I took a jolly boys’ outing with my best mate to Glasgow last week.
A big deal this for a couple of dyed-in-the-wool Edinburghers, both born at Elsie Inglis maternity hospital in the late 60s, a stone’s throw from our beloved Easter Road Stadium and fully-paid-up members of the “you’ll have had your tea ... party”.
I was keen to make the pilgrimage west from my current home in the Kingdom of Fife – Scotland’s Texas as I like to call it – to the land of the spearmint chew and macaroon bar for a number of reasons.
I’m currently reading a book about socialist revolutionary John Maclean, a hero of the Red Clydeside movement, aware that the spotlight will firmly fall on Glasgow at the end of this month when the 100th anniversary of the Battle of George Square will be commemorated.
I won’t go into any great detail on this, suffice to say it was a pivotal moment in the history of the labour movement in Scotland and woe betide any hack who gets their facts wrong writing about it. Good luck with that one.
The second reason was the recent two-part documentary about Sir Billy Connolly’s life with Parkinson’s disease, which sparked a fanboy desire to check out his old haunts like The Saracen Head pub in the Gallowgate.
I also wanted to visit as I pretty much know “hee-haw” about the place, save for going to the football and a couple of gigs, three to be exact spanning 30 years, with the last one being Prince at the Hydro. Granted, I did work for the Daily Record for six years but that was in their Edinburgh office.
Anyway, everything was going well as my friend and I took a stroll with our bellies full of coffee and cake through the leafy west end, past the Kelvingrove Museum and into university land. I was fair enjoying the architecture in this dear green place and a general sense of well-being prevailed.
Then, my mate brought up the Connolly documentary, more specifically the bit in part one where Sharleen Spiteri takes a random pop at Edinburgh, even attempting a posh accent and my mood started to resemble Tony Montana’s in the final scene of Scarface.
The Texas singer said and I quote - “Glasgow was the arse end of Scotland because Edinburgh always got (attempts Miss Jean Brodie accent) ‘oh it’s lovely in Edinburgh – we’ve got a castle and it’s all fabulous’.” Really Sharleen?
The gist of what she was saying plays on the tired old notion of Edinburgh punters being “stuck up” and Glaswegians being a friendlier bunch.
I’ve listened to that type of inverted snobbery my whole life and feel it’s time to consign this dreary inter-city rivalry to the dustbin of history where it belongs.
It’s bordering on sectarianism and works both ways with Edinburgh people giving it “Weegie this and Weegie that” – there’s no way the Capital gets off the hook here.
I understand football rivalry and a bit of light banter and I don’t mind being called a “spoon burner”, as Rangers supporters have taken to calling Hibs fans, based on their outdated perception of Leith based on Trainspotting.
But it’s gone way beyond banter and has no place in a modern progressive Scotland.
This patter is in the same ballpark as “thieving Scousers” and saying that Geordies are Scotsmen without the brains. According to this mindset – and it afflicts the whole of Scotland – everyone from Aberdeen has had sex with a sheep, Fifers are fly and Dundee folk live on a diet of “pehs” ... yawn.
I’ve never understood how you can generalise the personality of a whole city, surely it’s about individuals and how you find them?
I believe it was the great philosopher Ian Brown, lead singer of Stone Roses, who once said: “It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.”
This small-minded nonsense has gone on way too long and has got nastier over the years. Even the city’s slogan “People Make Glasgow” – what, as opposed to “Robots Make Glasgow”? – seems to suggest Glaswegians are somehow better than the rest of us. How about, “People Make Scotland”?
The way I see it there’s no difference between the so-called working class in any part of Scotland but there’s a certain type of Glaswegian who’ll claim ownership of poverty and, with it, humour and pathos. They tend not to chat but rather make speeches.
It’s like factories or dockyards never existed outside of Clydeside but we’re now more than two generations past the shipyards and you’re more likely to find your latter-day working-class hero in a call centre, tweeting about munchy boxes or chips ‘n’ cheese in their spare time.
There’s friendly, then there’s the standard Glasgow request about where you went to school. This academic question is a loaded one, often asked in Edinburgh as well but there it is to find out if you are posh enough to chat to, as opposed to which brand of Christianity you belong to.
The less said about religious bigotry the better and, of course, it still exists to a lesser extent in other cities including Edinburgh – move the carpet while I sweep it under. Cheers.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Glasgow has punched above its weight in terms of producing great comedians, artists and singers, which makes the need to belittle Edinburgh, home of the Bay City Rollers, even more bewildering and chippy.
I wonder what the Red Clydesiders would have made of all this garbage? I imagine the likes of John Maclean, Willie Gallacher and Helen Crawfurd would despair if they could see the state of a country which can’t even get the trains to turn up, let alone run on time.
They would have wanted people to unite, not be at each other’s throats, especially given that the gap between the least and most deprived is growing in Scotland. It would be good if our principal cities could work together.
Maybe, rather than competing against each other, they could help stage a national festival?