A man walks into the Mitchell Library: Reader: Have you got a book on Glasgow, mister? Librarian: Aye, 4000! Reader: Well, it’s the north of the city. Librarian: Oh, aye, here, there’s this, there’s that. Reader: It’s round about Maryhill. Librarian: Well, there’s a wee history of it. Reader:...
All cities are inchoate, none more so than Glasgow.
You can assume that the ambiguity in the title of this dense, lyrical and thrillingly intelligent book has been carefully mused over. I should disclose immediately that I’m in the end credits, along with some other usual suspects, as an early adviser.
Despite failing to win this year’s Man Booker Prize, Graeme Macrae Burnet won what you might call won the popular vote, dominating media coverage before the actual winner was revealed as The Sellout by Paul Beatty.
Islands fascinate us. Skye, for many, was indefinably devalued when at last, two decades ago, linked to the mainland by bridge. Many of our islands, once inhabited, are today deserted and forlorn. Scarp and Taransay, for example, off the coast of Harris, supported families into the 1970s.
It was the opinion of an eminent Scotsman of the times that Lady Anne Barnard was ‘the best specimen Scotland ever sent to London’. This was no small compliment, the roads south clogged with ambitious and talented Scots keen to get ahead by leaving home.
Shortly before the second general election of 1974, the late John P. Mackintosh attempted to explain the rise of the Scottish National Party to a predominantly left-wing English audience in an essay for the New Statesman.
In 1965, accompanied by his formidable permanent secretary, Evelyn Sharp, Richard Crossman, the then housing minister, visited the emerging new town of Cumbernauld. In his diary, the Cotswold-dwelling Labour left winger waxed ecstatic.
On the 4th of May 1987, a 78-feet straw locomotive was driven on a low-loader, diesel hauler from the former Springburn Locomotive works in Glasgow, the way locomotives had been since the 1940s, and hung from the 174-feet high Finnieston Crane over the Clyde where it swayed in the air for weeks.