Anyway, rather than rambling on, today’s sermon will be about how I would spend a day in Glasgow. I was in George Square the other afternoon before getting the train to Perth for the football. I sat for a few minutes and peoplewatched and it was great. Not for the first time I thought about Edwin Morgan’s poem ‘Starlings in George Square’, hearing lines through my head, most notably ‘When’s the last boat to Milngavie?’ (I’ve written about Edwin Morgan here before as well as George Square for Streets of Glasgow.) It reminded me that I haven’t explored the city much this year so far at all. I haven’t been to Kelvingrove or anywhere like that. My adventures have taken me far beyond the city and that’s both good and bad. I feel mildly desperate just to explore the city a bit. Do a few Streets of Glasgow walks, go to some new corners and revisit some old ones.
View from Queen’s Park across the city
First on the list would be somewhere high up. Maybe Kelvingrove Park, the Necropolis or Queen’s Park, even the back of Castlemilk Shopping Centre, somewhere to see the city in all its variety, to follow cars along streets, count chimneys and spot landmarks. Getting a sense of the city would be a good shout before going down and out into it.
This might not be the most geographically organised of tours. I would continue in George Square next, a place of politics, protest and pigeons. And pastry if you get lunch out of Greggs. One of my favourite Glasgow facts is that street numbers emanate from George Square, stretching into the centre rather than the opposite.
St Enoch Subway
The Clyde would be next, making sure to pass St. Enoch Subway and Jack Vettriano’s Billy Connolly mural, my favourite of the three around the city centre. Also nearby is one of the four statues of women in Glasgow, the memorial to those who died in the Spanish Civil War. The river defines Glasgow, our past, present and future. The city changes either side of the river, I always think, wherever you happen to cross it. This hypothetical tour would detour via Glasgow Green, even if the People’s Palace is currently shut, stopping too by the recently unveiled memorial to those who perished in the Irish and Highland famines. An insight into our city’s social history could be gained at the Riverside Museum with its transport exhibits as well as the bits about life in past decades.
Glasgow has one of the best public transport networks in Europe and we of course have the Subway as well as many, many trains and buses. The Subway would be the choice this time, actually on the train rather than walking the surface as I did last year, and for this tour the Clockwork Orange would take me to Shields Road and the Scotland Street School Museum, one of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s buildings, possibly my favourite of them, in all truth. Keeping up the transport theme I always mean to visit the Tramway more often, over in Pollokshields, though the time the Turner Prize was on there, the show wasn’t great.
Next door to the Tramway is the Sikh Gurdwara, which is a stunning building, like its counterpart on Berkeley Street. I mean to visit both some time. Glasgow has lots of beautiful religious buildings, foremost among them Glasgow Cathedral with the Blackadder Aisle, white and still, where I like to sit and ponder a few minutes whenever I’m there. As a devout football fan myself, I consider Cathkin Park, the semi-derelict former home of Third Lanark, a bit of a cathedral (written about a few times including here as part of Loose Ends) and every time I’m in the area I make sure I stop in for a wander and a stand on the terraces.
I’ve not covered food but I don’t tend to eat in the city centre. In any case, I’m a man of simple taste. There are plenty of places to choose from, appealing to all tastes and bank balances.
Kelvingrove would be a natural choice, even if I’m not massively bothered about the big dinosaur skeleton currently gracing the place. Usually I like to wander by the art, making sure I sit on the step looking at my very favourite painting in the place, ‘Paps of Jura’ by William MacTaggart, which always takes me away to a beach with crashing waves and a biting wind.
That’s probably enough for one day, let alone all the other places I could suggest, like libraries, bookshops, parks and bus routes. When I was getting my laptop out, I was thinking of Pollok Park but I forgot about it until just now. This list may well get added to. I’m sure some readers will have their favourite places but this is just off the top of my head. When I finally get out around the city, I might just get to a few of these. As I say, I’m off to Edinburgh today but hopefully soon I’ll be about the Dear Green Place again, maybe coming up with some words along the way. To all readers, have a good weekend, wherever it takes you.