IT started with a chat about the weather and ended... badly.

Unchaining my bike next to a fellow cyclist, we started talking about the weather. I remarked that the lashing rain was made all the worse by being just back from holiday in Australia.

He didn’t fancy Australia much, he said, due to the spiders.

While I’m not fond of the spiders by any manner of means, it’s the cockroaches I struggle with.

My new friend remarked that there aren’t any cockroaches in Scotland, so we’re lucky there.

Ah, I said, we actually do have cockroaches here. Govanhill, on Glasgow’s South Side, has problems with cockroaches.

“Isn’t that,” he replied. “Just the people?”

I stopped. I wondered if I had misheard. I gave him the chance to reconsider, to - pardon the pun - back-pedal.

“Did you just say people who live in Govanhill are cockroaches?”

Would he take the lifeline? There was still time to kick himself and retract what he’d said.

“I mean the incomers,” he replied.

The social conditioning to be polite kicked in, the desire not to be confrontational. “I think this conversation is finished, in that case,” was my pathetic reply.

It was so pathetic that he failed to take the hint and cycled beside me for a bit, making conversation.

I am far from comfortable with sounding Godwin’s klaxon - Godwin’s law is that any discussion on the internet will eventually lead to someone mentioning the Nazis - but Nazi propaganda portrayed Eastern Europeans as a species of cockroach.

Even someone who’s not up to speed with their World War II history can’t have failed to have missed the ding dong caused by right-wing dung-spreader Katie Hopkins in 2015 when she used her newspaper column to call migrants cockroaches.

At the time, the UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, pointed out the word “cockroaches” was used by both the Nazis and those behind the genocide in Rwanda.

I am now well used to accusations of being a Millennial snowflake who becomes unduly upset at any sniff of racism.

But calling Eastern European immigrants cockroaches is appalling.

How dehumanising, that complete failure to see the individuals within a group of people, to believe a negative stereotype and repeat it without any care for the damage you might be doing.

The failure to see another person as fully human - like you - is dangerous.

It made me think of my interview with Tracy Polson. Tracy was a rough sleeper in Glasgow for many years, surviving on the streets in conditions you can't fully imagine without experiencing them yourself.

She spoke of not having access to water and having to live with terrible thirst.

She told me of how her face was constantly cold. Tracy must have been frightened, vulnerable and lost but it's these tiny details that really strike you - a cold face, thirst.

But the thing that really hit home was her remarks about not feeling like society treated her as a person.

She was shouted at in the street and called names.

Because she was an addict and because she was homeless, Tracy was made to feel like she wasn't human. Not just as though she didn't belong in society but as not fully human.

A charity worker came to her door and smiled at her. Among everything else she was coping with, Tracy remembers that smile.

Rough sleeping in Glasgow seems so much more visible at the moment than I can remember.

I hadn't really taken it in until last year when I took a friend who was visiting from Sweden for a tour of the city centre.

It was a fresh pair of eyes that made me notice.

There are well-used skippers - rough sleeping sites - in so many spots around the main streets that it's become normal to see them.

That should never feel normal.

But at the same time, how often do we, as Tracy would have wanted, smile at people on the way past? Acknowledge them even.

Or, how often do you hear the dehumanising word "junkie" used to describe people on the streets?

Tracy said she met ex-servicemen and women on the streets. People suffering after a marriage breakdown left them with nothing.

Everyone has a story. Everyone is human.

The man who called my neighbours cockroaches? I'd call him shameful.