My Own Private Glasgow
Barrowland, Glasgow, July 7, 1973
It had been a less than thrilling holiday. My traveling companion and I had spent nearly two weeks in cold drizzle which ended up with us in Glasgow, aimlessly strolling the streets in search of something. Her idea of a UK trip was based on British History, guidebooks be dammed. My travel concept was somewhat less defined.
Travel UK in the early seventies still hadn't quite become the well-oiled machine that it is today, and that is both a good and bad thing. Bad, in that it was easy to fall into a Bill Brysonesque maze of missed opportunities and arcane historical minutiae. Good in that it was easy to escape the beaten path and find (lose?) oneself in culture of a different sort.
Flea Markets and Used Stores provide a grounding mechanism, a way for the traveller to get a taste of local life, an experience that hasn't already been curated, filtered and sanitized to death. Why this place remains etched in my memory, while a dozen museums are but a faint blur says something about the power of the mundane. In the early seventies Barrowland was a fairly gritty experience, it was the only place in the UK where I had a feeling of being "sized up" for a possible mugging (and that fellow's face remains likewise preserved in my mind's eye.) The market here still thrives, as does the adjacent Ballroom.