05 Dec, 2006 Our House
As many familiar with Simple Minds history already know Charlie Burchill, Eddie Duffy and I grew up in a housing estate on the south side of Glasgow. The name of that estate is Toryglen and despite the fact that our former neighborhood has attracted a certain negative notoriety commonly associated with many of our country’s housing estates, all three us nevertheless have only positive memories from our experiences growing up there.
Simply put, we loved growing up in Toryglen, and loved the experiences that we went through living there as kids, teenagers and then eventually young adults. More than that, we loved the friendships that evolved within our tight and bustling community and certainly we respected most of whom we came into contact with.
The key to that respect was that we identified easily with our neighbours, knowing that their hardships were most likely our hardships and whatever made them happy equally would make us happy too. There were no “strangers”, only people living their individual lives. But being as crammed close together as we were in the estate, it was impossible not to engage with each other on every level. Rose tinted? Not at all, merely the truth!
In fact knowing each other so well explains why I recall feeling a great sense of security while growing up in the playgrounds and streets of Toryglen. Even though paradoxically I also knew that this being Glasgow, violence of some sort or other was never going to be faraway. Blame it on alcohol, blame it on unemployment, blame it on governments, gang culture or urban deprivation. Blame it on whatever you want but all I know was that it was never that far away. And yet as I say, I felt secure with it, could smell it coming and for the most knew exactly when it was time to step out of its way and sometimes even when to get involved. Shame!
Unsurprisingly it is difficult to aptly describe to people why I do feel so positive about my time spent in the estate. Especially considering that life lived for a family of five (sometimes six) in a two bed roomed flat, high up on the eleventh floor of a tower block, situated bang in the centre of a Glasgow housing estate, would not instantly conjure up an idea of living bliss to that many others. Come on let’s be honest here!
But then again the generation before us had it so much tougher and the generation before them, almost all sons and daughters of Irish immigrants likewise had a life so much harder that it was barely possible to imagine. I was however somehow more than aware that in comparison we were extremely lucky to dwell in our tower block comfort, and I was as grateful for that luck throughout my childhood as I am for all blessings bestowed on me to this today!
This present mood of nostalgia was brought on me a couple of weeks ago while I was watching television. (A rare event) At any rate, during the ad break of a high profiled football match featuring Glasgow’s finest, lo and behold up popped a quite stunning advert for something or other that inexplicably featured amazing images of the very same Toryglen tower block I had lived in four fourteen years of my life.
Instantly transfixed, I became quite emotional.
Silly, I know!
Photo by Zev