There are only rare opinions
Scraping up bread for those walking dead
Streaming walls and rain-washed visions
Some no-go zones where they go slow and are afraid
Incomplete littered concrete
Ghosts of clanking trams
Fleet of foot along dog-shit street
Down-and-outs Tims and Jims
Oor Joe’s bought a motor-car
Five hundred down then irregular payment
Escalators of fear in every skyscraper
Or a doom-room without shower in a wet-rot basement
Roars come from the hate-filled stadium
Junkies get fixed on their sets
A rim of scum around a modern slum
Alkies grope for blind dates
The all-clear sounds in the soft stoned city
Only pop and pot pollute the air
Their destiny not harmony but social security
Ear-plugged zombies sail past with unseeing stare
Their hair is mock Indian and blue
Minds pure butter and chatter
Frozen emotion but not fashion on rivers of spew
Unaware of future disaster
And manipulated not educated
An early broken crew
Feelings all blasted and mutilated
Few enquiring just who’s kidding who
And they’re living it up in the housing-schemes
Suppressing their damned-up screams
And they’re killing themselves in the pantomimes
As bombs tick away in their dreams
Mormons and morons and landlords of few words
And no more ship’s moans from a lifeless Clyde
On sweat-soaked beds lie demoralized reds
Swallowing vomit and thoughts of suicide
So keep off the grass
And don’t pick up speed or pray for snow
For there’s nowhere then to go in big-time Glasgow
You could plunge in the syringe and forget about change
And join that same old line down at the labour exchange
GLESGA’S LITTER’S BETTER
GLESGA’S PURE WATTER
GLESGA SMELLS BITTER
GLESGA’S MYTHS TOTTER
GLESGA’S CHOOKIES CHATTER
GLESGA’S SLUMS SICKER
GLESGA’S CROAKS NATTER
GLESGA HEY MISTER
GLESGA SWILLS BETTER
GLESGA’S ARTISTS TITTER
GLESGA’S DOPE PUSHERS
GLESGA’S CITY FAITHERS
GLESGA’S WAN UPPERS
GLESGA’S NAE HOPERS
GLESGA’S COMIC OPERAS
GLESGA’S KIDDER OANERS
GLESGA’S MINDLESS MUGGERS
GLESGA’S AIN GOALERS
GLESGA’S DOPE FIXERS
GLESGA’S MALES BATTER
GLESGA’S INCHOATE STUTTER
GLESGA’S LAIDBACK LOSERS
GLESGA MAYFEST DISASTER
GLESGA’S PATTER’S WATTER
GLESGA’S HOLY ROLLERS
GLESGA AH LOVE HER
Dear Grey City
Huv ye heard o’ St. Mungo and the fish, the tree and the bell
And the Gorbals and Strathbungo or the auld Bar-L?
Well, the city is Glesga renowned faur and wide
For its slogans oan the wa’s and great queens o’ the Clyde
Its buildings ur high its expectancies low
‘Cause thir’s damp in the banes o’ auld Glasgow
That’s compared wi’ Chicago yon hell-hole o’ crime
Big jungle ca’d Glesga playin for time
Aye and the Indians huv come in wan helluva hurry
Japattis and papadoms an burnin hot curry
An thir’s Micks an Sikhs and bhoys in royal blue
Beastin it like slaves or rottin oan the burroo
O dear grey city they luv tae ca’ green
Never sae pretty as when it is mean
That exists wi’ a myth o’ humour an hert
Stale pooder oan the face o’ a blowsy auld tart
An then thir wis planners wha’ tore doon the slums
An spewed up new hames but failt in thir sums
Aye an the provost cin dance an swing oan his chain
While the minds o’ the folk pours doon the drain
For thir’s big-time sharks and penthoose-rats
Cowcaddens cowboys an fat west-end cats
Wee sly dope-pushers an fly con-men
O wull the Clyde ever be deep red again?
Somewhere between St. George’s
Cross and Billhead Underground
Ur ye sure we’re oan the right line? In which direction ur we moving?
Dead straight, though bent. Like light. Curved, eventually circular. Darling round and round we go, round and round we go…
Always the same it is, nothin chynges. Fed-up wi’ it ah um.
Too bad. There’s no escape.
Opting out? Where to? To an unnattainable Eden in our great cultured town? Paradise is lost, honey, lost. Long since. O serpent, serpent in damp basement, slither on to full enlightenment.
Sometimes ah wonder aboot you so ah dae.
Good. For without wonder we’re lost.
It stinks down here.
And up there.
And naebdy talks tae ye or even luks at ye.
Everybody an island. A wee Barlinnie.
Surrounded by litter.
O this our proud and native midden where everything’s open and nothing’s hidden.
Whit a come-doon – skyscraper tae underground, an headin naewhere. Ye’d think thir wis a war oan or sumthin.
There’s always a war on. Peace-time is a misnomer. We can’t manage it for we’re constantly at war with each other – and ourselves. Only great maturity and insight brings a kind of peace. And that has to be worked for real hard.
If thir’s anither yin it’ll be the last yin, that’s for sure. A war.
Uneasy in peace, always preparing, we never learn.
Ah learnt early tae take it oan the chin and still grin.
Is that the reason?
Whit dae ye mean?
Is that the reason why the world’s insane? O insanity, insanity, or do we mean humanity?
Ssshhh? Why should I?
Cause folk ur lukin at us.
Who cares? Let them. They might learn something that would help bring them out of their own narrow and inhibited little selves.
Like thinking. Like taking an interest in the wider community. Like refusing to be exploited and manipulated. Like working on self-discipline. Like learning to eliminate that corrosive fear that steadily eats away at our distant and instinctive heritage of folk wisdom and roots. Like not being so spineless, passive and clueless. Like refusing to be divided. Like asking who, what, where, when, why.
Keep yir voice doon for god’s sake.
Why should I when I’m only beginning to find it?
Cause people ur no used tae it. They luk up and keek and then luk away again. Deid embarrassed they ur. Deid embarrassed.
Except for that secret policeman taking notes in the corner seat.
Secret policeman? O come on. This is Glesga – European culchural city an a’ that, no Moscow. We don’t have secret polls in this toon. Run o’ the mill cops, sure, but secret wans. We’re deid democratic an that.
That’s comforting to know.
Is it? Good.
Glasgow. Great social security city. New Jerusalem of the north. Gleaming cultural jewel. Tiara for Tamara. Forget about debt and borrow for tomorrow. Have a ball in seasons of fine hel.. Chekhov and piss-off. Blue socks in Ibrox. Bolshoi Ballet in the Dennistoun Palais. Pablo Casals doon in the Gorbals. O there’ Berlin and Athens and Paris, and London and Venice and a’, but if yese insist we’ll tell ye whaur’s best and it’s no Bogota or Tokyo: for it’s Glesga, it’s Glesga, it’s Glesga, dear auld Glesga toon, when yir oot oan the batter in Glesga then ye don’t mind the acid rain…
Aw geezabrek wull ye? Whit’s got intae ye ata’, eh?
The truth. The whole truth and nothing but the truth. I’ve seen the light.
Workers City “The Real Glasgow Stands Up”
Edited By Farquar McLay Clydeside Press