Gun bhòtadh

Chaidh mi dhan àite-bhòtaidh an-diugh ach cha robh m’ ainm air an liosta. Gu follaiseach, cha do thàinig an litir anns a bha mi a’ ciallachadh nam mearachdan aig an Oifis Chlàradh an Taghaidh dhaibhsan. Bu chòir dhomh litir chlàraichte a chur dhaibh, mar a rinn mi leis an fhoirm-iarrtais. Uill, ùine gu leòr mus am bi taghadh eile ann…

(Eadar dà sgeul, nam faod mi bhòtadh, chuireadh mi 1 dha Kieran Wild (Uaine), 2 dha Billy McAllister is 3 dha Gavin Clark Roberts (PNA) agus 4 dha Caroline Johnston (Lib Deam). Chì sinn ma thèid feadhainn dhiubh air an taghadh…)
 

(An ath latha: fhuair Wild is McAllister ann. ‘S bochd gun do bhuannaich na Làbaraich (44 suidheachan à 79). Tha e inntinneach ge-tà gum bi 5 comhairlichean Uaine ann – nas motha na Lib Deamaich, Tòraidhean is Glaschu Chiad gu lèir…)

 

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Riverside Museum

One of the first things I noted down to my list of things to see in Glasgow – and yet over a million people beat me to it, even though it only opened last summer.

Overall impression: good, but not amazing. Certainly worth visiting once, if only for some particularities. In my case for example the Maryhill tram (did trams really go up Maryhill Road once?); the longship model (hadn’t known the rudder used to be positioned like that); the locomotive set (for lack of space elsewhere?) on the first floor; Kelvin Street or the “Gaelic” fire engine. (On the spur of the moment I also realized that I had never entered a red telephone box, so I did now.) Still, I doubt I’ll visit again. I had a pleasant afternoon, but there was nothing to draw me back.

The tall ship was a bit disappointing too – I knew it wasn’t as large as RMS Queen Elizabeth 2, but I did expect it to be somewhat larger. On the other hand, the yards did look rather massive, considering they were probably from a single tree  each, and the cordage was even more confusing than on a picture. I’ve no idea how the sailors could tell one rope from the next…

 

First BBC independence debate

On 25 January (to coincide with Burns’ Night) Alex Salmond launched the SNP’s independence referendum consultation paper, and at night you could watch on TV for an hour the BBC’s first “Big Debate” related to the issue. I couldn’t. I mean, not on TV. Not the full hour anyway.

Hey guys – I sat in the audience.

How come? Some two weeks earlier the station published an “audience plea” on its Scotland news website; several days later it reappeared there, from which I judged not enough people had shown interest. So I applied myself, just for the fun of it. Rather surprisingly, in the end I was among those selected (there were no unoccupied chairs so presumably there was a selection, unless they filled some places with BBC staff).

It was the first time I took part in anything of this sort, so I have several memories which will probably stay in my memory for quite some time, but I will only bother you with three.

1) When the BBC says “live”, it doesn’t necessarily mean “live” as you and I understand the word. The debate began more than an hour before the hour-long broadcast, and I got home before the broadcast ended.  I later saw it on iPlayer and I don’t think they actually made any cuts except perhaps shortening the applause now and then to make it fit precisely into the time-frame; maybe this is just their way to ensure that they can cut out somebody beginning to use taboo words if that happens. But the moment when the debate ended and the presenter began then telling the TV-viewers he hoped they would join us for a debate just about to begin was unforgettably schizophrenic.

2) Politicians don’t have such easy lives after all. I was sitting together with the rest of the audience in the foyer, when a woman approached the reception desk. She seemed vaguely familiar to me, but she met my eyes and mouthed a “Hello” before I identified her as Nicola Sturgeon. Shortly later, passing me on her way to the studio, she added (without slowing down of course) a “How are you?”, accompanied by a pat on my shoulder*. As she had never seen me before, and given my moustache and large eyes could hardly have mistaken me for somebody else, it shows that kissing strange babies probably isn’t the only thing politicians have to endure in their attempts to gain as much popularity as possible.

They also sometimes have to defend the indefensible, like I did when I was still a white-collar worker. Johann Lamont and Jim Wallace had a hard time trying to explain why “we support extending the franchise to 16- and 17-year-olds, but not for this referendum, which has nothing to do with the fact that the polls show this would lessen the chances of our preferred outcome”. (Don’t get me wrong – I believe that the SNP is so keen on extending the franchise for this very reason as well.) Which gets me to the last memory:

3) I’m not the only cynic here. I mean, after some time I couldn’t help noticing which of my closest neighbours were more likely to applaud which of the speakers. After some more time I couldn’t help noticing that many were quite ready to applaud a good argument even if it was an argument “against their allegiances”. Arguably the biggest applause happened when a young woman argued with Wallace about the franchise extension, the presenter after some time cut her short pointing out that being 20 she’d have the right to vote anyway, called another member of the audience, and this guy felled Wallace with (verbatim quote) “I’m 15 years old, so in 2014 I’ll be 17, tell me what gives you the ability to deny my right to therefore shape the future of the country I’m going to live in…”
 

* Incidentally: was I excited by the fact that the Deputy First Minister of Scotland spoke to me and patted me on the shoulder? In a sense, I was. In the sense of Wow, what a yarn this’ll be for my friends to laugh about!

 

Salmon factory

All right, let’s have a backward glance at my last job before starting to look for the next one in earnest.

It wasn’t all that bad; still, I don’t regret I left.

In fact, I had never hoped for as many as seven weeks, yet for quite some time I wanted to stay for as long as they would let me. The work was neither hard nor overly monotonous; the place wasn’t too cold or smelly; workmates were generally friendly as well; it had some perks like getting a salmon free; the pay was better than the usual “national minimum wage” of £6.08 you get as an unqualified worker.

But then the “promotion” began. I don’t mind overtime in itself, but working seven days a week, with almost as many weekly extra hours as “standard” ones, with about three more hours’ commuting each day… I’m no longer twenty-four. I’m reluctant to spend too long a part of the rest of my life between work and bed. Moreover, I was getting impatient to finish all my old-country affairs and return here for good.

Added to which, I was oftener and oftener feeding salmon halves onto the line, thus getting afraid of developing rheumatism. My mother suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, and I didn’t want to end up like that.

Finally… when I began working there, there were eight Scots in the room to which I was assigned. Gradually they fired Davie (whom I liked best), Alec, Michael, Jacqui, John and Martin, so that only Louise and Jamie were left – because all the newcomers were from Poland and further east. Combined with the above-mentioned overtimes this meant that I could have almost not have bothered to come to Scotland at all.

Pity about the money, pity about Jamie (who might have taught me to understand Weegie in time), pity about returning to the valley of anxiety, pity about not leaving in a more appropriate way – but all in all I still think I’ve done the right thing.

 

Some particular Glesca places

The list of Glasgow places I’d like to see, which has been, thanks to weather and lack of spare time, slowly swelling for a few months, contains some pretty obvious places like the Riverside Museum, but also some not too typical ones. I went to see three of the latter kind today.

Kelvingrove Gardens Bandstand
I’d already walked the Kelvin Way several times, but never noticed the bandstand, until I read about it in this article. It really could do with some repairment work, although my not having noticed it even in such state is still a shame.

Glasgow Gaelic School
Thanks to Google Earth Street View I knew I should not expect anything special from the architecture of the Glasgow Gaelic School, but what kind of a learner would I be if I couldn’t say I’d seen it?

Graffiti near Kelvinbridge
Eventually I went to something about which I’d learned even before I knew about the school, let alone the bandstand. It was during our very first weeks in Glasgow that Hedgehog showed me some photos he took near the Kelvinbridge. It took some time before I went to see these graffiti with my own eyes, but finally it happened – and it was worth it.

 

Gulls

It took some time, but I guess I’ve got it.

Almost as soon as I moved here I noticed that the gulls at Firhill Basin didn’t have the dark brown head as the Czech ones did. Ever since I tried to make out what species they were.

They definitely aren’t the Black-headed Gull / faoileag dhubh-cheannach / racek chechtavý / Chroicocephalus ridibundus that I was accustomed to. The RSPB website confused me for some time with its “for much of the year, it has a white head”. (WP says “The hood is lost in winter, leaving just dark vertical streaks.”) Personally, I have never noticed anything such happening. Anyway, I have been in the old country last week, the heads were definitely dark brown, and here they are still definitely white.

For quite a long time I suspected I was confronted with the European Herring Gull / glas-fhaoileag / racek stříbřitý / Larus argentatus. It wasn’t until fairly recently that one of them came near enough for me to be able to recognize both the beak and the legs as being of a yellowish colour – which put paid to herring gull whose legs are supposed to be reddish .

The Yellow-legged Gull / racek středomořský / Larus michahellis apparently doesn’t live this far north, which leaves the last candidate. The more so as the RSPB map seems to agree.

The Common Gull / faoileann / racek bouřní / Larus canus then. I just hope that I won’t some day see one close enough to notice a red spot on its beak – because that’s one thing this particlular species is supposed not to have.

And of course, there’s also the possibility that there are two or more species moving hereabouts. In which case, with my sight, I’m sentenced to being puzzled forever.

 

Glasgow Green

More or less acclimatized again, I began visiting job agencies once more today. Well, I only applied at one so far, as there was also something else I wanted to see: the inflatable Stonehenge on Glasgow Green. Which proved to be more crazy than I imagined. (Later found a good video here.)

Once there, I decided to find out how large the Green was. Larger than I had thought, it turned out. It continues well beyond the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens (which I didn’t enter: more hints for future destinations) and, surprisingly at the moment, even beyond King’s Drive. I went to the end and  (partly via Clyde Walkway)  back, notwithstanding the rain which was falling for the better part of the time I spent there.

In fact I enjoyed the rain, though I would have enjoyed a sunny afternoon more. It wasn’t too harsh, it made the air clear and invigorating… and it always feels good to be walking outdoors in a rain, only occasionally meeting another living soul.

I just hope I won’t have a cold tomorrow.

 

Here to stay

“When you go away and then come back, it turns into home.”

James Hawes

 

Chan eil mòran ri ràdh ann.

Bha mi còig mìosan ann an Glaschu, ag ullachadh “bun” airson a chumail a’ fantainn ann an Alba.

Bha mi aon sheachdain air ais sa Phoblachd, a’ cur crìoch air na rudan “fosgailte” mu dheireadh agam ann.

St Nicholas Garden, Provand’s Lordship


Thill mi dhan àite far a bheil mi a’ fuireach ann an Glaschu; thadhail mi air a’ Phàirc faisg air agus air a’ Chathair-eaglais; tha mi a’ faireachdainn gun do thill mi dhachaigh.

Nise, feumaidh mi obair fhaighinn agus mar sin air adhart; ach chan fhàg mi an dùthaich tuilleadh ach mar neach-turais.

 

Church-goer

In an age in which apparently most people here call themselves Christians, but don’t regularly visit a church, it seems strange for an agnostic to do so. But I was never driven by a desire to conform; and I don’t go there to take part in a service.

It’s just that like the Obelisk in Reid Yaird, here in Glasgow the Cathedral’s Quire and St Nicholas Chapel seem to be perfect places to go to on a Sunday, sit down for a quarter or a half of an hour, and simply muse, meditate, rest or stretch your mind, take stock… Call it what you will; it’s always slightly different anyway.

I’m even set on going there tomorrow, before leaving Scotland for a week the next day.

 

The homeless, beggars and buskers

These are different in Glasgow and Budweis too.

Apparently there is a government attempt to have no “unintentionally homeless people” in Scotland by the end of this year. It seems to work, for during my several months in Glasgow I haven’t noticed one obviously homeless guy sleeping on a Sauchiehall Street bench or in a Trongate door. Or are they, unlike in Budweis, in the more “deprived” districts?

The beggars in Glasgow just sit patiently on the ground and address passers-by almost sotto voce. In Budweis they approach you after the “assertive” manner of street fundraisers. Except of course that they need the funds to keep going themselves.

Buskers are the opposite of the homeless. In Glasgow you see busking individuals, pairs and bands, mikes and loudspeakers are no exception and many of the musicians are really good. Much as I rake my brain, I can only recollect a single busker in Budweis – one whose voice and mastery of the accoustic guitar reminded you of a summer-camp campfire.

 

Cardinal liar Keith O’Brien

A few years ago it was the US. These days, fierce arguments about gay marriage (or whatever you prefer to call it) are rampant in the UK as well.

I’ve already mentioned my opinion that the state should set the primary form for any official partnership, straight or gay, whether you call it a civil partnership or civil marriage, with churches having to prove theirs could be counted in as substitutes. (UKIP spokesman David Coburn has the opposite view that “[marriage] is clearly in the domain of the church and other faiths – and it is none of government’s business to meddle with it.” Fine, but if that was the case, why should the government give a fuck about whether you’re married or not except once every decade during the census?)

Of course, among the staunchest opponents of gay marriages is the top brass in the Catholic Church. We’re already well used to their strange logic, which makes them claim that allowing Quakers and Unitarians to conduct gay weddings means curbing religious freedom. Just as we’re used to their strange similes, comparing homosexuality with rain forest destruction or gay marriages with slavery. (Happily turning a blind eye to all those women in history for whom the “traditional model of family” meant little more than slaving to their husbands.)

After all, to quote a (straight) character from Richard Morgan’s The Steel Remains:

Forget the law. It isn’t going to help. They’ll cite it where it suits them, ignore it where it doesn’t. They’re clerics, Archeth. They spend their whole fucking lives selectively interpreting textual authority to advantage.

However, Cardinal O’Brien can go one further and misinterpret textual authority to advantage, stating that “We’re taking standards which are not just our own but standards from the Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations where marriage is defined as a relationship between man and woman and turning that on its head.”

Wary of trusting anything a prominent Catholic says, I looked the Declaration up on the United Nations website. What it really says (in article 16) is “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.”

Of course, it may be that O’Brien is too thick to be able to see the semantic difference between “marriage is a relationship between man and woman” and “men and women have the right to marry”. But I think it miles more probable that this is just another barefaced lie, told in the hope that most people would never care to check.

Which, sadly, I suppose they wouldn’t.

 

St Mungo Museum

…or, to give it its full name, St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, is the latest museum I visited here. If the truth be told, I’ve been quite interested in philosophy throughout my life, so I didn’t learn much new here, except perhaps that Sikhism is far more widespread than I had thought it to be.

Still, I spent there a pleasant couple of hours, and there were two particular things making the visit doubtlessly worthwhile for me. One, finding out that prior to the Reformation there were two towers at the western end of the Glasgow Cathedral.

And it was somehow refreshing to see, for once, multilingual boards not in English and German/French/Spanish, but in English and Gaelic – and what I suppose to be Arabic, Chinese and Hindi.

 

Flùraichean

Seo rud neònach dhuibh: Cha robh ùidh agam idir riamh ann am flùraichean. Ge-tà, bhon a thòisich iad ri tighinn fo bhlàth sa phàirc anns a thadhlas mi gu tric an seo, bu mhath leam gum biodh fios agam air ainmean aig an fheadhainn as cumanta. (Tha e follaiseach nach bidh – chan eil neach sam bith agam airson mo theagasg – agus nam biodh, b’ fheàrr leam gun teagaisgeadh e mi mu h-eòin is chraobhan seach mu fhlùraichean. Uill, fhuair mi a-mach co-dhiù mu dheidhinn daffodils agus hyacinths.)

Agus nuair a cheannaich am balach bhon doras ri mo thaobh meannt, chuir sa chidsin e, dh’fhàg gu bràth, agus thòisich am meannt ri crìonadh, mhothaich mi dha sin agus dh’fheuch mi ga shàbhaladh. (Uill, an t-aon nach teagaisgear ris a’ ghlùin chan fhoghlamar ris an uilinn. Chaochail an lus agus chan eil fhios agam an robh mi ga uisgeachadh ro bheag no ro mhòr.)

 

Hedgehog

This guy with a surname which is for some reason apparently quite unusual in English and quite usual in Czech was my roommate for almost two months – from the time we came here at the beginning of November last year until just a few days before Hogmanay. Even then, having moved to single rooms, we lived in the same flat, in fact he was “the guy from the opposite door”.

During my life I’ve been usually, though not exclusively, lucky in regard to roommates, and this one was no exception. We didn’t have enough in common to keep any contact now he’s gone, but we did have enough to have managed to tolerate each other’s foibles and idiosyncrasies without any problems, despite the double room being only as small as each of the single ones.

And of course, neither of us knowing anybody else here when we arrived, we began exploring Glasgow and Scotland together and later kept giving each other many a useful info and hint.

It’s already over a month since he left (5 March). I wouldn’t exactly say I miss him, but I do sometimes reminisce about that trip to Falkirk we undertook together.

 

Air ais agus air adhart

Roinnidh mi am bliadhna dha “Trianan” le Oidhche Challainn/Là na Bliadhn’ Ùire, 6 an Giblean (air sgàth Taisbeanadh Obar Bhrothaig) agus 28 an Lùnastal (a’ chiad tighinn a dh’Alba agam). Bha 6 an Giblean seo gu math annasach ge-tà.

B’ e na h-uairean-obrach fada as coireach gun robh mi a’ dèanamh na rudan as àbhaist dhomh a dhèanamh greis ron latha sin greis as a dhèidh. Agus air an latha fhèin, cha do rinn mi ach atharrachadh de phàipear-bhalla air an laptop agam.

Eaglais Chuimhne Cheilbhinn Stevenson


Mar a chì sibh, tha mi eadhon a’ bhlog seo a sgrìobhadh trì làithean ro fhadalach.

Co-dhiù no co-dheth. Tha e fìor choltach gun do chrìochnaich an cosnadh sin. (Bidh fhios agam le cinnt a-màireach.) Ma chrìochnaich, itealaichidh mi air ais dhan Phoblachd cho tràth ‘s a gheibh mi ticead plèana, cuiridh mi crìoch air na cùisean mu dheireadh agam a tha “fosgailte” ann fhathast, agus tillidh mi, air ais ach aig an aon àm air adhart, dhan Rìoghachd.

‘S dòcha gum biodh an t-àite seo dachaidh eile as dèidh sin mu dheireadh thall. Rud nach robh agam bho na 90an.

 

Earach gun teagamh

Fèill Pàdraig, Jockie’s 41 agus tha e follaiseach mu thràth: I survived winter, both literally and metaphorically.

‘S ann anns an aimsir a tha e: an teothachd, solas nam maidnean ⁊ nam feasgairean, the fragrance of the air, na lusan a’ tighinn fo bhlàth, …

Forth & Clyde Canal, Glasgow Branch


Agus ged nach e cinnt ann dè cho fada a dh’fhuiricheas mi san obair agam, it’s already certain I’m staying san dùthaich seo. Ay, bidh trioblaidean logistic ann fhathast, m’ fhiaclan, an t-airgead Seacach ‘s am flat Bhudweis agam nan measg. Ach dh’atharraich an suidheachadh agus faodaidh mi treat them calmly a-nis.

Come hell or high water, fuirichidh mi an seo, le dìreach turas “finishing” dhan àite shean. Thionndaidh mi gu mo Ghlaswegian of a sort.

 

Willie Rennie and Czechoslovak monetary history

In the Scottish Lib Dem conference at the beginning of this month, the party’s leader is reported (by the party’s own website) as having said in his speech the following:

“So maybe they are tempted by the monetary union like, say, the one they tried when Czechoslovakia separated.
“And do you know how long the monetary union lasted there?
“Six weeks. In fact, they started to end it after three weeks.”

Now, this is a great misrepresentation of what had happened then. It implies the newly established Czech and Slovak Republics tried a monetary union, then found out it didn’t work and scrapped the idea.

While in fact the union was there only for the transitional period before the Czech and Slovak currencies becoming fully independent – as we all understood they would (“sooner rather than later”, to quote a mantra of another Lib Dem Scot) ever since it became clear that Slovakia would separate.

Willie Rennie added

“Now, Scotland is not 1990s Slovakia.”

No, Willie, it isn’t, and your example tries to see analogy where there is none.

 

A’ Chuibhle Mhòr ann an Ceàrnag Sheòrais

Nuair a thàinig mi a Ghlaschu san t-Samhain an-uiridh, bha George Square ‘s mathaid beagan eadar-dhealaichte bho na bha i ann an 1990, an uair a bha mi sa bhaile roimhe, ach bha i gu mòr dìreach mar a bha cuimhn’ oirre agam. (Ceart gu leòr, cha robh cuimhn’ agam dè cho mòran ìomhaighean a bha ann.)

Beagan na b’ fhadalaiche, leugh mi air làrach-lìn BhBC gun deach “Cuibhle Mhòr” a stèidheachadh sa cheàrnag. Chaidh mi ann a-rithist ro Àm na Nollaige airson a faicinn. Cha robh i dona idir. Bha i, cuide ris na “attractions” eile, a’ cur ris a’ shunnd chuirmeach.

Ach bidh mi a’ dol dhan obair ‘s air ais gach latha tron cheàrnag a-nis, ‘s e Màrt a tha ann agus tha a’ Chuibhle na seasamh (gu dearbh, na tionndadh) ann fhathast. An e permanent fixture a tha innte? Cha bu toil leam sin a bhith air a thachradh…

 

Buses

Naturally, customs differ from country to country. Take for example the interjection “sorry” and the phrase “you’re welcome”. The former is used much oftener in Glasgow, the latter in Budweis.

This, however, I knew before coming here. What I didn’t know was you customarily thanked a municipal transport driver when leaving his bus, not just one driving an inter-city coach.

There are other differences. When your bus approaches, you gesture to the driver that he should stop for you. (In Budweis you’d sooner gesture he needn’t.)

You don’t have a ticket bought at a newsagent’s to mark in a machine after getting on by one of the doors; there’s just the door opposite the driver, to whom you show a pre-bought time ticket, or buy a ticket directly from him – and you need the exact amount, no change is being returned.

Bus stop names don’t read “At factory X”, “Hotel Y” or “Housing scheme Z”; the usual format is “District X, before/after street Y on street Z”, and bus stops opposite each other consequently don’t bear the same name.

What suprised me most was the bus stop named “Carntyne, after Abbeyhill Street on Carntynehall Road”. It’s placed on a roundabout. The first time we stopped there I wasn’t sure my eyes weren’t deluding me (it was already dark too) and had to check it in Google Earth when I got home. It was true. They had really made the roundabout wide enough to accomodate a bus stop – two in fact, because across is the one serving the other direction.

 

Three Sundays

Long time no see, as they say. But what with being employed again, often doing overtimes, and (shall I say it?) discovering how Twitter works and what makes people interested in it I had virtually no time to blog.

Not that there was nothing to blog about. For instance my visit to Provand’s Lordship, Glasgow’s oldest extant house, and (again) the adjacent St Nicholas Garden a fortnight ago. Certainly worth it, seeing what (tolerably well-off but non-gentry) people livid in several centuries ago. It felt sort of peculiar to see a chair made in 1646. The pictures of Glasgow by William “Crimean” Simpson displayed there weren’t bad either.

Or another trip to the Cathedral a week ago: with a demonstration of I guess some 50 people to “Free Syria!” in front of the Royal Concert Hall on my way there; with a service going on in the Quire – a blessing in disguise, as it made me explore properly the Lower Church (which I affectionately call “the Vault Forest”) and meditate this time in St Nicholas Chapel, maybe even a better place for the purpose than the Quire; with seeing a pair of mounted police (hadn’t known Glasgow had them) going down North Hanover Street on my way back; and with the inevitable stroll in Ruchill Park afterwards.

Or today’s walk to Ruchill Park, noticing there the first blooming flowers this year (daffodils?) then to the Maryhill Tesco post office, whence I sent my Voter Registration Form to Glasgow Electoral Registration Officer (so presumably I’ll be able to take part in the local elections in May), a bus ride via Ruchill and Springburn to the Royal Infirmary, another Cathedral visit and a walk back by the Canal.

I still can’t get used to the idea of Sunday being perceived as the first day of the week – it seems to go against tradition (“and [God] rested on the seventh day”), against the natural way of things (you sow before you reap, you earn before you spend, you work before you retire and so forth) and of course where I come from the week begins on Monday so it’s firmly planted in my subconscious like that. That’s irrelevant. Beginning or end of week, I had three very fine Sundays in a row.