As part of Book Scotland I went to talk Chris Leslie gave in Clydebank library. He overran a wee bit but I could have listened to him all night. Disappearing Glasgow is about us. Glasgow’s full of ghosts, one of the punters in his book says. And they’ve all got the same refrain – that used to be my house.
I always presumed the Red Road flats would last forever, but when you see it now in this state you realise it’s over. It’s not the actual building itself, but all your memories, that’s where I was brought up, that’s where I was made.
‘Bleak, depressing and out of date’. Shades of Grenfell Towers here.
‘What kind of legacy is this?’ Margaret Jaconelli asks.
What kind of Glasgow is this the red sandstone blocks in the West End of Glasgow are feted for the warmth and vibrancy they bring to Glasgow but in the East End of Glasgow, in Dalmarnock, they lie derelict and are knocked down. Jaconelli is offered £29 000 compensation, enough to buy a cheap caravan. Remember these were the same tactics used by the American President before he was President when he was just a serial groper and sex pest, when trying to evict a man from his house, which stood in the path of a proposed golf course in Aberdeen. We’ve heard the lie and we here it here. It will bring jobs. It will bring apprenticeships. Not the kind of apprenticeships that boys from Bearsden or the West End would appreciate, engineering or surveying, more the kind of security and admin apprenticeships. The social divide kind. Us and them. Then, of course, if you look at Jaconelli’s poster facing out of her soon to be demolished house it reads a litany of our past and those deals done in Kensington. Thirty-percent of social housing in Glasgow disappears with the skyline. In London, Barnabas Calder tells us these Raw Concrete, Brutalist structures we call high-rise have remained, have flourished, former council houses bought up by property developers and sold at inflated prices. Labelled sink estates money defies gravity and floats upwards from poor to rich. Backroom wrangling.
What kind of legacy is this? The residents of Grenfell ask. Even then as Margaret Jaconelli says in her poster of all the Trumps of the world.
Mayfair millionaires Charles Price given millions of public money for buying a bit of land from the council and selling it back to them. Working class resident Margaret Jaconelli penalised for buying a house in Glasgow.
Ups and downs in the property market, boom time for building firms who coin in government grants for first-time buyers. Those on the bottom rung fall off. People homeless, living on the streets and the highest figure since records began. The answer to homelessness is quite simple. Build more homes. We did it after the Second World War, we can do it again. 250 000 houses a year, just to stand still. This book is a reminder being evicted is a political decision in which only the rich benefit. The people of Grenfell Towers deserve better, but so do the rest of us.