Streets of Glasgow: Otago Street

I was in the West End on a book hunt and while I was there, I decided to do a bit of blog business. Otago Street was on my radar mainly because of a big ghost sign that can be seen from Gibson Street though as ever it took quite a few months to get back to explore properly. I started from the end nearest Hillhead Primary School, a nicely modern affair, and was immediately struck by some of the ironwork on the railings leading up to some of the tenements, wheels within wheels. The street was classically Glaswegian leading past Otago Lane, a nice Georgian house on the corner a firm but splendid exception. All up Otago Street there were nice architectural touches, a fine gatepost as well as a few coats of arms, even the English royal arms, an unusual sight north of the border. The ghost sign for Red Hackle Whisky dominates the walk up from Gibson Street, even though it is cracking and fading, and it still attracts attention. After I finished this walk and was heading to Thistle Books, I spotted another guy taking photos up the street. I wondered if he was on a psychogeographical mission too.

The street dipped and split just under the sign, Otago Lane North to the right, Glasgow Street to the left. Parked in front of the lane was a rather nice old Chevrolet car, blue, if memory serves, and for a few moments I had Don Maclean in my head. It was soon supplanted by bagpipes emanating from the Piping Centre up the road, not altogether unpleasant as it went.

All too soon, Otago Street ended and met Great Western Road. The red sandstone building on the corner was topped with a pleasant tower with a point. It was an interesting blend nearer Great Western Road, a Piping Centre across the road from a Sikh Gurdwara and music shop with flats all around, a reminder of the variety of life to be found in a city and particularly in Glasgow. Otago Street itself has a multicultural name, coming from the Maoris in New Zealand, it seems. It is a very fine street and one I was glad to finally traverse in this series.

Thank you for reading. This is the forty fifth Streets of Glasgow walk here on Walking Talking. Other nearby streets featured in this series include University Avenue, Kelvin Way and Glasgow Street which appears here next week.


Loose Ends: Ramshorn

The last Loose Ends took me to the Necropolis, Glasgow’s city of the dead. I had been thinking about various next steps in the intervening fortnight, all restricted by time and geography. I was in the Merchant City on other blog business and decided that the next strand of the series, on account of also being a cemetery in Glasgow, would be the Ramshorn Cemetery, which I had never been in before. The Ramshorn Theatre used to be a church and is now a theatre owned by Strathclyde University. It was firmly locked up when I passed late one Friday afternoon though thankfully the graveyard wasn’t.

The graveyard was beautiful. It was a little strange, as all graveyards should be, empty feeling but slightly claustrophobic too, tall city buildings surrounding on all four sides. As I walked the graves I passed were scattered with leaves, some of the stones with lettering faded and stories untold. Most held the remains of merchants, others fleshers, pocket book manufacturers and writers. It didn’t seem to have had a new interment in a couple of centuries, though this may have been why the Necropolis was built since the graveyard was pretty full, stones and lairs arranged close together throughout. I walked around, up the middle then the sides, looking at the graves and doing so entirely alone, not at all bothered by that.

To the connections and once more I thought of John Muir, even more acutely as this very urban cemetery was being reclaimed by nature. Dunbar might be my next trip or to the Broomielaw where the Warren left for the New World. A family many of whose members died in Leith might take me east too. Provands might take me up the road to Provand’s Lordship, the oldest house in Glasgow. Overlooking the graveyard is the former home of the Glasgow Herald and that might lead to the Lighthouse, housed in another old office for that venerable institution.

When I went to the Necropolis a few weeks ago, there were loads of folk dotting about, exploring and taking photographs. Don’t get me wrong, the Necropolis is a fine place with incredible views over the city and some remarkable people buried there. The Ramshorn being lovely but also deserted seems a little unfair, a corner of the city yet to hit the tourist trail. That might not be a bad thing, our secret for a little while longer.

Thanks for reading. Another Loose Ends post follows next week.

The series takes a pause in a few weeks, in three weeks time, to be precise. Watch this space for what comes next.

Saturday morning thoughts

It’s Saturday morning and I feel like writing. Not sure about what yet, I’ve got a few thoughts swirling around. Today I’ve got a couple of bits to do in town then I’m off to Edinburgh to see the Hibees play. Thankfully I’ve got a few hours before I have to leave.

I just spent a few minutes picking my travelling book for today’s escapades. I travel light for the football, generally clutching just a book. My to-read pile never really changes. It just grows exponentially though I am currently in the midst of a clear-out of those many books that I bought with good intentions and either managed to read or never quite ended up opening. To make matters worse, I was on a bit of a mission last week, trying to track down a very particular book secondhand, touring many shops in Paisley, Glasgow and Edinburgh without success, ending up ordering it on Amazon with a tap of my iPhone. It wasn’t for me, I hasten to add. As part of the process, I ended up with a few books for me. I’ve got a new book of essays by Rebecca Solnit that I picked up in Stockbridge that currently sits in my backpack. A John Muir book, a couple by Dervla Murphy and a biography of Lyndon Johnson were bought in Paisley, a story of St. Kilda in the West End. At some point I sincerely hope they all get read. The LBJ one has been skimmed already, thankfully. Anyway, today’s book is The Hidden Ways by Alistair Moffat, a look at some of the lesser-spotted paths scattered across Scotland, including the Herring Road that runs between Dunbar and Lauder.

This week I have also been re-reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling. I re-read Harry Potter every so often, though not for a year or two in this case, and this is on a screen this time, a few pages chanced during breaks and breakfast. Harry is just about to fly for the first time. I had to give up a book recently as it was too heavy in content, not something I do very often, and a combination of Harry Potter and a re-read of a Bill Bryson seems to be getting me back on track.

On a Saturday morning I make a point of reading the Lifestyle articles from the Guardian and Aidan Smith’s interview in the Scotsman. I usually read the Blind date bit and then whatever features are there. It’s my guilty pleasure or one of them, an idle fascination in whether these two people will have anything in common. Some do, others are better as friends, as today’s couple. Aidan Smith writes about football and usually a retired sportsperson of some renown gets interviewed on a Saturday in the Scotsman. Today’s is Andy Webster, formerly of Hearts, and he talks about the Romanov era at Tynecastle as well as about his current work coaching at St. Mirren. He puts to bed the ‘thick footballer’ trope, in the final stages of a masters degree as well as possessing six Highers, even studying psychology through the Open University at the height of the Romanov revolution down Gorgie way.

I haven’t sat down and written like this in a while. For a little while I was following one of those blogs that try to teach you to blog properly (I don’t any more) and it suggested picking a blog topic and sticking with it. Bollocks to that. I’ve also been busy so Loose Ends and Streets of Glasgow, conducted in bursts, have been what’s appeared here. The gallimaufry angle, which Natalie over at Wednesday’s Child explored very well last week, is something I will try to get back to. Today might be a start.

Next weekend is the September weekend. While I have a lot of domestic things to do, I will also be out and about too. Hibs are playing in Dundee and I hope to sneak a wee peek at the brand new outpost of the Victoria and Albert Museum, which opens this weekend. The press pictures make it look stunning and I can already testify to how fine it looks from the outside. I follow the journalist Ruth Wishart on Twitter and she noted how poignant it is to see a Charles Rennie Mackintosh-style room in the new V and A given the fire a few months ago at the School of Art here in Glasgow. I will let you know the results.

My soundtrack to this post this morning has been the Scotland Outdoors podcast from BBC Radio Scotland, more specifically the edition from 22nd August featuring a visit to Siccar Point, Hutton’s Unconformity down near Cockburnspath, as well as a walk at Pitlochry which is unfolding now. I am not usually awake to hear the programme live at an agriculturally early hour on a Saturday morning so a podcast is ideal. I very rarely catch a TV or radio programme when it’s broadcast any more, catching up around life.

Anyway, it’s Saturday and I’m ready for breakfast now. For anyone keeping score, I’m thinking Frosties. Thanks for reading, a Loose Ends post follows tomorrow. I think it’s the one about the Ramhorn Cemetery. I have a new Easter Road West post out later this morning, a feature bit about my little superstitions going to the football, so have a read at that.

Cheers for now.

Streets of Glasgow: Albion Street

Albion Street is in the Merchant City, leading from George Street to the Trongate. Albion is, I gather, a literary term to describe Britain or England, a reminder that Glasgow sprung up at the height of the British Empire and indeed was regarded as the Second City of that same Empire. All I knew was that I fancied writing about it because of its significance to journalism. At the northern end of Albion Street was where the Scottish Daily Express and then the Herald were produced. The building is still there, now offices and houses, a glass-fronted affair with smokey glass at various points. It felt ironic to be there when a newspaper founded there, the Sunday Herald, is no more, replaced by a Sunday version of its larger daily stablemate and the National. I always think a weekend paper is better than a daily one and in Scotland the Sunday Herald and the Scotland on Sunday give a much better perspective on the week and current issues than their daily equivalents. Anyway, at least the Press Bar was still going, a gaggle of guys sitting out on a pleasant August afternoon.

Albion Street is quite sleek and modern at this point, all university offices and flats, though there is a gap across from the old Herald building that gives a great view to an older building that wouldn’t be out of place on the side of the Mersey in Liverpool. white and quietly grand. As I walked down to Ingram Street, I made sure I looked up to another grand bit of cornicing on one of the corner buildings.

I had just been to one of Snug’s new Glasgow murals, up on George Street, and I stopped by another, the one by the Ingram Street car park, with someone walking in nature. Albion Street became decidedly cosmopolitan at this point with Italian food smells and folk in nice clothes around the nice eateries and pubs of the Merchant City. On the pavement outside the City Halls were two suitably apposite quotes from Robert Burns. As fine as those words were, I couldn’t help thinking after how it would have been good to have a female poet’s words there, like Liz Lochhead, Jackie Kay or Violet Jacob. Anyway, some graffiti penned by someone calling themselves ‘Seeker’ with suitably worked-out lettering brought me back to my psychogeographic purpose. Across the way the Cafe Gandolfi featured a bit of the Gaelic in the window, ‘Deagh Bhiadh, Deagh Bheannachd’, which translates roughly to ‘well fed, well blessed’. The stained glass in the window was nice too. Another eaterie had the names of various Tobacco Lords and eminent Victorian personages in the window, including quite a few with streets named after them in the hereabouts.

Across the next road I found an example of a ghost sign but a relatively new one since the faded letters included a web address. I soon passed Commonwealth House, home of the city’s various sporting competitions over the last few years, most recently the European Championships, and there were a few workers finishing for the day and filing out bound for their weekend. Opposite was the side of a building that strikes me as being in the wrong city, mock-Baronial like the court in Aberdeen. Fine though it is, it’s very grey and not really right for Glasgow.

Another walk done and definitely one in two parts, all modern but lighter at the top, more in shadow towards the Trongate as the buildings grow taller. As representations of our islands go, people can do worse than go to Albion Street.

Thanks for reading. This is the forty fourth Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Other streets featured nearby include Ingram Street, George Street and Trongate.

Another Streets of Glasgow walk follows next week.

Loose Ends: The Necropolis

I was in Glasgow for a course. As I left the mighty Mitchell Library, I had a spur of the moment thought to go to the Necropolis. It was a sunny afternoon and I fancied being outside in the city for a bit. Along the way I tried to think of a possible connection between Cathkin Park and the Necropolis but struggled, eventually coming up with the fact both are owned and managed by Glasgow City Council. I reached the Cathedral and dodged lots of phone cameras pointing in its direction to turn over the bridge into the Necropolis.

The Necropolis is a cemetery, the City of the Dead, sitting right behind Glasgow Cathedral on the eastern edge of the city centre. I’ve been there twice before, since I’m not normally a huge fan of cemeteries. I’m a firm believer that we can remember those we’ve lost anywhere and we don’t necessarily need to be morbid when we do it. As I walked into the Necropolis, I thought about the last cemetery I was in, Deer Park, near Dunbar, a place where I knew not a few folk buried there, some of them relatives of mine. Deer Park is a community cemetery and I shouldn’t think many tourists go there, as a general rule. The Necropolis was busy with people from all sorts of places, some wandering amidst the stones like I was, others enjoying the cityscape below. What I like about the Necropolis is not only its fine views across the city but also the diverse architecture and stories contained therein. One of the first graves I came to was that of William Miller, the writer of the Scots lullaby Wee Willie Winkie and ‘Laureate of the Nursery’, the second best turn of phrase I had encountered that day besides ‘supersonic austerity’, which was in quite a different context. Throughout the Necropolis there were graves talking of infant mortality, service in foreign wars, work as merchants, writers and tradespeople, quotations from scripture or poetry, some of which I read aloud. Cemeteries often provide valuable insights into social history and the Necropolis was certainly no exception.

After paying my respects at the graves of John and Isabella Elder, I walked a little further, thinking of one of my favourite passages from John Muir, the naturalist and explorer who also came from Dunbar. After being injured in an industrial accident in Indianapolis, Muir walked one thousand miles to the Gulf of Mexico in the earliest part of a lifelong effort to study and appreciate nature. At one point he stopped off in Georgia, camping in a cemetery for five days as he waited for money to be wired from his family. As I stood under a tree, I read from Muir:

‘On no subject are our ideas more warped and pitiable than on death. Instead of the sympathy, the friendly union, of life and death so apparent in Nature, we are taught that death is an accident, a deplorable punishment for the oldest sin, the arch-enemy of life, etc…But let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life, and that the grave has no victory, for it never fights.’

I was now in a quieter part of the Necropolis, with fewer graves and more trees. The view of the city was still impressive there and I felt a moment of affection for this city I called home, a Dear Green Place indeed. A few minutes before I looked across and a hill loomed above Celtic Park, almost fooling me that it was Arthur’s Seat, way across in Edinburgh. It wasn’t but it had me for a second.

As I walked alone in the lower part of the Necropolis, I thought about the book I was reading, Silverland by Dervla Murphy. Dervla Murphy was travelling across Russia through the winter and as ever her writing was as varied and interesting as the many people she met along the way. At one point she talked about the environmental impact of death, the polluting effects of embalming fluid as well as fumes from crematoria. All round, she said being allowed to gradually decompose in the earth would probably be best for the planet. The walk in the Necropolis brought up lots of thoughts, from books to a story I heard recently about someone who made a point every day they were in Paris to go to the grave of Jim Morrison. Even as I walked up to the John Knox monument, I had a line from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark, that he was an embittered man, that ‘he could never be at ease with the gay French Queen’. John Knox also gave his name to the street below the Necropolis, which I covered for Streets of Glasgow not long after.

To the connections and of course John Knox could take me to many places across this country, Haddington where he was born or St. Giles Cathedral where Knox was minister. His grave sits under the car park just across Parliament Square. John Muir was born in Dunbar and I did think briefly about going to the Broomielaw from where Muir’s ship the Warren left for New York in 1849. The graves of John and Isabella Elder could lead to a visit to Elder Park in Govan. Since I thought I saw Arthur’s Seat in the distance, it might be worth going up that hill, though not until after the Edinburgh Festival finished. The Celtic crosses with traces of Pictish style might lead to somewhere in Dalriada, like Kilmartin, or indeed somewhere related to the Picts. A stone marking the remains of University of Glasgow professors formerly interred in Blackfriars Cemetery may be the link to a trip to Gilmorehill.

The clouds had darkened. I had circled the cemetery a couple of times and seen a lot more of it than ever before. For most of the time I had been alone, only at its summit coming across other living mortals. It had been a good walk, to think, to look across the city and get a little more perspective on it, even if Arthur’s Seat wasn’t really in sight.

Thank you for reading. Another Loose Ends adventure follows next week.

Just a wee heads-up that Loose Ends will pause after the 21st link post, scheduled to appear in about four weeks’ time. I thought it would be the 20th but I managed to miscount. As ever I hope to have something interesting to replace it though at the moment I’m not sure what that will be. Fear not, though, there are four of the current batch left to go, beginning next week not so far from the Necropolis.

Streets of Glasgow: Cochrane Street

I was heading through the town to do another Streets walk and ended up on Cochrane Street, another Merchant City street named after a Tobacco Lord. It’s at the back of the City Chambers, one of those Glasgow streets permanently in shadow with lots of office blocks, the Cooncil and HMRC, to name but two, working out of there. I was there in late afternoon, and office workers loused for the day were blethering outside. Since I was in psychogeographic mode again, I concentrated on the architecture around me, the might of the City Chambers and the archway at John Street which I never fail to savour each time I pass. The City Chambers East building had a balcony which looked like it hadn’t been used for a while, perhaps envisioned as a place for councillors to pronounce and genuflect to the citizenry. Wheatley House, the front of which sits on Ingram Street, was more modern, mostly managing to fit in to the Victorian air of Cochrane Street. My eyes turned to a building facing me, now on Montrose Street, with a whole lot of flowers hanging down, a neat antidote to all the bureaucracy housed around me. Another Streets walk down, one in shadows, certainly beautiful and a great entryway to the Merchant City beyond.

Thanks for reading. This is the forty third Streets of Glasgow walk here on Walking Talking. Other nearby streets featured in this series so far include George Square, George Street (not at all the same), Ingram Street, Queen Street and Miller Street.

Another Streets of Glasgow walk follows next week.

Digest: August 2018

Another month and another digest. I started this month on holiday and managed a fair few adventures along the way.

Wednesday 1st August I bopped around Glasgow. I had a few bits of business to do in the town before heading out to Cathkin Park for a Loose Ends post. It was good to be at Cathkin again, to stand, ponder and wander. I noticed a major difference on the terracing as a lot of overgrown flora and debris had been cleared. Later on I went to the Gallery of Modern Art, first doing a Streets of Glasgow walk on Royal Bank Place. GoMA had an interesting blend of exhibitions going on – have a look at their website for updates.

Painting of Plug from the Bash Street Kids, McManus Galleries, Dundee

The following day was my birthday and I went to Dundee for the day, having lunch and then going around the fabulous McManus Galleries with its exhibition on the Bash Street Kids. The parodies of famous paintings featuring Beano characters, most memorably Plug in the style of Vincent van Gogh, was utterly genius.

Sunday 5th August was the first game of the league season so I went through to Edinburgh for that, doing the same the next Thursday for Molde in the Europa League.

That Friday I had a training course in Glasgow and after that was done I walked through the town and ended up in the Necropolis, which I have also written about for Loose Ends. I had a bit of a reverie there, thinking of history and the present in waves. Thereafter I covered John Knox Street and George Street for Streets of Glasgow, the latter in heavy rain.

A penguin sculpture in a Formula 1 fire suit, Perth

Perth was the destination the following Sunday for yet more soccerball. Before going to McDiarmid Park, I ended up being led around some of the penguins that have plodded off from the larger trail currently gracing Dundee and surrounding districts.

Yet another Sunday with football came the following week, this time back in the capital with yet more rain.

Anstruther, looking towards East Lothian

Friday 24th was the start of a long weekend. That morning I achieved a longtime ambition and walked the length of Paisley Road West. It was to celebrate the 500th post and third anniversary of this blog. The walk was fine, not the most exciting but it was in nice weather and it was diverting enough. That afternoon I went on a world tour of Fife, lunching in Dunfermline and eating a lemon sole supper along the coast in Anstruther. Sitting looking out the window along the way, including from the top deck of a 95 bus from Leven to Anstruther, was glorious.

That Saturday I went to the capital to watch the Hibees once more.

Ramshorn Cemetery, Glasgow

The next Friday I went on a wee jaunt after work, walking through the city on a glorious sunny afternoon and bagging two more Streets of Glasgow plus another Loose Ends adventure in the Ramshorn Graveyard.

In August I managed to read a fair bit. By screen I read Notes On A Nervous Planet by Matt Haig and My Life, Our Times by Gordon Brown. In print I worked through some more of Dervla Murphy’s oeuvre. Her words are measured and refreshing. Informed curiosity is the only way I can think of to describe it. We need more people like Dervla Murphy in our world.

This was the first year in a decade that I haven’t managed to be at the Edinburgh Book Festival at all. The only day I had tickets I ended up giving them back because Hibs were playing. I avoid the Fringe and my visits to the capital involved going out of Waverley Station the back way and heading east. September is the month of Edinburgh for me and I look forward to getting back to the capital for some proper wanders without fear of being handed a hundred leaflets.

This month I also managed to go swimming for the first time in at least five years. I don’t write much about my fitness regime, which consists of occasional visits to the gym and a whole lot of walking, but learning to swim properly is on my 30 Before 30 list as is being comfortable enough to wild swim.

My football blog Easter Road West has had a few posts this month. A lot of it has been about the varying fortunes of the Hibees, though I have also written about the identity of Hibs as an Edinburgh and Leith team and also a walk around the outside of St. James Park in Newcastle.

That’s the tale of August. September should be interesting too. It might involve an island trip, it will definitely involve football away days. There will be a few manoeuvres in the name of this blog too. It’ll be fun.

I didn’t want to be all schmaltzy with the 500th post but I want to thank all readers, commenters and followers for their support over the last three years. I know some readers in real life, others only through a screen. Regardless it’s nice to know there are folk reading and maybe even benefiting from what I write in some small way. Thanks again for reading, commenting and following. Have a good day and a nice September.

Posts in August –

Digest: July 2018

Coming soon…

Streets of Glasgow: London Road

Loose Ends: Coldstream

Streets of Glasgow: Royal Bank Place

Loose Ends: The Meadows

Streets of Glasgow: John Knox Street

Loose Ends: Cathkin Park

Streets of Glasgow: Paisley Road West

Streets of Glasgow: George Street

George Street mural

This happens quite a bit. Between writing and posting Streets of Glasgow walks, changes happen on the streets in question and this happened with George Street just recently. Snug has been at it again, producing a stunning mural of St. Enoch cradling baby St. Mungo, neatly complementing the one of St. Mungo with the bird and the bell up the road on the High Street. I saw this one up close yesterday and I like it immensely for all sorts of reasons. It is modern yet universal, symbolic but not totally obscure. Go have a look, it’s on a gable end as George Street meets the High Street and Duke Street.

Thanks for reading. Next post here is the August digest, which appears here tomorrow. The George Street Streets of Glasgow walk appeared here on Wednesday and the Paisley Road West 500th post/3rd anniversary extravaganza was on Tuesday.

Streets of Glasgow: George Street

Another Streets of Glasgow walk began as the rain continued unabated. It was one of those strange Glaswegian rains which managed to be wet and sunny at the same time. I started from the High Street end of George Street and I made sure I looked at the many murals of Strathclyde University before ducking under the canopy by the shops as the rain fell still harder. The gaps between the buildings at the High Street end gave a good view to the finials and points of the roofs up there. The murals on George Street are particularly glorious, even in the rain, with designs representing various alumni of Strathclyde University plus scientific concepts and ideas. My particular favourite was the figure blowing dandelion seeds in the shape of wind turbines.

The other side of the street, particularly towards John Street, featured lots of glass office buildings with lots of reflections of the other buildings and skyscape on the glass. I kept to the northern side of the street, not least because scaffolding and overhanging canopies kept me from getting absolutely soaking. It dried off a bit by the time I got towards John Street, meaning I could spend a bit more time looking at the side of the City Chambers and the archway in the middle of the street opposite. Since much of George Street was closed to motorists because of the European Championships, I could also stand in the middle of the road and take photos, a rare city pleasure on a weekday evening.

George Street is a street I have meant to cover in this series for a while. It is one of the streets that would fit in anywhere in the world, a canyon-type street with high buildings that could just as easily be in New York, Liverpool or London. It was a shame that it was raining heavily when I finally got round to it or else I would have lingered a lot longer and pondered just why a corsage sat on a street sign or looked up at the art adorning Strathclyde University, even sitting for a few minutes in the small garden nearer the High Street. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and forget being all psychogeographical and keep dry. Then again this is Glasgow and rain should be expected, even with the summer we’ve just had when I had a jacket with me a lot of days, just in case. Go to George Street anyway and just look up until you get a raindrop in your eye.

Thanks for reading. This is the forty first Streets of Glasgow walk here on Walking Talking. Other nearby streets featured here include George Square, Ingram Street, Cathedral Street, Duke Street and High Street.

The forty second Streets of Glasgow post, featuring Paisley Road West, appeared here yesterday.

The August digest appears here on Sunday.

Streets of Glasgow: Paisley Road West


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.