Posted in Updates on Sunday 3rd February 2008 at 11:43pm

Another trip to Glasgow is over, and as ever I'm confused about my relationship to the city. It's not a case of being hooked by mythology - my usual entry point - as when I first turned up at Central Station well over a decade ago I had no preconception of the place. My earliest memory of knowing about Glasgow was in fact looking at my dad's discarded 1976 AA Road Atlas and marvelling at the swathe of urban motorway cutting through the city. Moving forward, as a rather underpaid railway enthusiast in the 1990s it became a target of sorts - to reach Glasgow and to tick it off the map, probably the furthest north I'd ever journeyed at that point. However, somehow I've never quite managed to tick Glasgow off, and I've continued to return year after year.

This trip was rather different. Organised as part of a birthday outing for a friend, the responsibility for finding constant entertainment and sustenance fell heavily on me. Add to this the need to fly to Glasgow rather than to arrive via the time-honoured processional route over the Clyde into central, and there was much which might have been unnerving. As I stepped onto the tarmac at Glasgow International on Friday evening however I knew things would be fine. A light flurry of snow around me, I marched purposefully ahead and instantly adopted my role. I knew though, that some of the wanderings I'd perhaps wish to undertake myself would not happen this weekend. An excuse for a further visit.

A desolate view from London Road under brooding skies
A desolate view from London Road under brooding skies

Our party was also made up of Real Ale fanatics, and it was also therefore my unenviable task to ensure that only the finest establishments were visited throughout the trip. This was no great hardship of course, and we managed to visit a fair number of venues over the weekend and sample a good few Scottish beers which are unlikely to make it over the border and home. For me though, the interesting part was the journeys between these watering holes - encouraging people to look up at the buildings, or to enjoy the spectacle of views along certain streets. I've remarked before that I'd make an appalling guide - too caught up in the place to see it through a strangers eyes.

The Open-top tour bus also served us well, despite the eye-wateringly cold climate and the threat of snow, we circled the city from empty brooding east to opulent west. Allowing someone else to be the guide gave me time to sit back and experience again the thrill of visiting the city from a newcomer's viewpoint. It was hard though to pass the less-travelled roads and not hop off and hurry away. This wasn't that kind of trip.

The only inkling of what lies beneath the streets
The only inkling of what lies beneath the streets

So as I boarded my flight home in driving rain, with heavy heart and leaden boots, I speculated on the success of the trip. Everyone seemed to appreciate the city as being somehow different - but I'm not sure how far my ramblings influenced this outcome. We drank a lot of beer, covered a lot of ground, and saw a great deal of the city. Perhaps for some of the party that is Glasgow 'ticked off' the list. For me, it's never quite that simple...



I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.

I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.

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