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  • Dougie

Let Glasgow Flourish

Updated: Jun 16, 2022

We visited Betty again today for three hours. By the time we said our goodbyes my mother was tired. It was time for us to go.

Betty was not surprised to see us but she does not remember that we saw one another only two days ago. And as we prepare to leave, Betty asks us again if we will visit soon. I need to explain our travel plans for the second time in less than twenty minutes.

"We are going to Edinburgh mum," I say again. "Then we're catching the train to Paris for a couple of nights before another train to see Joe and Stephanie in the Trullo."

Betty looks disappointed and has no recollection of my brother's Trullo in Puglia even though she spent a week there only a few years ago.

We have spent our time together looking through Betty's photo album as we did before. We showed her a different set of photos from this trip. And Spike gave a manicure to Betty and massaged her hands which ache. My mother was pleased.

When we departed we left swiftly because that's what we're advised is best. Prolonged goodbyes can be more confusing for the resident, we're told. We hug and kiss and leave.

Back in Glasgow after a 60 minute train trip we make our way toward the hotel. We pause awhile in George Square We sit in the sun in front of the Glasgow City Council's Chambers, famous in city folk lore for having "more marble than the Vatican". This claim may be apocryphal or it may actually be true.

Sometimes, with Glasgow, you can never be entirely sure. I think that has something to do with the city's patron saint.

Glasgow's Coat of Arms shows a bird, a tree, a bell and a fish. They are associated with the four miracles of St. Mungo.

Glaswegians -- folk like me -- remember the miracles thanks to a children's rhyme we were taught at school.

Here is the bird that never flew

Here is the tree that never grew

Here is the bell that never rang

Here is the fish that never swam.

In order of the poem's re-telling St. Mungo

... restored life to a dead robin,

... caused hazel branches to spontaneously ignite after the fire went out,

... brought to Glasgow a bell given to him by the Pope,

... found a ring inside a fish to spare a Queen from allegations of adultery.

You believe such stories. Or you do not.

I love the city of my birth. Yet I am leaving again soon.

Not for the first time.

I love my family and friends (many of whom I shall meet over the weekend to come). Then we shall leave again. I am no longer sure that I know why.

After sitting for a while in the sun of George Square, watching people come and go, and seagulls balance on the heads of statues, we cross the road to the hotel's side entrance. Up in our room we order spicy ramen noodles, a sushi and sashimi combination platter and vegetarian gyoza. Brought by Deliveroo because the hotel no longer does room service.

We dine (courtesy of globalisation). Spike packs our bags once more. I write.

We go to bed. I sleep like the proverbial ...

A Scottish singer-songwriter by the name of Michael Marra wrote what I regard as the definitive song about Glasgow. This is somewhat surprising because the late, great Mr. Marra came from Dundee. Another galaxy entirely.

The best version of Michael Marra's song -- Mother Glasgow -- was performed by the1980s 'pop sensation' from Coatbridge -- the Kane brothers known as Hue and Cry. The song tells you everything you need to know about Glasgow and its melancholic, hopeful and contradictory people. Glaswegians everywhere.

Don't ask me to explain. I have no idea what I am talking about.


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