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Posts Tagged ‘history’

Things I thought I knew

Thanks to a friend’s generosity, three of us and our assorted offspring went for a trip on the City Sightseeing tour today. TWM loved his trip on the red bus with no lid – “it’s like a rollercoaster, Mummy!” and we saw a few of Glasgow’s sights from a different angle.

Kibble Palace

However, I was disconcerted to find myself disabused of ‘truths’ upon which my childhood knowledge of Glasgow was built. I refer, of course, to the construction of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery.

The story goes that the museum was built back to front, with the grander front entrance mistakenly positioned at the rear. The architect, so distraught at his error, committed suicide by throwing himself from the top of one of the towers.

Today I heard via the live commentary that in fact the building reflects precisely the original design – the museum faces off across the Kelvin to the stunning University of Glasgow. This explanation rings far truer to my Glaswegian ears; few of my city’s grand old buildings are haphazard in either concept or construction, and certainly not the architecture of the late 19th and early 20th century. I looked for sources online to back up today’s revelations, and came across mainly re-tellings of the old legend. Snopes, however, seems to be of the same opinion as the lady from the big red bus.

The experience of long-held knowledge becoming myth has bothered me for the rest of the day. What else do I hold as accepted truth which is in fact product of word-of-mouth and urban legend? Have you had a similar experience?

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In Victorian times, Glaswegian families would travel down the river to towns on the Firth of Clyde for their summer holidays. Today my sister, TWM and I took our own mini-break down the coast in the form of a day-trip to Dunoon.

We queued for a ferry:

Lynn  was excited,

TWM? Not so much.

We  managed to be at the front of the ferry.

TWM found this exciting, though not as much as the man wearing a hat. Discussion round the man wearing the hat occupied much of the 20-minute crossing.

We met up with friends who are on holiday from London. They are excitedly awaiting a much-longed-for double arrival at the end of the year and I couldn’t be happier for them. They are good peoples for whom this is a long time coming. Judging by the impression made on TWM, J will be a fabulous dad!

We decided to drive back to Glasgow the long way round, rather than taking the ferry back – the scenery is just gorgeous, although obscured by typical Scottish weather at times. However we were given extra time to admire one part of the route –

All in, twas a lovely day. I am always astounded by the diversity and the beauty of my country, and in areas so close to where I live. Things to be grateful for #26,954.

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London’s burning

Do you ever feel like you are watching history?

I’m watching BBC News channel (still can’t bring myself to watch Sky News, too hysterical), and seeing astounding scenes of buildings burning out of control. Scenes of shops being looted, and police attacked. It’s terrifying, and breathtaking in terms of the speed the violence and disruption has spread.

It’d be easy to name-call and pigeon-hole the perpetrators. Of course the violence is utterly unwarranted, of course the destruction is devastating. It must be terrifying for both police and for those living nearby the flashpoints. I can’t help but look at it sideways, though, and wonder why people are so disconnected from their communities and their culture that these riots and such destruction seem like an appropriate response.

In many areas of London, almost one in four of working age are unemployed. Young men, particularly young black men, are more likely to be unemployed than any other group. There is no immediate prospect for many of them of that situation changing. Participating in mass action such as we are seeing tonight, using social media as a principal method of communication, may be giving many a sense of purpose and belonging they haven’t experienced for years, if ever. And yet these are the areas which are experiencing, proportionally, the worst cuts in government spending. For the rioters, their actions are an expression of discontent and futility. Mindless thugs they may be – but that’s just the tip of a very large iceberg. Writing them off does nothing to solve the problem.

As a country we are failing our youth, failing our minorities – and tonight we are seeing the results.

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