Monday, April 07, 2008

I had the ultimate and quintessential Glaswegian weekend.

Friday night my friend, Kate, was celebrating her two week Easter holiday break (she is a teacher) and accordingly was drinking in a pub near my flat. After dinner, she came round to watch EastEnders (a show I do not watch but Kate does) and pestered her with questions about it:

"Why is she homeless? Why is everyone working class on this show? Did they used to date? What happened?"

At first, Kate calmly tried to explain the intricate plot details of the last twenty or so odd years, but quickly gave up and replied, "Argh! It's like watching it with a Gran!"

Admittedly, I have never been into soaps. It's interesting, however, to note the cultural differences between American and British soaps. From my limited exposure to American soaps (I have always been averse to them), the characters seem to be quite glamorous and have sexy professions such as doctor and entrepreneur.

Whereas the American soaps glamorise the lives of the rich and beautiful, British soaps romanticise the lives of the working class. Or so it would appear to my limited knowledge. I mean, just compare the names of American soaps (The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, As the World Turns) to British ones (EastEnders, Coronation Street, River City).

Anyway, Friday night. After Kate left, I met up with my friend, Claire, for a few drinks at McPhabbs. After all the bars/ pubs closed, Claire and I were wandering around Sauchiehall Street, debating where to go, when we received free passes to a semi-new club, The Beat Club. We decided to give it a go and upon entering the club, were faced with this sign:

£1.00 drinks!!!

Glaswegians + £1.00 drinks = total chaos

After all the clubs let out around 3.00am, Sauchiehall Street (and indeed this city) become other worldly and no longer resembles Glasgow. It is pandemonium; people drunkenly weave through the streets clutching chips and Irn Bru. In fact, as Claire and I left the club, some dude was being arrested but that didn't stop him from trying to chat up Claire and I.

"Evening ladies" the young man said to us as he was being cuffed by about five cops.

"Um, dude? You're being arrested," I replied.

A male cop quickly intervened and told us to "keep moving".

"Whatever. I'm not even interested"

As Claire and I came to the street corner, a dude across the street from us was talking on his phone when he suddenly stopped, held his phone out to one side, and puked into the sewer. Afterwards, he put the phone back up to his ear and continued chatting away.

Now that is hardcore.

Saturday afternoon, Paul went to the Celtic game with his Dad while I went shopping with Claire. As usual, Paul and his Dad went to the pub afterwards to no doubt, debate the game or whatever it is men talk about when they talk about football. Around dinner time, Paul called me to say that he and his Dad would pick me up in a cab to take me to his Nanny's for dinner.

As I walked towards the cab, I could see three heads sitting in the backseat. Strange. As I climbed into the cab, sitting in between Paul and his Dad, was a Japanese dude.

"Jennifer, this is my friend, Nori", Paul's Dad said.

The Japanese dude said "hello" and continued to stare at me.

I thought perhaps it was a friend from work but Paul's Dad continued:

"Nori is from Japan and came over last night to watch the Celtic match; he's a big fan of Nakamura. He goes back to Japan Sunday night."

Holy shit.

Apparently Paul and his Dad saw him drinking alone in the pub and after finding out that Nori was a Celtic fan (and, more importantly, alone) they invited him back to Paul's Nannys for some good ol' Glaswegian hospitality.

Being a Canadian and having lived many years in Toronto, I was initially a bit apprehensive about it all; I couldn't help but think the worst. Turns out, however, he's just some shy Japanese dude who loves football and travelling.

Paul and his wee brothers, sister, Grandmother, step-Mom and Uncle openly welcomed him, gave him whiskey, and asked him a million questions about Japan. Poor Nori, whose English was limited, probably had no idea where Paul and his Dad were taking him and went along with it all in good faith anyway.

After about 3 hours, we dropped him back off at his hotel and upon getting out of the car, Nori faced us and gave us a huge bow (which, apparently, is a sign of respect).

To be honest, I don't think it would have happened in Toronto. In fact, you'd be lucky if someone even talked to you in a bar (who wasn't trying to pick you up). That isn't to say Torontonians are cold and distant; it's just that we can sometimes be a bit standoffish.

Nevertheless, you just know that Nori is going to go back to Tokyo and tell everyone how friendly, lively, and hospitable Glaswegians are. And you know, he'd be right.

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