19 Feb Suburban world without end…. Amen
Almost 4 weeks now, living in deep suburbia. Suburban sierra, you might say, but there again…… Blog blackout has been the inevitable response to the silent solitude of most days, broken up only by the afternoon visit to Ward 2, New Victoria Hospital.
However, there’s been enough wandering about the streets of this Glasgow suburb to get a feel for it. Another city divided by a river, I grew up on the ‘north side’. The ‘south side’ of the burgeoning city was a foreign land; it was where people who were different lived; Newton Mearns was where people with more money than we had moved when they ‘went up in the world’ or retired – unless they were off to Ayr, Troon or other coastal points south and west.
The aged mother lives in a flat in a typical 1950s block, solidly built, three storeys, un-beautiful, pebble-dashed – on the outside nothing to get too excited about. But inside, a generosity of space and thoughtfulness of layout that makes it a fab little pad. Further into the city, northeast of here are the glorious Victorian tenements, glistening red and white sandstone grandeur. Trademark Glasgow and a soothing sight for any sore eyes. Pollokshields and Cathcart still have them marking my route to the hospital each day. Further in, at Govanhill and Gorbals, they disappeared in the 1960s when demolishing everything in sight was ‘de rigeur’. And in their place went tower blocks that gained short-lived notoriety at the expense of longevity. Even they are gone.
Blocks of flats are the exception on the housing front here. In Newton Mearns we are in bungalow-land. Sounds like some dark, barely-explored uncivilised part of the world, ruled by a decrepit and corrupt dictator, I know. But it’s really a pleasant and rather anodyne stretch of single-storey housing (now much loft-converted, of course) that has characterised this bit of the country post war. Plenty of space for the deeply civilised middle classes to live beyond the crowded streets of the inner city but still be within reach.
And so here life atomises in a kind of limbo. Absent from my own life, I live here to care for someone who is currently absent from theirs! All very disconcerting. This could be a gift of time, the time one never gets to get on with things one always puts off doing – clearing the email inbox would be one example. But a sense of inertia takes hold as I feel too displaced to be able to focus on tasks. But, no, I have not been totally idle. I have knitted two pairs of socks as I guiltily intersperse acceptable TV with back episodes of NCIS and catch up on Broadchurch………..