Merchant City, Glasgow

This is the Tron Tower in Glasgow’s Merchant City.  Tron is a Scottish word for a weigh beam, essential for all trading cities. It is derived from the old French, ‘troneau’ meaning balance.  This general area is still called Trongate.  The original building was a Catholic Church ‘Our Lady and St Anne’ constructed in 1525 which later was ‘Reformed’ as a Protestant church. The tower was added in 1628 and is all that remains after fire in 1793.  A previous devastating fire in 1652 destroyed much of the Merchant City buildings – most of them had wooden frames. Glasgow had various peaks in its history but much of the wealth came from trading tobacco, cotton and shipbuilding.  Daniel Defoe, in his book ‘A Vision of Britain Through Time’, wrote –

Glasgow is, indeed, a very fine city; the four principal streets are the fairest for breadth, and the finest built that I have ever seen in one city together. The houses are all of stone, and generally equal and uniform in height, as well as in front; the lower story generally stands on vast square dorick columns, not round pillars, and arches between give passage into the shops, adding to the strength as well as beauty of the building; in a word, ’tis the cleanest and beautifullest, and best built city in Britain, London excepted’.

Let’s not forget, however, that this wealth was built on the back of African slaves.  I doubt there is a country in the world that does not have a dark history.

This rather sinister building is the Tollbooth Steeple built in 1626. It was attached to a later demolished town hall, court and jail.  Public hangings and other ghastly punishments were a spectacle for the medieval locals.

Glasgow Cross, between High Street leading to St Mungo’s Cathedral, Gallowgate and Saltmarket.

Interior and Exterior of the old Glasgow Fruit Market

When I was a child this was still the bustling Glasgow Fruit Market.  The father of one of my first school friend’s worked here.  Every day I looked with interest in her lunch box to see what exotic fruit she had.  Now it has been transformed into a bustling, glamorous event space with bars and restaurants.  On the day I visited, there was a craft fair in the middle.  One of the artists, a man of my age, noted that I had a silky voice with my mutated transatlantic vowels.  A silver tongued merchant methinks…

Alleyway or Wynd. Good for ‘winching’ on a dark night. Google it in Glasgow dialect…

I graduated from college in this very building in 1980 – Glasgow City Halls.  I always feel a tinge of regret when I think about my graduation. Family issues made me choose not to continue with a post graduate qualification. In time I could have lectured at my alma mater. One of my fellow students did exactly that with lower grades.

He spent two years wallowing in unrequited love for me because I thought he was gay and he didn’t make his intentions plain. Maybe this is the ‘troneau‘ in life. He got the dream job but not the girl.  Speaking of dream girls, I have a new admirer at work.  He thinks I am too beautiful to work with the masses.  It is hard to know how to respond but perhaps I should retire to my brown recliner throne and have Teddy bring me sugared plums?

 

A.W.O.L.

Random photo of Teddy standing dressed as Ace Halloween 2009

Another random photo of me dressed as a naughty school girl. It backfired because everyone thought I was someone’s daughter!

The strange thing about blogging is that you feel a responsibility to followers and friends.  I have been absent without leave for a few weeks and can’t help but feel guilty about it.  Like most of us, life has intervened into my usual routine and I have been a little frazzled.  Lots of new contract work has kept me busy but my mind has been blank despite all the opportunities for people watching.  I wondered if my health was deteriorating but my psychiatrist seems happy with me – I had some wonky blood results (that’s a clinical term…) which raised anxiety levels.  My cholesterol levels shot up but my inflammatory markers that indicate plaque, risk of stroke or heart attack were good.  My extended Irish family has a huge file on our family risk of heart problems in the main hospital in Dublin, so I have always been proactive about eating well and exercising.  But I can’t think of anything nicer than a baked potato smothered in butter…

Then I had a skin biopsy.  My dermatologist just went straight to the point – “I am taking a biopsy to check for basal skin cancer”.  Yes, it also appears in the Irish family – dang those genetics.  Why couldn’t they just leave me money in their will??  I didn’t truly enjoy my short vacation in San Diego which is why I haven’t blogged, although looking back there were some lovely moments including finding ancestors graves.  The news has just been so awful that I have started watching Fixer Upper instead of CNN.  We finally got around to ordering a new door after Hurricane Harvey only to have the wrong one delivered…  Teddy wondered if I made a fuss but there was no point; many of our residents have lost everything.

One of my friends housed their neighbors whose house was flooded.  The children just moved back last week and my friend was sad – what a beautiful person she is.  All of my contract work dried up immediately after the hurricane because no-one was able to or wanted to hold conferences in Houston.  One of my employees had a wee party for their staff in the garden of the office.  It was so much fun and I won the raffle for 4 tickets to Kemah which is our equivalent of Coney Island.  Well, I have no kids and don’t know anyone who has apart from my angel friend.  Apparently her neighbor was overwhelmed that a complete stranger would give them a gift.  No one could have felt happier than me, paying it forward feels good.

Two of the events that I have worked for recently have incorporated the conference contributing or volunteering to the Houston Food Bank.  Thank you!  One day when I was working at the airport, I helped a volunteer by translating for a passenger who only spoke Spanish (then three more turned up).  After that, I was still standing there when two men came up and said very loudly and incomprehensibly, “Haw Missus, how do ye get out of this airport?”  The volunteer looked perplexed.  Was it Serbo-Croat or Icelandic?  I recognized the accent from Glasgow in Scotland where I grew up.  Laughingly, I said, “Come over here boys!” Their faces lit up when they heard my (much posher, think Maggie Smith) Glasgow accent.  One of them had his arms wide open and said, “Gie us a cuddle” which I did and the other one hugged from the other side, kissing my ear.  I sent them on their way and laughed at the look of horror on the elegant volunteer’s face.  They were either oilmen or mariners who had travelled from some far flung place, Kazakhstan perhaps?  A few refreshments had been imbibed but there was nothing sexual about the cuddle.  It was one of kinship and comfort in a strange place.  Gosh, I felt homesick for the first time in years that day.  Despite all the turmoil recently, Texas mostly feels like home.

Get ready for some fun blogs and sorry for my absence.

 

The Scotsman on the train

This is the main train station in Glasgow.  So many hearts have been broken under that clock.  Before cell phones we had to have a meeting place for dates.

This is the main train station in Glasgow. So many hearts have been broken under that clock. Before cell phones we had to have a meeting place for dates.

I briefly mentioned this fine gentleman in a previous post Sexual History through the Ages – Part II
A couple of years ago, I was on one of my regular trips to the UK and took some time to visit friends in Aberdeenshire. Scotland is a small country with an excellent transportation system. You can fly from Aberdeen to Glasgow but it is easier to hop on one of the frequent trains. I had to travel about 30 miles to the train station by bus and was perplexed by a young man wearing a kilt. Men do wear kilts in Scotland but not in everyday life unless they are a busker or going to a wedding.

When I arrived at the train station in Aberdeen, there were kilties everywhere! My heart sank – that meant they were travelling to Glasgow to attend an international soccer tournament and in this case it was Belgium. That is the other occasion when men wear their kilts. Drinking and soccer go together like a margarita and fiesta. We are fairly sophisticated in Scotland and the trains always have a trolley with food and alcoholic drink to purchase. As you can image, that is expensive.

We all rushed to get on the train when the barrier lifted. Sometimes you reserve a seat but usually you will find something. I managed to find an airplane seat (without a table) and ensconced myself in the window seat. The train was filling up very quickly with not just soccer fans but men returning from oil rigs. I focused on my Kindle but out of the corner of my eye, I saw a group of oil workers sitting at a table but one of them broke away from the pack and sat next to me.

Sigh! I am not usually this rude but I could already smell some liquor on his breath and I just wanted a quiet trip. His friends were sniggering like school boys about him sitting next to me. After a few minutes there was an out-stretched hand in front of me and a voice saying, “Hi, I’m Nick”. There was no alternative but to turn around and look at him. I probably gasped and my eyes might have dilated. Not only was he tall, dark and handsome but he was the spitting image of my psychiatrist. It was uncanny and I have always had a crush on my psychiatrist although it is fading after 11 years.

He misunderstood my reaction and immediately thought, “I’m in with a chance!” We started chatting and then he must have seen Kind Kerry hiding behind Sexy Kerry because he revealed to me that his mentor had just died in a terrible oil rig accident (that was all over the news) and he was devastated. I summoned up all my counselling skills and listened to him. It was fine to start with and then I noticed that he, and all the other men on the train, had their own supplies of liquor under the seat.

The steward came around with the trolley, totally out of his depth with some of the bad behavior that was already happening on this crowded train, and I ordered a glass of wine. ‘May as well join in’, thought I. As the journey progressed Nick got drunker and then noticed Sexy Kerry again. Oh dear… There was nowhere for me to go, he had lost all sense of personal space and determined to flirt with the first woman he had seen in weeks.

Coincidentally, we had been brought up very close to each other in Glasgow and I guess he thought we were the same age. He revealed he was 42 and I was about 53 then. He was convinced that we had met at one of the clubs and been intimate. More sighing from Kerry; trapped in a third of her original seat. If we had been intimate I would have been the worst babysitter in the world. 🙂

The water boarding was not yet over. Finally the drink made him aggressive and unpleasant. Swearing and talking about politics, very loudly. At long last the train trundled into Glasgow. I was stressed and irritated because I had just missed a beautiful journey by train with nostalgic landmarks. He was drunk and annoyed. I can only hope that his wife was able to deal with him better than I. I wish I could think of a moral in this tale but there is none! It was just another weird traveling story with Kerry.