Travel articles are often about people covering hundreds of miles, through dangerous countries, perilous mountain ranges and potential minefields. But have any of these grizzled travel veterans ever tried to walk through Glasgow from Burnside to Newton? They should, it’s much easier.
From Burnside Cross I began my fateful journey home. The sky was clear and blue, the cold stung at my fingers. The long, winding road stretched out ahead of me, hundreds of miles long (three miles long). Within minutes I was clear of shops and traveling through residential areas. Moving cars and people were a rare sight. Were residents here housebound by fear of crime and terrorism? Or was it just early? I squinted into the sun’s glare and bravely moved forward, mindful of potential insurgents around every corner.
Disaster struck! I realised I was already on the wrong street. How would I get a Nestle Crunch now? I would need sustenance, this trip could take over an hour. Thankfully, I realised I was only one street off of my intended route; the shop was on the other side of the building I had stopped beside.
The chocolate calmed my nerves as I moved downhill towards the main road. I noticed a path wind between streets. Curious, I followed it. I was surprised to find a burn (though I shouldn’t have been, in a place called Burnside). I followed the water for a minute before it turned back under the road. My brief time alone with nature was over. Back to civilisation again.
I feel somewhat middle-class when I walk just for the sake of walking. And, for some reason, I have a link between the middle-class and reading. I can’t go for a walk and pass a charity shop without going in to look for books. I entered a Salvation Army shop, was impressed with the prices, was angered by the sight of a Jeremy Clarkson book, and left empty-handed.
My journey continued uphill and I was out of breath by the time I reached the top. My feet and gimpy knee would soon be sore. I forget just how unaccustomed my body is to walking nowadays.
Walking is a shock to my brain too, as well as my body. The rarer walking becomes, the more confusion it leads to. My mind is used to constant stimulation now, every second is filled with work or reading or watching or gaming. When I walk now, with little to concentrate on, The Brain panics. “Get the train instead”, it told me “then you can play Goldeneye”. I ignored it. It wasn’t pleased.
After a good 45 minutes it was time for a Greggs. I felt guilty buying two sausage rolls, given that I wasn’t even that hungry. But walking past a Greggs, alone, with more walking ahead, is a rare occurrence. With a beautiful smile I exited Greggs, sausage rolls in hand (in a bag, Greggs don’t just hand you pastry like a savage would). Then I found, to my dismay, that these were imposter sausage rolls.
I presume some Greggs shops operate as franchises, so some food can be different. Greggs Cambuslang, much like Greggs George Square, sells abnormal sausage rolls. Thinner, crispier, they simply taste different to the ones we’ve all come to know and love. I still ate them. They were nice enough, yet I was disappointed. But one will always endure hardships on the road.
I approached Westburn Village, a more working-class place than the surrounding areas. ‘More working-class’ also means ‘more likely to sleep late’ – the place was dead. I walked for ten minutes and saw one person. A crazy person, screaming at the sky, covered in their own filth. Or not.
I passed ‘the one-stop gossip shop’ (how many stops do you normally need for gossip?). It’s a takeaway fast-food place (so food and gossip then). Outside is a patio table where people can place their food and drinks while they, presumably, gossip. The food might be in plastic or paper, but I still wouldn’t want it near that table, which is disgusting. Because the table sits outside constantly under trees it’s covered in dirt and stained green. It looks like Swamp Thing was burned to death with cigarettes on it. Even a glance at it would be enough to put me off eating. Luckily I had finished my sausage rolls by this point.
I followed the road further and noticed a path veering across the grass to the right. I’ve always felt a need to venture off of my expected route, perhaps due to some childlike sense of mystery and adventure. It wasn’t very adventurous; the path simply led to another nearby street. I followed a different route back to the main road. When I reached the road it was inexplicably blocked by a locked gate. So 50 feet along the road in either direction you can pass between path and road easily, but here a gate bars your way? You can enter anywhere else, but not at this very specific bit?
I approached a football pitch as a game was being played. I’d been meaning to spectate here for a while but never got around to it. I don’t even like football but I appreciate that people will gather here on a freezing Saturday morning to watch these amateurs play. I arrived as a corner came in. A player shot, the ball deflected back to him, he shot again, deflected again, and a whistle blew. Half-time. I couldn’t have timed that much worse. Though I wanted to watch, I wasn’t waiting about for 15 minutes before it restarted. So off again I trod.
I arrived home a better, wiser man. My adventures through Glasgow had made me a gentler soul. I thought of the naive boy who had left Burnside some 75 minutes previous, and all that I had experienced since then. My living room was unfamiliar. Where is my video recorder? Do people still wear Global Hypercolour? And what on earth is a PS3?