Beware Of Intentions | Pushing the Wave

Beware Of Intentions

Travel, 19 May 2023
by L.A. Davenport
Glasgow Cathedral from Glasgow Necropolis
Glasgow Cathedral from Glasgow Necropolis
After last week’s in-depth look at reading and recent books I have read, I went through my notes to remind myself what I had been working on of late.

I went further and further back, into the pandemic years and beyond, until I stumbled across a couple of things that sent me off on a series of interconnected trips down memory lane, to a place that has featured large in my life since before I was born.

I have been lucky enough to go to Glasgow numerous times, partly as the city plays host to an enormous number of conferences. Consequently it happens that, on a fairy regular basis, I am sent north of the border to reacquaint myself with what has fast become one of my favourite destinations.

The strange thing about that, however, is that it took me until relatively late on in my life to visit it at all.

After all, my mother was born there, as was her mother and father. It was his large and extended household that meant that, until fairly recently, there was always a contingent of relatives offering tidbits about the city and the goings on in the family.

But my repeat visits have meant that I have developed my own relationship with that most vibrant and fascinating of cities, and every time I see it coming up on my travels I look forward to going back.

While the city itself is dramatic and beautiful, and the food and entertainment is as good as anywhere in Europe, it is partly due, of course, to the people. They are among the friendliest and most entertaining I have ever met. And that reputation was sealed for me when I encountered two locals on a trip to Glasgow in June 2019.
It is nearly midnight. I am happily wandering, not entirely in a straight line, down Hope Street and back to my hotel to get some rest before another long day of interviews and writing.

As I gaze at the railway station some way in front of me, I become aware of a man heading towards me.

He is very sharply dressed in black, which matches his jet black, slicked back hair. I observe that he is a few years older, and a little more drunk, than I am. As he gets closer, I see bright eyes shining out from a weary face, which comes alive with emotion as he reaches me.

“Beware. Be aware of intent-, intentions, intents, intent..ion.”

He stares at me, and then breaks into a smile.

“You’re a good man.”

His black glass eyes are close enough to mine to notice the small veins in the whites. I see now his jet black hair is lined with grey.

He reaches out and takes my hand in his. His skin is rough and folded. He stares at me, as much as his watery, slippery eyes will allow. He holds on to my hand and asks me who I am.

“I’m a writer, from England.”

He pauses and thinks for a moment.

“Well, I’m a...musician, from Scotland. Very nice to meet you, son.”

“Nice to meet you too.”

He pauses. “You take care of yourself, and you beware, be aware of intent-, intentions, intents, intent…ion.”

He stares at me again, then smiles. “You’re a good man.”

He pulls me into a hug and whispers into my ear: “You take care of yourself.”

He kisses me on the cheek and then pulls back. He smiles at me, lets go of my hand, turns and stumbles on up the hill.
A few days later, I am standing by the bar at the Pot Still, also on Hope Street, nursing a pint.

Next to me stands a local. He tells me, over the course of a meandering narrative accompanied by a glass or two of watered-down whisky, that he has spent too much time standing by the bar over the years but, now, he has some degree of control.

His red-tinged, rugged face reminds me of that of my grandad’s. His lively, self-effacing and brutally honest chatter takes me back to animated discussions I overhead as a child while I played on the floor with what remained of the toys my grandma kept after her brood had flown the nest.

After a while, we move onto music, which turns out to be a shared passion, alongside drinking in convivial bars and talking to strangers.

I confess my love of Bowie, while he lays claim to Elvis. As we discuss their relative merits, a young barmaid joins in from time to time.

While my local is in full flow about his hero, she chips in with her an observation of her own.

“Did you know his mother’s name?”

“What?”

“Do you know his mother’s name?”

“Err.”

“Gladys.”

“What?”

“Aye, it was Gladys. And her middle name was Love. Isn’t that sweet?”

He turns to me.

“Did you see that? She out Elvis’d me. I thought I was his biggest fan, but she knows more than I do!”
I have complained a few times (here, here and here) about the nature and quality of the spam mail that occasionally invades my inbox. In the interim, I have to say that I have been overwhelmed neither with spam, nor with particularly remarkable missives when it did arrive.

However, I was surprised to find this week that that great man of letters, Samuel Johnson, has written to me from beyond the grave.

It’s not quite the intellectual repartee that I would have imagined from the originator of the first comprehensive dictionary in English, I am sad to report.

He seems rather more concerned with bulk email sending and solutions to make it easier, but I cannot deny that it is nice to hear from him. Maybe he will broaden the scope of his communications in the future.
Finally, a story, and a city, of a different kind. This week, I published on here NOLA 2010, a collection of photos I took on my first visit to New Orleans, Louisiana, 13 years ago.

It was my first trip to the US, and also my first time at a conference. Initially, I was blown away by finally being in a country, and a city, that I had seen depicted on the small and silver screen since I was a child. Like many people, I fell instantly in love.

But then, as I peeled away the layers, I saw the horror that still lay at the heart of the city a full five years after Hurricane Katrina had devastated it. In the final days before I left, I paid a dusk visit to Holt Cemetery, where I was shocked to find the lives that had been spent on building NOLA, and that had borne the brunt of the storm, were left so casually to while away their infinite hours.

To say that trip left a mark on me would be an understatement.
© L.A. Davenport 2017-2024.

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Beware Of Intentions | Pushing the Wave