suit of similar kind of style, baggy, long at the back, his shows black, with the white spats. They swing and they turn, touching the floor, spinning round, twisting, the works. The audience applaud, though at the point he lifts her, practically to head height, and swings her full circle, before returning her to the ground, gets the biggest response. The crowd watch, expecting the worst, these are two people who are getting on, some of us will feel sore in the morning, so god knows how they will feel, but they do it, and they put us all to shame with their vigour.

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With her feather boa, she dances like Tigger

While the burlesque girls do their strip teases and guys do their dirty songs, there is a girl in a nice red dress, sat a table by herself. She checks her phone every so often, until eventually another two women join her. One is blonde, bobbed cut, dressed in a black dress. The other has long dark hair, tied back, dressed more casual in a room full of people dressed to the nines – with her baggy culottes, which C & G describe as being like “hammer pants”, and a strappy little vest top to go with that. Vest and trousers are both black, which she contrasts with a red feather boa. When the show is done, the girl in the red dress leaves, the two older and later women stay on. When they DJ starts playing the big band music, the girl with the boa is up on the dance floor. She chats to one of the stewards, leaves her drink on the side of the stage for him to keep an eye on. And she dances, by which I mean, she bounds about like a woman 10 years younger than she is, skipping and bouncing, she reminds of Tigger. She runs circles rounds people and she does this all night. At one point she starts dancing with a random couple. The guy is dressed in black trousers, red shirt, and black waistcoat, with a black hat to finish the look off. As she dances circles round them, wrapping him then her with the boa, she spots another guy across the dance floor, and darts off to grab him. Taking his hand in hers she tugs him across the floor, feet working the floor like a tug-o-war participant. Till she has the two guys standing side by side, and they are dressed identical, except for the hat, and she points at them, dressed the same, and bends double with laughter, slapping her thighs. They look at each other bemused, and nod, yup, we’re dressed the same. They make some token acknowledgement, before the guy goes back to join his own girlfriend. And she goes on like that. Occasionally disappearing to a table, occasionally spotting someone she may or may not know, but will talk to anyway. When we finally leave just before 1am, she is sat in the back corner of the room, taking a momentary break from dancing with a pillar that had been dominating her attention for the previous half hour.

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Friday, 3 July 2009


And The Horse You Came In On.

He is a skinny guy. Big glasses. A little twitchy. Some of the girls find him a little creepy. He strikes me as being a little edgy, nervous. Today is his 50th birthday. Though he isn’t at work – he is at the dentist, so figured he might as well take rest of day off – given we stop early on Fridays. So they celebrated yesterday. Coming into swipe at the back door, there was a picture of him, sitting on a kid’s rocking horse – the kind you put money in, and it rocks and plays music for five minutes. Up the stair well and into the office, there are more photographs – from holidays and parties, the ghosts of excesses past come back to haunt him for the occasion. Pictures in dresses, in wigs, accompanied by nuns and fairies and prisoners. People nudge him and wink, yeah, it was a fancy dress party. Yeah, my wife gave them to a colleague. He laughs it all off admirably, adapting to his role as centre of attention. Lunch time he produces a stack of cakes from the bakers round the corner, lines the dozen boxes up on top of a line of cabinets, goes round and tells everyone they are there. For the next half hour everyone is laughing about sticky fingers, and about the cream they’ve got all over their faces. Morning after, the only sign is the 4 spots of blue tack on the pillars the length of the floor, and that picture of him on the horse, still on the back door at 7.30am this morning.

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Dancing In The Street

Parked in a quiet side street off the main road, I’ve just climbed back into the car and am about to drive across town, when these two woman walk by. I wait to see what they do before I do anything, so I’m watching in my mirror when they stop just behind me. One of them does a step forward, wiggles her hips, does a step to the side. The second tries to copy the series of movements, doesn’t quite have it as naturally as the first. So first does it again, the second copies, and then they do it together, dancing in the street. Then they both laugh and walk up to the corner of Blytheswood Square, where a guy starts talking to them. I wonder if he knows them, or if he has just spotted them doing their little routine.

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Wednesday, 1 July 2009


Over Rated Chocolate Cake

I’ve got time to kill before I meet friends, and I’ve come into town straight from work. So I go for food, that Italian place, in the basement, where the owner will turn up and sing as the mood fits him. Having parked, I reach Sauchiehall St, and try and work out where the nearest bank machine in – in the opposite direction, but not as far if I were to go in the right direction. So I’m walking to that corner, girl passes me, red head, cardigan, denim skirt, black tights, look too thick for this weather, and a blue t-shirt, with yellow lettering “burn baby burn”. I get cash money for the evening, and head back to the restaurant. The red head is on the door – because it’s a basement place, they always have someone on the door with a menu to try and catch punters – tonight it’s the burn baby burn girl. I go down the stairs, the place is empty, just one waitress – not the usual French girl, a Scottish girl, shoulder length hair, skinny. Another waitress arrives after I’ve ordered my foot. One of those eastern European accents, short hair. Both girls are dressed entirely in black, though the second one has plunging neck line, which is a little more suggestive. The Scottish girl warms up the coffee machine, do you want a coffee, she asks the other girl, who pages through a magazine, bored. The other girl doesn’t respond, I said do you want a coffee, oh, no. And they get into a conversation about why she is in a funny mood – two guys following her, bugging her – I don’t catch context. The Scottish girl brings my main course – Cajun salmon, different from the last time I had it here – it’s drowning in sauce, while before it was blackened with herbs and dense flavours, still its nice, and before there was half a plate of skinny chips, this time they are big fat wedges of potato. She goes back to the bar – that’s called invasion of space, entering into your comfort zone – she tells the foreign girl. Then she wanders to a couple of joined tables, scatters a couple of things on to them, including balloons which are weighted so they don’t float off – the words HAPPY 70TH BIRTHDAY emblazoned on them. Shortly after a woman arrives, part of the party group, sits at the table by herself, with a drink. Then a couple arrive, and are sat somewhere at the back, before another two women arrive who are part of the party group. Curiously the women haven’t met before, the older of the new arrivals says – you’ll be sister-in-law – she is. They chatter, holidays, work stuff, the usual, especially for people who have just met, but are part of same extended family. I have dessert, the foreign girl takes my order – I’ll take the chocolate cake, cold, with ice cream. It’s warm – so why did they bother offering me the option? I blame its lack of flavour on it being warm – but it could just be one of those nasty bland chocolate cakes. Chocolate desserts are so over rated, because there are so many sub-standard dishes churned out; only the addition of the blob of ice cream offers any relief to it at all. But at least it kills time, and by the time I pay, its coming up for 6pm and I can go find this café we are supposed to be meeting in tonight.

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