Streets of Glasgow: Bothwell Street

I had a spare half hour before catching a train and that was enough time to find a street I hadn’t covered in Streets so far. The choice was Bothwell Street since it didn’t involve a hill and didn’t go too far. I came out of Central Station, turned a corner and soon I was on Bothwell Street, my eyes soon turned to middle level to all these different organisations that have offices there, including the Scottish wing of the National Autistic Society and Volunteer Glasgow, which sound quite interesting, certainly more than Certum who do IT things. I almost fell asleep at the prosaicness of their horrible name. Across the street was Social Bite, a social enterprise working to end homelessness. Their cafe was shut, it being a Saturday morning, though I was pleased to see a poster in their window advertising an English conversation club happening in Maryhill, presumably for those for whom it is an additional language.

At the corner up the way was an old bank. It had that 1920s, concrete look that marked it as a bank, plus there was a night safe on the wall. The building is now a pub, in fact a Bavarian-themed brauhaus, and any time I have ever passed the place it has been jumping. I could imagine the precious, preserved quiet of the bank and their workers shuffling banknotes in times past then loud, drunken folk running in and looks of disgust and ‘well, really’ type noises emanating in their direction.

Bothwell Street features a mixture of classically Glaswegian Victorian buildings with railings on the roof and carvings and generic modern office blocks. My absolute favourite of the former is the Scottish Life Assurance Society building. Since I was there on a Saturday, their gates were closed and I could see the motif of thistles, flowers and a judge’s wig scattered along the top of the gates. It just felt suitably grand with the marble floors and the clocks at either end of the block. The obligatory street sign photo had to have a clock in it.

As I walked further towards the motorway, the architecture got a whole lot more modern. One office block tickled me because it was the double of the main stand at Tynecastle Park, much lauded by every Jambo as the eighth wonder of the world. This part of town felt like a futuristic film set or Toytown with big boring blocks and wide open streets. It almost felt like a car chase should break out. No wonder Glasgow often gets used for shooting talkies. Rather more incongruous was the Glasgow City Free Church, splendidly Grecian with a tower and pillars, which I could see peeking above one of these concrete wonders.

Since I lack four wheels, or a bus costume like some Russian students utilised recently, Bothwell Street stopped not long after. I walked back along, thinking back on the walk just past, finding a street sign and otherwise being in the moment. I hadn’t done a Streets walk for about a month – the last one was Mosspark Boulevard, which couldn’t be more different – and I thought about just why I like doing them and why I shouldn’t do them too often, because each street is different. They are part of a larger place but each have their own character. I started with an excitement and a curiosity and ended with some images and words just waiting to be put down.

Thanks for reading. This is the fifty second Streets of Glasgow walk here on Walking Talking. Another one will follow next week. Other streets featured nearby include Hope Street, Gordon Street, Cadogan Street and Waterloo Street.

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Sunday

In the Saturday Saunter post yesterday, I said that I might write today about planning a day trip. But I can’t be bothered with that. Instead let’s talk about today, Sunday. Today I am doing family stuff but I can be up to a lot or not a lot on the Sabbath day depending on life. When possible I don’t leave the house, having a lie in, sleeping in or doing a bit of writing. Sometimes, though, I go out and about, going far or just around Glasgow. A lot of Streets of Glasgow walks happen on Sundays, often when city streets are at their quietest and the best psychogeography can happen. I’ve spent a few Sunday afternoons in Kelvingrove, usually feeling chilled out and wandering with no great urgency around the art. Having one of the best galleries in the nation barely half an hour away by bus doesn’t ever get old. Usually I walk from the West End into town, going one of four or five ways depending on my mood and impulse, then getting the train home from there.

Since I am often away on Saturdays for football, I don’t tend to travel too far on Sundays. Now and then I make an exception. A few times I’ve ended up in my favourite art gallery, Kirkcaldy, on Sundays though recent bus timetable changes make that a bit harder (thank you very much, Stagecoach). A couple of weeks ago I went through to Edinburgh for a wander then a turn around the very fine Rip It Up exhibition at the National Museum (my review appeared here a few weeks ago). That exhibition finishes today. I’ve even ended up in St. Andrews, North Berwick or Dunbar some Sundays, often on the spur of the moment after waking up with a notion of adventure that needed fulfilled without delay.

Sundays have their share of headaches. I don’t drive so I rely on buses and trains. The first train from my bit of the city into town isn’t until 09.04, a pain in the hoop when wanting to travel to Edinburgh or anywhere else and get there much before lunchtime. Services which are regular during the week or even on a Saturday become infrequent on Sundays. That is understandable, there is usually less demand and transport staff need their days off too but it is annoying, especially when I am further limited by daylight and the wish at this particularly bleak time of year to wring every possible lumen of light from the sky. If I want to be out particularly on a Sunday – and I don’t make a habit of it – I take to the buses, including one notable Sunday recently when I had to get off the bus on Argyle Street and walk around much of the city centre to get around road closures due to filming.

Sunday football matches are particularly annoying, especially when they start at lunchtime at the telly’s behest. Since they invariably involve a team from Glasgow, I tend to leave earlier than I would otherwise like to avoid the crowds. A trip to Perth recently involved leaving quite early but I managed to get a decent lunch before going to the game since it kicked off at 3pm, the time football should start.

When life is busy sometimes opportunities have to be seized whenever they arise, even when a lie-in is called for but is ever elusive. That can happen on Sundays, thankfully a day when life seems that bit more relaxed, road closures and early starts notwithstanding.

Saturday Saunter: 24th November 2018

Good morning peeps,

This Saturday morning finds me leaving a bit earlier than normal to head for Easter Road to watch the Hibs since there is also rugby on at Murrayfield and the trains will be mobbed. Hence I’m writing this on Friday night. Anyway, depending on the weather, I will hopefully have a decent wander around the capital prior to going over to the ground. Today’s Saturday travelling book, which I started last week, I think, is Going To The Match by Duncan Hamilton, a selection of stories about the beautiful game in its splendour as much as its not so bonny moments. It isn’t quite in the Daniel Gray mould since it is more journalistic than lyrical but that’s not a bad thing.

I haven’t been reading as much this week. It’s been busy at work so I’m a bit knackered going into this weekend. I have been writing a bit more though, mainly stories. Most of my media consumption this week has been through my ears and podcasts. A lot of the American talk shows have podcast versions and in recent days I’ve been listening to Michelle Obama’s interview on Ellen and snippets from The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, which has a decent perspective even if Trevor Noah isn’t quite up to Jon Stewart’s high standards. I also really enjoyed Hibs Talk‘s interview with Hibs player Paul Hanlon, who comes across as a really good, genuine guy. Plus he scored that goal at Tynecastle. Tonight’s listening is musical, with a mixed bag playlist ongoing with Eddi Reader’s Patience of Angels playing as I type these particular words.

The other day my notebook was rapidly reaching its conclusion. For a while I was using muckle big A5 ones from Paperchase but they were running out of them, or at least ones that weren’t covered in glitter. I had been in Tesco a couple of months ago and picked up Pukka Pads, which I used for years. A week or two ago I had been in Morrison’s and bought a couple of notebooks anticipating my current one running out. When that event was imminent, I discovered that the new ones were unlined, not great. I managed to find a spare one with only a few pages scribbled in that is doing the job and I have two new Pukka Pads I bought on Thursday in reserve too. My notebook is usually filled with jottings, some stories, blog post drafts, blog ideas and shopping lists, not always my best work but it’s mine. It’s always a purchase I like to make and it’s one to get right. The spare one I’m using just now isn’t great, a supermarket special with thin paper and I might need to scribble more to get shot of it.

It’s Dua Lipa on the dial now, incidentally. I have diverse tastes. Anyway, last night I came across an interesting article on Facebook from Stylist, the free magazine they often give out by Central Station. As part of a series about self-care, they had an article talking about books which various folk reach for in times of stress, the volumes best to re-read in those dark moments that come to us all. One choice was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. For a while I re-read Harry Potter near enough constantly and I did so only a few weeks ago. It was a good, familiar book and I liked being in that world a bit. I tend to delve into nature writing when times are tough, Nan Shepherd or Roger Deakin, usually, though sometimes football too. Daniel Gray’s essays about the game work well to soothe a furrowed brow, for example.

I am a fairly avid consumer of social media and that can be a good and a bad thing. It tends to make me mad or put me on edge so the mute button and I are good friends. On Twitter I follow the classicist and all round good person Mary Beard and she wrote an interesting article last week about the dangers of social media becoming too much of an echo chamber, only seeing messages from those you agree with. Civility is lacking online and Twitter in particular can be a very dark place at times. The way I navigate it, apart from muting, is by following accounts which interest me and jettisoning those that stress me out. I also follow some folk who sometimes annoy me, mainly journalists, some politicians, which keeps the echo chamber bit to a minimum. A political strategist I follow, Ross Colquhoun, is also a Hearts fan and occasionally I see Jambo shite on my feed, which I just scroll past, usually very, very quickly.

Also on social media last night I saw a report from Thursday’s One Show featuring my home town of Dunbar and some of what happens around the harbour (or herber as it is correctly pronounced), including rowing, fishing and the lifeboat. The rower featured used to work at my high school while I think I knew the fisherman’s face. It made Dunbar look very beautiful and idyllic, which is almost about right.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today. There will be a post here tomorrow, probably about planning a day trip. Wednesday I’m not sure yet. Easter Road West also features a post this morning too since it is game day. Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters, followers. Have a good weekend.

Streets of Glasgow: Mosspark Boulevard

It was a beautiful autumn afternoon and I had just left the swimming pool. Rather than heading back along Paisley Road West towards home, I ended up turning left with the intention of doing another Streets of Glasgow walk. Mosspark Boulevard was on my commute at one time and I always liked it as a street, tree-lined with a view across Bellahouston Park. I walked along to the junction with Dumbreck Road to start properly and turned back. The day was bright and sunny and the trees were mostly shorn of leaves. I kept to the park side of the street for much of the way, keeping stride with a dog running along chasing its ball. A constant flow of buses came past, mostly heading for Cardonald, only a few going towards Shawlands or the city, and a couple of drivers’ instructors cars passed too, it being a frequent route for learner drivers in the area. A group from the nearby school passed too, out for a walk in the autumn air. As I got towards Paisley Road West, the low sunshine cast shadows from the gravestones of the cemetery. A row of shops came to the right, many decorated for Halloween, including a model skeleton sitting on a motorbike in the window of a barbers. The cafes were busy in the post-lunchtime rush. Paisley Road West came and that was the end of another walk, leafy and bustly, close to home, the local shown in another light.


Thanks for reading. This is the fifty first Streets of Glasgow post on Walking Talking. I have also written about Paisley Road West, which is nearby.

Rip It Up, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Grand Gallery, National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh

Last Sunday, better late than never, I got through to Edinburgh to see the Rip It Up exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland. The Story of Scottish Pop has proved to be a popular summer exhibition for NMS and even on a gloomy November Sunday, the place was quite full. I rocked up and after a quick look round the gift shop, I paid my tenner and went in, minding the instruction not to take any photos. There was an introductory video but I skipped that, soon met with a bit about the import of rock and roll from America, all to the soundtrack of Lonnie Donegan and the Rock Island Line, not at all a bad thing. The exhibition went back and forth chronologically though it was fairly linear, starting with the 1960s and ending with the present day, quite poignantly with a bit about Frightened Rabbit. There was a lot of music being played, though the designers had done well to make sure it didn’t bleed through into other rooms. It varied from Lonnie Donegan to the Eurythmics, the Proclaimers to Big Country and the Skids. All around there were objects, robot dancers from a Franz Ferdinand tour, costumes, a mixing desk from Chemikal Underground and a poster from a concert I was at, when the Proclaimers were at the Hydro not long after it opened.

The exhibition didn’t just focus on the musicians, going into the experience of dance halls, record shops and moshing, even. It wasn’t a Scottish Music Hall of Fame, which I am sure would have been fine, instead bringing in a fair whack of social history. The information boards in a rack like a record shop was a particularly nice touch.

Overall the exhibition had a good universal approach, accessible for someone who knows nothing about Scottish music as much as obsessives. As I filled in the visitors’ book I read a previous comment that so many other artists could have been included in the exhibition but music, like all art, is subjective and you cannae please everyone. If it was me, I would have had more about Gaelic rock and less Rod Stewart but again that’s just me. Rip It Up was also just the right length for me since the rooms were quite dark with a lot to see and hear with every passing step. Since it was busy I had to do a bit of ducking and weaving to see everything I wanted to see but it was manageable. NMS always put on a good exhibition and this one was no exception, done with a bit of love and no little panache, much like the best of our country’s musical output.

The exhibition is on until Sunday 25th November, at the National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh. £10 for adults or £8 for concessions. For more details, please see the NMS website.

Saturday Saunter: 17th November 2018

This edition of the Saturday Saunter is being written ahead of time as when this is posted I will be on the way to work. In fact I am starting this on Wednesday night and Theresa May has just made a statement outside 10 Downing Street saying that the Cabinet has agreed to support the draft agreement between the UK and EU on Brexit. By the time you read this, though, Theresa May may have resigned, Tony Blair might have decided to shut his puss and unicorns might have colonised Mars.

Derelict Meadowbank Stadium, with graffiti in foreground which reads ‘The World Sucks’

Last Saturday’s post mentioned how I wasn’t so sure how I would spend that day. I had been considering Edinburgh and a whole host of other places but the capital was vetoed as the Scotland egg-chasing team was playing at Murrayfield and Hertz were doing something similar at Tynecastle. I ended up doing as little as possible, reading, listening to podcasts and doing a bit of writing. It was a good way to spend a Saturday. Instead I went out on Sunday. I walked around the New Town for a bit then headed to the National Museum of Scotland for its Rip It Up exhibition about music. A review will appear here tomorrow. Thereafter I walked down by Holyrood, through the park, up to Lochend Park and back into town.

I managed to get through quite a few books this week. Wild Geese, the Nan Shepherd collection, was swiftly dispatched on Saturday and it was good to the last drop. I also finished the Madeleine Bunting book about islands and I liked it, particularly as she got further into the Atlantic, finishing with the Flannan Islands and St. Kilda. Today I managed to finish HWFG by Chris McQueer, which was brilliant, hilarious and the right kind of warped. He also gave an interview to Common Space the other day, which is worth reading. On Monday I’m going to an event at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh where Chris McQueer and various other people are going to be talking about football’s greatest rebels as part of Book Week Scotland. It should be good.

I’m continuing this post on Friday afternoon and since Wednesday, numerous Government ministers have resigned and no-confidence letters in Theresa May are going about. Esther McVey resigned, which is no bad thing for humanity in general. Michael Gove is still in government, though, which is less positive. Anyway, less of the politics.

On Thursdays I work late and I used my lie-in to read the latest Quintin Jardine Skinner novel, Cold Case, in its entirety on my iPad. I am a versatile reader, fine with print and digital. I think in one of these posts a few weeks ago I ranted about how Rebus has no place in police investigations anymore, being retired. Skinner is too but Jardine got round it by making him a part of MI5 and also a special constable with Police Scotland. It wasn’t bad, to be fair, picking up loose ends from other books and generally being more laid back than other Skinner novels. Not that there weren’t deid folk in the book – there were a few – but it felt less rushed. Some crime novels can feel like that and I prefer to have some headspace when reading to see if I can figure out where it’s going.

The other morning I read an article that quite annoyed me. It was an interview with a Canadian writer called Sheila Heti and it was headlined ‘When people laugh while reading, they’re often showing off’, which was enough to set me off as when I read, I laugh because I can’t hold in how much I want to laugh at something I’ve read. It isn’t a way of boasting how much I am enjoying not being with someone either, it is a case that this book happens to be good. Often when I’m reading, I would like to be with someone else but I’m not. What I’m trying to say is that not everyone is a wanker. It is possible to appreciate books and laugh at them without being a tube with it.

In blog news, I’ve been thinking of some more Streets of Glasgow walks to do in the coming weeks. I have one more post ready to roll, Mosspark Boulevard which appears here on Wednesday. After that I have a few ideas. I’ve been thinking about Great Western Road for ages, also St. Vincent Street, Berryknowes Road not far from here, Crow Road and Clarence Drive in the West End. It’s just getting the right day when I have enough time and daylight to make it happen. It’s another strike against this time of year, the getting dark too bloody early.

I also have a post on Easter Road West today, which is about Lochend Park in Edinburgh, conveniently located right behind Easter Road Stadium. I’ve decided to scale back the football posts a bit, writing more about the experience rather than the games themselves. I haven’t been feeling it with the football stuff lately. The longform stuff I am writing here is more what I feel like doing at the moment.

Anyway, that’s us for today. As I say, ERW has a post this morning about Lochend Park. Tomorrow’s post here on Walking Talking will be about the Rip It Up exhibition at NMS. Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers. Have a very nice weekend.

Streets of Glasgow: Virginia Street

Peter McDougall once wrote that ‘Glasgow is not a geographical site, it’s a state of mind’ and for a while I didn’t quite get what that meant. Glasgow is at once gritty and glamorous, beautiful and broken. It is also a place which looks out to the world and has benefited a great deal from it, for good or ill. Virginia Street is a back street in the Merchant City and it was a place where Tobacco Lords lived and worked in centuries past, its name from a place far across the Atlantic from where sugar and tobacco came here to Scotland, to Virginia Street, to be traded and sold to the people of Glasgow. A plaque for the Merchant City trail, declaring that Tobacco Lords worked there from 1817 sat below a sign for Jacobean Corsetry, a whole different sort of trade. That sugar and tobacco came off the hard work of slaves, a legacy our city has increasingly addressed in recent years. Indeed only a few weeks ago, the University of Glasgow, once based a few streets away, published a report detailing its historic links to slavery. History is most useful when it is undiluted and true to events.

I came onto Virginia Street from Virginia Place, at the back of the Corinthian Club. It is a narrow back street with some handsome buildings nearer the top, one a bar with the rainbow flag flying proudly at the door. The street was fairly busy with people bustling from Argyle Street into the Merchant City. It felt quite like nearby Miller Street, featured in this series a few months ago, and I liked the blend of older buildings, even if many looked empty and forlorn. Still they were better than the back entrance to Marks and Spencer, the way in to collect by car.

As I walked I thought about Tobacco Lords and architecture, the sunshine glinting off the buildings just edging it as I headed onto Argyle Street, another instalment of Streets of Glasgow done.

Thank you for reading. This is the fiftieth post in the Streets of Glasgow series here on Walking Talking. Other nearby streets featured in this series include Ingram Street, Miller Street, Queen Street and Trongate.

Since this post was written, it has been reported that there are moves to set up a slavery museum in Glasgow, possibly in the Gallery of Modern Art. I think that would be an excellent idea and GoMA, given its location, would be ideal for the purpose. The International Slavery Museum in Liverpool is a superb account of one of the worst crimes against humanity and its lasting effects. Something similar in Glasgow would be a good move. More efforts to recognise Scotland’s part in slavery are happening, though I can’t remember too many museum exhibitions about it, except a couple in Edinburgh. The journalist Jenny Constable made some interesting points about this on Twitter the other day.

Slavery played a part in building Glasgow as we know it today and it will be interesting as time goes on to see how this legacy is dealt with, whether it be a museum or in some other way.

Subwalk

Hello,

I couldn’t think of what to put here today. Eventually I decided to turn the clock back to May when it was sunny and warm and the walk I took one scorchingly roasting day around the entire route of the Glasgow Subway. And it was roasting.

I started at Govan and arrived back there 4 hours and 8 minutes later, passing Partick, Kelvinhall, Hillhead, Kelvinbridge, St. George’s Cross, Cowcaddens, Buchanan Street, St. Enoch, Bridge Street, West Street, Shields Road, Kinning Park, Cessnock and Ibrox along the way. I stopped a couple of times and I detoured from Govan to Partick via Pacific Quay to avoid the Tunnel or else it would have been a bit faster.

The walk was part of my list of 30 things to do before I’m 30 next year. Psychogeography is a concept that underpins a lot of my rovings and this particular one certainly, trying to get a sense of the city, getting under its skin rather than keeping to the surface. The Subway is a mode of transport hundreds of thousands of people use every year, commuters, tourists and everyone else in between. It is a symbol of Glasgow, like the statue of the Duke of Wellington, City Chambers and, for good or ill, our city’s biggest football teams. Plus I thought it would be an interesting writing exercise, following in the footsteps of Iain Sinclair who did the same thing with the London Overground and M25. Being in Glasgow rather than down south made it a bit more civilised, naturally.

I did write it and the resulting posts appeared here on the blog, with the links below:

Subway Surface: Govan-Hillhead

Subway Surface: Hillhead-St. George’s Cross

Subway Surface: St. George’s Cross-St. Enoch

Subway Surface: St. Enoch-Kinning Park

Subway Surface: Kinning Park-Govan

My abiding memories of the walk are of needing lots of fluids and sweating profusely. Naturally I picked a day well above twenty degrees. But I woke up that morning, it was a Bank Holiday, and I just had a notion so off I went. I got the bus down to Govan and started walking, not at all sure I would finish. The walk from Govan to Partick was the longest and it was also the most open part of the walk, with fewer buildings around to shelter from the sun. My feet held up until just before Cessnock when they seriously started to complain. Luckily turning onto Paisley Road West meant I was on familiar territory again and that spurred me on as did getting a proper look at the Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson designed tenements at Cessnock.

Some of the walk was decidedly urban and not all together lovely. The bit between St. George’s Cross and Cowcaddens, pictured below, comes to mind as does the bit between West Street and Kinning Park, which is very close to the M8 and in a very industrial area of the city. The Cowcaddens bit also had some interesting street art, which had disappeared by the time I was there again about a month ago. Kinning Park was also quite pleasant, especially as I plonked myself on a bench and hydrated. It was also the first place I was asked directions on the route. That happens to me fairly often, sometimes in cities and countries I don’t live in.

Anyway, here are some photos of the Subwalk. It was tough but had some great parts, much like this city itself.

View up river including the Armadillo, Finnieston Crane, Clyde Arc and BBC Scotland, from Pacific Quay
Govan Subway Station, where it all began, sign and entranceway
Kibble Palace, Glasgow Botanic Garden, where I ate lunch
The glass-covered walkway into Kelvinbridge Subway
Chalk drawing of a loch scene with a planet in the sky, near Cowcaddens Subway
Very urban scene including some street art slogans, between St. George’s Cross and Cowcaddens
View from the Royal Concert Hall looking down Buchanan Street, with buskers and loads of people just sitting
Crossing the river again
Old Bridge Street railway station, very near the Subway that still bears its name
Tenements designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, Cessnock, Glasgow
Original archway, Cessnock Subway
Mary Barbour statue, Govan Cross

Saturday Saunter: 10th November 2018

Good morning,

I am in the fairly nice position of being able to do this live. It is 07.36 as I start this, it is cloudy and mirky outside as the sun starts to come up. I have no fixed plans for today yet. Hibs played last night – less about that the better – so I don’t even have football to fall back on. I have a few contenders, including Edinburgh to catch the Rip It Up exhibition about pop music at the National Museum before it finishes, St. Andrews because I haven’t had a wander there in ages, Dawyck Botanic Garden for similar reasons or Arran ditto. Sometimes an idea bobs its way to the top when thinking about something else and maybe by the time I finish this I’ll have a definitive clue about where I’m going today.

Sign where the snail in a bottle sculpture would normally be, Wellmeadow Street, Paisley

The other day I was in Paisley changing buses and I had a few minutes so I went to look at the new Snail in a bottle sculpture on Wellmeadow Street. The snail in a bottle case happened in 1928 when May Donoghue met a friend at a cafe in Wellmeadow Street, Paisley, and had a ginger beer. Only a dead snail was in the bottle and May naturally enough fell ill. She took the manufacturer of the ginger beer to court and won, the judge Lord Atkin citing the parable of the Good Samaritan to establish just how manufacturers should have a duty of care to those who use their products. This became an established principle in law not just in Scotland but around the world and it all began in Paisley. The sculpture was unveiled a few weeks ago and I’ve seen it through bus windows but of course it wasn’t there, removed for maintenance after wind damage. At some point when it’s back I’ll get a photo and stick it up here.

Coca-Cola, News of the World and other billboards, Paisley Road West, Glasgow

In psychogeographic news, the Evening Times reported the other day that the old gable-end adverts on Paisley Road West are set to be revamped, possibly working with the original companies, maybe by producing a pro-Glasgow or pro-Cardonald design. I like them the way they are but I would approve of a Snug design like those in the town, maybe something involving Crookston Castle or the Battle of Langside or some other historical event that happened in the south side, which is of course the best side.

Deserted street, looking up Virginia Street to Virginia Place, Glasgow

Before I forget, Streets of Glasgow returns this coming Wednesday. I pulled last week’s instalment, on Virginia Street, for several reasons but mainly because between writing it and when it was supposed to appear, BBC Scotland put on a documentary about Scotland’s links to the slave trade and I haven’t seen it yet. Plus it was quite a hard post to write and try and be measured. Hopefully the Virginia Street post will appear on Wednesday.

My copy of HWFG by Chris McQueer as soon as I took it out of the packet

Right, to the books, and last week’s travelling book was Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey by Madeleine Bunting. I got 81 pages in and I haven’t picked it up since, unfortunately, though it is a decent book, a mixture of memoir and travelogue. My to-read pile has grown a bit, including the addition of HWFG by Chris McQueer, the follow-up to Hings, an incredibly funnily twisted selection of short stories. I can’t recommend Chris McQueer’s books enough but maybe not to read on a train or bus as the last time I did I got some very funny looks as I nearly collapsed with laughter. It won’t be a travelling book, then, but I might get to it tomorrow. I’ve still got the Wild Geese Nan Shepherd book in my bag to finish so I might read that wherever I get to then Madeleine Bunting then Chris McQueer. What a combination that is.

Talking of trains, the replacement post on Wednesday was one I wrote in the summer about how distracted I can be by all the sensory stimuli about in the world and that particular day in a train carriage. I try my very best to avoid busy trains and buses whenever possible. As a matter of course, when going between Edinburgh and Glasgow, I make my way to the front of the train, which is logically the best place since that is closer to the exit but less people go there, probably because it is a longer walk. I have been known to let crowded buses pass rather than get on them. Getting to work involves a slightly longer walk to get a quieter bus rather than the next one which is usually mobbed with commuters and school children. Plus the quieter bus is also a double decker and that’s always a good thing, getting a broader perspective on the world.

Incidentally, the sun is up and there are hints of blue sky out the window. Also, my soundtrack is Kacey Musgraves this morning. It was the podcast The West Wing Weekly before that but it was an episode I had heard recently so it got changed. I think I’ve written before about how whenever Hibs get beat, I usually listen to country music, usually Johnny Cash and Kacey Musgraves, on the way home. If they win, it’s usually Hibs songs, a draw depends on the manner of it. I just felt in a Kacey Musgraves mood, cheery but pragmatic sort of music for a Saturday morning.

Before I go, I wanted to share a story from The New York Times about the love many autistic boys in New York have for its Subway. Photographer Travis Huggett went around taking photographs of these laddies having a rare time on the Subway. My favourite line from the article was from Travis Huggett: ‘“It’s not often that you get to photograph people doing their favorite thing in the world,” he said. “To have me along, taking pictures — they don’t care.”’ Go read it, it’s a good article.

I noticed typing the last paragraph that I used the very Glaswegian expression ‘rare’ and I am hearing it in that very Weegie way, pronounced ‘rerr’ rather than the way I would say it, rhyming it with ‘bare’ or ‘bear’. I am getting ever more Glaswegian all the time.

Anyway, that’s our Saturday Saunter for this week. Tomorrow a post will appear here. I haven’t written it yet so it’s a surprise. Wednesday will hopefully be Streets of Glasgow: Virginia Street. Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers. Have a very nice weekend.

PS: No, I still haven’t decided where I’m going yet. I will let you know.

Layers of distraction

As I started to write this, someone’s phone music went off loudly. Goodness knows what the song was. I’m currently on a busy train heading south and I’m trying hard to focus on what I’m writing. I have earphones in and I’m working to keep my eyes on the page and words undulating out of my pen rather than my eyes skirting left to the person who has just sat down to my left or right to look out the window without accidentally gazing into someone else’s phone screen. There is a whole lot of sensory information going through the air, chatter, the click of the conductor’s punch, the zipping and unzipping of purses and wallets to fetch and deposit tickets, PA announcements proclaiming the breadth and depth of available meal deals. That’s just the audio. There’s a half-decent smell of some vaguely familiar scent nearby, all the better than body smells and the best stinky food Waverley Station had to offer.

My filter has varying degrees of effectiveness. I always try to get the window seat to minimise what I have to sift through but this time I was assigned the aisle seat and the window seat was taken. The function of my filter depends on a wheen of different factors – the weather, how tired I am, how early in the day it is plus of course how busy my conveyance is at the time. Today is particularly enhanced since it’s a busy train, there are people around me and CrossCountry specialise in the clusterfuck of non-consecutively lettered coaches and not running enough of them. Plus it’s a Sunday morning and in other circumstances at 11.30 I would still be in bed.

The smell is hand cream, I think, from the Body Shop. I’m off the train soon anyway. I’m keeping myself writing to avoid the freshly opened salt and vinegar crisp smell tempting me into opening my sandwich too early. Now, it’s cucumber. I’ve just seen the sea quicker than expected, and it’s time to pack up, bound for a now sunny outside, and another adventure.

Thanks for reading. Streets of Glasgow will return next week.