It’s Saturday Saunter time and I’m in the rare and unexpected position to do this live. As I start this, I’ve not long woken up. There is some light in the sky and frost on the ground. Here in Glasgow there is an amber weather warning out for snow, ice and something called frozen rain so I may not be going far this particular day. Tomorrow I’ll be out as Hibs are playing Celtic in an early kick-off at Easter Road so I’ll have my layers on even though the weather warning will have passed.
In terms of reading, I finished Michelle Obama’s book last Sunday. I rattled through it in a few hours, something I used to do quite often when I was younger but don’t really get round to now. When I was a teenager I used to read whole novels on Sunday afternoons, Small Island by Andrea Levy being one example. Working through a book in one go can have its good and bad points. There is the satisfaction of getting the book finished but in my experience there is not a lot of memory of it thereafter. When I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the first time, it was in one go but it was only through slower re-reading that I was able to fully comprehend the plot. Anyway, Michelle Obama’s book was good, particularly the parts prior to her husband winning the Presidency, which were more interesting and detailed. The Presidency bits have been widely trailed and made the subject of talk-show anecdotes, making them much less interesting to come across in a book. I’ve also re-read a couple of Quintin Jardine novels too this week.
The travelling book last week at Hamilton was Michelle Obama’s book. Tomorrow’s choice hasn’t been decided yet but it will either be Walking the Song by Hamish Brown or The Silver Darlings by Neil Gunn, which have both been sitting for a while. Walking the Song is a selection of mountaineering essays, which might be particularly apposite given the snow. It looks like it could snow out my window now, the sky that light grey way.
I was up a bit earlier this morning and did my usual reading, going from The Guardian to the sports interview in The Scotsman (this week John Hughes, incidentally), ending up on the BBC News website. There were a few stories which got me interested, the first being pictures of the brand new Charles Rennie Mackintosh statue in Anderston, unveiled on Monday. This year, 2018, is the 150th anniversary of CRM’s birth, though that has been overshadowed by the School of Art going up in flames in June. The statue, which features CRM sitting on a chair, is a handsome one and I’ll be going to have a look. There is a bit of me that would like to have seen Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh featured too, since she was a particularly fine artist herself, but alas no. I like the sculptor Andy Scott’s words, quoted in The Scotsman, about how he tries ‘to make things that communities can identify with and feel a sense of pride in’. He is also the creator of the Kelpies, the massive metallic sculptures over near Falkirk, which are also rather lovely. It is difficult to find art which appeals to a general audience and Andy Scott seems to be well up on that, as of course Charles Rennie Mackintosh was too.
Also out there this morning is an interesting article from the BBC News website with the headline ‘Do autistic people “get” jokes?’ The short answer is depends on the autistic person, depends on the joke. The article seems to be an advertisement for the BBC’s new podcast 1800 Seconds on Autism, which I haven’t got round to listening to yet. The hosts, Robyn Steward and Jamie Knight, I’ve heard on other things before and they’re good, thoughtful people, particularly adept at communicating the autistic experience. From my own experience, humour is subjective. What really makes me laugh is often the strangest thing. I sometimes have to decipher when to laugh at other people’s humour. Glaswegian humour is often blunt enough that I can get there the right way. Punchlines are harder to get. I don’t really laugh on command. I’ve got a bland smile ready to go for such occasions, which is part of my toolbox for working with people. The other day I caught a few minutes of a new Kevin Bridges DVD, which was observational and funny. I could watch stand-up all day and usually laugh along with it. I don’t get things like The Office nor the need for much humour to be cruel and cutting. Humour brings light to dark situations. This week, for example, I was tickled by the video of Andy Serkis, the actor who played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies, imitating Theresa May talking about Brexit. We need people like him in our world.
Next week’s Saturday Saunter is written already. It talks more about Christmas and how the season isn’t always jolly. Over the festives I’ve got the annual Best Of post coming on Boxing Day and a special Books post on Saturday 29th December. Next year I’ve got a new series coming and I might do a bit of work for that when I’m back in Edinburgh on Wednesday. It will involve my second least favourite street in the capital but it is one I and a lot of people associate with Edinburgh so it’s going to be written about.
The view from Edinburgh Castle towards the Old Town and Arthur’s Seat
Anyway, that’s us for today. I don’t have a scooby what will be here tomorrow yet but I’ll sort that out shortly. Wednesday will be the last Streets of Glasgow of the year and a trip to the Gorbals.
Have a nice weekend, folks, whatever you end up doing.