There is a place near the River Kelvin in Glasgow where I like to do walking meditation in the morning. Yesterday, I saw this scarf, neatly tied, hanging from a railing there. At first I thought it might be yet another memorial, but there was only the scarf. I had heard about people leaving scarves and other clothing in public places for whoever needs them, but this was the first I had seen. Before walking on, I bowed to the scarf and to the unknown (to me) person who left it there.
I live near a bar that is a notorious stab inn. A few years ago, there was talk that it might close, and I overheard someone walking by it say, “If they close it, where are the nutters supposed to go?”
This can be taken two ways. One is a typical Glaswegian compassion for “the nutters,” an understanding that even the most antisocial and violent people need community. The other, more practical, point is that if their hangout closes, they will migrate to other bars and make them less pleasant, safe and sane.
In the politics of Scottish independence, Alex Salmond’s new Alba party might serve the same function as the bar I shall not name. The worst bigots and other reactionaries — “the nutters” — now have a party to join, a community of their own, leaving the SNP a more pleasant, safe and sane place. The worst of the worst will join Alba, while the good and the merely bad will stay with the SNP.
I have written previously about activist organisations whose (in)activity is mostly, if not entirely, confined to social media/surveillance capitalism.
Online campaigning is of limited effectiveness, as it allows people to click “like” and feel they have done something. So today members of Wyndford Tenants' Union were on the streets, asking tenants to sign our petition against Cube Housing Association's planned rent increase. Talking with people, it was clear that there are many who not only are not on social media, but do not even have email. To exclude such people when campaigning is to naively fail to build a broad base, and, worse, it is classist.
A week after I asked Cube Housing Assocation about rumours from within that Managing Director Laura Henderson was to be laid off from her job, I received a response from Linzi Heggie, the organisation's Head of Housing Services. “In relation to your question about Laura Henderson, I can confirm that this information is false.”
Rumours from inside the organisation suggest why Laura Henderson has not responded to my recent questions; it may not be her concern anymore, as she, and the rest of Cube Housing Association's management, is said to be getting laid off as the organisation becomes part of Glasgow Housing Association.
“She's getting a golden handshake along with the rest of the managment there,” I was told.
I have emailed Ms Henderson to ask for confirmation, but previous form suggests a reply is unlikely. On the bright side, if she is no longer there, she will be no less answerable to Cube tenants than she has been for the past year.
I remarked today to a fellow tenant (or “customer,” as you call us) that communicating with Cube is a bit like praying. But then I corrected myself, because when praying we do not know for certain that no one is listening or that our supplications will be ignored — which we can be certain of when communicating with you.
A week after I posted this, the stairwells and lifts in the high flats on Wyndford Road are no less manky. I sent the link to Laura Henderson, Cube's Managing Director, right after I posted it, but I have had no reply from her, or anyone else at Cube. I did not expect one, but I hoped to be wrong.
But at least one tenant (or, as Cube calls us, “customers”) has a sense of humour, as evidenced by this in a stairwell:
Despite the denial, it's hard to be unaware of death if you pay attention when you walk around Glasgow. On fences and bridges, there are so many memorials to people who have died. They usually include football scarves or jerseys. Some shrines are new, and may only be there for a short while, others have been there for years.
And you can hear the reminders too. On a stretch of the Kelvin Walkway, dense with unmasked people, someone says: “She was feeling better. She was starting to eat again...”