Gallus Glasgow D: Donald Dewar
Donald Dewar was a Scottish politician who was a major force in securing victory in the devolution referendum of 1997, resulting in the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. He was the inaugural holder of the post of First Minister but died in October 2000, not much more than a year after taking office. He was held in considerable affection by many people so, a couple of years later, a statue (by Kenny Mackay) was erected at the foot of the Royal Concert Hall steps (above).
Now, Glaswegians have a strange relationship with statues. They see them as a challenge, and poor Donald’s spectacles were fair game. Time and again, they were crumpled, broken or even removed altogether. The solution? The nine-foot statue was further elevated onto a smooth, tapering six-foot high plinth in the hope of preventing access. It doesn’t stop folk making sure Donald is nice and warm in the bad weather though!
Actually, he’ll soon have to be on the move. Glasgow City Council in its wisdom – or otherwise given the number of empty shops elsewhere – wishes to expand Buchanan Galleries, the adjacent shopping mall. The council is NOT gallus. The statue will be moved further down Buchanan Street and the Concert Hall steps demolished. This is considered disrespectful: 12000 people objected, there was a petition and a campaign to Save our Steps. The steps are where people eat their lunch in the summer while listening to buskers playing in the street below. They are used as a gathering place for protests and rallies, such as during last year’s independence campaign. An area which, though modern, has some character, will be replaced by concrete and glass – a cylindrical atrium which has already been dubbed, in inimitable Glasgow fashion, the People’s Pedal Bin. That IS gallus.
There are no A to Z posts on Sunday so on Monday, in E, I will introduce you to a Saint.