Dispatches

Stuck on the Grid

Christine Novosel




I have to get a landline in order to get home internet. I have to pay council tax (water, waste, etc.). I have to register myself with the district police. There is no chance to “disappear” or live off the grid here. Everybody is up your ass. CCTV everywhere. Public open WiFi is probably recording activity for the government.

I had a good conversation with an old man in the library by my house. He asked me why I moved here, and I said because I’m going to school. He asked why I picked the art school here if I could have gone anywhere else, and I said because Glasgow is interesting. He said, “What Glasgow lacks in beauty and brains, it makes up for with wit and resilience.”

A program was launched in the eighties to “clean up” the city. It was called Glasgow’s Miles Better. The official logo was Mr. Happy. It sounds stupid, but it must have been hugely successful because people here love their city. The official motto of the city now is People Make Glasgow.

It’s a different sort of civic pride than in Vancouver, where people love the idea of the city—the lifestyle and the landscape—but don’t necessarily feel connected to each other or feel that they share values.

Of course, this is comparing apples to oranges. The residential areas of Glasgow consist of multi-generational families and people with a common heritage. Sectarianism still divides neighbourhoods by class and religion. And it’s so white. Like, taxi drivers are white. Like, my sister and I went to eat at peak lunchtime inside the John Lewis department store cafeteria and we were the only people with non-white or blonde hair. We might have been the only people under fifty too, haha.

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