Sunday, August 20, 2006

My Own Private Glasgow

...for Gary...

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.

By Professor Batty


Blogger Gary said...

Wow, great picture.

The market isn't as scary as it used to be, but it's still relatively unsanitised and very Glasgow: rough round the edges, occasionally dodgy and funny as hell. When it's not being raided by anti-piracy squads, that is :)

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