drift one: red road


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  • May Miles Thomas - 22 May 10 -

    Thanks Ed,

    As it happens I did see the Scotsman piece today. A great picture too. But you have to ask why this information, previously under a 30 year lockdown, was released 15 years early – and the motives behind the Scottish, not Westminster government’s decision to release it.

    I’m with you on the notion of ‘better-served government’. We’re through the mirror on this one – a week or so into a coalition and frankly I’m in shock at how many decisions of a Tory/Lib Dem, or Con-Dem pact – I agree with. Scrapping ID cards – tick – halting the extradition of Gary McKinnon – tick – extending the Freedom of Information Act – tick – increased spending on the arts – tick – NHS investment to be ringfenced – absolutely. It’s all very strange, but as a victim of the Thatcher years, I reserve judgement. Truth is, our politicians are on their best behaviour, but for how much longer?

    Meanwhile, Diane Abbott MP, shamelessly putting herself up as an agent of ‘the Left’ as a Labour Party leader, only confirms how the Left left the building a long time ago. Unlike Elvis however, like her fellow candidates, she has no talent, no ideology, no policies – only positions to protect. Some comedown. The shame is they haven’t grasped it yet, cushioned as they are by their minimum £64,766 annual salary. Plus – ahem – their expenses.

    Thankfully the media has devoted little time to the Labour leadership contest, non-event that it is – let’s just hope in the foreseeable that the Tory/Lib Dem honeymoon matures into something a little more lasting and substantial.

  • Ed - 21 May 10 -

    Well May you were timely again on your comments on Ravenscraig – and the contradictions now multiplied by your election concerns. Most people interested in Ravenscraig will have seen this by now –


    Interesting they had doubts – for a second. I think we are better-served by politicians now than then, incredible though it seems.

    But it’s easy for them now though – all that lung damage transposed to India. Lost an empire and gained a toxic-sink.

    Slightly ironic that Wenlock and Mandeville are posited as metal-founded characters by the admittedly-lovely-in-a-cringe-sort-of-way Michael Morpurgo animation!

  • May Miles Thomas - 13 May 10 -

    Thanks Ed, for your eloquent comment.

    At time of writing, I’m still overwhelmed by the outcome of the election, trying to fathom what it all means, and the consequences for all of us, but especially those in Red Road and those who aspire to buy a house on the wasteland site of Ravenscraig.

    Forget voting patterns and nationalist interests – the fact is, two generations have been neutered politically – it took 18 years of Tory rule and 13 years of New Labour to achieve a gradual grinding-down of any ambition for what truly matters – social justice, good government, sound economic policies, the concept of doing the right thing.

    What actually happened drove most of us into a state of subliminal dread or downright apathy. The result – a coalition government – a rare event in the UK – but the norm in most mainland Euro nations today. The trend leans towards a right-centrist mindset, driven by commerce, not industry. I don’t envy the career politician’s task, but they made the bed in which we all have to lie and for that reason I despise all of them.

    There’s something terribly poignant about your description of the gravestones, the sense that not even those bought-and-paid-for lumps of stone – many of them memorials of those who worked at the steel plant, I’m certain – were affected the very thing that put them in their graves.

    Is there a prayer? I hope so. But when tonight’s Reporting Scotland told of the 1200 job losses at the NHS, the cynic in me laughed at the timing of the announcement. Ditto for Glasgow City (Labour) Council’s axing of 10 per cent of their staff. As the old saw goes – power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely – for me remains the get-out clause for what we have now.

    Maybe St Jude is our only hope.


  • Ed - 12 May 10 -

    When I worked for Motherwell District Council in the early 1990’s, I spotted a graveyard across the road from the council buildings (this was at the end of Ravenscraig as a metal furnace). The most striking thing about the gravestones were their melted appearance – something I’d never encountered before, in only surface- soot-stained places like Edinburgh. Thinking about it later, it was clear these fairly hard sandstone memorials had been affected by the industrial REVOLUTION (we usually associate revolution with some positive social change – here was revolution raw in tooth and claw, acidic to the core). And what did that do to brains? To Bairns? This is the collateral damage of consumerism piled on carelessness. No wonder buckfast is so popular.

    Is there hope in the sea of stupidity? Is there beauty whilst others suffer?

    It is possible to change/seachange. Resiliance matters.

    Is there a prayer for that?

  • May Miles Thomas - 5 May 10 -

    Thanks Hugh

    Red Road is bad enough but not as bad as the housing developments being built right now on the site of old Ravenscraig works. It’s the Glasgow schemes all over again, only privatised, with no amenities and no transport links, just row upon row of small low-rise houses built on a toxic wasteland. The lessons of Corby forgotten it seems.

  • a beattie - 5 May 10 -

    I just watched peter strickwood ‘katalin varga’ & again, I am reminded of the balkanisation of glasgow……….

  • a beattie - 5 May 10 -

    hi may

    Last weekend I went to tramway christophe buchel last one out turn off the lights……….your latest episode reminded me of this……….

    take care


  • May Miles Thomas - 2 May 10 -

    We were poor but we were miserable…

    Thanks for the comment, Ed. Paraffin heaters were a big part of my upbringing too since we had no heating in our Pollok flat apart from a recalcitrant coal fire. We had a couple of the beasts we carried from room to room while still lit. That we didn’t all die in a housefire is surely divine provenance. Just add polystyrene ceiling tiles and gloss paint…

    Buses – don’t get me started. I regularly take the bus into the city centre – with the M74 Extension ongoing, cycling’s only for the brave and driving’s an extortionate pain. The buses are generally 20 years old with zilch suspension and maniacal drivers stunt racing through potholes while yakking on their mobiles. I caught a 38 one day from Renfield Street to find the driver toking on a joint. At least he was cheerful.

  • Ed - 30 April 10 -

    “I must not let my environment affect me so much”.
    Ivor Cutler

    An almost impossible task in this environment.

    My mother brought me as a child to a similar place in Edinburgh. The Two Paycheques thing is as familiar and true today as it was in 1975.

    A friend from the carribean continues to be traumatised by a fire caused by a paraffin heater in wandsworth that resulted in the death of her mother, again in the 1970s. We had the same make of heater in our brutalist council flat – the only form of heat.

    I’m travelling on buses a lot nowadays. The ergonomics are non-existent – even though these buses are brand new, the seats are too narrow – the heating system is freezing in winter and now uncomfortably hot in spring – the drivers are chained to a schedule that forces them to drive like maniacs on dangerous stretches of sub/urban roads.

    It’s starting to feel like the 1970s all over again. Just pray it doesn’t turn into a 10s balkanisation of “North Britain”.

  • May Miles Thomas - 30 April 10 -

    Thanks Lizzie,

    Your insights are spot on. And you’re right about the reporting on the Kosovans and the complex issues surrounding asylum seekers getting preferential treatment over the locals. But I also know the people of Glasgow are mostly welcoming, even if the housing on offer isn’t.

    If you were to believe some of the reporting on immigration, you’d think it’s a recent phenomenon. But Glasgow, like all major UK cities, has a long history of asylum seekers and refugees. For instance, in the mid 19th century, four out of five people in Glasgow were of Irish origin, so nothing new there.


  • Lizzie Doonan - 29 April 10 -

    Hey May
    I hoped you would venture into the north of the city. Red Road is less than 10 minutes from my house and has been part of the landscape my whole little life.
    I have mixed emotions about the place because my drama group rehearsed and performed in the Alive and Kicking Centre for a few years. We then moved to the Y.M.C.A. flat. During our time in Red Road we were photographed for The National Theatre and the picture of us at the foot of the flats made us feel proud.
    I worked with many people from Kosovo when they arrived during 1999. This was not reported well and fuelled resentment among the local communtiy. Local families waiting years for repairs to their housing couldn’t understand why flats were being decorated and fully furnished for foreigners. Imagine losing everything, running for your life and the only solace is Red Road Flats…
    My mum has fond memories of her aunt moving into her brand new flat with all mod cons. I’m not sure how long the excitement lasted. I do know how long it took my cousins to get out of there.
    There is no doubt they need to come down and I can’t wait to see how it opens the skyline. I hope the trees can survive it and if the people are anything to go by then there is a glimmer of hope.

  • May Miles Thomas - 29 April 10 -

    Just to say sorry to all my subscribers for the repeat email alert. My original post got lost in the blogosphere so I had to rewrite it!