When Pandas Strike

 

Recent years have seen an explosion of street art in Glasgow, providing a welcome burst of colour in this often, all-too grey city. The playful nature of these murals is a fitting complement to the “gallus” (that’s cheeky, bold, in Scottish slang) character of the city.

 

This hidden, realistic street art gem – which can be found in the narrow Gordon Lane off Mitchell Lane which runs between Buchanan Street and Mitchell Street, leading to The Lighthouse – is the work of the celebrated local artist James Klinge, formerly known as graffiti artist ‘Klingatron’, whom I explained in a previous blog, has now gone ‘legit’ with his work displayed in galleries all around the world.

 

Unfortunately, his striking giant “Glasgow Panda” mural on the rear of the former BOAC building is often obscured by commercial-sized wheelie bins – but is well worth making the short detour from Buchanan Street just to see it. Klingatron used hand-cut stencils to bring the black and white panda to life, almost at times looking as if it is rummaging through the bins in search of some bamboo shoots.

 

Leica M3 & 1.4/50mm Summilux pre-asph v2

B+W Yellow Filter

Sekonic L-308S

Kodak Tri-X (200)

HC-110 (Dil. B – 7 min)

Vuescan & Plustek 7600i

Likes(15)Dislikes(0)

 

Kelvinside Parish Church was designed and built in 1862 by architect JJ Stevenson to serve the fashionable new residential development of Glasgow’s west end. And after standing derelict for four years, a consortium led by Colin Beattie turned the vacant building into what’s now become a vibrant arts and leisure center.

 

It was rechristened ‘Òran Mór’ – which for those hard of Gaelic means ‘great melody of life’ or ‘big song’ – and opened its doors once again in 2004 to a new congregation. It’s since become the beating heart of the trendy west end, playing host to new musical talents, comedy nights, club nights and the hugely successful A Play, A Pie & A Pint series.

 

And happily, it still retains a sense of its former spiritual guise with many couples choosing to marry here – and not only marry, but also handy for the quick dash downstairs for the reception!

 

Leica M6 Classic & 4/21mm Super Angulon

B+W  Yellow Filter

Sekonic L-308S

Ilford FP4+ (@100)

HC-110 (Dil. B – 7 min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(18)Dislikes(0)

 

Continuing much in the vein of Geometry Club from our previous blog entry, a recent addition to the ever-changing Glasgow landscape is the very striking, triangular-shaped Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC) at Strathclyde University, designed by BDP, the internationally acclaimed architects, designers, engineers and urbanists.

 

TIC opened in 2015 and tackles the mysteries of atoms, plasma, lasers, bio-nano-micrology and even street-lighting – and all a stone’s throw from the oldest buildings in the heart of Glasgow, it could barely be more downtown than this. The parallel of its locale is drawn with San Francisco, Boston, and New York, where run-down or neglected downtown areas have become the hubs for science/engineering innovation.

 

Leica M6 Classic & 4/21mm Super Angulon

B+W  Yellow Filter

Ilford FP4+ (@125)

HC-110 (Dil. B – 7 min), )

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(23)Dislikes(0)

 

If you are still recovering from 1st January, then now’s the time to head towards your nearest Chinatown district and say “Kung Hei Fat Choy” (Happy New Year) and let your liver go through it all again, as we welcome in The Year of the Rooster!

 

The first Chinese restaurant in Glasgow was the Wah Yen, at 455 Govan Road, opened by Jimmy Yih in the late 1940s. Today, the community, which is largely based in and around the Garnethill area, numbers just over 10,000 – and today’s fitting photo comes from Glasgow’s very own Chinatown, in Cowcaddens.

 

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(23)Dislikes(0)

untitled-148-edit

 

As we’re in Halloween week, what better time to tell the tale of the famous Glasgow urban myth surrounding one of the city’s graveyards that’s now been made into a play? It is, of course, the extraordinary case of ‘The Gorbals Vampire’ that gripped the city for the best part of a week, chilled the nation, mystified the media, and ended up being debated about in Parliament. 

 

It was like Oor Wullie meets Scooby Doo, with hundreds of schoolchildren (armed with whatever they could lay their little mittens on) roaming across Glasgow hunting for a vampire – and such was the outcry it led to new censorship laws in the 1950s for the new craze of American horror comics, that politicians blamed for the root cause of all the hysteria in the first place. 

 

More than sixty years on, the tale is being brought back to life with the help of the people of the community in a new play, The Gorbals Vampire. The play is inspired by the real-life monster hunt is now being staged at the Citizens Theatre, based in the Gorbals, involving performers drawn from the community – and already there’s talk of it being turned into a movie. 

 

The hunt was triggered by rumors which swept around school playgrounds in September 1954 that two boys had been killed and eaten by a vampire with “iron teeth” which was roaming Glasgow’s Southern Necropolis – and believe me, easily the scariest graveyard in the city – as shown in today’s photo.

 

Leica M3 & 1.4/50mm Summilux pre-asph v2

B+W Yellow Filter

Sekonic L-308S

Kodak Tri-X (200)

HC-110 (Dil. B – 7 min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(28)Dislikes(0)

untitled-146-3-edit-2

 

It started with Ann, and then followed Angela, Linda, May, Lorraine, Susan, Erika, Vicky, and Fiona…before it all finally ended with Violet.  No, not the girls that turned me down at my first school disco (although admittedly that list was just as big), I am, of course, talking about the iconic girls that once adorned cans of lager here in Scotland.

 

Launched in 1962, the ‘Lager Lovelies‘ – as the short documentary in the link explains – graced cans of Tennent’s until 1991.  Although I can’t imagine such sexist advertising existing in today’s politically correct environment, three generations of men grew up ogling the girls as they guzzled their cans – and thus began a joke, cracked whenever one of them was spotted in the street: “I had ma hands roond you last night, hen.”

 

They were indeed much loved by drinkers, and classic cans featuring the models these days can change hands among collectors for hundreds of pounds each with the ‘holy grail’ being an unopened can of vintage Ann – but I can tell you you’d stand a better chance of finding the real Holy Grail here in Glasgow before you’d find an unopened 50-year-old can of lager!

 

There can be few people in the city – and throughout Scotland – who haven’t at some point sampled Tennent’s lager, produced in Wellpark Brewery (dating back to 1556), and located in one of the most historic parts of Glasgow, opposite the Necropolis. And as part of the city’s extensive mural offensive, street artist “Smug” was put into action a couple of years ago on the long brewery wall heading down Duke Street to depict some famous Tennent’s ads over the years, which of course had to feature the famous Lager Lovelies. 

 

Leica M3 & 1.4/50mm Summilux pre-asph v2

Sekonic L-308S

Kodak Tri-X (200)

HC-110 (Dil. B – 7 min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(26)Dislikes(0)

untitled-130

 

The exquisite tones from Sandy Denny is generally considered to make her the greatest English female folk singer (sadly she died in 1978) but I’ve always had a fondness for the voice of Steeleye Span‘s Maddy Prior, even when I thought Folk was beyond the pale. OK, simultaneously there was also a big teenage thing going on there with Maddy & Me. 

 

And the new summer look from my favourite Glasgow charity shop mannequins took me on yet another  pop trip down memory lane, as they reminded me of dear old Maddy and Steeleye Span with my soft spot for their big 1975 hit ‘All Around My Hat‘. Now it isn’t exactly trad Folk with its big pop production, but it is very Hey Nonny Nonny with its merry, skipping around the maypole vibe that makes you want to sink a pint of cider, grab the nearest rosy-cheeked wench, dance a jig with her and have a roll in the hay afterwards.

 

A few months back, I managed to see Maddy live in concert in Frome, just outside Bath.  She may have aged, but the voice is still as distinctive as ever, not to mention her fondness for merrily dancing around the stage – and she can still belt out ‘All Around My Hat’ as if it were 1975 all over again.  Ah, memories, memories…

 

Leica M3 & 2/50mm Summicron v5

B+W Yellow Filter

Sekonic L-308S

Ilford FP4+ (@125)

HC-110 (Dil. B – 7:30 min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(25)Dislikes(0)

untitled-158-Edit

 

Ah, Partick! Famous for its community spirit, although some joker here claims it to be ‘*non-alcoholic’ – as if. But for those not au fait with Partick, that’s the bit of the salubrious West End (running off Byres Road and the Clydeside slipway) that still feels, well, properly Glaswegian: cool café bars, delis and boutiques sitting tooth by rough-shaven jowl with classic boozers, betting shops, greasy spoons and pound stores.

 

It was home to one of the most famous Glaswegians ever.  Billy Connolly spent his childhood reading and dreaming in Partick Library on Dumbarton Road, and talked frequently of the fabled boozers there.  Traditional boozers that ‘serviced’ those – like Billy – who worked in the shipyards.  

 

But the shipyards are long gone now, and the traditional boozers are also going that way with the gentrification of Partick, as it morphs into a hipster overspill for trendy Byres Road.  Yes, Partick is being ‘hipsterized’, and I can physically see it change with each regular visit I make there – and mainly in the venerable old working-class boozers.

 

The latest being the legendary old Partick Tavern on Dumbarton Road, a fabled working-class watering hole, which has been rebranded and relaunched by the owner of the nearby upmarket The Lismore and Oran Mor, more looking for the hipster clientele. Now admittedly the Tavern was well past its sell-by date, and was crying out for major change – hell, what was it with that garish paint job on the outside? – but its new look doesn’t appear to be attracting the true locals in for a friendly afternoon pint.  

 

Leica M3 & 1.4/50mm Summilux pre-asph v2

Sekonic L-308S

Ilford FP4+ (@125)

HC-110 (Dil. B – 7 min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(22)Dislikes(0)

untitled-145

 

There’s no denying it: The Gerry and Sylvia Anderson puppet shows were the backdrop to my childhood.  The first I can very dimly remember was the monochrome, primitivist, slightly eerie Supercar (the same age as me, launched  in 1961) with its goofy ensemble of mad professors, all-American heroes and sinister foreign agents. Then there was Fireball XL5.  Then came the great central works of his canon, Stingray, and Thunderbirds before the stranger late-period masterpieces of Joe 90 and Captain Scarlet.

 

Looking fondly back, there was a lot of casual stereotyping going on, particularly of foreign types with no hair or perhaps bad hair, and a tendency with a heat-seeking missile to blow someone’s car off the road. But of all of them, it was the Tracy brothers – Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John – who stood out in my cathode childhood. Every week, some devilish disaster would occur – invariably involving the Hood – and the good ol’ Tracy boys would pilot their awesome Thunderbirds to the scene to save the day.

 

And here is where you have to excuse my childhood indulgences, because for someone of a very young age (not to mention a somewhat vivid imagination), from a certain angle and at a distance, the historic St. George’s-Tron Church, in the heart of Glasgow, would always – and still does to this day – reminded me of Thunderbird 3, the giant orangey-red SSTO (that’s Single Stage to Orbit for those not altogether au fait with all things International Rescue) that hardly anyone liked compared to the other Tracy assets, but I actually had as a toy.

 

FAB, as the boys would say.

 

Leica M3 & 1.4/50mm Summilux pre-asph v2

Sekonic L-308S

Kodak TMax 100 (200)

HC-110 (Dil. B – 7min)

Vuescan & Plustek 7600i

Likes(19)Dislikes(0)

untitled-128-Edit

 

Don’t you just hate it when the person behind you in the coffee queue is getting just a tad impatient and showing signs of becoming über-aggressive, just because they’ve not had their double frappuccino fix yet?  It could be worse, I suppose, it could be a Dalek standing in the line at the ‘Tardis‘ coffee kiosk on Wilson Street in Glasgow, during the recent Merchant City Festival – and the double frappuccino fix might explain why they continually whizz around like demented dodgems while frantically shouting “Exterminate!”.

 

It’s the phrase that’s become synonymous with the TV cult classic Doctor Who that I adored as a kid (and still do today), but  just how many times do you think we’ve actually heard it uttered (or rather shouted) by the natives of Skaro? How often do you think each Doctor hear that menacing threat? Which Doctor had it said to them most? And when was “Exterminate!” first said at all? 

 

Luckily for us, there’s a nerdy Whovian – surprise surprise – keeping a tab on all those stats for us. 

 

It turns out, we’ve actually heard the Dalek catchphrase quite a lot – and a lot more often than you may think.  Across the 53 years Doctor Who has been running, the Daleks have said the famous words to the Doctors no less than 514 times, including times they have said “Exterminated”. On average, that’s nine times each year for the show’s run.

 

While the average per Doctor’s regeneration was fairly low, the actual number varies heavily for each Doctor. Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, had quite a peaceful reign with just 12 threats of extermination. This is quite odd when you remember Tom Baker’s seven-year reign as Doctor was the longest regeneration – and also despite being in at their birth, in what many believe to be the best-ever Dr. Who adventure, ‘Genesis of the Daleks‘. The highest instances came from David Tennant’s tenth Doctor, with a staggering 83 “exterminates” from Daleks across his five-year stint in the Tardis.

 

The very first time the Daleks uttered the word was in the second story, fittingly titled ‘The Daleks’. This early William Hartnell story may only have featured two instances of the battle cry, but it was a start of a long cultural reference still alive and well today. 

 

Just don’t get one behind you in the coffee line, that’s all I’m saying on the matter.

 

Leica M3 & 2/40mm Summicron-c

Sekonic L-308S

Ilford FP4+ (@125)

HC-110 (Dil. B – 7 min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(36)Dislikes(0)