Toy Soldiers

As the nearest tube station is a good twenty minute walk from my new flat in Hyndland, I decided this morning with an uncharacteristic ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ attitude to walk the entire way to my lecture at Strathclyde University on the other side of the city.

It’s a bloody long walk and took about 80 minutes to complete, even with my John Cleese/Comedy Nazi stride, but I’m really glad I did it. I don’t know if it was the fresh atmosphere of ‘morning’ (a thing I don’t usually like to get involved with) but I was struck with the realisation of what a strange and beautiful city Glasgow really is. With its eclectic architecture and sporadic greenery, it feels like an experimental mixing-tray for other cities. (the famous incomplete ‘roads to nowhere’ are evidence of this in themselves.)

On my way over the motorway flyover, I kept an eye-out for the strange piece of guerrilla art I had spotted once before: a series of plastic toy army soldiers arranged in battle along some of the railings. The spectacle is undeniably lovely: the presence of such uncomplicated childish innocence in an enclave of stinking post-war functionality. It is also amusing to think that whoever arranged the army men, did so at great trouble or risk of peril, as many of them are positioned in places you simply cannot get to without risk of being run over or falling to one’s splattery demise.

My favourite piece of the arrangement was an army helicopter positioned atop of a lamp-post. But today it had gone. Who on Earth would have stolen it? They would have needed a stepladder in order to get to it.

What am I thinking? It obviously hasn’t been stolen: it must have flown away. After all, how else could it have got there in the first place? Sadly, the helicopter’s pal, the paratrooper, now dangles forlornly and alone.

Nonetheless, the helicopter’s disappearance had been compensated for by the addition to the flyover space of a number of shiny model fish hanging in the trees around the corner. How sweet. Their juxtaposition with the tree and the flyover reminds me of that old Fortean phenomenon, Fish Rain.

Has anyone else in Glasgow noticed the army men? Or am I imagining them like in that Stephen King story?

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