Plot

Nostalgia

Infographic illustrating aspects of the Iain Crichton Smith story Home
Glasgow tenement back court with washing line Partick area
Jackson and his wife return to the Glasgow tenements after 35 years in South Africa

The story begins with Jackson and his wife pulling up their car next to the tenements in which they lived thirty-five years before. Jackson’s wife is immediately uncomfortable, and asks her husband to lock the car. Jackson, however, has a misplaced, nostalgic view of the area. He responds to his wife's fear of crime:

quote
But they don’t steal things here.

As they explore one of the buildings, Jackson remembers a couple who used to live here, the Jamiesons. His wife takes no pleasure in the memory of the man. He was a sectarian bigot and domestic abuser whose crimes seem to have been enabled and excused by the silence of the community and his wife's invention of reasons for her injuries that covered up his responsibility.

Change

quote
The town had changed a lot since they left it

This area of Glasgow seems to have changed for the worse and a sense of community has been lost. Supermarkets aggressively flexing their big muscles have driven small shops out. People have been moved to housing estates, cinemas have closed and lover’s lane had disappeared.

Jackson, whose wallet proudly bulged from his pocket, is desperate to tell people about how well he had done. He struggles to find anyone interested.

Conflict

Jackson recalls an incident in which he believed a factor had treated him unfairly:

quote
Thinking back on it now, he thought: I was treated like a black.

This links his current views to that of the Apartheid regime in South Africa. His attitude suggests that racism and wider prejudice have become embedded in his outlook.

During an argument between Jackson and his wife, she questions why they have come here:

quote
They don’t give a damn about you, you know that. They’re all dead and rotting and we should be back in Africa where we belong.

She has no sentimental connection to the tenements, while Jackson searches for a connection that is no longer there.

A group of youths then begin to circle Jackson’s car. He is immediately worried that they are going to vandalise the car. Though the youths don’t damage the car, they do threaten Jackson:

quote
Get out of here, daddy, before we cut you up, and take your camera and your bus with you.

Jackson and his wife immediately leave.

Home

quote
I wish to God we were home.

As they head off, Jackson seems to realise that they have no place in thier old neighbourhood. Home is now somewhere else, presumably Africa. His sentimental view of the tenements has been destroyed, and he even wishes that the youths would have to face the brutal, derogatory “justice” system of South Africa.

Jackson and his wife retreat to a plush hotel, where they feel much more comfortable surrounded by similar people. This shows us that home is not necessarily a place but a mind-set. Jackson and his wife seem to find this with through a sense of status, luxury and superiority.