Thursday, 22 March 2012

Doors Open Day.Churches,Tunnels and Mad Actresses.

This was meant to go with the other two Glasgow posts but I got distracted by other topics.I also had so many pictures I wanted to post I gave up several times trying to narrow it down to just twelve.
Doors open day was on Sat and Sun last September.Various events are on and buildings that you normally don't get to see are open to the public once a year for a day.
I set off from my house to be bang on time for  the start.I had a big list of buildings I wanted to see Inside between 10am and 4pm. First up were the three churches around St Vincent street.St Columba Gaelic Church of Scotland,The St Vincent Street Free Church and up on Bath Street Renfield St Stephen,s Parish Church. This is inside the Free Church with Alexander Thomson,s typical shells and sea frond details.Not showy but  very powerful."You are King Neptune" it declares".Go out there and kick me some ass boy."
If you had to stand in front of this backdrop every Sunday you,d think the sermon  given would have to be a roaring affair indeed .Its the  Iconic film set of its day. That was certainly Thomson's intention as he was a religious man and  no doubt liked to see habitual sinners squirm under the blow torch of a good preachers ire and hatred towards  the evil  lurking in our midst.All three of these churches visited are worth a look,each has a different style, and  they have a statement effect on entry even for a dark soul like mine to feel but No room for more pictures alas.
Just round the corner(and completely by accident) from the church I bumped into Halle Berry, or someone very like her, on the set of Cloud Atlas,a  complicated sounding film adapted from a best selling book about six interlinked stories set in different time zones all over the world. No doubt crafty film veterans Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant cherry picked the best locations leaving poor Halle with Douglas Street  in Glasgow on an overcast weekend.(Climb that starry ladder girl! Close your eyes, hug your hot water bottle, and yes, you just might be in San Francisco bay....well..... in the winter fog.) Although it was fairly warm and I was just wandering around in a tee shirt she was dressed in a bulky thermal jacket ,hugging a hot water bottle for extra heat so I popped across to say hello.

I already know most film work consists of long hours of setting up a day's shoot to capture a five minute scene in a movie. And that,s on a good day.She got a bit of lighthearted banter from our media for being so wrapped up in what for us were two lovely hot days but she,s a typical golden coast girl used to 80 degrees and a few lengths of her pool before breakfast. Also the actors are the cream on the cake or the bride and groom.They sit about a lot...waiting, and are usually the last to show up once everything else is ready underneath and they have a platform to stand on.
Most of the real unsung talent in films are the dedicated people who do the behind the scenes graft, like the directors who work 16 hour plus days for months on end, the set designers, the lighting engineers,artists ,equipment handlers and security guards who all get the cake ready for the stars to stand on.
Certain people sparkle onscreen.They just do. It's not really something you can learn.Certain folk just have it from an early age like having  a head for numbers.If they go to film land and stand in endless lines of humiliation, rejection, contempt and temptation to take the express route to where they want to go they might eventually get to stand in front of a camera.Sometimes it's more of a shock to them than it is to us and they can,t handle it and go off the rails.A million dollars hanging on one five minute scene brings its own pressures I suppose. We like to watch  people that can,t hide their feelings. Most of us wear several masks through life and have learned from an early age to control or smother any giveaway expressions and  true feelings. Film stars are the opposite.They burst open with emotion, vulnerability and expression, perhaps from a childhood background fostering a desire to be liked and loved at all costs.We all have a  particular cross to bear in life.No photos therefore of a woman tenderly breastfeeding a hot water bottle.No...I didn't have the heart to take a photo then or to tell her that she was not in San Fransisco.....or that a stranger had just crashed her large American car, albeit very slowly, into another one nearby while we watched.
The star appeal was working as I just wanted to take her home......... .care for her and make sure she was happy and fulfilled in life. Besides... I'd just lost my mummy and wanted a new one to feed me my meals.
Unfortunately the hard working security guards discovered me at that point and escorted me back over the perimeter fence set up to stop entry. Damn these skillful feet and paws, but good to know that the old parkour talents are still available if required.

This is the Tiger Mural on the Clydeside. Hope they keep this when they renovate the rest of the walkway. I passed this heading for St Andrew,s Cathedral on Clyde Street.
Another one I like is the Swimmer mural under the Kingston bridge.
Though if you swam in the Clyde here the next  triple story board might have a hospital, a stomach pump and a large vomit bucket underneath it as the water is not exactly of drinking quality.
Two weeks earlier,in the fairyland  make believe of Philadelhpia (Actually George Square) I,d spotted Brad Pitt and his Zombies filming World War Z.Brad,as Hollywood royalty, had a proper working trailer though, no hot water bottle in an unheated car for him. Hope the films good. Mind you every Friday/Saturday night in Glasgow you join the cast of the walking wounded and dead for a few blocks so that's nothing new. Famous for its deep fried Mars Bars, Mental Nutters and Urban zombies of its own so it is.
The famous bridge underneath Central Station on Argyll Street.Also known as the Hielanman,s Umbrella due to it being a common meeting place years ago for  uprooted Gaelic speakers just off the train from the slowly emptying Scottish highlands and Islands.Being in a  large,strange and to them foreign speaking city going here on a Saturday and maybe meeting some of your own folk was a weekly ritual.It only died out when the influx of people looking for work stopped and Introduced  highlanders gradually grew content with their new surroundings.
My next stop on the journey to see as many places as possible in one day was to visit The Arches,A place I,d heard about but never been in as it tends to run clubs and arts venues I consider I,m too old for like techno,dub,retro nights and what they would simply call in the old days "hip experiences".It sits right under the Central Station Bridge.
The reason for the Arches originally was as a weight bearing buttress to help spread not only the load of Central Station  and its massive steam  trains above but also this monolith....The Grand Central hotel.
One of the Jewels in old Glasgow,s Crown.In its heyday it was The place to stay when stars were in Glasgow.Its stuffed with history.Roy Rodger,s horse once slept in a straw covered bridal suite here as it was the only room deemed big enough for his trusty breadwinner.Frank Sinatra threw parties,Heads of state and rock groups practiced waving out windows and everyone who was anyone booked in here.The Edinburgh equivalent of this is the North British Hotel above Waverley Station.The Grand Central is  now getting a multi million pound restoration inside to polish up its treasures to suit modern tastes.
Down in the bowels of the arches however its impossible to ignore the thought of this colossus rising so high above you.
The first stop past the entrance hallway is the Upper and lower restaurant bar.This was where the tour started.

You could easily fit thousands of folk down here in these tunnels without a squeeze.This is a woman building a sweat lodge for a performance that evening.Note the distinctive lights above yet another bar which are a real feature of The Arches.
They also ran Alien Wars Down Here which would be pretty creepy stuff. Small cinemas and halls complete the picture.It was the highlight of the trip this bit.
Next up was the Clyde Port Authority Building on Clydeside.This has superb sculptures all over it  with Britannia,Mother Empire,Father Neptune and a cast of dozens of lesser worthies adorning its heights.
Inside it was just as interesting.with stained glass portholes,Squares and dark marble throughout.This was where the sailing ships received instructions from and the rules of the river maintained..
I also manged to visit the  old fish market where years ago salt from fish boxes piled up did indeed make it Saltmarket Street in look,smell and white pavement splendour.Then I visited the Britainnia Panopticon Music hall in The Trongate which I was unaware of despite living in the city since birth......... then four more.The Trades hall in Glassford Street, The Royal Faculty of Procurators  in Nelson Mandela Place,The  Tobacco Merchants house in Miller Street and Sloans Bar/Restaurant with its period details and grand ballroom.                   .
Eventually on the stroke of 4 pm a very weary and footsore me got the bus back home.
As full on as any hill day.

Film School.
Finally a word must be said about the sheer number of Actors/actresses filming in Glasgow and surroundings this past year.I could hardly go out the front door without tripping over one.That young upstart Scarlett Johansson was the worst culprit.
You see I like to get up  very early in the morning and go running through Kelvingrove park and the Botanic Gardens. She, when she was over here,did also.Who,d a thought that then? Go Figure. I was forever bumping into her down there with her personal trainer.Got on my nerves after a while.
Also she and the Brad/ Angelina extended family and entourage must have ordered deep fried Mars Bars every night  from chip shops in the west end as they think that,s what Glasgow Punters eat every day.That,s 200+ bars away right there.
Speak it softly so the American,s and others don't hear but I,m the only Glasgow man I know that has a hankering for a triple deep fried mars bar supper for my tea most nights as it's not a popular item. As a result of them hovering up my small  supply of deep fried treats  however I was left without and had to settle for deep fried Jamaican ginger and syrup muffins instead.Bloody disgraceful.  Made a hell of a mess of the pan.

Also she kept turning up in the most outlandish places. Naturally,I just happened to be there as well..For instance- a petrol Station in Newmains Wishaw, A Debenham,s store in Port Glasgow and even outside Celtic Park one day.She was certainly taking in the best high quality scenery that Scotland had to offer.A bit like Britney Spears falling in love with the Coatbridge superbowl and multi screen cinema when she was here.Low maintenance movie stars.God bless em.
Under the Skin is about an alien roaming around Scotland harvesting body parts from hitch hikers and random strangers.Its by the same Dutch writer,living on the Black isle that penned The Crimson Petal and the White,a recent TV production.
When I bumped into her in Glencoe, or someone very like her, still hurting over missed melted Mars bars and the lingering taste of ginger in my mouth it was the last straw.It looked as if she was harvesting animal pelts as well as human parts..She had fur lined boots and a mega furry jacket on and looked as if she was just about to say something when I walked across her set to get to my hill of choice on the A 82 just short of that village.She,d closed the entire road as well. Bloody cheek of it!
I got in first.
"Sexual predator my arse! "I told her."You look like a cut price doughnut standing there with that dead yak on your shoulders..And I hope those are not Scottish beaver furs covering your own.Those poor wee animals have just been re-introduced recently,they,re not here  to cover your pampered pelt.
By the way, get rid of the black hair for the next film as its doing nothing for your star appeal.You look like a tired old drag queen in that get up."
Several police officers  got involved at this point but I soon showed them a clean pair of heels over rough ground.The old legs have still got it up the mountains over a distance.I swear to God she,s actually stalking me.She,s a worry.
Anyway, what with Emma T and sweet Dakota going period in Perth with "Effie"...The new school drama "Waterloo Road" series relocating from Rochdale to the former Greenock Academy....Timothy Spall filming in High Blantyre... well .....its all  been happening.
Mind you I,ll be glad when they all  bugger off and get back in the screens again where they belong. Except for Emma  of course,bless her, as she,s  clearly doon the watter sometimes.
Anyway, seems getting the right streets in a city location then getting someone else willing to shut them  all to traffic over several days is not that easy which is why the films were shot here.In the past decade Film and TV work in Scotland has brought in an estimated £150 million to the economy.This last year alone these three films have brought in more than 5 million between them and should raise the profile of Scotland as a result.
We may yet see tourist pilgrimages  to visit Wishaw High Street. People......I have a dream....


Robert Craig said...

What are these actresses like, following you around!

Another reason Glasgow's CBD is so good for filming is half those offices are currently to let - they won't be disturbing too many people.

blueskyscotland said...

Too true Robert but Its a curse I have to live with every day.
At this rate the City of Edinburgh will overtake The City of Glasgow,s population
within 20 years.

The Glebe Blog said...

Loved this post Bob. I admire your honesty in telling it as it is.
I bet Halle's regretting not getting better acquainted with you.
As for Scarlett Johansson, If I was you I'd take a restraining order out. Of course you could take pity on her and let her get to know you better. Maybe you'd come round to liking her.
Glasgow has everything that Hollywood needs to make class films. Maybe Hollywood have a long term plan of emptying the city, and turning it into the biggest film set in the world.
Glad you've got to the Panoptican , I've been twice. ( I need to get up again soon )
You should get along to the Laurel and Hardy nights run by Willie McIntyre, Grand Sheik of the Call of the Cuckoos tent of the Sons of the Desert. I reckon you'd love it.
He's also got an online version of a magazine he publishes called
Bowler Dessert
Sorry for the blatant plug, but no one can be offended by Laurel and Hardy

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Jim.
I ,ve been leaving the "type in two words " off but had a record 20 anon spam and junk items all over the blog in one day.So its back up again.
Almost went to see "The real Sawney Beane" at the Panoptican which would have been creepy in there I,d imagine.Another place that,s been lost for many decades then rediscovered again.
As for Actresses......
"They may capture my heart but they will never take my"....

Deep fried Mars bars!!!
You have been warned.
Come near my local chip shop again all you cast and crew and I,ll ram 200 rectangles of boxed chocolate up where the sun dont shine.

fatdogwalks said...

My, have been busy since I left you recovering from a severe bashing courtesy of a moving vehicle.

Given the content of the post I can only assume you have been auditioning for the role of stunt double in some highly anticpated new releases.

I'm now scared to ask what new body parts have been significantly injured in the process.

Most enjoyable "off the wall" post. Please pass on my email address to some of your more ardent female followers of the acting persuation. You never know your luck.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi ken
I,ll have you know I,ve been a proper film star
for many years ... a training video...but I was the star.
"Accidents and death in the home and how to avoid them."
Catchy title huh?

fatdogwalks said...

Shame you didn't get the lead role for "Accidents on the Streets and How to Avoid Them" Might have given you a few pointers...


Sorry...just had to...