THE stars are not astonishing. At night, over Queen's Park, their silver sparsity barely distracts the eye but, should you look, you'll see their old light forming familiar shapes: Orion's Belt, the Big Dipper, that sort of thing.

Over Glasgow's south side is matt black but the light pollution eases when you hit the park and there, above, is a little monochrome kaleidoscope of sky.

I know this because I have been walking. Walking and walking and walking around my neighbourhood. I signed up to a fitness challenge and, as part of this, committed myself to walking 10,000 steps a day.

One of the by-products of TikTok is the proliferation of alternative modern phrases used to make old, plain faced things seem modish. One no longer diets, one "eats in a calorie deficit". One no longer goes for a walk, one "gets my steps in".

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When you have a desk job, getting 10,000 steps in needs a deal of planning. I use the pedometer on my phone and I'm sure Big Tech is mocking me. There are days I feel I must have walked the length of the Pacific Crest or at least the Silver Route but the phone snorts and says 4000 steps, lazy madam.

Fitting my steps around an already hectic schedule involves night walks. I stick to the best lit streets, of which there are few, and so tend to go in a repeating loop.

Homes on these streets have generous windows and I wonder if anyone sees me. "There she goes again, that weird nocturnal lassie." My Kiwi cousins like to go tramping, what New Zealanders call hiking. Tramping feels a more fitting name for getting the steps in.

But listen, I'll tell you something: what a beautiful neighbourhood I have to walk in and don't let anyone contradict it. Before the 10,000-target made the job onerous, I've always tried to take a daily trot. It's a nice way of feeling part of the community.

On a street near my flat I have a friend, an elderly gentleman. We've never met and I don't know his name but we wave to each other. He looks for me, I look for him. Sometimes he blows me a kiss or tips me a wink. He's in the window always, looking.

One year I sent him a Christmas card. I addressed it to The Gentleman In The Window. Either he'd be delighted or perturbed. It seemed worth the gamble and became an annual festive tradition.

The Herald: A rainbow over Victoria Road seen from Queen's Park in the Southside of GlasgowA rainbow over Victoria Road seen from Queen's Park in the Southside of Glasgow (Image: Colin Mearns)

So that's the first stop, waves and smiles and nods to my friend, wondering a little about his life before the mind turns to contemplating the great philosophical questions of the south side, such as where Govanhill ends and Crosshill begins. Wherefore Strathbungo?

You can't turn around on Victoria Road without grazing a shoulder on a coffee shop so that's next. Short Long Black must dread the sight of me approaching. They want to give me a white filter coffee, I want to stand and chat for an impossible time. Does it cancel the 10,000 steps if you do them munching a cinnamon bun?

In the park are always familiar faces. Some of these belong to dogs. I know Hugo the Rhodesian Ridgeback but have no idea of his humans' names. Ditto a good boy called Buster and a whippet who goes by Rodge. Haphazard scatterings of crocuses are opening purple and white faces; finally spring is cancelling winter.

My friend in the window hasn't been in the window for the past couple of weeks. I look out for him as usual, ready to wave. One day I saw a shape and waved but it was a younger man looking back. I hoped my friend had a visitor, a proper one who knows his name.

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We have some celebrities round the south side and a sighting can liven an otherwise repetitive plod. Last week I spotted one such and accosted him for a chat; he was definitely more perturbed than delighted. I told him his hat looked like the Highland cattle in Pollok Park and I doubt he'll stop again. Still though, the thrill.

Away from the park, I walk the streets. The architecture is superb and local quirks abundant. One house has a boat in the garden, its mast propped on the roof. I wonder what the neighbours think.

Late last week I came out for a daytime walk, looking again for my friend. I know his name now. As I rounded the corner it was there written in flowers rested on the side of his coffin.

A final wave, a final wink, one fewer landmark. I still have to get my steps in but, oh, with far heavier tread.