Valentine's Day: Love letters to Glasgow

  • The List
  • 3 February 2010
We Heart...

Tina Warren, Showgirl, Club Noir
I love Glasgow because it’s supported my business since the very beginning. Club Noir needs mad, interesting, glamorous people and Glasgow provides that with Glasgow Clydeside Antiques on Lancefield Street. Open 7 days a week it boasts 25,000 square feet of antiques. I adore everything old: old songs, old clothes, old furniture. I fell upon Clydeside Antiques by accident; it doesn’t look like much from the outside but inside it’s like the TARDIS.

It’s a huge place, divided into individual cellars inside, all owned by different people, and as much as it’s about going in to look at the stuff, it’s also about the banter from the sellers, they are all totally unique and into what they are doing in such a big way. You get a different feel from each one, whether it’s bric-a-brac or kitsch furnishings. It’s not necessarily a place for bargains but sometimes it’s just great to go in for a browse. My home is full of vintage stuff – and I picked up a great truck and chair there.

I’ve lived in Glasgow for ten years, and this has always been a firm favourite – I rarely go shopping in ‘normal’ places. In a strange way, you feel a bit like the sellers share a kinship with you because you both have such an interest in stories behind the stuff. We live in a throwaway society, so it’s nice that people have kept and nurtured pieces. It makes the whole thing an experience.

Ashley Page, artistic director, Scottish Ballet
I really love the Dragon-i Chinese restaurant across the street from the Theatre Royal. We often head out of the stage door and straight over after opening night – it’s become like an unofficial meeting spot for Scottish Ballet over the last few years, because the owner is brilliant, it has a great ambience and the food is excellent. It used to be a shabby Italian and it’s been utterly transformed. In the run-up to shows, we’ll go and sit and talk about the technical aspects of a show; many, many happy hours have been spent there.

Rodge Glass, author
One of my favourite places is the 13th Note on King Street, as it doesn’t seem to have changed in years. Staff move on and bands come and go (usually with many of the same people in them), but the spirit of the place is determinedly the same – no glitz, no fakery, no concession to the outside world. The venue downstairs is where I saw my first gigs when I moved here – I can’t quite remember how we heard about the bands that played there, but word spread fast about good music and it was an exciting atmosphere: El Hombre one night, Eska the next, Lapsus Linguae the next. Great, noisy bands. It was often rammed, sweaty as hell and you could hardly ever see anything clearly, but it was never threatening. I was in seeing Titus Gein a few weeks ago and got flashbacks... in a good way.

Stuart McMillan & Orde Meikle, aka Slam, DJs

Although greater Glasgow has a population of over 1 million, and you can reach green fields in a 30-minute drive in any direction, it also has a relatively small city centre. The cream of Glasgow’s electronic music scene is all within a mere 10-minute walk from one another. Based around the world famous Central Station in Glasgow’s city centre are SOMA HQ, The Arches (home to our Pressure club-night), Sub Club (home of our Return To Mono club-night), MacSorley’s Music Bar (Sub Club’s very own Free House), The Courtyard (Glasgow’s premier outdoor – yet heated – club and bar, home to the legendary Sunday Circus parties) and of course Rubadub Records (the one-stop-shop for all things good – well in a electronic music sense anyway). There is a real sense of community in Glasgow’s electronic music scene, with all involved regularly bumping into one-another on a Friday eve for post-work pints in MacSorleys, then onwards to the club.

Ewan Morrison, author
I love the famous Glaswegian ‘intolerance of bullshit’. While the rest of the civilised world prides itself on celebrating the relative values and divergent opinions of others’, Weegies believe that they alone have access to The Timeless Truth; they pride themselves on cutting through all the liberal values and pretension of the modern world to tell you like it is. Hence the phrase ‘away an’ shite’. I find myself saying this more and more as (a) either I become more Glaswegian or (b) the world fills up with more and more crap. For example: what do I think of the art of Damien Hirst? Pile o’ shite. What about Ikea Furniture? Total mince. Subo’s voice? My granny can sing better and she’s deid. And as for Steak Tartare. Pure mince. I belong to Glasgow, City of Timeless Truth. Aye right, away an’ shite.

Scott Agnew, Comedian
The reason I love Glasgow is the Merchant City – it’s Glasgow in microcosm. Everything that is good, bad and entertaining about the city contained in a couple of square miles. Some of Glasgow’s coolest bars and nightclubs like Maggie Mays sitting cheek by jowl with some of its older statesman like gems such as Blackfriars. The place is alive at the weekends with live entertainment showcasing the city’s residents’ wide and varied tastes from jazz, rockabilly, zeitgeist club nights, old school sing songs, folk and Latin as well as comedy, theatre and dance and home to Glasgow’s gay scene too. Culturally it’s all there and also close enough by some of the seamier elements of the city to get the good old Glasgow tramp wandering by to inject a more fluid, impromptu bit of entertainment into your evening or afternoon. A wee wander down to McKinlay’s bar early doors (8am) is worth the late night/early morning to people watch – as is a wee nose around the Schipka Pass where the language is floral and the smell pungent.
Scott Agnew: PRIDE (In The Name Of Love), Maggie May’s, Glasgow, Thu 25 Mar.

Michael White, artist
It’s hard to pinpoint one thing about a city to explain why you love it. In Glasgow there is an undeniable wealth of interesting galleries (for a city its size) and a healthy variety on offer as far as nightlife is concerned. The real satisfaction comes to me when I’m alone, walking through the streets – the subtleties, peculiarities and details of different buildings surprise me even on well trodden routes. The awkwardness of stark, at times violent, juxtapositions of architectural styles that don’t ‘work’ together are imbued with an atmosphere that people and age impose on them. It becomes apparent as you move from an arch tucked under a neglected railway bridge to slick shopping precincts, cobbled back streets slightly off the beaten path to wonders such as the cathedral and the serene splendour of a sight like the Necropolis.

Sorcha Dallas, artist
I am a Glaswegian born and bred, and for many years all I thought about was leaving. After living in a few different places I came to love and appreciate what was on my doorstep; a culturally rich city, lively and bustling, with fantastic countryside a short car journey away. One of my favourite things to look at (and I am of course, biased, as I have the great pleasure of working with him) are the books and artworks of Alasdair Gray. When I was younger I remember having the treat of going to the Chip for dinner and the combination of the fish pond, hanging plants and the Gray murals was indelibly imprinted on my mind. At Art School reading Lanark and the way he used the familiar environment of the Art School and Glasgow to discuss universal political and social issues I found extraordinary. His masterwork, the large sweeping mural in the auditorium of Oran Mor is spectacular, and I like to visit it every few months to see its constant progression. Many of the faces I see walking on Byres Road or drinking in various bars remind me of characters he has drawn or created, with Glasgow being a constant source of inspiration to him and as a result revealing itself to me.
LOVE runs at Sorcha Dallas, Glasgow until 19 Feb.

Alan Bissett, author
As someone who grew up in Falkirk, I used to be scared of Glasgow. I associated the place with Old Firm bigotry and drug lords who were probably called The Wee Man. From a distance, Glasgow’s ‘gallusness’ seemed like a clown mask on the face of a serial killer. But then I found the Holy Trinity of James Kelman, Tom Leonard and Alasdair Gray, and that line from Lanark (a world-class novel set there?) raised itself out: ‘Let Glasgow flourish by telling the truth’. So I moved there, and learned that, up close, the place buzzes with a unique energy, half proletarian, half School of Art. Perhaps because it’s been endlessly hammered into poverty (cough! Thatcher! Banks!), the city has developed a whole, regenerative second-life of the imagination. I love Glasgow because, like your biggest crushes, it not only looks fucking great, but also tells you the truth.

Susan Calman, comedian
I love the schizophrenic way Glasgow looks. Classical architecture slashed by modern monstrosities, coupled with 60’s pre fabs and the unfinished skeletons of new builds. Watching Tutti Frutti when I was younger, I thought that Gardner Street, the site of Eddie Clockerty’s shop, looked like San Fransisco. The Skypark at Anderston seemed like the set of Bladerunner and the offices of West George Street made me feel like I was wandering in Manhattan. The city itself is emotional, and no matter what your mood, Glasgow can match it. A walk in Kelvingrove Park is for the romantics. Depressed? Me too. Let’s meet at Cowcaddens, sit beside the graffitied underpass and watch the cars on the M8 go by. For a grittier experience, the Barras will give you ‘No mean city’ and if you want gothic excess, the sun setting on the necropolis will chill and enthrall you at the same time. Nothing matches. Nothing goes together. But it’s the view of unfinished bridges next to grand town houses that makes it the most beautiful city in the world.

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