Sunday, 9 December 2018

Neon Playground. Part Two. Glasgow Cross. University Lands. George Square Lights.

                                                 ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
The second half of my night time walk through Glasgow's city centre districts. The physical barrier between salt and freshwater upper tide limits for the River Clyde at Glasgow Green.
From this city park I headed up past the Barrowland Ballroom to the High Street, the original 12 street layout of Glasgow's beginnings on old maps. Some of Glasgow's oldest buildings are clustered here dating back to the 12th century. Tollbooth steeple above- constructed in the early 1600s.
Glasgow Cross and the (replica) Mercat Pole. Many of these old surviving structures, like the one at Prestonpans, were used as the town jail. Why build a big place for prisoners when a tiny, cramped stone box acted as a better deterrent? Same as today I mused, seeing this, when eight years of austerity cuts, endless council closures, selling off British assets to overseas interests and deliberately inflicting hardship and punishment on the general population at large have worked wonders for the economy- The UK growing two places from 7th to the 5th largest economy in the world during a so called recession. How can that be one wonders?  Well it happened last time as well funnily enough... and the time before that... and before that... Supposed to be to save money but the recent damming UN report on Universal Credit and benefit sanctions says otherwise- mainly a political choice and tool rather than a necessity. How can making families homeless then putting them up in B and Bs for months or even years save any money over time? Or employing highly educated bean counters from private companies on large salaries to make it all work when the old system was at least functioning semi efficiently already. (A bit like T.M.s "this is much worse than what you had before but take it anyway" Brexit deal. :o) Luckily, the good will of Joe and Jill public and volunteer food banks save people from actually starving in the streets in 2018. Freezing to death every winter for the hundreds of homeless on our streets is still a viable option though. Come to think of it that old design of a city jail from the bad old days is looking quite cosy now. At least its dry, warm and sheltered in there compared to where most of the modern unwanted sleep of an evening these days.  I suppose that passes for progress.
 Events like the yellow jacket protests in Paris however tell the politicians when the ordinary plebs have had enough of being stood on. Hats off to the French mind you, always better organized than apathetic us when it comes to meaningful protests over acts of perceived injustice.
The Mercat Building at Glasgow Cross.
The origins of Glasgow are quite murky. Many of the Tobacco Lords in the 18th century, when the city experienced a huge growth spurt, owed much of their enormous wealth to the slave trade, going to Africa to capture luckless natives there then transporting them by sailing ship, stacked in long rows, in dark holds, as human cargo, to eventually work as slave labour in the plantations of America and the West Indies. City centre streets like Jamaica Street, Tobago Street, Virginia Street etc give a big clue as to where the profits came from. London, Bristol, Liverpool, and Lancaster, did well out of it too, three being west facing ports and the other the biggest port in the UK, but Glasgow really owes it's existence as a major European city to that early leap ahead in wealth and status, setting it up nicely, ahead of most of the competition, to grab an extra big handful of the Industrial Revolution, dominating the markets in shipbuilding, steel production and locomotives for several generations afterwards. If they hadn't seized that early trade winds three week advantage over other ports, I would not be living in the 4th largest city in the UK today. ( 3rd largest according to Wiki but Leeds at 750,000 to Glasgow's 600,000- {down from over a million residents pre 1940s era{- would suggest otherwise.)
A range of stars had to fall into alignment for Britain to kick start its golden age of spectacular growth. The money in the first place to implement vast change, the right technology, abundant nearby coal fields in the right areas, transport networks and contact links to move goods easily and the drive and ambition to get things done, like deepening an entire river to create an inland port and convenient base in Glasgow's case. We would have been daft not to grab it with both hands as other European countries would have certainly snatched it for themselves, given the same opportunity.

Now known as the Gallery of Modern Art, this multi floor building was originally the private residence of a Glasgow tobacco lord, the billionaires of their day, most of them with plantations or investments in Jamaica, the other West Indies, or North America.
Maybe the golden mesh here and the railings at the back of this fine building quietly symbolize the sailing ship's rows of chains and groaning prisoners. Or maybe not..History is sometimes what you choose to remember and highlight as a society rather than the grim reality. Liverpool does have a Museum of Slavery, depicting it's part in the slave trade but Glasgow certainly doesn't publicize that connection very much. Mind you, 300 years before that they happily burned women and children in the Scottish streets and had family picnics around their charred remains...all with the blessing of the church in many cases... and during the 16th to the 18th Century European white Christian villagers were extensively grabbed by the notorious Barbary Coast pirates who decimated fishing communities and small port towns to such an extent that people were very unwilling to live beside the sea anywhere from Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and southern UK waters. These too were part of a vast and thriving slave trade, sold and swapped as 'white gold' to the Ottoman Empire who also got very rich importing (white) slaves. So it's all relative I suppose. Basically, if you're at the very bottom of any society, in any way, throughout any period of history.... you are ******* :o)
There are rare exceptions of course, often held up as shining examples/carrots for the rest of the herd to take note and follow- graft really hard from lowly beginnings and this too could all be yours one day. Professional criminals meanwhile opt for an easier, hopefully quicker option but one with higher risks.

Compared to those past ages however we live in very lucky times, in a privileged and affluent western country... and the ones that do not have that stolen luxury and colonial derived wealth want to live here too- well, you would, wouldn't you?
 Moxy Hotel here. Collegelands. High Street. Certain universities and grand public buildings in Glasgow and other UK cities may have been partly funded by the slave trade but today a new university land is springing up anew.
Unlike the drab older buildings many of the new breed are very colourful. City of Glasgow College main building here. This district just to the east of George Square is an Aladdin's labyrinth of different caves of education..... right in the heart of the city.
With the University of Strathclyde, Caledonian University, and the massive City of Glasgow College plus various hi rise student flats all competing in the one area for modern slaves world wide.
Wage slaves that is- the next lucrative cattle drive to farm in any numbers. Grazing herds of these wandering souls can often be found here in classrooms, restaurants and bars. Like a modern game reserve in many ways. Farming young students must be fairly lucrative I'd imagine....with education and degrees as the prize.
Part of the University of Strathclyde.
Another part of Strathclyde's many buildings.An older one this time. Caledonian University lies further up this hill but on a flat section of ground. Built over many different drumlins Glasgow City Centre is either sloping up, or sloping down, or sometimes its almost level, usually on streets running west to east, across the city. This does make for good views however. Steeper hill streets run north to south generally, but not always.
And another section. A flat road. Hooray! West to East.
then down at last into George Square. The early scenes of mass panic in the film World War Z seen on TV recently were shot right here a few summers ago. Last time I was in to see the Christmas lights it was a bit energetic and noisy with a large spinning fairground ride and screaming teenagers on it. This year it's more sedate with a slow moving big wheel and quieter attractions and low music but it feels more like Christmas should be somehow and better for young children to see the lights and walk around without flashing distractions everywhere. Christmas should twinkle- not flash.  That's my take on it anyway.
City Chambers up close.
And a full view.
Royal Exchange Square. GoMA building again.
Diamond Dolls Nightclub, a different type of attraction... but not for me.
I prefer the solitude of Glasgow's back lanes and the perfect stillness of long ages past.
What wonders and times these alleyways have witnessed. Memories dripped into the stones, drop by precious drop.
Unchanged since the 1960s and long before that. Ageless and timeless portals.  A comforting thought.

And a fitting video to end with... as winter arrives. A love story for Christmas... but a very unusual one. Easily one of the most original and influential films of the last decade in that genre. Spawned loads of copycats, including a dire remake, but none as well executed, as moving, or as extraordinarily different in tone and concept, as this.


Anabel Marsh said...

Fabulous pictures. We have a beautiful city, despite it’s murky background which you outline very well. I sometimes wonder what we do that will be looked back on with shame by future generations. “Welfare reform” for one I imagine.

There’s a Chinese restaurant near to Diamond Dolls which we visit occasionally, sometimes with friends. One time, four of us were walking back to St Enoch’s and a young wag outside the club shouted gleefully “Jurassic Park!” The cheek!

Carol said...

Don't forget that it wasn't so much us 'capturing' slaves as them being sold to us by their own people for gain!

Our local lockup in my ex-village is also a tiny animal over-wintering house - I always feel sorry for animals kept in their as it's so small and pokey - would never have felt sorry for the various drunks and prisoners locked up there overnight though!

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Anabel,
very funny. There's certain things I don't get- like lap dancing clubs or burlesque being 'sexy' in any way. Never have.

blueskyscotland said...

Too true Carol,
good programme on that aspect last night. As my old mum said to me often. "Never trust a human."
I didn't write it to make folk feel sympathy for drunks just that homeless people, drunk or sober, or in some cases modern war veterans are a very visual sight in every town or city I visit these days with Edinburgh being the worst and with thousands losing their jobs every year in retail due to online shopping and benefits getting cut further it can only get worse- as I see it.
I look, I observe things around me- I then try to work out what's causing them to occur with my limited grey matter- not always correctly... but I try.
Admittedly, certain people do not help themselves, others are professional beggars which is probably why most people would rather help animals than humans, even though animals have many of those same traits as well. Maybe its a speaking thing. The old Queen Mum's popularity seemed to rise considerably when she stopped saying anything and was silent for years. Diana was also a mainly visual 'People's Princess' during her lifetime now I think of it. Maybe if drunks just sat and waved and smiled on the pavements without saying anything that would help. You might be onto something there.

Rosemary said...

There are so many homeless people on our streets that I find it impossible to understand just how they survive. It must be particularly dire because of our often wet and very cold weather. There are so many problems that need sorting out in the country, and not least the huge disparity that exists between the haves and the have nots.

blueskyscotland said...

Thank you Rosemary,
That's the point I was clumsily trying to make that a night in a medieval jail cell would be far better than a night in an alleyway, shop doorway, or underpass in winter with the damp, the driving rain, and the vicious winds we get here. People would be outraged about dogs, cats, or horses left out in similar conditions but with people they just shrug and look away. And I'm not a huggy, caring, do goody, loving person, very much anti social and self contained but I have spent nights outdoors in the hills in very basic spartan conditions after getting soaked and without a heat source like an open fire it's impossible to get dry. I do not know how they survive either but as I pointed out in the Spanish flu post recently viruses thrive and evolve where there is squalor, misery and hardship. TB has not gone away forever and it has perfect conditions now to make a comeback I would imagine. Add to that they have shut most of the public toilets in cities here so all these people at some point must be p******g and s*****g somewhere. That is also a health hazard which the government is completely ignoring. It may end up costing us more in the long run. Also antibiotics used to treat down and outs in the USA have resulted in less effective medicines overall. It should not be up to the public to provide care for people on the streets, many of whom may have mental health issues or drug and alcohol addictions or physiological problems but that is a deliberate political choice, following, as always, the American model on how to deal with it.

Linda W. said...

Great night shots! Love the colorful lights you captured in your photos.

Andy said...

Wonderful city nightscapes. Seeing homeless people on the streets is one of the biggest markers of a failed or failing society

Carol said...

The reason I support animal, rather than human charities (although I do support old folks and ex squaddies ;-) ) is that most of the things harming or ailing animals has been caused by us. I therefore think I need to try to redress that balance.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Linda.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Andy,
very true.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
that was not really my intention or point I was making as the numbers, message and propaganda of this current government do not add up. That's what bugs me when people believe it. Less people unemployed, more folk in work than ever before etc etc yet in the last year alone 43,000 people in Scotland were made homeless, 5000 sleeping rough is just the tip of the iceberg. They can't all be junkies and drunks surely although they may well end up that way after living on the streets for a while? 320,000 people, including 80,000 children homeless in the UK right now, in the 5th largest economy in the world according to official reports. That should be a national disgrace. Every town, city and village with a network of food banks reporting increased use every year, often from families in work, does not suggest to me people are 'just about managing.' many are drowning and the current set up is deliberately geared IMHO to hold them under if they do sink. Not just my opinion the same conclusion was reached on The Super Rich and US TV series recently. One thing I've learned after many different governments and 45 years of observation is that things always get worse for the poor, the vulnerable, and the lower rungs during any Conservative rise to power as they seem to exist mainly to siphon money up towards the apex and away from the base. Hence one of the prime reasons for an increase in homelessness the last few years. Mind you I don't like the modern Labour Party either so maybe with the choices on offer in mainstream politics being so woeful is why Americans voted for Trump, The UK voted for Brexit, The rise of the far right, and the French out protesting on the streets because once enough people believe that the current system is no longer working for them in any way they will refuse to back it and the unexpected will happen.
Anyway... I'm fed up talking about it now. The next post will have few words, mainly photos.