Walking Talking is now three years old. Coincidentally it is also five hundred posts old. After much deliberation, I decided to bring that all together with a post delving into the local and the unseen in plain sight, what I’ve tried to do a fair bit on this blog. The Streets of Glasgow series works best with longer walks and that’s why the 500th post and the 3rd anniversary post will involve Paisley Road West, another street of Glasgow. Pleasingly, it is also the 42nd post of Streets of Glasgow, another happy accident. I made sure I had my towel with me.
This walk began zigzagging across the city limits. At the Crookston end of Paisley Road West, the boundary between the City of Glasgow and Renfrewshire intersects the road, one side Paisley Road West, the other Glasgow Road, that being firmly out of bounds for a project called Streets of Glasgow. Overhead was a mostly blue sky, a few puffy clouds across on a pleasant August morning. On the walk along I had noticed a squat red building, currently vacant but occupied recently, if I remember correctly. It looked like it used to be a bank, the case with an ever increasing number of buildings these days. Of a more recent vintage, though, was the fella done up all smart in one of those modern black kilts, dashing from his house to a waiting car. Also notable in those first few minutes was a tall tree rising high from one of those neat, prim and proper suburban gardens, maybe a Douglas fir or similarly muckle tree.
Paisley Road West is like my high street. If I need a post office, bank or steak bake, chances are it’ll be found on Paisley Road West, about ten minutes walk from my house. Walking down to start the walk, I reckoned that I had covered nearly all of it on foot at one time or another, some of it as part of the Subway walk I did back in May. This meant I had rough ideas of what to look out for and write about, particularly in Cardonald, giving me a sort of travel swagger as a billboard seen along the way put it. Not for the first time I made sure I stopped to admire the mural created by local school children of the riverside and the ghost signs on a gable end by Halfway extolling the virtues of Coca-Cola (‘Thirst knows no reason’) and the now defunct News of the World. Even in my own backyard I saw new things, like the railings atop the shops by Morrison’s.
From Halfway I walked on with a relatively empty head, enjoying the walk for its own sake rather than looking for nuggets to throw down on the page. The buildings were more classically Glaswegian, red or brown stone rather than the 1960s chic of Cardonald. A new housing development was in progress by Ibrox Stadium to join others I had passed in Mosspark and Cessnock. These blocks, the work of Glasgow Housing Association, managed to be fairly sympathetic to their surroundings, sort of fitting in with their yellow brick effect. What I was noticing was some of the fabulous takeaway names, mainly Chinese (Yee Man, One To Wan and the unbeatable Wok This Way) though honourable mentions go to the Bite Me Sandwich Bar and Good Times Roll. Chapati 5, in Ibrox, got ‘Mambo No. 5’ by Lou Bega in my head, a musical memory that probably dates me a bit. Unlike my last trip along this bit on foot, there were fewer takeaway food smells though it was early in the day. I liked being in Ibrox walking past the greengrocers with their wares covering every possible space.
Bits and pieces of traditional, stereotypical Glasgow were in view on this walk too. Craigton Primary School, red and in classic Glasgow Corporation style like Alexandra Parade, stood out. I looked down streets and prominent city landmarks came into view, like the Finnieston Crane and Glasgow Tower. Our city is of course known as the Dear Green Place and Paisley Road West is particularly leafy, surprisingly so for a major thoroughfare, with Bellahouston Park covering a significant part of its southern side. I still haven’t been for a proper walk around the park – I wasn’t going to see much that day anyway owing to preparation for the Summer Sessions concerts – though the sight of sculptures including a worm and what initially looked like a man bending over but turned out to be an elephant might take me back.
From Kinning Park the Grand Ole Opry and the spire soon came into view, the point where Paisley Road loses its ‘West’ and where this walk was to end. I’ve written a bit about Paisley Road Toll before on the Govan Road walk but it is a fine junction, a place to stand and watch the world go by, which is exactly what I did for a few moments before heading for the bus home.
When I realised that the blog’s third anniversary, its 500th post and the 42nd Streets of Glasgow walk were all coming around at the same time, it just felt right to write about Paisley Road West. In the last year or so particularly, Walking Talking has focused increasingly on Glasgow, my adopted home, and my attempts to learn more about it and understand the city and even myself a bit better. I remember my first walk down Paisley Road West, a couple of days after I moved west just over five years ago. It was a major culture shock as I went out on various errands. Pretty much all of Dunbar High Street’s buildings are listed and look the part. My new home wasn’t like that at all. It took a while to adjust.
Psychogeography was conceived to try and make sense of large and impossible urban spaces. It’s a concept I’ve been following for a long while now, firstly in Edinburgh, sometimes even in Dunbar, more often now in Glasgow. I cannot pretend that I am fully converted to the contained chaos of city life. I need the sea once in a while to keep me right. But I have real love for Glasgow now and it continues to grow even more each time I venture out on my rovings. Paisley Road West might not have the stunning architecture and boutiques of Buchanan Street or the canyon-like metropolitan charm of George Street, Hope Street and those that line the city centre but it is my patch. Glasgow’s home now, where I now have some roots and I’ll go forth again to walk its streets and write down here just what I find.
Thanks for reading. This is indeed the forty second post of the Streets of Glasgow series here on Walking Talking. Other nearby streets covered in this series so far include Edmiston Drive and Govan Road. Part of Paisley Road West also featured in the Subway Surface series between Kinning Park and Ibrox.
The forty first Streets of Glasgow post, George Street, will appear here tomorrow.