|Image: Matt Groening|
It’s been quite the few days. Two days in Glasgow full of fun and frolics, followed by a weekend of disruption and hard earned downtime, led me into this week feeling rather dishevelled. Monday, took a while to get going; today looks better already.
Stiff Little Fingers
Thursday night was the 20th annual St. Patrick’s Day gig the Stiff Little Fingers have played at the world famous, Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom. It’s is the best venue in Glasgow (Scotland) for live music and has become synonymous with the SLF for this annual event.
The set list was explosive, the audience were wild and the whole gig was nothing short of breathtaking. You have to take part, though, because standing at the sidelines is no way to appreciate the ferocious energy unleashed by this mob of Northern Irish punk geniuses. Getting involved, though, has its own perils.
If there’s one band you don’t want to fall in the mosh pit, it’s at the SLF gig. My sister, Binny, managed it and I managed it, and it is quite a moment when you realise there’s nothing you can do but let yourself go as the force of the packed bodies finalyl gives way. You can do nothing but pray you don’t get crushed. But Glasgow audiences are a cut above, and when I was hauled back onto my feet by a couple of blokes who were nearby, my faith in humanity was restored.
SLF at the Glasgow Barrowland on St. Paddy’s Day is a date set in stone for live music lovers, and so long as they keep doing it, I’ll keep turning up.
Here’s a short video I made of the lead up to the gig and during it. (Click here if you cannot see this video).
The Diners Birthday Night Out
Friday morning was given over to recovering from the night before. My alcohol consumption was sweated out during the SLF gig, so there was no real hangover to shed. My pains were of a more physical nature: sore ribs, forearms, ankles and knees. The knees from all the bouncing, and the ribs and ankles from all the passion being flung out by other people’s boots, arms and legs.
Binny and I went to our old favourite, Ludovic’s Café in Battlefield for our brunch. Two full Scottish breakfasts along with toast, Irn-Bru and coffee was duly delivered. I consumed the lot in record speed.
Then I left my sister and headed back into town to meet The Diners. Mikey turned 37 the other day and this was to be his wee celebration. We kicked things off in the Sir John Moore in Argyle Street before heading back for some more drinks at the hotel the rest of the guys would be staying in later than night (I’d already elected to crash at my sister’s flat again).
From then on things started to get a little weird in our choice of venue for beverage partaking. The Grant Arms, which is about as “Glasgow” as you can get, was our first port of call. Then we headed to Princes Square, essentially a large shopping mall but with two bars in it (or there used to be) one of which we found but had now become more of a coffee shop with a late license. We had a couple there while watching the “entertainment” on offer – I’m still not sure what that woman with the microphone was actually doing.
From there we headed off to Sloan’s, Glasgow’s oldest pub, and one that I hadn’t personally been in for almost 20 years. Another couple of bars followed – Republic and a place I can’t even remember the name of now (I’m sure I’ve never been in it before anyway but was told I had) and the night had approached 1am. Time to go and off I wandered back to the south side and my sister’s flat, via, as you might by now expect to hear, the kebab shop.
If you wanted to really piss someone off who had a proper hangover, when all they wanted to do was get home and crawl into a dark space, how better than to stop then train they are on in the middle of nowhere, tell them to get off, then advise them that there is no alternative means they can think of to get onwards to Edinburgh.
Well, guess what happened to me?
Yup, that’s right. At 2.10pm I elected to skip boarding the 2.15pm train for Edinburgh and wait for the 2.30pm. It was over-busy and I thought by waiting I would get a comfortable seat for the ride home. I was correct. However, just out of Falkirk High station, the train stopped for about 10 minutes. Things didn’t look good. We then rumbled slowly forward to Polmont, the next stop only a few minutes away but which we were supposed to race right past. This was when knew I was in trouble.
At Polmont a Scotfail manager got on and told us that due to an incident further up the line we would have to disembark and wait for the buses they were ordering for us to take us onwards to Edinburgh. It became clear, however, that after 30 minutes of watching the Scotfail manager wander around aimlessly, she had no clue what was happening herself. She confirmed it when she told us: “Sorry – I’ve got no idea how long your buses will take – I’m expecting it to be a couple of hours, though.”
I put all of my faith into my iPhone. This would be its greatest test of resourcefulness yet: could it get me home quicker than Scotfail when a) I had no cash on me, and b) I did not know where I was other than a place name?
Using the GPS function I followed a route that took me towards Polmont Main Street about a mile away. I figured there must be an ATM there and hopefully, somewhere trusty that could advise on how to get a bus or, if it came to it, taxi. I found an ATM then popped into the Post Office next door where a nice lady told me the bus stop over the road had a local bus that went to Edinburgh – eventually. It was better than nothing.
Despite the bus arriving 20 minutes late, it did at least turn up and for £4.40 I was able to navigate back to Edinburgh. The bus stank and it was overcrowded. Every time someone coughed I wanted to lamp them and for the big fat guy that sat next to me, just as well for him I had my iPod to distract me his protruding chubby arms.
Through the countryside we weaved our merry little way, a small metal cabin on wheels carrying dozens of people packed in like school kids, ploughing through the massive crowds leaving Murrayfied and Tynecastle.
Finally I made it to Edinburgh. I was lucky enough to get a bus back to Leith in good time and made it home for dinner, and never have I been more happy to see Leith Walk out the window of my bus. I was so relieved to be home. I mean it – relief doesn’t actually cover it.
Making Plans & SXSW
Sunday was a day of catching up with email, getting back up to speed with things around the house and making plans. Lots to do before the end of the month.
I’ve also been following various tweeters and bloggers attending the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas over the past week. I would love to go to this festival (one day soon, I will), but for a superb taste of what goes on has to be here: Song by Toad – this guy’s video diary seems to sum a lot of it up best from a Scottish angle.
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