Tag Archives: Glasgow

…For The City.

I am having trouble remembering where I am sleeping. When I am out in London or Glasgow I have to think quite carefully about where I am going home to, once or twice, on rather drunken nights, I have nearly asked the cabbie to take me to 92nd and Lexington in the hope that I was going home to my amazing air mattress in Manhattan, but sadly not. The joy of being a rolling stone, of home being wherever I lay my hat, is that I can get to see these cities in a new light…so here are my best bits.

LONDON

I may or may not have mentioned this once or twice, but I met the Muppets. I’ll repeat that, I met the MUPPETS! It was the best day of my life (so far) and I was 5. They were appearing at the Selfridges Christmas Grotto and our friend had designed it and so I went to the opening night and drank my own body weight in Orange Juice – from a wine glass… And met the Muppets. Anyway, because of this Selfridges became a happy place for me. A perfect day would involve going there to look at all the beautiful things, hang out in the food hall and imagine what it would be like to actually do shopping in there, in the posh bits. Then I would wander through the streets to wander across Hungerford Bridge to the Southbank with its views of St Paul’s, The Gherkin, the NFT and now The Shard. Across the river and past  the skateboard graveyard below. After seeing a film at the BFI, I would head back across the bridge to Gordon’s wine bar for wine and cheese and warm memories.

NEW YORK

Having only visited or studied in New York I suspect I saw it in a somewhat different light from a native New Yorker. However, hanging out in the New York Public Library every morning – giggling while writing scenes of inappropriate sex scenes for such a grand setting and then meeting friends in Milady’s, a classic dive bar on Prince, gave me a pretty good starting point. All restaurants in New York are required to display their Department of Health rating on their front door. Most places display their ‘A’ grade with pride or if they received anything lower than an ‘A’ would display a Grade Pending sign in the hope that next time round they’d get an ‘A’ but not Milady’s – they displayed their ‘B’ with pride. Loaded potato skins, mozzarella sticks, Bud Lights, pool, you could easily waste more than a couple of hours in there. For the first time in my life, while living in New York, I took up, and actively enjoyed, jogging. That’s down to the Jackie Onassis reservoir which has been seen in numerous films but when you’re a local (as I was for half a second) it becomes YOUR running track and you start screaming at the tourists running round the wrong way – ‘Wrong way! Can’t you read the sign, it’s right there! I’m running here!’ Ok, maybe my aspirations to become a real New Yorker were nearly realised.

GLASGOW

This city has surprised me no end since ‘moving’ here several weeks ago. Aside from the numerous independent coffee shops, the bars focused around music, the £5 cab rides, the funny money, the aggressive friendliness and many more similarities with New York there are other reasons I am growing to love this city.  The food here, and the restaurants I have been taken to have been phenomenal. Café Gandolfi is a Glasgow institution serving up Arbroath Smokies and Haggis, neeps and tatties as well as courgette flowers and smoked venison. Despite the fact it has been going since 1979, neither the food nor the décor feel tired and the enthusiastic staff certainly aren’t. Due to the proliferation of birthdays in September (New Year’s shag anyone?) I have spent a large portion of my lunch breaks shopping for presents. Luckily my office is near the wonderful Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum where the have a pipe organist who plays every lunchtime (his standard is New York, New York ironically) and where they also house an amazing collection of art. When I was about 11 my mum took me there and she couldn’t pull me away from one painting in particular. It was Salvador Dali’s Christ and I was mesmerised by it – the only way she could get me to leave was by buying me a print which I still have. I haven’t been back to see this glorious painting yet (am worried I may not return to work and I am terribly busy) but just knowing it is there fills me with faith in the beauty of full circle, of being taken places for a reason, of life coming through for us. In a purely atheistic way of course.

Maybe Tomorrow I’ll Wanna Settle Down…

Ah, The Littlest Hobo. A scraggy little dog who couldn’t stay in one town for too long, had to keep on moving, the road just kept a-calling him and he couldn’t stop a-running. Is it weird that The Littlest Hobo is the children’s character I identify with the most?

I have lived much of my life according to theme tune philosophy so why stop now. Yep, sorry London, but it looks like I am on the move again. So what if New York isn’t ready for me yet, work is sending me somewhere potentially more thrilling and dangerous, somewhere steeped in oral history where everybody’s your friend and you’re all in it together. Unless you’re a Sassenach. Yep, Scotland is calling me home and with half of my blood being Scottish it is probably time to see what all the fuss is about. Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner, but I’m about to belong to Glasgow.*

I’m excited for many reasons, predominantly square sausage and Irn Bru, oh sorry – I mean spending more time with family and an exciting career opportunity. It also means I can put off deciding what to do when I grow up for another 6 months. This being one of my first thoughts does make me wonder… Is that all that people who continually travel are doing? Is this the ultimate exploration of my massive talent for procrastination? Why is the concept of ‘growing up’ or ‘settling down’ so alien and terrifying to me? And what does it even mean?

When I think about settling down, I think about a house with wellies by the front door. I think about Cath Kidston, I think about a faceless man who’s always grumpy, weekly shops in Sainsbury’s, gossiping about Marge’s new toyboy, moaning about the caravan site spoiling our view, driving everywhere, getting hooked on Saturday night ‘entertainment’ shows, mountains of ironing…and by that point I am having trouble breathing and need to lie down. I’ll think about it tomorrow.

I know for a fact that these notions are antiquated, I don’t think any of my settled friends actually live the lifestyle I describe but I simply can’t rid myself of this stereotype. I guess settling down just makes me think of standing still and there is so much to see and do in our short lives that I can’t bear the thought of not chasing after time before it disappears. I never want to stop learning. Yet another article on theconversation.tv which I wish I’d written, called On Being a Responsible Hedonist, recently got me thinking about this again. The idea is we should embrace pleasure and not think we need to give it up to settle down, the only way we can pass on who we are is by knowing ourselves, and the best way to do that is to indulge ourselves. Sounds like a plan to me.

So I have decided I am just going to look forward to regular travel again – even if it’s only up and down one country… airports really make me feel alive, even though they are killing the planet (a glaring contradiction that I’m aware I need to work through) anyway, the train to Glasgow is also a joy. Travelling means listening to, indeed even talking to, strangers, being surprised, seeing new sights, learning new things, drinking in the day, napping in the day (possibly related to the previous point) and making new friends. And, insert fingers down throat now, finding yourself.

So, here’s to being selfish for a little bit longer and continuing to explore the world around me, with a view to passing on my knowledge one day. But basically having fun. I guess that’s the point, and deep down the responsible hedonist in me knows that I would still have fun wherever I was – even if I had Cath Kidston curtains I certainly wouldn’t be hiding behind them so maybe it’s time stop being scared of settling down. Maybe.

* for two weeks a month till the end of the year anyway.