Clydebank

I lived in Clydebank for a year and a half. Now, thankfully, I’ve escaped.

I hated that a majority of my family members who live there. An unusual problem I know. That side of the family have a strange, almost incestuous need to stay really close to each other. Over three generations there’s around 70 members of the family, and I bet most of them still stay in Clydebank. The ones that I know are mostly arseholes and best avoided. There’s very much a distinct look to the clan, a family attribute of big noses and sunken eyes. It’s a look that I seem to have avoided. Which means I can spot them more quickly than they can spot me. I can identify the family features from a distance, even before I can deduce whether I know the person or not. At the shopping centre I indulge in a lot of staring at the ground, as possible relations pass.

There’s character to Clydebank, that I can’t deny. But the moments of entertainment come from the same people you really wouldn’t want as your neighbours. Recently, I spotted a scummy-looking couple having an argument in front of their young son. As you hopefully know, when near people of that ilk, you do your best to not make eye contact. Because that invites punchy-face and/or stabby-abdomen. However, you can’t blatantly ignore them either, because neds see that as a sign of fear or disrespect. You have to find the in-between, using your peripheral vision to say “I see you and respect you. However, I am not looking at your girlfriend, nor at that can of Tennents that you hold”. So I get my vague-vision on and traipse towards them. There’s an animated moment, clearly something of high-tension has happened, and the man storms off. I’m almost certain that there was no physical violence. The first thing the she-ned does is get straight on the phone. For the sake of the story, I’ll use ‘Sean’ as the man’s name, and ‘Jason’ for the son. And her side of the conversation goes:

“Listen, Sean just hit me”. Again, I’m 99% certain that he didn’t. “Jason’s greeting” (as in crying).

She’s choosing to ignore that the boy is crying is because he wants his dad. He started sobbing as soon as his dad walked off, wailing “I want my daddy”. As soon as he stopped saying it, and just cried, she was on the phone. A nice dramatic background noise for her seemingly fictional tale of woe. Women be crafty.

The drunken bams are a regular highlight of weekends too. They’re so used to boozing in dark corners, then hiding the drink as they approach the light of the main road, wary of patrolling Police. It’s a process of military precision. Three of them head down the street, all doing the high-speed walk of a bam (which is strange in itself, seeing as they’re the people with least to do. Why are they rushing?). One, without slowing, hides his massive cider bottle in a hedge, another in the back of a pick-up truck, and one under a car. It’s a routine perfected by repetition, ever since they were 15, and their 16 year-old mum stopped caring about where they were at night.

Another highlight was watching three scumbags arguing in the street one morning. Some choice dialogue thus:

“Shut it ya junkie”
“I’m no a junkie, you’re a junkie”

You’ve got to assume that one of them is right. One, carrying a chemists bag that definitely couldn’t contain methadone, found a small plank of wood. He threatened the other non-junkie with it, as they did the dance of two people not wanting to fight, but not lose face either. The two were magnets, each repelling the other, incapable of getting too close. One would rush forward, the other back, then vice versa. As so often happens, the situation was exacerbated by a woman. The girlfriend of one, she would scream in the other’s face, knowing she probably wasn’t at threat of physical violence. Then she’d shout at the boyfriend for not doing anything. Brilliantly the boyfriend got sick of her nonsense and silently entered the pub, leaving her defenceless in the street with a maniac.

Speaking of the pub, my one disappointment of living in Clydebank was that I never went into it for a drink. From the outside it looks like a horrible, scummy old men’s haunt, and I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t. I imagine that me entering it would be similar to the scene in The Slaughtered Lamb in An American Werewolf In London, where the music switches off and every patron stops to watch me. Presumably me screaming “I’m local, I stay in the next close” would make no difference to how out-of-place I’d seem. Then I’d order a Diet Coke and they’d rip me to shreds.

The pub has a professional singer in twice a week. I could hear her from my flat. Her set always seemed to include Brown Eyed Girl, and Somebody Told Me, by The Killers (you know, for the youngsters). .

Back to the close again, and neighbours. One, who I politely referred to as “the cow up the stairs” (but never to her face) was the only irritant. Hardly any noise from the house, even when she had her friends over at weekends. But they became really annoying when leaving her house. Drunk, ignorant, and frankly stupid, they’d often feel the need to stop in the close to talk. Loudly. Though they’ve been in a house together for eight hours, they still had more conversation left by home time. With booze involved, what they thought was audibly normal conversation was a bloody big din. They’d also shout back up the stairs to the cow, and occasionally have a sing-song. How charming. I loved nothing more than being woken up at 3am to people bellowing in the close.

Once, after they’d been a noisy argument in the house, I was getting my nosey on through the peep-hole as some angry-looking chap went down the stairs. Seconds later he headed back up, with a long, metallic-looking object in his hand. Seconds later, a blood-curdling scream. Understandably, I thought it was a knife and phoned the popo. Turns out it was the leg of a metal table. Apparently there’d been a an argument in the house as the guy hadn’t been allowed his shot of the Playstation. When there’s booze involved, of course, that’s a good excuse for violence. The Police turned up and arrested the guy for breach of the peace. I consider that arrest my one small victory over those scumbags. Yes, I’m that petty.

The surprising thing about Clydebank, a place so boozecentric, is how early the shops close during the week. Where I was at least, you couldn’t find anywhere to buy alcohol after 8pm on a weeknight. Maybe that’s why the place is still standing. Perhaps it wasn’t really The Blitz that destroyed large parts of Clydebank, perhaps booze was just more readily available.

Clydebank Shopping Centre is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. The worst part is sectioned off, quarantined from the parts that visitors to Clydebank might wish to visit. This part, the bottom end, is pawn shops and market stalls and those strange In-Shops and mutant people. Further up is a bit better, with game and clothes shops and a McDonalds to line those arteries. Clydebankians seem to follow a very strict routine, which involves going to Asda on a Saturday afternoon. Regular as clockwork, the roundabout on the way in to the shopping centre clogs around 4pm every Saturday, as people must grocery shop. Go a few hours later and it’s deathly quiet. But routines must be adhered to.

And now I’ve escaped the place and the inherent nonsense. Which means I’ll probably start to look back on it with (fictional) fond memories. Not yet though.

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