Somewhere In My Heart……

This is Glasgow…

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This is the city I was born in, and spent the first 21 years of my life before moving to Bristol. It has without a shadow of a doubt shaped me, though not as I am now as there’s bits of Leicester, London, Nottingham, Bristol and all the other places in the UK, and across the world that I’ve stayed in, visited or passed through. It is however Glasgow which molded me. I’ve blogged briefly about my life there, but the city itself I’ve only recently touched upon the city itself as it’s as much a character in my life as anyone I’ve every known, and in some cases it’s been more so.

Glasgow is a city like now other. It’s not got the horrible disconnect from reality London has. Or the distance from anything relevant that say, Leicester does. Or is as sometimes horribly contrived as Bristol can be. It is a schizophrenic city with extreme poverty lying only a mile or so from extravagance, then again, the city’s always had some of that but now people seem to forget that people living in the likes of Easterhouse, or those that come from the East End, or the working class streets of Maryhill and Possilpark (that’ll be me) are the beating heart of Glasgow. This is a city that embraced the basic socialist idea of trying to drag everyone out of the gutter, not just the chosen or lucky few.

It’s a city which encouraged kids like me to take an interest in art, or film or anything that wasn’t seen as ‘traditional’ working class pursuits, because frankly, it’s a city whose philosophy  was to drag us all up, give us the basics we needed to survive and send us out into the world like spores. That’s one of the reasons there’s so many Glaswegians living in every nook and cranny of probably every city on the planet. Well, that and the whole escaping poverty thing.

It’s the city that taught me that people like Edwyn Collins and Roddy Frame were cool. It’s the city I helped, in my own very small way, the future of Glasgow’s comic scene. It’s the city I learned to appreciate me for myself. It helped give my soul the callus it needed to push on into the world.Some of that edge has been blunted over the years as I’ve been worn down over the last few years but I can still draw upon what Glasgow gave me. It’s that certainty of thought, of purpose, even when you know you’re not entirely sure of what you’re doing.

This is Maryhill Road in the 1970’s. I’ve mentioned before that I seem to remember most of my childhood in Glasgow in black and white so this is how I remember the area then.

I’m glad the city is clean. I’m glad we’ve moved on. But I miss those times. I miss the glorious bleak beauty of industrial Glasgow.I miss the community. I miss the variety. Yes, Glasgow is now a fantastic cosmopolitan city, but like any city that’s been heavily gentrified it’s gained much, though at the same time it’s gained the same vacuous people who take over former working class areas and change it for the worst. See also Stokes Croft in Bristol, but that’s a topic for another time….

That aside, Glasgow is still in essence the same. It’s moved on. It’s better in places, worse in some, and in several cases it’s not moved on at all. It’s a sum of it’s parts and that’s the beauty of it.

I don’t know whether I’ll move back. I may in the next few years, or I might not but if I’m to do it then it’s going to be the next four or five years. If I don’t then I’ll probably wander the earth…..or not. I do want to move back but much is dependent upon the next 12 months or so, but whatever happens I’ll always carry Glasgow within me. That will never go away…………

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A Completely Unexpected Blog About One Deacon Blue Song…

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I haven’t done any personal blogs in a while, this is due to my being occupied with other things, and frankly unfurling the mess of my recent redundancy. As things look to be more stable I think it’s time to get a few more blogs out that I’ve been sitting on for a while, some of which are going to be a wee bit painful.

Before I do all that, here’s a little aside. This Deacon Blue video of their cover of I’ll Never Fall in Love Again was filmed near where I grew up. The flats you see at the start are the imposing Westercommon flats, that dominate the landscape of North Glasgow, and in fact can be seen across a large part of the north and west of the city.

They’re not as dreadful as some of the other high-rise flats in Glasgow but they’re still monstrosities, and here’s a little known fact, my first girlfriend lived in them. The one on the far right to be exact.

Anyhow, that Deacon Blue video was filmed near the Forth and Clyde Canal near Possilpark. It also manages to capture the sheer stark industrial beauty of the place. Here’s a recent picture of the area taken from this site.

I used to walk along the canal a lot when growing up around the area as it was a handy, and more scenic, walk from Possil to Maryhill to watch the mighty Partick Thistle play at Firhill, or wander along the Maryhill Road to pop into the seedy bookshops looking for comics, books or anything weird and wonderful. Reach the end of the Maryhill Road and you’re in Glasgow’s West End with all the wonders and joys that once held.

It never dawned on me growing up in the 70’s and early 80’s that this area was a prime bit of land, or that it was indeed, somewhere wonderful and beautiful until I saw this Deacon blue video of their average cover of a good song. It reminded me that somehow my memories of living in Possilpark and Maryhill were actually in black and white, even the sunny days I remember in black and white. So this video was scarily like my memories.

That was in 1988, a year after I moved from Glasgow to Leicester. I’ve only been back twice to that area since moving. Once was a year or so later in 1989. I was doing a comic mart in Glasgow one weekend and finding myself with a few hours to kill on a Sunday afternoon before linking up with friends to go drinking on a Sunday night (and with around 800 quid in cash in taking from the day before) I took a walk from where i was staying at the Central Hotel (money was no object! Frankly I couldn’t be arsed crashing on friend’s floors this visit due to working the mart. I needed an actual bed) in the city centre up to the north of the city to take a walk on a shiny day to see how things had changed.

They hadn’t. It was still the industrial landscape I grew up with. The last visit was a few years ago. It’s now utterly different yet it still carries that hopeless honest beauty you get in working class areas when you least expect it.

So this video sums up a snapshot of my life over a number of years. I can’t listen to the song without the video because they don’t work separately, and also the video is a strange little bit or archive of a piece of my childhood and youth which isn’t really there any more. That shouldn’t make me sad, but it does. It makes me painfully sad.