Sunday, March 9, 2014

To or From

Mucho apologies to anyone who may have been attempting to reading these on a semi regular basis, for not having blogged for ages.
The trouble is, that though I absolutely love love love the nature of blogging - which is,  you can throw down your thoughts and then send them out into the stratosphere for anyone to pick up or bin (according to their preference) my appreciation of it completely gets in the way, once I sit down to write.

There's something so intensely personal about a blog. You can read when the writer is not being honest, or wants to impress, or is trying to hide something from you or from themselves.
With a blog the fact is, it's always best to say what's on your mind.
The problem for me is,  I often find the contents of my mind so seemingly random, that the idea of placing them into a blog for anyone to read, seems about as entertaining a prospect as emptying my Hoover bag out on the carpet and asking if anyone wanted to look through the contents.
With blogging, as with many things,  it's difficult to know where, or even when, to start.

So why now?
Well, Mark and I have been collaborating on this project called "Journeys to Glasgow" an online storytelling site about Glasgow, to coincide with the 2014 commonwealth games, along with some great friends of ours from old.
Everyone else involved in the project seems to do a whole lot of hard work, grafting, thinking, constructing, traveling, navigating through the early mornings and late nights caused by the time zones between us, based here in Los Angeles, and everybody else based 8 hours ahead in Glasgow.

My input has consisted, so far, of a bit of posturing saying stuff like, "Have you thought about that?' "Remember to mention this" and "You know your logo looks squinty?"
I figured the least I could do was write a little story about what I think of the city.

That should have been easy enough,  Glasgow is a place I absolutely love,  but when I sat down to write, I got as far as stating that Glaswegians are brilliant, and that I still think that when the sun hits off the red sandstone buildings after the rain, it is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Though I was born in Cumbernauld, I lived in Glasgow for 8 years from when I was 18 till I was 26. As anyone over the age of 26 knows, a lot of stuff happens between the ages of 18 and 26 - way too much to put in any one blog.  But, long long before I ever moved to Glasgow, I knew it would be my home some day.

My parents were both Glaswegians, who moved us all out to the newly built town of Cumbernauld before I was born, with the promise of a better lifestyle and a bigger house.
They definitely needed a bigger house as their "room and kitchen" in Alford street was cramped, to say the least, with three young children and another on the way.
And though my parents loved Cumbernauld, they never lost their own affection for Glasgow, the city where they had grown up and their parents before them.

My Mum and I used to travel on the bus from Cumbernauld to Glasgow some Saturdays. I don't always remember why exactly we went.
Sometimes we went to go shopping, or to visit my Nana (my Mum's Mum) who seemed, often, to be in the Royal Infirmary - James Miller's giant imposing hospital perched next to Glasgow cathedral and - from my point of view on the bus - next to the biggest graveyard in the world.
(When I was a kid I reckoned they had the graveyard there to remind patients, that they'd better get better or else.)
Then the bus would wind its way down Cathedral street, past Strathclyde University, where my sister and brother - Janice and Scott -  were studying, finally coming to a stop at Buchanan Street Bus Station, where we would disembark.

Buchanan St Bus Station - which confusingly was actually on Killermont Street -  was always busy, serving busses on local routes, as well as coaches that would travel to further off places such as London.
As a child,  I never thought much about London. I'd heard that it was big and busy, but I couldn't imagine anywhere being bigger and busier than Glasgow.

At Christmas time we'd always head to Goldberg's - a huge department store that offered a new fangled thing called "credit" and had the best Christmas displays around. Animatronic elves would pretend to wrap presents, or reindeers would shake their heads from side to side in the window displays.
Inside the store was just as brilliant.
You could spot dark haired women with great make up and fur coats and great jewelry, or smart guys in suits with slicked hair and chunky gold identity bracelets. They talked loudly and had great smiles and huge arm movements. They were exotic amazing creatures, not like anything else I'd seen in Cumbernauld. Once, I asked my mother what  made  these people so different, and she whispered "They're Jewish."
 I had no idea what that meant, but I decided that I definitely planned to be Jewish some day.

Later, when I lived in Glasgow I would meet my mother at the bus station.  Though Goldberg's had long gone by then, we'd explore the random ridiculous wonder of Nash's, a magnificent wee stationary shop on Miller Street, that laughed in the face of modern technology.
Or maybe we'd go to Fraser's on Buchanan Street and snigger at the orange ladies,  their fake tan messing up the collars of their coats,  after the rain had managed to somehow make its way underneath their umbrellas.

We'd marvel at the selection of cakes - or "cream cookies" - with synthetic cream and a wee mandarin slice in the windows of bakeries, and sometimes go for lunch at one of the many emerging Indian restaurants.
Then, when it was time for her to go home, we'd head back to the bus station to wait for her bus.

Years later, so much has changed. I've travelled more than I ever thought I would and seen some ridiculously large train stations, airports in all different parts of the world, but none of them I've ever held in as much esteem as that daft bus depot on the side of Killermont Street.

So Mark told me that our photographer was out and about in Glasgow this week,  and was there something specifically I wanted her to shoot pictures of?

"Definitely, " I said, "Buchanan Street Bus Station"
He looked at me in that way that I always say, means that he thinks I'm an idiot, but he always says, he's just trying to work out what I've said.

"You heard me" I say, "Don't bother doing that look. Buchanan Street Bus station."
"Ok. But why? It's a bus station. There's amazing amazing architecture in Glasgow and bus stations are pretty much the same all over the world."
"Not that bus station. " I say, "I used to meet my Mum there,"
"I get that.  But that was a really long time ago, you're not going to see your Mum there now."

Of course he's wrong. In every single photograph,  I totally will.