Thursday 30 March
At Buchanan bus station, waiting for a long awaited friend to arrive, a person a few hundred metres away from me collapses. I don't realise. After a few minutes, an ambulance arrives, and then another. Medical staff run out. One gives the person lying on the ground CPR.

Everything is odd.

The acute urgency and intimacy of a person existing on the border between life and death. And the couple of hundred people standing around in their respective bus stands, trying to avoid looking at what is happening, but having nowhere else to go to wait for their arriving or departing buses. After what seems like far too long, the person is driven away in one of the ambulances, and my friend arrives.

I'm shaken.

He calls me to say that he is at the station. I know him from the refugee camp in Dunkirk, but last saw him a few weeks ago in England.

I look around to try to find him in the crowd of travellers. A few stands away, I spot a familiar face – a young man I knew vaguely in the camp, and who I had heard was in Glasgow, but had not yet met up with in the city. He sees me too, and we smile and hug. We are so happy that we've met again in the UK. I had forgotten that my good friend living in England and the young man now living in Glasgow had been close friends in the camp.

The young man living in Glasgow speaks little English, so our newly arrived friend translates between us, and they help remind me of Kurdish phrases I'd forgotten.

We walk along the Clyde, back and forth, speaking English and Kurdish and gesturing; it's surreal.

On countless occasions in the camp, my friend and I would be speaking of the time in the unforeseeable future when he would have made it to the UK, and would be visiting me in Glasgow. Sometimes he would be hopeful and look forward to it, and other times the dream would seem too distant.
Now we were in Glasgow, walking along the Clyde, and it was a normal grey day, but so long awaited.

We all go back to the flat to meet the other flatmates and to cook dinner. The young man living in Glasgow tells us he will cook for us, and steps out of the kitchen 40 minutes later with steaming Kurdish lentil soup. Bxo. Eat.

Saturday 1 April
On a train to Glasgow Central. It is drizzling lightly, recovering from an earlier shower. The weather forecast for today had been terrible, so the drizzle exceeds expectations.

From the train window I peer into the gardens of a row of houses. I count that in roughly a third of the gardens, laundry has been hung out to dry.
I think I have found Glasgow's most optimistic neighbourhood, and I might have learned what to look out for next time I'm moving.

Sunday 2 April
My partner is soon starting a new job and has decided to go to the local Kurdish barber for a haircut. We have a chat with the owner, meet his young son, and are offered tea by the other man working in the shop. He asks how much sugar I want in my tea. This, I have learned how to properly reply to in Kurdish: Zor. A lot.

As tufts of hair fall from the shoulders of my partner, the owner's young son runs to get the broom. His father tells us: 'This boy – he just loves cleaning.'
I hold the dustpan as the young boy charges with the broom and dribbles a pile of hair towards me, as if we were playing ice hockey.

Monday 3 April
I learned that universal credit was being rolled out in our area when my flatmate – who had been off jobseekers allowance for a week because she was abroad in France for a few days, but had been told it would be quick and simple to get back on JSA upon return – said to me that she would need to re-apply completely because the system had just changed.
Fortunately, she is starting a new job in a few weeks. Unfortunately, the implications of universal credit stretch much further.

Headlines are filled with warnings: Life on universal credit – no food and relying on hand-outs; Fears of more homeless on Gloucester streets after universal credit change; Welfare shakeup 'will push a quarter of a million children into poverty'.

The Child Poverty Action Group has estimated that the new regulations will push 200,000 more children into poverty by 2020. Most affected are those in families with three or more children, where the third and subsequent children are rendered ineligible for child tax credits.

The government estimated in 2011 that 350,000 children would be taken out of poverty through the new rules. They now refuse to comment on this.

With this new overhaul of the welfare system, some people will be better off, although the changes are likely to be detrimental to the vast majority.

It frightens me how the welfare state is weakening. And it frightens me how this is seen as a natural progression. Few people realistically expect changes that fix current problems. It saddens me how, in light of the roll-out of universal credit, the best we can wish for is the status quo.

Return to homepage

The last acts of Scotland's
do-nothing parliament

The Midgie

Nannie's Diary
Surreal meeting in a bus station

The Week
Why did she turn down Bernard Ponsonby?

Hassan at Large
Keep calm,
but we're not carrying on

Sharp Talk
Am I hungry? Always

The naked truth in Dunoon

Among our vile incomers

The politics of grievance is a dead end

The Local

A dark comedy about sexual violence

Beeb battles

Bob Smith's Views