Friday 1 February
As a bad Catholic girl from Springburn I have always thought that purgatory is full of Glaswegians – most of them from Springburn. Then again I have always thought that Springburn is already Hell on Earth, that all us poor bastards have already met the 'Big Yin,' and that we've already been judged. Springburn is one of Britain's poorest constituencies and I live bang slap in the middle of it. Like a lot of people here, I see my residence as temporary, and hope to move soon.
Today, when I took my young son, Stuart, to school I asked if there was any news of an after-school place for him. The head of the after-school club informed me that there was a waiting list. So much for 'an increasing number of after-school places.' I can't find work until my son is in one of these clubs, and he's dying to go as all his friends are there.
Tonight I couldn't sleep for hearing my friendly neighbours above me. What did I say about Hell on Earth?
Saturday 2 February
Punch and Judy upstairs stopped arguing at about 4am. Awakened at 7.45 with my five-year-old wanting his breakfast. Oh, the joys of being a parent!
Sunday 3 February
To a supermarket. Tailed by a security guard who must have thought I was a shoplifter. Ignored him. This particular security guard loves a confrontation, and I wasn't giving him the satisfaction. I saw a few people I know to be shoplifters filling their jackets as he was following me, and felt better: I had got one over on him. He always follows the wrong people. The rest of the day was uneventful. Oh, come on, it's only a Sunday in Springburn.
Monday 4 February
Went up to the shopping centre to talk to some of the people of Springburn about a proposed community project. There was a lot of support for the project, especially from the 30-55 year-olds. They said they weren't really catered for in Springburn and that pubs are their only option. Maybe that's why there are so many people walking about the place drunk and causing fights, one of which I was given the pleasure (?) of witnessing. They were fighting over a bottle of Buckfast. A sad sight. The two old men had known each other for years, and used to work together at the railway loco works.
Tuesday 5 February
A workman was due from the Council to repair our intercom system, which has been broken since I moved to this house four and a half years ago. He didn't appear. Surprise, surprise! My whole house is in a bad state of disrepair and the Council won't do a thing about it. I must get out of here before I go mad. In saying that, a lot of people think I already am.
Wednesday 6 February
Wee Stuart's 5th birthday. Made him his favourite breakfast – toast, jam and Coco Pops with fresh orange. He got out of bed like a shot and picked up his cards. 'There's hundreds here!', he said excitedly. There were eight: children do have a tendency to exaggerate. Later, we had a party at McDonalds for him and his pals. It was a nightmare: fights, tears and swear words I have never heard. Where do children hear these words? From their parents – that's who.
Wednesday 13 February
I have not got a drink problem, it's just that the drink has a problem with me. Me and my friend Marie went to the Celtic Club in Springburn and got – how shall I put it? – absolutely shit-faced. We were dancing on tables and generally making a nuisance of ourselves. Promptly ejected from the club.
Thursday 14 February
The mother of all hangovers.
Friday 15 February
I went to see my partner’s mother. She's 65 and has a mental illness. She had ECT six times within three years when the treatment was still in its experimental stages. Arrived to a barrage of abuse and left because of it. Upset for the rest of the day.
Saturday 16 February
I arrived back in Springburn from a day out in Fife to the sight of an ambulance and police cars. In the street beside mine, where a friend stays, it seemed something terrible had happened. As I was walking round to see my friend, a uniformed policeman was putting up a cordon.
'You can't come this way, hen. Where are you going?'
'I'm just going into this close here to make sure my pal is okay,' I said.
'You can't go in there tonight, hen. It's become a crime scene.'
I have known the police in our area long enough not to ask what had happened. I returned to my own house to find that my partner and son weren't in. I was struck with a wave of panic. What if they had been caught up in something round there?
Against my better judgement I climbed the fences that connect our backs and chapped at my friend's window.
'Where's Stuart and the wean?'
'They're in here, Anne-Marie.'
Stuart came to the window. 'There's been a murder. I'm waiting on the police's okay to go home. The wean's okay.'
The policeman came into the back and chased me home. I found out later that this was where a 21-year-old boy had been murdered. He'd been staying in the area for only two weeks.
Sunday 4 March
When I woke up today all I wanted to do was relax, but I had to take wee Stuart to see the latest children's blockbuster. I also had to go shopping for the old lady upstairs. You know the saying – God loves a trier. He must adore me.
When I was up at the shopping centre I met an old friend I hadn't seen since my school days 10 years ago. She looked terrible. She'd been one of the nicest looking girls in our year, but now she was a skeleton, with large, dark bags under her eyes. She told me she had met her current partner seven years ago and they had three children. After the birth of her first, she'd become depressed and had started using valium and heroin. I was shocked. She was the last person I'd expected to get into drugs. Now her children have been taken from her and she has lost her partner. She is selling sex for money to fund her habit. She feels she has nothing to live for.
I asked her how she dealt with what she did for a living, and she said it was okay and she didn't feel anything – the drugs numbed all her feelings. She was just a walking zombie.
Return to annals homepage