The Mall Model

 

Situated in the heart of Glasgow’s shopping metropolis on Buchanan Street, the Argyll Arcade was built in 1828 by the architect John Baird Snr. for John Reid Robertson. By the 1840s there were sixty-three shops ranged along the glass-roofed L-shaped thoroughfare, selling a wide variety of luxury goods.

 

Today the arcade is predominantly occupied by high-end jewellers’ shops, offering the largest and finest selection of diamond rings, diamond jewellery, wedding rings and luxury watches in the one single location in Scotland; and the largest diamond repository outside of London’s recently ill-fated Hatton Gardens.

 

But for those of a certain age, before the jewellery takeover, this was the location where generations of small boys would immediately run towards – and especially at Christmas time! – to press their well-snotted noses’ up to one certain window, in the shop at the corner of the “L”, underneath the glass roof supported with ornate hammer-beam roof trusses.

 

It could only be the fabled ‘Boys’ Own’ Glasgow toy and model shop, Clyde Model Dockyard! Initially established in 1789 as a producer of models for the Admiralty, then shipping models, parts and accessories, it went on to be located at 22-23 Argyll Arcade from the mid-1950s through to the late 1970s, and dealt with a veritable Aladdin’s cave full of model railway products, steam engines, model aeroplanes, racing yachts, steamboats, motors and Meccano.

 

Leica M6 Classic & 2/35mm Summicron pre-asph (King of Bokeh)

Ilford FP4+ (200)

HC-110 (Dil. B – 12 min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(20)Dislikes(0)

 

The window display of the Cats Protection Shawlands Charity Shop was cleverly done, but it had a very important message nevertheless behind it for this time of the year, as it proclaimed – much like the renowned and often imitated slogan about a dog and Christmas – that “A black cat is not just for Hallowe’en – it’s for life!”

 

And no matter whether it be Easter, Christmas or Hallowe’en, this little charity/thrift shop on Pollokshaws Road always gets into the “spirit” of things with seasonal displays that tempts you in – and once lured in, it was another spirt of sorts that grabbed my attention.  Well, perhaps not so much spirit, more like a spectre.

 

Mexico’s Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a national holiday that was normally held 1-2 November and would largely consist of sedate family gatherings at the graves of their departed loved ones in celebration of life and death.  But that all changed spectacularly with the opening scene to the 2015 James Bond movie Spectre, where 007 literally brings the house down as he chases a villain through crowds of Mexico City revelers in what resembled a parade of people in skeleton outfits and floats.

 

Despite the utterly ridiculous helicopter fight, perhaps even the most unbelievable part of the entire scene was a Day of the Dead parade even happening in the first place at all, because it was all artistic license on the part of the filmmakers, as no such procession had ever taken place in Mexico – that is, not until a year after the movie came out in 2016!

 

Inspired by the global popularity of the movie’s opening scene, and in a clear case of Hollywood influencing real-life events – or perhaps more likely, a cynical money-making tourist attraction opportunity – government officials have now moved the Day of the Dead more towards our tradition Hallowe’en date, with similar Spectre-styled parades and revelry throughout the country, the largest and most influential held on Saturday, in Mexico City itself.

 

Leica M6 Classic & 2/35mm Summicron pre-asph (King of Bokeh)

Ilford FP4+ (200)

Ilford ID-11 (1+1 – 15min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(18)Dislikes(0)

 

Halloween is on the horizon,  and with it brings strange things…or perhaps even Stranger Things as the case may be, as I ready myself for a marathon binge-session over the weekend with Netflix set to release season two of their series of the same name, which, admittedly, is a bit of a homage to American pop culture tropes of the 1980s, especially those seen in Speilberg-related films like ET, The Goonies, and Poltergeist – nerdy kids on BMX bikes, sleepy suburban towns and supernatural happenings.

 

Season one left me wondering about the possibilities of there being a British version set in the 1970s when I was growing up and influenced by hair-raising kids TV shows like Ace of Wands, The Tomorrow People, Children of the Stones, the Jon Pertwee Dr Who, and all those really creepy public information films of the era, especially the one seemingly scripted by M.R. James warning about the dangers of playing beside water that scared the bejeezus out of me simply because we lived beside a canal!

 

The Stranger Things soundtrack also reached back to the 80s with throbbing analog synths straight out of Miami Vice or a John Carpenter film. In my imaginary show, the music would be influenced by the eerie themes of those 70s kid’s shows. They still sound scary today, especially if you were an impressionable kid when they were originally broadcast – and whenever I hear them, I still feel the hairs immediately rising on the back of my neck.

 

Yes, the more I think about it, Winona Ryder and her Hawkins crew have it tame by comparison dealing with the Upside Down.

 

Leica M6 Classic & 2/35mm Summicron pre-asph (King of Bokeh)

Ilford FP4+ (@125)

HC-110 (Dil. B – 9 min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(19)Dislikes(0)

 

I love the uplifting community attitude of the Milk Café on my doorstep on the very diverse Victoria Road in Glasgow’s Southside – it’s a shabby chic social enterprise with all of the profits going to supporting Asylum seeking women and aiding the local community. There’s a great food choice, and everything is served in gloriously miss-matching old-style crockery with no uniformity whatsoever. The chalkboard menu changes daily, often including unusual ethnic dishes prepared by volunteers from the local migrant community.

 

They also have a policy of donating to the local community – many of whom in these austere times, have to rely on foodbanks – the surplus free bread that’s been donated to them. And this will come as spiffing good news to the austerity pantomime villain that is Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative backbencher with designs on becoming Tory leader, who today showed  that one of the benefits of an Eton education is that you don’t develop a moral compass, or the ability to read reports from charities that are actively involved in organising foodbanks.

 

The honourable member for the 18th century – who wouldn’t be out of place in a Charles Dickens storyline – caused a bit of a stushie by claiming today that the very existence of such foodbanks was “uplifting” because it showed how charitable people are and that the state doesn’t need to provide for those in need. Not only that but also the real reason there’s been such a prolific rise in their numbers of late, is that previous Labour governments deliberately didn’t tell the public all about them!

 

Honestly, words just fail me when it comes to politicians of the ilk of Jacob Rees-Mogg.

 

Leica M6 Classic & 2/35mm Summicron pre-asph (King of Bokeh)

B+W Yellow Filter

Ilford FP4+ (200)

Ilford ID-11 (1+0 – 10min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(24)Dislikes(0)

 

Our tribute to Elvis Presley in the 40th anniversary week of his death continues with what I think is arguably one of the best, later touring years caricatures of the King, titled “Return To Sender” – coincidently also my favourite Elvis song, from his 1962 movie, Girls! Girls! Girls! – by artist Sean Read, that can be found in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, the most visited UK museum outside of London.

 

And this is one particular shot from my pre-blog archives that only colour film could do justice to!

 

It shows the King blinged-out and wearing one of his outlandish, trademark jumpsuits he wore on stage between 1969 and 1977; his comeback years when he toured the US almost non-stop and struggled with depression and addiction that accounted for the bloating, so hence the need for easily-adaptable outfits.  

 

According to the Graceland archives, Elvis had over 60 jumpsuits in his collection and would wear each for about six months at a time, and accompanied by many dry cleaning and repair bills for each suit.

 

Leica M7 & 35mm Summicron

Kodak Portra 400NC

Likes(24)Dislikes(0)

 

Given the challenging nature of the Scottish weather, it comes as no surprise that there are a whole host of interesting words to name and describe the actions of the elements.  In fact, a recent Scottish Government poll found that the word ‘dreich’ – meaning dull and miserable weather – was the nations favourite word.

 

And while it’s claimed that the Eskimo’s have 50 words for snow, here it’s estimated that there are considerably far more Scottish words for rain.  Dreich tops the list, and other personal favourites include ‘drookit’, ‘bucketing’, ‘hammering’, ‘mizzling’, ‘lashing’ and ’spitting’ to name but a few.

 

But it doesn’t matter what the word you use to describe it, July has been nothing but wet wet wet – though thankfully for everyone concerned, not the Marti Pelow variety! – with just about all the words used throughout the month, as it’s been one of the wettest summers I can recall. 

 

Some would even say it’s been more like the ‘monsoon season’, as the fitting photo from Buchanan Street taken over the July Fair Holiday Weekend would testify to, as all the tourists could be found huddled in the somewhat seasonally overcrowded North Face shop in the elusive search for all things Gore-Tex.

 

Leica M6 Classic & 2/35mm Summicron pre-asph (King of Bokeh)

B+W Yellow Filter

Ilford FP4+ (@125)

R09 (1+50 – 9min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(36)Dislikes(0)

 

Ross Sinclair’s photo “Real Life” was the beginning of a life-long project after he got the words “Real Life” tattooed on his back in 1994, turning his body into a tool for his art practice. Sinclair had the tattoo done in Terry’s Tattoo Parlour in Glasgow, since then “Real Life” has featured in all of his works.

 

And one of his latest installations, We Love Real Life Glasgow, is a Commission for Centrum Building, Queen St, Glasgow that opened in early May of this year. This is a sculptural neon work (3m x 2m) in the foyer of the city center office building. The architects and owner had seen Sinclair’s large scale 13 part neon work, We Love Real Life Scotland, in the Glasgow School of Art exhibition ‘Devils in the Making’ that exhibited through 2015/16.

 

And when this neon work was then installed for 6 months on the exterior façade of Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), the artist was asked to use that neon display on the GOMA as his starting point to develop a new project for the Centrum Building.

 

Leica M6 Classic & 2/35mm Summicron pre-asph (King of Bokeh)

Ilford FP4+ (@125)

HC-110 (Dil. B – 9 min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(28)Dislikes(0)

 

For those of a certain age and a different generation, you’ll remember the BBC comedy It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, where, in deepest India, amongst the British Artillery Concert army camp of ‘raving poofters’, there would be a small contingent of local idealistic chai wallahs (or char wallahs, as they were called in the show) who, in the traditional role, would carry around an urn of hot tea to keep everyone refreshed.

 

But there’s something a bit different about this Chaiwallah in Glasgow’s trendy West End. Maybe this is down to the fact that it occupies what used to be public toilets that I talked about in the previous blog. Located on Eldon Street right beside the Gibson Street gate of Kelvingrove Park, you can now enjoy a nice latte and light lunch from the comfort of a glorified loo. 

 

Chaiwallah West End opened its doors (which, by the way, are complete with a ‘ladies’ and ‘gents’ entrance) in early May. Yet prior to this most recent success, this late Edwardian public convenience had been left derelict for nearly 25 years. It was only in 2015 that the Glasgow City Council granted a planning application for the refurbishment of the site, thus proving that a shine can be found even in the dirtiest of situations. 

 

The disused building has been wonderfully restored and refurbished, and the best part is that the new owners, BeanYet Ltd., not only transformed it into a modern functioning community hub but, in doing so, they managed to retain most of the original Edwardian fabric of the building, including its impressive green and white marble tiles universally used in public conveniences of the period. 

 

Leica M6 Classic & 2/35mm Summicron pre-asph (King of Bokeh)

Ilford FP4+ (@125)

HC-110 (Dil. B – 9 min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(29)Dislikes(0)

 

I emerged from the festive season hibernation feeling a bit decrepit – decrepit, but not dead, as some readers worried with the lack of blog activity. But having scarcely left my humble abode since winter began, I was in need of a haircut. What hair I have left on my head is sparse, but it was getting long.

 

Yes, it’s a sad fact that with advancing years I have started to become follicly challenged – or follicularly challenged, but let’s not split hairs on it – but either way a haircut was the order of the day, so I ambled along Viccy Road  to the confines of Soran Gents Barbers to seek out Soran for the job.  Believe me, it was a quick job.

 

But being follicly challenged made me even more depressed when I returned to find in my mailbox a link to the latest gizmo: the internet hairbrush, which left me feeling for the first time that technology could well be passing me by. I’m sure there are many hirsute millennials out there who will probably think it’s cool to connect their hairbrush to the internet.  But no, definitely not here.

 

Almost every other bit of my anatomy can be – and is – monitored effectively. I have the body scale and the blood pressure monitors – which readers and family members will be only too glad to hear that they constantly reassure me I am still alive –  but now I feel excluded. I haven’t needed a hairbrush for many, many years now.  You see, there’s nothing left to brush anymore and consequently no brush to brush nothing with.

 

Leica M6 Classic & 2/35mm Summicron pre-asph (King of Bokeh)

B+W  Yellow Filter

Ilford HP5+ (@400)

HC-110 (Dil.H – 1:63 @ 11 minutes)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(18)Dislikes(0)

untitled-146-Edit

 

Benny Lynch was the archetypal Glasgow “wee man” boxer: measuring 5 foot 5 and a half inches and weighing in at 8 stone (or 112 pounds/ 52 kg) in his prime – and he had no peer in his time, or since it could be argued, becoming Scotland’s first world boxing champion.  

 

He was born in the Gorbals and the notoriously tough district bred a tough youngster who through his quick fists and ring artistry managed to escape the poverty and deprivation of the area through the even tougher times of the late 1920s.  In all, he fought more than 100 times, winning most of them.  In one year, 1933, he fought 17 times – can you imagine that now?

 

In September 1935, his return match in Manchester with title-holder Jackie Brown (after their March bout in Glasgow was fought to a draw) saw Lynch stop Brown in just two rounds, winning the British, European and world flyweight titles – and more than 100,000 cheering fans lined the streets of Glasgow when he returned home with his weighty haul of titles.

 

Lynch successfully defended his title three times but was stripped of it in 1938 for being 6lbs overweight.  Sadly, this led to his fall from grace as he succumbed to the bottle.  He took to heavy drinking and died, aged only 33, in 1946, and over 2,000 attended his funeral when he was buried in St Kentigern’s RC cemetery, in Lambhill. 

 

There have been many calls for a lasting city tribute to Benny, with movie star Robert Carlyle part of the Remember Benny Lynch Campaign group who are arguing and raising funds for a statue to be raised in honour of this true working class hero. In the meantime, the only visible recognition he has comes in the form of a mural outside of the city’s Clutha Bar, not far from his Gorbals home.

 

Leica M6 Classic & 2/35mm Summicron pre-asph (King of Bokeh)

B+W  Yellow Filter

Ilford FP4+ (@125)

HC-110 (Dil. B – 7 min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(20)Dislikes(1)