FOR five lang years, we’ve been lívin the lives o transients – ma wife an me, ah mean, but mebbe ye’re the same yersel. Oor flat, oor furniture, oor freendships; place-hauders aw, for the better things we promised oorsels but lairnt tae live withoot. We’re no unhappy, like – we hivnae ony richt tae be. We’re jist ploddin alang, like a jakey weighed doon on wan side bi a cairry-oot; listin, listin, ayeweys tae the left, turnin oor vast, slow circles an tellin oorsels we’re heidit somewhaur.

Well boo bloody hoo, eh. Mebbe that’s jist whit fowk mean when they talk aboot “the human condition” – ye hit the age Samuel Beckett wis his hale life, an ye realise this is it, the hale baw gemme, a lang sequence o identical street-lichts leadin aff intae a dimmer an dimmer nicht. Plus ca chynge, an aw that.

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But it’s no jist us. It’s the same aw ower. The flats aroond oors, a fast-motion montage o social mobility set tae a Billy Joel sang – fowk muive in, fowk faw oot, fowk muive on. The nearest thing we’ve got tae neebours are the Polish wirkies that sweep in efterhaun tae clear oot aw the stoor, pit everythin back whaur they ween it’s meant tae be. As ah pass them in the stairwell, ah treat them tae a wee display o white liberal piety gussied up as a supportive smile. They stare back at me in sorrow.

The guid feelin ah accrue fae this bargain-basement show o solidarity, this easy dissolution o guilt, lasts wan quick turn o the landin afore it hits me. It’s no theirsels they’re feelin sorry for. It’s me.

Cause it’s a testament, ah suppose, tae this mutant strain o British jingoism that, like mould, it’ll grow onywhaur, withoot encouragement, in even the deepest crannies o the gentlest herts. Ma Polish pals’ll be awricht – they’ve a hale continent tae awa an choose fae, an there’s naethin partícularly special aboot ma ain wee corner o it. The notion that ah’m the wan that’s leavin THEM in the lurch is straicht frae the lucky midden o British exceptionalism, thon post-apocalyptic pile o Beefeater teddy bears an snottery Union Jack hankies.

Fowk faw oot. Fowk muive on. Fowk get left ahint.

But thon’s the kind o navel-gazin that’ll get us naewhaur fast, ah dout ... An mebbe it IS time tae get on wi the day job, even if oor day job consists entirely o tellin ither fowk tae get on wi theirs. But whit even IS the day job, ony mair? Whit are oor shared goals, oor common warks? Whaur are we strivin tae gang?

Ah’m no wan o thae fowk that’s nostalgic for things that happened afore they were born. Ah dinnae want tae scrub ma punders in a burn; ah’m gled that ah’m no deid o dysentery or plague. But thon o us that wis born efter 1979 can agree wi Maggie Thatcher on wan thing at least: “There’s nae sic thing as society”. Cause if there ever wis, we wirnae alive tae see it.

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An ah dinnae credit everythin ma mither says – but when she talks aboot “community”, thon whimsical La La Land that stairtit wi the NHS an endit wi the mines, ah kind o believe her. Ah hiv tae. If oor collective day job, as human beings, has never been the spinnin o thon capacious safety net, Society, we’ve got tae at least let on as if it wis, as if the wirk that bound us thegither wis the stitchin o sic close-weave webs that even the smawest amang us could faw an yet be saved.

But ye’ve tae pull yersel back fae the edge, here, cause ye can see the giddy road ye’re heidit doon. It’s a peerie step fae “the fracturin o local communities” tae “Britain for the British”; an fae there jist anither lowp intae … weel, God kens whit.

There’s fowk oot there wha’ll tell ye they dinnae recognise this kintrae ony mair. Chance would be a fine thing, eh. Me, ah could pick this national hotch-potch o heid-the-baws oot o a line-up ony day o the week. This United Kingdom is wan hunner percent the place ah grew up in, an if it’s chynged at aw, ah’ll tak austerity, recession, an the monetisation o aw sellable sentiments for the reasons why, lang afore ah’ll get roond tae blamin the wee Dutch guy that wirks doon the youth centre.

Fowk faw oot. Fowk muive on. Fowk get left ahint. An aw the while, here’s me an you, staunin ‘neath the clock at Glesga Central, waitin for the Godot o some kinder warld.

Sae naethin’s chynged, eh? Then whit wis aw thon havers aboot transience at the stairt? Och, wha kens – cept mebbe that the readiness for chynge is itsel a kind o stasis, an that there’s naethin stiller in aw the warld than a sprinter crouched eternally for the stairter’s gun. Actually, forget thon image, here’s a better yin – a yappy dug thirlt tae a lamp-post, rinnin an rinnin an gawin naewhaur. A Scottie dug, if ye like, an ye think the thing needs spellin oot. Whit the lamp-post is, ah’ll leave that up tae you.