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Published: August 14th 2019
It was raining as we left Glasgow Queen Street station, so we headed towards the city centre looking for shelter. The rain stopped for a while, then restarted. This proved to be the weather for the rest of the day.
"I want one!" shouted Madam as we passed a shop window, “look!, look!, it's a print signed by Billy Connolly, it can be my anniversary present!"
Since our anniversary was some months away in either direction I was a little confused. I looked at the price tag.
"It's £895" I told her, thinking that would end the discussion.
"But I want one!" she snapped, "you have a MacBook."
I thought for a while but couldn't see any connection between my laptop computer purchased last year in a fit of uncharacteristic extravagance and a £895 print.
"It's £895 just for a print,” I repeated in case she hadn't heard the first time.
"But It's signed by Billy Connolly!" she said.
For that sort of money I would want it signed in blood by every monarch since Henry VIII.
"It's £895" I said with what I hoped was a note of finality as I
pulled her away from the shop, "let's get a cup of coffee instead."
There was a pound shop opposite the coffee bar or, since we were in Scotland, it was probably called a pooned shop. I had a quick look round to see what I could buy for a pooned but the stock was identical to the shops in England. Not even haggis flavoured crisps.
Madam was peering into her phone. "There's a Billy Connolly mural. We have go there right now!" she said.
I readily agreed in the hope that it wasn't going to cost £895. The mural was in a seedy back street above a car park but Madam managed to get a selfie in front of the mural without getting mugged. Always a plus in Glasgow.
Glaswegians have a reputation for being a mix of aggression and friendliness. You never know if the one approaching you on a back street is going to smash a glass in your face and steal your wallet, or offer you a wee dram from their hip flask. The men are even worse. To be fair, everyone we encountered was far friendlier and more helpful, and generally nicer
than those back home. Which just goes to show to can’t trust stereotypes, but we still tried to keep to the main streets just in case.
A short cut towards the main shopping area led us through a narrow covered alley that seemed to have been repurposed as the local toilet. And I'm not just talking urinal here. Madam kept her mouth firmly closed and clenched her fingers over her nose, stepping over discarded syringes and human waste, until we reached the main road.
"What now?" asked Madam. I looked all around. All I could see was identikit chain stores and rain soaked pavements.
"Let's walk down to the river," I said, "I've never seen the Clyde."
We headed down to the river past graffiti covered walls, tattoo parlours (monthly payments available), tanning salons, and massage parlours. I stepped over an impressively large pile of dog's mess, kicked aside a discarded empty Irn Bru can and said "so, what do you think of Glasgow?"
"It's a bit grim." she said.
She thought for a while then added "But Billy is from here!"
"He moved away" I told her.
"But he comes back
sometimes," she said.
You can't argue with Madam about Billy Connolly.
We walked along a narrow path alongside the river dodging cyclists and joggers. We found another Connolly mural by accident and Madam squealed and ran up to it for another selfie. At least this is cheaper and marginally more interesting than most royal palaces I thought as Madam posted her picture on Facebook.
Astute readers may have noticed by now that Madam has a bit of a thing for Billy Connolly.
We ended up on Buchanan Street which Madam informed me was the place to be. More chain stores and no public seating left me less than impressed. I sat on some steps leading up to a church to give my aching feet a rest while Madam peered into her phone and counted the number of likes on her selfies. I had barely sat down when Madam shouted " Oh oh oh, we've got to find the other one! Oh no! It's way out of town!"
She sat down with a slump, her thumbs working her phone.
"Fourteen minutes! It's only a fourteen minute walk! We can get a taxi if you are tired. Come on, I need another selfie!" she said as she jumped up and starting walking. I dragged my weary feet behind trying to keep up.
The mural was next to a car park - I was getting to see something of a theme here - and we stood in the rain while Madam posted her selfie online.
She needed feeding after all the excitement so we headed back to the shops and ended up in a McDonalds in the absence of seeing anything else we fancied. Restaurants with a more demanding menu were a little thin on the ground.
The metro line ran right under our table and the vibration on the seats was oddly pleasant. Madam was smiling by the time she had finished eating. I don't know why.
“Are you ready to go?” I asked Madam.
“No rush,” she replied, “we can sit here a while.”
The restaurant, and I’m using the word in its loosest sense here, had lots of flies buzzing around trying to settle on the food. I shooed three of them away and watched them settle on a burger at a neighbouring table.
"They probably count as a garnish in Glasgow." I said.
Madam just nodded and smiled again.
You can read the full details of our Scotland trip at Travels With Madam
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