Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More Rambling Thoughts on Glasgow

I like to think that as a Canadian and recent immigrant, my circumstances offer me a unique perspective on my beloved city that I have chosen to live in. I assimilate as best as I can and as much as my alcohol tolerance can afford and yet maintain an outsiders perspective. Most of the time I take the cultural differences in stride and in good humour; I mean, no one can be as perfect as us smug Canadians, right? (Apart from the Dutch, perhaps.)

This past weekend, however, I think I was finally overwhelmed by the gaping canyon between myself as a Canadian and myself as a Canadian living in a foreign country.

Sunday evening, around 11.00pm, myself, Paul and two friends were in Pollokshields getting some dinner at a popular take out joint. Suddenly an older white dude who, strangely enough we all knew as he is the father of our friends' girlfriend, came storming into the restaurant, pushing past Paul and our friends who were outside, and demanded to know if the shop owner had seen any youths running about.

"Have you seen three young men running about in the last minute?"

Confused, the Pakistani shop keeper and I looked at one another. Nope, we hadn't seen anything.

"Our friend just had his head kicked in and is on his way to the HOSPITAL IN AN AMBULANCE! We're pretty sure who is responsible but I want to know if you've seen anything!!!"

Again, the shop keeper replied he hadn't and I concurred - we didn't see anything.


And just as quickly, our friend's Dad ran out of the shop into the night.

And the "this" that he was referring to? I can only assume he meant random violence or perhaps, racial tensions that may or may not exist in the area.

As we took our food order back to the car, Paul told a story of how one of our friends had been randomly punched in the face, on that very street, by a huge South Asian dude when they were teenagers. We then drove past a plaque for Kriss Donald, the 15-year old boy who was abducted, beaten, and murdered in Glasgow in 2004. And it was only last month I read a disturbing article about two immigrants (one from Mongolia, the other Sudan), who were severely beaten with bricks and clubs.

And I thought, "Where the fuck am I? The deep south of America circa the 1960s? Some apocalyptic dystopian city, as seen in Children of Men? Was I really that naive to think that Glasgow was such a wonderful and friendly place?" I was so upset that I burst into tears, embarrassing myself and my stiff-upper-lip British friends.

My friend, Claire, attempted to appease my emotions and attest that such matters happen in all major cities. I nodded and bit my lip to stop any further blubbering.

Now, hang on a minute but....I honestly cannot remember the last time someone had their head kicked in in Toronto because they were black, white, Catholic and so on. While you may be shot for being in the wrong place at the wrong time (i.e. the boxing day shooting of 2005), I can't recall anyone recently having the shit kicked out of them because of their skin colour or religion in Toronto. Then again, maybe it does but it is unreported.

Maybe my blubbering is not only a "Toronto thing" but a generational one as well, having been born eight years after the Canadian Multiculturalism policy was created by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau on October 8, 1971 (becoming embedded in the Canadian Constitution in 1985). And I don't know about your high school history and law classes, but I seem to recall learning about the Canadian constitution at least once every goddamn day! Or maybe it has something to do with coming from a country ENTIRELY populated by immigrants (apart from the Aboriginal people of Canada, obviously).

Whatever it was that night, I suddenly felt really naive and...middle-class Canadian. Maybe I just don't get it.

Maybe Claire was right; maybe that sort of stuff happens in all major cities - even Toronto? I don't know if that shit goes down in Toronto (I'm doubtful), but I would love to hear from fellow Torontonians what their thoughts are. Claire was right about one thing - it was something straight out of Do the Right Thing:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A.A. Gill is an Asshole

I'm a little late on this but a couple weeks ago A.A. Gill - the insufferable Sunday Times columnist - wrote an article about the crucial election taking place today in Glasgow East (back story here, as to why this election is so important for Prime Minister Gordon Brown).

In his article, Welcome to Glasgow East: the hardest, poorest place in Britain, Gill writes:

Glasgow East is the hardest, poorest place in Britain. Others may pick a fight about that – but they’d lose. Shettleston, at the heart of the constituency, makes the rough margins of Liverpool look like the Chelsea Flower Show.

The constituency is large and incoherent. It looks like the national museum of pebble dashing – everything that could have the bottom of a fish tank stuck to it has.

The people do not look good here. Often it is difficult to tell men from women, old men from older men. The mean parades of shops are dotted with tanning parlours. Yet the locals have the blotchy pallor of cave-dwelling consumptives; only their first two fingers are stained brown.

In the pubs there are shellsuited angry men with faces like melted funeral candles.

A colourful description indeed!

Now, I've not ventured into the East of Glasgow much - apart from going to a Celtic game or the Barras - but I have to give credit to Gill for walking his poncey ass through it! Them is some brass balls!

Interestingly, however, that Gill acknowledges that this area of Glasgow is rife with poverty and alcohol/ drug abuse, but fails to associate that such demeaning descriptions of East Glaswegians is perhaps due to these elements. No, instead he goes for the cheap shot and really, I'm not entirely sure what it has to do with the elections.

Further on, he writes:

This is an overwhelmingly Catholic seat – Celtic’s ground is just down the road – and Catholics always, always vote Labour. They won’t vote for a man called Mason: the freemasons are aligned with the Orange Order, which is Rangers and unionist – and they are having their marching season right now.

All this may seem ridiculously 1960s Belfast and unsophisticated; but if you leave people to stew in squalor, what’s the surprise if they behave tribally?

Holy shit!!! Did he honestly just write that?! Like, for real? In a NATIONAL newspaper?!

Now, I may be an immigrant but even I know that while Glasgow East has a healthy catholic population, catholics do not "always, always" vote labour. While it's true that Scotland is more or less a socialist country (read: slightly left-wing), the Catholic Church is more or less conservative (read: slightly right-wing).

In the end, however, he sort of redeems himself:

At best only 30% of east Glaswegians will turn out for the ballot. They are deracinated, as uncoupled from the political system as they are from the economic one. No one wants to talk to the candidates; they have no questions to ask, no use for a leaflet.

It would be easy to see these people as being the agents of their own misfortune, what with the smoking, the diet, the drugs, the drink, the strokes and the heart attacks, the rotten teeth, the pregnancies and the crime. But why should they get enthused about a system that has for generations taken them for granted?

The citizens of east Glasgow have bigger problems to be getting on with – like how to stay alive.

He's still a twat though.

I don't know why but it's a tragedy for us straight ladies. I mean, Jesus - Just look at him!

Watch John Barrowman: The Making of Me, tonight on BBC One at 9.00pm

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I went to T in the Park for the first time this past weekend. T in the Park, for those outside Scotland, is a 3 day music festival - featuring all kinds of bands and musicians, drugs, overpriced booze, neds, and smelly campers - that takes place in a huge field in southeast Scotland. Being the diva that I am, I didn't camp but instead went for the day on Saturday. Paul and I arrived at around 1.00pm and had every intention of staying until 11.00pm in order to see Ben Folds and Rage Against the Machine perform.

That was before we knew better.

I know people absolutely love T in the Park but honestly, it's so fucking overrated; I'm just glad I had access to the "hospitality area" (with nice clean toilets) and didn't pay for my tickets.

Anyway, when we first arrived, it was fun - not too crowded yet with drunk neds screeching in slurring voices - and there was actually room to move in the band tents!


The line up!

Sons and Daughters in King Tut's Wah Wah Hut Tent!

Sons and Daughters

Trying to get a decent picture of Glasvegas. Yeah, not possible. I said it before and I will say it again, Glasvegas are the band to look out for.

Bacardi tent - later became ...bit dodgy....

Just some of the colourful costumes seen at T

The essential for any outdoor festival in the UK: rainboots (a.k.a wellies)


Paul scanning the impending festival and questioning his decision to attend T in the Park

After avoiding one too many beer cups being thrown around the band tents, we are not happy

At the Slam Tent - no idea who the DJ is but he was actually pretty awesome!

In the Ceilidh tent at T - again, totally awesome and fun! Who doesn't love a good ceilidh dance?

So, after paying too much for crap lager, stressing over flying beer and cups in the tents, and one too many drunk neds fighting, we were outta there to go home and watch T in the Park the way the good Lord intended: ON TV!

Friday, July 11, 2008


I won tickets to see Kylie in concert on her last night in Glasgow, so my best friend, Coco/ Bob/ Bombo flew over from Toronto to see her with me.
Coco/ Bob taking a break from his knitting and keepin' it real

Glasgow crane

Knitting on the train to Edinburgh

National Portrait Gallery of Scotland

Vanity Fair Exhibition!

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Greyfrair's Bobby and Bobby's Bar!


Wednesday 9 July - Waiting for Kylie to take the stage and seriously dudes? I LOVE KYLIE!!!!
So I won tickets to see Kylie in concert on her last night in Glasgow and holy shit, the seats were second row, centre stage! The concert itself was amazing! Kylie is a fantastic singer and great performer; she was so sweet too and really interacted with the audience.

Opening of the concert...ohmigawd.....


Kylie looking hot with her homoerotic/ gay-inspired sailor dancers

Cheerleader Kylie and one of the best segments of the concerts

Kylie as a geisha girl

Opening of the second half of the show

Look how close she is to us!!!

Kylie in action!

More Kylie! Try to ignore Bob singing along and the dodgy camera work at times - we had shared a bottle of champagne earlier and were a bit tipsy/excited!

After the concert and standard stop at a gay bar for a drink, I took Bob to the ubiquitous Glasgow "chippie" for some chips and deep-fried sausages. Bob loved the deep-fried sausages and inhaled two of them under 2 minutes.

Coco, this one is for you:

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Oh! Canada?

British people: Canada wants you!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008