Streets of Glasgow: Glassford Street

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Another Streets of Glasgow, another one in the Merchant City named after a Tobacco Lord. This one began keeping out of the road of a gaggle of passersby as I snapped the obligatory street sign pic that appears above. All sorts of symbols were around, a gay bar with the rainbow flag flying, Easter Island heads in an office window, Christmas food and drink in Marks and Spencers’ window. The Steps Bar, probably not the type of pace that would play anything by that particular cheery 1990s pop band, still had ‘5, 6, 7, 8’ swirling around my head. This street was a blend of old and new, typically classical mixed with glass and concrete, a thoroughfare that got busier as I went with buses and folk bustling about in the afternoon half-light, hastening out of the cold.

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Thanks for reading. This is the fifty fourth Streets of Glasgow walk here on Walking Talking. Other nearby streets featured in this series so far include Trongate, Ingram Street, Virginia Street, Cochrane Street and Miller Street.

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Caledonia Road Church

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I’ve lived in Glasgow for five and a half years and I cannot claim to have seen it all. Constantly I see things which surprise me. Luckily I have a blog to write a lot of them down, which is just as well. The Caledonia Road Church was spotted on the Cathcart Road Streets of Glasgow walk last year and I’ve been meaning to go back for a look, only managing it the other week when I did a Streets walk on Gorbals Street (appearing here on Wednesday 19th December).

The church was designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson and opened in 1856 with many of his stylistic touches present in the ruins, caused by a fire in 1965. I like ruins, though, and this is a cracker, with so many traces and indicators of what it would have been like as a functioning church as much as the curls of an architect’s pencil.

I saw it on a cold and briefly bright afternoon. I had a few more minutes to linger than last time and feasted on the details above the windows. I tried to ignore the traffic and the modern bus depot opposite, almost succeeding as I walked and looked. All around me, especially in the Gorbals, are signs of modern construction, new developments springing up from the old. I like that there are still ruins, not removed but just left to be, maybe part of someone’s vision of the future but in the meantime still a sign of the past, of architectural splendour and religious certainty, of which this city and this building certainly has no shortage.

 

Saturday Saunter: 8th December 2018

The Saturday Saunter is always a pleasant post to write but as I start this post, unusually in longhand, I don’t have that much in mind for it yet. My mind is almost entirely bereft of ideas but hopefully one will come along any minute now.

May Donoghue sculpture in Paisley, depicting a woman holding a baby in each arm

A few weeks ago, I posted here about the snail in a bottle sculpture in Paisley, which is shown above. The day I went to get a photo of it, naturally it wasn’t there, away to the menders because of bad weather. I had passed by on the bus and noticed the sculpture back in situ so when I was in Paisley the other day, I made sure I got a photo. Plus my shoes got muddy in the process, an unintended consequence but sometimes a cost of doing blogging business.

To books, and I’ve managed to get through a few books this week. I’ve re-read a few Quintin Jardine crime novels on my iPad and I managed to finish Going to the Match by Duncan Hamilton, an excellent collection of essays about the footballing experience. It mentioned ‘Sunshine on Leith’ by the Proclaimers and the rendition which followed the 2016 Scottish Cup Final. I might write a blog post about that particular song soon. I’ve also read Robinson by Muriel Spark this week, a beguiling novel from the perspective of a woman who had survived a crash on a desert island going into the resulting personality clashes between the protagonists.

I’ve also been thinking about blogging itself. I’m in a bit of a groove with it at the moment. I like writing these posts each week and Streets of Glasgow is good to write too, particularly as I have no clue what the post will be until I do the walk. The thing about it is that it is largely a solitary pursuit. I know some of this blog’s readers personally but it always feels weird when something I’ve written comes up in conversation in real life. Nice weird. I’m comfortable with what I write just now. It’s been a very varied year here and I’ve been able to have and write about some very cool adventures. Next year will hopefully have some new and exciting things happening, to experience and write about. The new Intercity series for one, which starts in January. Hopefully I will get round to meeting some other bloggers, as Anabel wrote about recently, do some other writing too and enjoy not being so comfortable.

This post is appearing a bit later than normal since I am doing a bit of work then going to the football. Tonight I’m also going out, which is fairly unusual. So, it’s a rich, busy day, filled with buses, trains and a whole range of people. Work and the people tonight are familiar but I have never been to the Hope CBD Stadium, home of Hamilton Academical Football Club, Hibernian’s opponents this afternoon. Their stadium has two stands and a temporary one, plus an artificial pitch. I’ve seen the ground on the telly and it has never appealed but it is also the only Scottish Premiership ground I have never been to before so it has to be done. I have only been to Hamilton once before, which was to the Mausoleum about five years ago. I think I wrote about Hamilton Mausoleum recently – I must try and get a return visit. It is a fascinating place, probably far more than the football ground I will be visiting this afternoon. Hibs just need a win, nothing else.

Anyway, that’s us for today. Tomorrow’s post here will be about the Caledonia Road Church. Streets of Glasgow returns on Wednesday, which will be back in the Merchant City. Easter Road West has a post today too, which is probably the shortest I’ve ever written ever. Have a lovely weekend, folks.

Streets of Glasgow: Oswald Street

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Oswald Street street sign

The Oswald Street walk began as I came off the Broomielaw, deciding to do a Streets of Glasgow even with the continuing wind and rain. Oswald Street leads from the Broomielaw, finishing at the junction with Hope Street and Argyle Street in the shadow of Central Station. As I started there was the usual line of buses waiting to stop, a steady stream of people trying to get those buses and others, like me, trying to navigate around them on an ever narrower pavement. Folk stood at the bus stop, kids laughing and caring not that it was cold, wet and gloomy that particular lunchtime. The street was darker and less salubrious at the southern end, the buildings getting taller and more modern by the junction, Motel One having sprung up over the last year or so, another glass concoction. The scale of small buildings to the huge hotel and Central Station reflected the differing architectural priorities over the last century or so, Victorian grandeur to functional back to modern style points. Earlier I had thought about where I knew the word Oswald from, including St. Oswald, once King of Northumbria, whose head is interred in the shrine of St. Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral. It is amazing what thoughts come to mind in city streets, history and hagiography instead of windy and rainy Glasgow in November.

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Looking up Oswald Street with bus in foreground
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Central Station canopy from Oswald Street

Thanks for reading. This is the fifty third Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Other nearby streets featured in this series so far include Hope Street, Waterloo Street, Union Street, Gordon Street and Bothwell Street.

Digest: November 2018

So, it’s the November digest. The month started feeling a bit shocked and stunned by the dramatic scenes at the Edinburgh derby the night before. My first trip out was that Friday to Kirkcaldy, a spur of the moment decision to take the bus over the country to my favourite art gallery. The Edinburgh School exhibition featuring William Gillies, Elizabeth Blackadder, Anne Redpath and John Houston was just about to finish and I was glad to get another look. Kirkcaldy is always an absolute joy.

The next day Hibs were back in action, playing (and getting beat by) St. Johnstone. My only non-Hibs picture is Lochend Park. A post appeared about that particular park on Easter Road West a couple of weeks ago. I often go there before going to the ground, sometimes to read, other times just to sit.

On Thursday 8th November I was heading to work and while I passed through Paisley I thought I would get a picture of the ‘snail in a bottle’ sculpture in Wellmeadow Street, unveiled a couple of months ago. As I wrote about in one of the Saturday Saunters, it’s been taken away to be fixed. The best laid plans of mice and men.

That Sunday I went to Edinburgh, having a good decent wander around the New Town, along George Street and round by Rutland Square, ending up at the National Museum of Scotland at the very fine Rip It Up exhibition (which has since closed). The exhibition was great, a really stimulating look into Scottish pop music over the last five decades, from Lonnie Donegan to Frightened Rabbit via Lulu, Annie Lennox and Capercaillie. Thereafter I had another walk, including by Meadowbank Stadium, which is in the process of demolition. Around it is some decent street art.

Last Saturday I went to Edinburgh to watch the Hibs. Before I did I managed to fit in a Streets of Glasgow walk along Bothwell Street. It appeared here on Wednesday. After the football I took myself out for dinner and took a scenic route from Leith to catch my train back home. Urban walking is thoroughly underrated, especially when it’s through the New Town.

On Friday I had a varied day. I did some wandering around Glasgow city centre, mostly for this blog’s benefit in the coming weeks, and also took a wee trip to Stirling Castle, which was great despite the wind and the rain.

That’s our digest for another month. I’ve been busy with work and life and so adventures have been in shorter supply in November as lately. Plus it’s cold and dark a lot of the time now so rovings are less fun than in the summer months. December will have a few more trips, I think, plus of course the festives. At some point, possibly one of the Saturday posts, I will write here about why I really don’t like this time of year very much. Also on Boxing Day, which happens to be a Wednesday, the 2018 Digest will appear here. That’s always a good one to write. Last year, or the year before, I can’t remember, it was written by now but I haven’t got round to it yet. Soon, though.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Our next post will be Streets of Glasgow, this time Oswald Street. Next Sunday will be about the Caledonia Road Church. Cheers just now.

Posts this month –

Saturday Saunter: 3rd November 2018

Digest: October 2018

Layers of distraction

Saturday Saunter: 10th November 2018

Subwalk

Streets of Glasgow: Virginia Street

Saturday Saunter: 17th November 2018

Rip It Up, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Streets of Glasgow: Mosspark Boulevard

Saturday Saunter: 24th November 2018

Sunday

Streets of Glasgow: Bothwell Street

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.

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.

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.