The Decision at the Bottom of the Stairs

GlagowThe only thing that had surprised him was that the snow had fallen so early that year, and as he walked up Hope Street, he decided to take a tram as far as Charing Cross.

Glasgow was bitterly cold and even although he had on his brother’s best coat, it didn’t seem to keep out the freezing air.

He had intended to take the tram all the way to the Kelvin Hall, but he really needed time to think. He couldn’t get any of that at home, not with the way his mother and father were behaving.

As his mother helped tie his scarf, she kissed him on the cheek and whispered in his ear, that she knew he’d make the right decision. His father, on the other hand, had shown him a picture of his own father and said how proud he was of his son.

He had worked hard to get this opportunity, but what good would it do him if the world came crashing down around him?

He lit a Capstan cigarette as he entered Kelvingrove Park, and decided that by the time he had arrived at the bottom of the stairs, he would make his mind up, one way or another.

His younger brother was only 14 but he was now looking up to his big brother to do the right thing.

As the park rose up towards the Park Circus, it gave the walker a beautiful view of the west of Glasgow and most importantly, the university.

It was all he had ever wanted to do – to be a writer, and now he was walking towards Glasgow University in order to register for a BA in English. Or to be more accurate, they called it ‘matriculation’ up there, after all it was the fourth oldest English-speaking University in the world. It had been founded in 1451 and he was the first of his family to ever get so far.

As he walked down the snowy path, he lit another cigarette and stood looking over the city that he loved so much.

What was the point of learning, if you couldn’t defend yourself? He almost thought about tossing a coin, heads he went right to the university, or tails he went left and, well you know.

Of all the times he had picked to go to university, he had to pick this particular moment to do it. It was autumn 1939 and the world was turning on its head.

Did he go to university or would he sign up for the army?

He threw the smoke away and he almost slid as he hurried down the path. He had finally made his mind up as to what he was going to do – and he gently smiled as he walked towards the stairs.

 

bobby stevenson 2017

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