I just found this post in my drafts which I obviously forgot to publish or maybe I thought it was a bit shit. Anyway, out of date though it is, here you go.
I’ve been to Glasgow loads of times and while it isn’t exactly the world’s prettiest city, I always have a good time there. The people are dead nice even though they hate the English.
My family are half-Scottish so if they do go independent, then I suppose I can get a Scottish passport. Pretty much everyone under 40 wants independence. Again, like in Hartlepool, I did vox pops. People here were more forthcoming.
The first shock was a thing called ‘Bus Gate’. We were following google maps to get to a central car park. Our Airbnb (v nice, cosy, clean nicely decorated 2 bed new build house) was quite far from the centre. I saw this painted sign on the road ‘BUS GATE’. I wonder what that is I briefly pondered as I drove. By the third BUS GATE sign, I was seriously worried. I looked around and yes, it was all buses, and taxis, and a few normal cars, which on closer inspection could have been taxis. Fuuuuck. Do they mean BUS LANE? Why don’t they say bus lane like normal people.
So I’ll get fined. The SNP, who control Glasgow, have pulled a nasty trick, changing the language. In the first three weeks of installing BUS GATES, I later discovered on the internet, the SNP local councils earned a million quid from fines. I’m waiting for the letter. I’ll protest saying I didn’t know and that the last time I was there was in 2018 and BUS GATES started in 2019 but it won’t work. The SNP hate the English and let’s face it, the easiest way of making money is by fining motorists and claiming it is some sort of eco-initiative. (Post-script: yes I did get fined but there were a list of reasons you could protest and ‘I don’t know what BUS GATE means’ wasn’t on it. So I paid.)
The day was sunny and bright. A huge lit up billboard flashed over the main square with Nicola Sturgeon’s face. Every so often it’d change to Anas Sarwar’s face, he’s leader of the Scottish Labour Party. I talked to people, who were mostly very young, about the elections. I tried to memorise the names of the Labour politicians, so I’d look like I knew what I was talking about. I approached two young people sitting on a bench outside Costas coffee, which was housed in a tiny church.
What are you going to vote?
‘I dunno’ said the boy.
‘I’m too young to vote’ said the girl.
How old are you?
I thought you could vote at 16 here?
‘I’m not sure.’
They both loved Nicola Sturgeon.
‘She did a Facebook live on how to cut your own hair’ said the girl.
‘Nicola’s handled the pandemic really well. We’ve been much stricter than England.’
I looked around. Nobody wore masks. The streets were very crowded. Everyone was sitting drinking outside, no social distancing whatsoever. And people could sit inside restaurants and bars, which they can’t in England.
‘Really? You don’t see everyone socialising like this in England’, I said. ‘We can’t go in restaurants until May 17th’.
‘Oh. Hmm I’ve heard about people being fined for breaking lockdown in England. Nobody has been fined here.’
One of the things I’ve noticed about interviewing people about politics is that they contradict themselves ALL the time, often within a couple of sentences. Basically they make it up as they go along.
Although it is nice to get out of London, it’s still quite difficult. You have to stay outside all the time and despite it being May, it’s been the coldest winter in a long time. It’s even snowing. You can go inside restaurants until 8pm but after that you are outside. Most museums, art galleries are closed. Obviously cinemas and theatres are still closed. There isn’t much to do except be outside or walk.
I found we weren’t eating well. Most meals were chips. By Sunday we’d eaten chips for the last four meals so I went to Tesco Metro (expensive) and bought some proper local food: Scottish salmon, new potatoes, asparagus, turnips and Tennents lager.
I made ‘bashed neeps’ which are mashed swede with a ton of butter.
We watched Line of Duty the final episode. The airbnb had an HD TV which makes everything look ultra real. You can see the sets wobble. Suddenly I noticed Ted’s non-starry teeth. It looked amateurish and the script was weak. We all felt very flat afterwards.
The next day we drove back to London in driving rain, stopping at a petrol station where they sold Edinburgh Rock, shortbread and a macaroni cheese pie. I love car food.
You are not half Scottish .at the most a third. Your Mother.
Ok mum. You know I’m a massive exaggerator
Oh the perils of driving north. Interesting observations and enjoyable read. Seems like “farewell Scotland, it’s been good to know you”.
Did you miss the delights of Scottish Indian food, Scottish Italian food and deep fried everything?
Line of Duty was OK. Wasn’t the point of it that most people shouted their lines which allowed even more room for Anna Maxwell Martin to play her really understated poisonous character?
If you thought that your piece was shit, perhaps you should see what passes for writing in The Spectator.
I have tried those culinary delights in previous visits.
Thankyou! I have to say I’m a huge fan of the Spectator and would love to write for them.
I’d buy it again if you did, but would you mind telling their numerous op/ed COVID writers that scientists do not “discover things” but mostly falsify existing theories.
ps. Is that a mural of Jon Moss with the racquet?