When I returned to Glasgow after 22 years away, with no visits during that time, I found three cities: one I remembered, one I had imagined, and one I did not yet know.
There is one thing common to all three cities, something that mystified me as a child and still mystifies me 50 years later: the male habit of regularly spitting while walking.
I have no idea of its origin. Wherever you go, you will see old men, middle-aged men, young men, boys, turning their heads slightly to one side and spitting on the ground as they walk. They do it when walking with others, and they do it when walking by themselves. They do not do it at home; they do not go to the sink or the toilet every few minutes to spit. But, outside their front doors, the spitting begins, and continues in lifts, stairwells, streets and parks.
How they do not become dehydrated is a puzzle to me.
Last week, one in 40 people in Scotland had Covid. This week, one in 30 have it. When the Scottish government decided to surrender to the virus by lifting mask requirements (though, bizarrely, still asking people to continue to wear them), we were assured that for fully-vaccinated people there was little to fear. But the following excerpt from an email is typical of what I hear from those infected:
“Having spent the 2+ years of the pandemic NOT catching Covid, I finally tested positive at the beginning of this week. Wouldn't you just know! They say that the effects are now quite mild if you've had the vaccines. Don't believe them. I felt like death warmed up for several days, a combination of the worst cold you ever had and the worst flu.”
With so many people infected, there are few masks to be seen in Glasgow, even in crowded supermarkets. We are more welcoming of a debilitating, sometimes life-threatening, virus than the Home Office is of refugees.
May all who are sick, in body, mind or spirit, be well.
I have been an SNP member since I returned to Scotland in early 2017. I resigned my membership today, after Nicola Sturgeon’s fawning speech to the Scottish Parliament in praise of the Queen of the country that colonises Scotland.
Because I am a Zen Buddhist and a socialist, many people assume I am a humanist, as they think Buddhism and socialism are both humanist. I think the opposite. The Buddhist understanding of interdependence precludes the arrogant view that is human exceptionalism. And if socialism is only for humans then it is not socialism, because it is still class-based, with bosses and bossed, exploiters and exploited.
Although I have criticisms of the book, I like the subtitle of Timothy Morton’s Humankind: Solidarity With Non-Human People. We need to see not just all clearly-sentient beings as people, but also rocks, walls, pens, machines, as people.