from Glasgow


I am blogging because it’s too wet to do anything else. It’s raining in a real Glasgow way, which I have come accustomed to in the last ten days that I have lived here, but today tops it all, and I have managed to exhaust myself by cycling many miles in the torrents to pick up a printer from a freecycler. (but I have a printer now!!)

So it could be said that today was not as productive as it could have been. But I can tell you about some other days that were. A few things I have done this week: 

I went to the Mitchell Library, which is huge and overwhelming but wonderful. I buried my nose in books about nationalism, about devolution, about identity. And when it all got too much I spent an hour reading a crime novel sitting on the seats in the kids bit. I’ve learnt a lot, and not just all about the best way to get away with murder. I’ve added some interesting books to my bibliography.

A call out on facebook prompted some interesting responses from my friends on the idea of Scottishness. “I do not know what it means to be ‘Scottish’”  - Fereuse (see above). Rosanna who is half English, half Scottish says “I know all the words to Auld Lang Syne, yet still get itchy when Scots unite on hating on the English”. For Emily, the most important thing is the music, telling her she’s home, though she also points out “Of course, identity may just be a social construct”. My friend Luisa is called ‘the Scottish one’ at University in Newcastle, and I don’t doubt that I have been referred to likewise. The most enjoyable response came from Jack though; 

goany stert somehin the night, diny ken what, no sure if it'll be very nice or geed likesay. Ma twa shillings's: that Scotland doesnay ken how tae market itsell likesay; aw this fuckin nessy and biscuits shite, know woh'm sayin(?). When the best hings aboot Scotland are propper abstract ken - diligence, self-awareness, smeddum, backbone likesay. No tae mention aw this bullshite aboot Scottish language; it's not a language IT"S A FUCKIN' ACCENT.

Getting intae the spirit of things. 

One of the most interesting things that happened this week was a chat with a man called Stephen, who has a stall in the Barras market in the east end of Glasgow, selling kilts and tartan tat, “for ex-pats mainly”, he tells me when he finds out I don’t really live here anymore. He’s a kind man, and well experienced in this business, and has some interesting things to say about my project, and my questions, and the state of Scotland at the moment. We agree to meet again in his shop in the Savoy centre, and I hope it will happen; I think it could be an interesting element to the project if I could get him involved…

“The last time I can remember real civil unrest in Scotland was the poll tax – actually, no, it was about them raising the price of alcohol! In about ’98 or ’99. Keeping the masses quiet eh. 

“You can’t trust anything you read in the papers – I just use the internet now. The Scottish news is so closed off, like nowhere else exists. We could learn a lot from the Dutch, I lived in Holland for a bit, they’re so proud of their country. Queens day, national celebrations and they all know what it means. Here there are so many people who are poor and uneducated and they don’t know what to think 

“We’ve gone half-way with independence, there doesn’t seem much point. Either we need to be a part of Britain or sever ties completely. What was the name of the guy before Salmond? He was a joke… turning up at ‘Tartan day’ in New York wearing a girly shirt and a fancy kilt. What’s the point? And it’s all about the leaders, good leaders shouldn’t need to shout about it, they should just lead. It’s the small man syndrome again.”

In the end I bought a pair of ‘Kilt Hose Flashes' from him (“Those are £7.99, £9.99 for the tartan ones. £7.50 will do”.)

I’ll end this post with my football experience last Tuesday. I knew I must go to watch the football somewhere, what with it being such a ripe opportunity for people to express one’s nationality. Especially for men, especially in the pub. However, come Tuesday day time, whilst the players were no doubt limbering up for their gig against Spain in the Alicante heat, I found myself sat on my bed fretting about the prospect of going to the pub, on my own, to watch a sport I know nothing about. Which isn’t an irrational fear, really. Anyway, after discerning that my brother (last ditch attempt) wasn’t going out to a pub in Edinburgh to watch it, and I couldn’t hop across the country for company, I went.

And had a lovely evening. Doing things on your own is fine, is great! That’s all I had to say, but I think it’s an important lesson to learn – so there.

Watching the game at the Queen’s Park Café which isn’t a café it’s a pub,
And we shouted at the screen occasionally, my new friends and I, 4 Scots 1 English 1 Czech.
It was a very friendly pub.
We berated our national team’s lack of talent and drank lager whilst it got cold and wet outside.
This is what we are good at, I think, because we are not good at weather. Or football.
(Spain won 3-1)

I still don’t quite know how this all fits together, or what I’m trying to say exactly, but I at least feel that I am getting *somewhere*, that I am meeting people, and communicating again. Perhaps being, and working, alone is not so difficult, or bad. Hopefully it is just a chance to do the things that I think should be done, and to explore the avenues that open up.

I think that is the idea.