The commonwealth games are coming; Glasgow is essentially wearing a sign that says ‘please excuse us while we change’. I had already been warned that if I talked about the new Transport Museum once more, I’d have to sign up as a guide because no one else wanted to hear about it any longer. So when Nicki agreed to come up to Glasgow for her first trip to Scotland, I saw a fresh audience.
While most Glaswegians have probably not been to the transport museum since they were children, or only after having children, I used to slope off from studying and duck into the Kelvingrove and Transport Museums. In their not surprisingly sparse cafe, they did the best Tuna Melt Panini this side of the Kelvin. I will stake something very important on that. From the old cobbled street to the climb aboard trams. The quaint little car showroom where I first decided I would like to have a Volkswagen Beetle! Even down to that little hidden room with the model ships, for some reason I was always really taken by it.
Collecting Nicki from Glasgow Central, the first opportunity to ‘show off’ the riverside was underwhelming largely because it was 11 pm, but I tried. Pointing valiantly into the dark at a greenish glow, ‘Look!, there it is’. I’m glad I couldn’t see her face; it was probably heartbreakingly disappointed.
Heading for town the following morning and with Nicki as keen to see Brad Pitt in George Square as I was for another chance viewing at the Riverside Museum, I probably risked our lives accessorising driving with more pointing and enthusiastic commentary. ‘Did you know that of the £74 million it cost to build the Riverside Museum only £5 million had to be publically raised?’ …that Zaha Hadid also designed the London Olympic Aquatic centre? …that it’s the first new museum in Glasgow since The Burrell Collection in 1983. Nicki was as disinterested in all of this as you are; celebrities were waiting.
Glitz and glamour it wasn’t quite but seeing George Square set up to look like America’s second state is a pretty great way to introduce Glasgow City Centre for the first time. Not as great as being immersed in its history, on the newly developed riverside but there was more chance of a good lunch in town. Seeing Glasgow through someone else’s eyes, as a New City is interesting. With all the scaffolding throughout the city centre, she was surprised when we ducked into The Princes Square (for that lunch we were looking for) and came up into a roof terrace full of casual coffee drinkers and newspaper shufflers with their Vivienne Westwood, FCUK…and the odd Primark shopping bags.
Where I might see a red expanse covered in benches and maybe glance over to see if there is a line outside of Greggs in George Square, she saw the beautiful old stone work on the The City Chambers and The Old Post Office Building. She heard bagpipes from the buskers on Buchanan Street; I complained there was a man in a kilt interrupting my conversation. Although when it came to Ashton Lane she saw exactly what I saw, a really, really great use for a lovely old street!
We never did manage to visit the Transport Museum, and they no longer do those Tuna Melt Panini’s but one more person loves Glasgow, even without seeing a 1920s tram or the Clockwork Orange as it once was. So although you don’t necessarily need the history to understand the City, because it’s always changing, upgrading, surprising; I’m still trying.
I’ll see you on the tour.
Over here please, I’ll lead.