So I’m here.
Officially a resident of Glasgow. I’m not sure I entirely fit into the category of ‘New Glaswegian’ – a term that one of the people I met with in June used when talking about people who moved from outside of the UK to Glasgow. I like that.
It’s been a pretty mad week of trying to settle a little better into my nest. I love my flat, I’ve just been a little overfaced with the fact that I’ve just moved to a new – massive – city from what is a relatively small one. I’m feeling a lot better now, partly because of something that happened the other night…
“what happened the other night, Ruth?”
Well, dear reader, let me relay the tale.
I was walking home after a talk I’d been to about Scotland’s Urban Past by the Glasgow City Heritage Trust (I always find it a little disappointing when you go to an event feeling you may be able to anticipate the audience demographic and arrive to find you’re right. It doesn’t surprise me I suppose, as you go to talks that sound interesting to you, but it says a lot about who finds ‘heritage’ as it’s understood traditionally, interesting. Maybe.) So I was walking home, and I nipped into Tescos to pick up some milk. As I was leaving I noticed that the bouquets of sunflowers were reduced to 40p each. I couldn’t believe it – they’re normally around a fiver so I was laughing – I grabbed the remaining two, beaming to myself as I paid a mere 80p for 10 pretty fresh looking stems. I left the shop feeling rather smug about how lovely and sunny my flat was going to look.
But that feeling quickly turned to a guilty realisation that I didn’t really need 10 more sunflowers (I already had 5 in my living room). My heart rate quickened as the thought that I could give them to people in the street popped into my head… “I couldn’t do that, what a terrifying idea” I thought…”I’d love to be the kind of person who could do that…” then I stopped and said (in my head) “RUTH, you CAN be the kind of person that can do that-! WHAT AN EXCITING IDEA!!” and with that, I ripped them free of their packaging and, heart about to burst, embarked on the challenge I had set myself to have given all 10 sunflowers away before I got home. ALL TEN SUNFLOWERS! THAT’S TEN STRANGERS YOU HAVE TO APPROACH NOT INCLUDING THE FEW WHO WILL DECLINE / LOOK AT YOU LIKE YOU’RE BONKERS (what a world where a person can’t give flowers to strangers without people thinking something’s wrong with them).
And so, I approached folk at random (I guess there was a subconscious selection process going on in my head, but the bunch of people I gave the bunch of flowers to was pretty eclectic so who knows), like some kind of sunflower promoter, asking people if they wanted a flower. There was a fast food worker on his fag break, a young couple, two young lads with guitars and long fringes, an old couple, a taxi driver, a man at the ticket machine in the station who declined but thanked me for the gesture, a young lass with a guitar, a dad and his baby, and a couple of others. Only a few people thought I was mad, and some declined but thanked me for the offer.
The moral of this tale, as I walked up the hill to my home, beaming like a sunflower and glowing in my belly, looking out at Glasgow glittering in the distance, thinking about the 10 sunflowers which were now dispersed by an unknown woman to unknown folk in the city I hope to become great pals with over the next year and then some.
It made me realise that:
- I can totally talk to strangers (I knew this anyway but it’s nice to be reminded)
- I can do ANYTHING if I set my mind to it
- I can do things that feel scary / uncomfortable
- Fieldwork is going to be totally bostin’ (that’s a brummy word, my heritage is in the midlands, really I should be saying ‘pure dead brilliant’…)
And in writing this, it reminded me of a fact I learned when beginning this journey many months ago: the word diaspora comes from the Greek diaspeirein, and means:
‘a scattering of seeds’
How apt, then, that these many seeds have been dispersed around a city with many diaspora of its own. Quite the lovely metaphor, don’t you think?