When you mention Easterhouse to most people, an image of deprivation, unemployment, gang warfare, mugging, glue-sniffing and drugs is what will often spring to mind. Well, try living there.
I lived in the ‘Greater Area of Easterhouse’ – I won’t talk about exactly where today or I’ll have nothing to write about for ‘Q.’
Gang fights were rampant. Stabbings, theft, arson… All part of everyday life.
I never fit in and was always different to the majority of my peers.
I graduated from Uni in 1982 and, like many other Glaswegians of the time, was unemployed. I had to sign on the dole in Easterhouse, every two weeks. My sign-on time was quite early and the bus between where I stayed and the unemployment office didn’t start until later in the day so I had to walk the two or three miles to the office. Once I got there, I’d stand in my line and avoid eye contact. I remember once listening surreptitiously to a bloke tell his friend about how he had robbed his mother-in-law’s house the previous evening. I kept my eyes downward and said nothing.
When I got to the counter it was always the same clerk who processed my claim. I’d pass over my card, sign the proffered form, thank him and leave.
Several years later I was in a local working man’s club with my friend, Nancy. Who should I see at the bar but the unemployment benefit clerk. We recognised each other and had a wee chat during which I discovered that everyone in the office knew me as The Princess because I was the only polite claimant he had.
Being different can be a good thing.