The 757 sounds like an aeroplane, doesn’t it? It makes you think of a great big jumbo jet, going somewhere exotic. There is a Boeing 757 but I am talking about the 757 bus operated by McGill’s, running twice an hour from Paisley to Clydebank via half the bloody world. Before it even goes near the Erskine Bridge, the 757 goes near Ferguslie then to Glasgow Airport, getting a good tour round that, before Inchinnan and Erskine. Across the bridge it is pretty much a straight road but naturally the 757 goes a circuitous route about it, going to the A82 and down a Himalayan slope to Mountblow and Dalmuir before finally reaching Dumbarton Road and Clydebank bus station beyond. It takes an hour. McGill’s operate hundreds of services across the west of Scotland, many of them on shiny new buses. On the 757, however, they operate a rattly old bus and combined with a driver who thinks he is driving a rally car, it is quite an experience.
Just beyond the airport is a business park. To the left was a pond with possibly the best sign I’ve seen in a while. It read, in its entirety: ‘Danger: Aggressive Swan’. Not ‘Danger: Swan’ but ‘Aggressive Swan’. I could see two swans but they didn’t seem very aggressive, perhaps they were more passive-aggressive but that wouldn’t fit on the sign. Also nearby was the Rolls-Royce factory and the first metric house. Having looked the latter up, this was apparently a project by Renfrewshire County Council in the 1960s for its officers to build a house using only metric measurements. Inchinnan was probably the most interesting bit of the entire route. Erskine reminded me of suburban Aberdeen or possibly Cumbernauld or Livingston for its grey, concrete buildings and spiralling roads. It isn’t really a complement, I’m afraid.
Clydebank is a place I know well. I used to work there. It is an interesting place, a collection of villages, really, forged together by shipbuilding and sewing machines. I was there to see two exhibitions, one at Clydebank Museum entitled ‘Invasion’, all about archaeology, Vikings and Romans, while the other in the Heritage Centre was about the Clydebank Blitz. The 75th anniversary was Sunday and Monday this week. Nicola Sturgeon went to the memorial on Sunday and laid a wreath. The basement of Clydebank Library was where the town council based themselves during the Blitz and it is now the Heritage Centre. Over a thousand people died over the two nights and only 7 buildings in the town were undamaged. The first thing in the exhibition was, randomly, a book about Nazism that was knocked off the shelf in the library by the Luftwaffe’s bombing. One of the many things I like about Clydebank is that they never forget their history and the exhibition reflected that superbly with a mixture of personal accounts, photographs and a more traditional exhibition text. I know the folk who work there so I got a wee shufty at the work room which was where the headquarters actually was those nights. Now it is a small room with lots of books and maps. With a little imagination, though, it was possible to imagine the reports coming in of damage and orders going out.
Before that, I went to Clydebank Museum. I headed first for the Garden Gallery for the David Kirkwood art exhibition, which I liked. I should have prefaced this with declaring an interest that I used to work for West Dunbartonshire Council, who run the museum and the Heritage Centre, and worked at the museum too. The Garden Gallery usually hosts artworks by local artists and in my experience, it can be a pretty mixed bag. David Kirkwood’s paintings of flowers were vivid, colourful and nice to look at. If you ever wondered what I think about in an art gallery, that’s pretty much it. ‘No’ bad. It’s all right. No’ bad.’ And repeat.
Invasion covered West Dunbartonshire up to 1000AD, from crannogs, duns and hill forts to the Romans and the Vikings. It did it very well, with a great range of objects, some on loan from the Hunterian while others came from WDC’s own collection, some I’ve even handled, all telling a compelling story.
I came home by way of Partick, where I had to get some messages, and boarded the bus home from there. Being a McGill’s bus, naturally it took a longer than necessary route, through the Tunnel, along Govan Road to the Southern, back along Govan Road, along Drive Road past Elder Park and on to Cardonald. I had ideas of a long walk tomorrow morning, possibly down to Govan to explore some architecture or down to the Renfrew Ferry. Or I might just have a lie in. We’ll see.