Scarlett Johansson in Partick

Scarlett-Johansson-at-the-Captain-America-Premiere-in-LondonI’m going to be reading the following poem out at the Rio Café in Partick tonight. I should explain that it is inspired by rumours that Scarlett Johansson is thinking of moving to Glasgow, so impressed has she been by our thriving literary culture. And why shouldn’t Glasgow be the centre of the world any less than London or Paris? God bless her, she will be most welcome. If anyone knows how to get in touch with the wee lassie, then pass this on.


She slips out of the Underground station
concealed by her huge dark glasses
subtly styled and priced beyond the reach
of the average mortal, never mind Glaswegians
who are, as the health studies regularly confirm
even less than mortal. But Scarlett, Scarlett
knows better, loves us all the more
for our bittersweet imperfection
our romantic yearning for self-destruction
through alcohol and cholesterol abuse
(not as glamorous as cocaine we know
but we’ve made it so very much our own)
She has just come from ‘The Barras Market’
which she found more authentic
and edgier by far than anything in Notting Hill
or New York, more surreal than Paris certainly
we are her thinking-woman’s-bit-of-rough
she can’t get enough of our gruff accents
our burly street-talk and deprecatory witticisms
her head (concealed beneath a stylish scarf)
is still reeling from overhearing
a street altercation concluded with the expression:
yir bum’s oot the windae pal, followed by
micky moose has goat a watch wi yoor heid oan it
she’s written some of this stuff down
and will see if her agent can translate it for her later
but now, now she’s in Partick or Pertick
as the natives seem to call it. On Dumbarton Road
she buys a can of Irn Bru and a deep-fried Mars Bar
and discreetly photographs what she sincerely hopes
are some ‘real neds’ on a street corner
until she slips at last, unseen and unnoticed
into the Rio Bar at the start of a bohemian poetry night
magnificently unrecognised, luxuriating
in the pure and rare bliss of anonymity
she orders her pint of Tennents and sits at the back
and suddenly it’s me on the stage reading this poem
and she freezes in horror, hands protectively
grasping for her glasses, is her cover blown?
But it’s alright she gradually relaxes
she is in safe hands, can see I’m looking at her
and that I know everything but will never say a word
because although I am neither famous or beautiful
I too am trapped beneath a façade, behind
a mask that God has both blessed and cursed me with
which no one takes the time to look beyond
and like us all: I am an actor and all my guises
only cries for help, invocations to you the crowd
to look and listen more closely and tell me
who I really am.

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