Glasgow Gallivanting: January 2020

Celtic Connections, 2020

Music lovers don’t get long to recover from the festive season in Glasgow: Celtic Connections, Glasgow’s annual folk, roots and world music festival, arrives in the last two weeks of January. This year there were over 300 events, 2,100 musicians performing, and 130,000 attendees. As usual we had a ball, attending six concerts at four different venues. We ended the month exhausted, in a happy sort of way, and considerably heavier given that before every concert we had a pre-theatre meal and sometimes a pint of Festival Ale.

Out and about

The weather has been dreadful – rain, rain, rain. Our only day out away from Glasgow was an exception – a bright, cold Sunday in Stirling. Some aspects of that day have already featured as part of Becky’s January Squares Challenge, and there are so many other photographs that I feel it merits a post of its own. However, we did quite a lot of wandering around Glasgow, always searching for interesting details. For example, I didn’t know before that the CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts) on Sauchiehall Street is housed in a ‘Greek’ Thomson building (Alexander Thomson, 1817-1875, so-called because of the many Grecian features of his architecture). It’s obvious when you look up!

Further along Sauchiehall Street, we came across ghost signs, angels, torch bearers and regimental flags.

Round the corner at Charing Cross are the magnificent Charing Cross Mansions and the drunken-looking Cameron Memorial Fountain. No longer in use, it was built as a tribute to Sir Charles Cameron (1843 – 1913), a much respected newspaper editor and Liberal MP. Some say its tipsy lean is due to subsidence from the building of the nearby M8 motorway in the 1960s, but apparently photographs from the 1950s show that it was already listing then.

Moving down to Argyle Street, I have long been fascinated by the Buck’s Head Buildings – also by Alexander Thomson (1863). I was glad John had his camera with him to get a close up of the buck itself, now sadly eroded.

We were on our way to Street Level Photoworks at Trongate 103 to see their Oscar Marzaroli exhibition (on till 15th March). Italian-Scot Marzaroli (1933-1988) photographed Glasgow from the 1950s to the 1980s, often concentrating on the poorer areas. Many of his images are very well known – I particularly wanted to capture Gorbals Boys, three young lads playing in high-heeled shoes, but it was in the corner by the window and the reflections were terrible. For comparison, see the sculpture by Liz Peden which reproduces the scene in today’s more modern Gorbals.

Marzaroli was a friend of artist Joan Eardly, and I loved the portrait shown below of some of the Samson children whom she often used as models. Another comparison – check this link for an example of Eardley’s painting and a picture of two of the Samson children as they were in 2016. Bonus image – a smiling John in the gallery complex at Trongate 103.

Street art

At the beginning of January, I noticed that many of the Big Heids seen around town had been upgraded to Christmas versions, and some of them had acquired wee pals.

Where’s a bench challenge when you need it?

Can it really be 5 years since Jude was looking for our benches? My eye was caught by this one in George Square, set up in memory of a long running equal pay dispute with Glasgow City Council. 163 women died while they were waiting for their claims to be settled, a disgraceful statistic.


Burns Night

We were out at a concert on Burns Night this year. However, John was invited to a Chinese Burns Supper (not painful!) a few nights before which looks to have been a glorious cultural mix. On the same night, I was out at a party at the Women’s Library to celebrate the installation of their new boiler. I don’t have a boiler suit so couldn’t dress the part, but several people did, including my friend Anna. I’m happy to self-identify as an Old Boiler without labelling myself as such!

The last bit

So after many false starts, the UK finally Brexited at 11pm on 31st January – sort of. There’s a transition period till the end of the year so not much will change till then. There were some celebrations in Scotland, but mostly sorrowful vigils – this country voted to remain by 62%. In Glasgow that figure was almost 67%, and in typical Glaswegian fashion Wellington’s traffic cone was updated to suit the occasion.

So those are my January highlights – better late than never! Happy what’s-left-of-February to you all.


  1. It seems you had a very busy January, despite the gloomy weather. The concert series must have been loads of fun. My sympathies for Brexit, especially since Scotland didn’t want it; I’m in sympathy and disgust over our own acquittal of the criminal in our White House. The Big Heids are fun, and I love the Gorbals Boys. 🙂


      • I really don’t know if Bernie could beat Trump. I know Bloomberg has a vendetta against Trump and he also has a lot more money. But he has a lot of baggage and is just buying his way into the election. Personally I like Tom Steyer, but he is hardly doing well at all. Bernie would be good for the country, but believe me, Trump will appeal to his base and use the Socialism word to rile them up! I think it would be a nasty battle. I don’t know who will be able to beat Trump. Since so many people didn’t even bother to vote in 2016, it’s getting those people mobilized that is most important.


          • Bernie has a lot of supporters, but he’s very progressive. I’m for that, but many people are not. You can be sure Trump will beat the Socialism angle to death. As for Tom Steyer, he’s another billionaire who started the Impeach Trump movement long before anyone else considered it, and he’s also a big donator and mover and shaker for climate change legislation. He hates everything about Trump and thinks he’s a threat to our democracy. I agree with him on so much, but he’s very soft spoken and is a businessman not a politician. He doesn’t have a chance sadly, but oh well. For me, I’ll be voting for WHOEVER gets the Democratic nomination. I think any of them would be a huge improvement over our criminal president.


  2. Looks like you manage to get out and about despite the weather. Very interesting to read about the Celtic Connections Festival and the artworks. I clicked on the link to read about the Samson children now and then – so interesting. I do empathise with the sadness and unease over Brexit – it seems insidiously over time (presumably after the end of this year) things will change, one can’t see for the better. I can claim Scottish heritage via my paternal line – back to the feisty Maxwells who came down to London in the late 1700s. I love the upended traffic cone!


  3. I’ve always fancied the Celtic Connections. But, otherwise, a trip to Glasgow in January doesn’t seem so appealing 😂. Mind you, you’ve definitely have been keeping yourself occupied. A combination of a busy time at work (my second, parttime job, had a particularly busy spurt of exams and seminars during January) and the atrocious weather has meant I’ve hardly done anything worth writing up for the pastfew weeks.


  4. I always enjoy seeing all the beautiful architecture in your photos Anabel. We’ve had rain, rain, rain too but here it’s been very welcome, after so many years with hardly any. We had more than 200mm in a week, but some places got more than their average yearly rain in a couple of days. It’s a joy to see everything green again.


  5. The festival looks like it was a lot of fun. We haven’t had much sun here either but we have had little snow and above average temperatures. I like the sculpture of the kids with high heels and the buildings. That fountain looks like it was built on some unstable ground. A fun look at your adventures


  6. What an amazing music festival season, Anabel! Food, concerts, ale…..I could not ask for more. It is interesting what you found, wandering about Glasgow. I wondered what you meant about a “tipsy lean” until I looked further at the photos. A black and white photo with children’s smiling faces is a rare treat. And, of course, the big child on the right.🙂 A very informative, eclectic January post. I appreciate all of the interesting photos. A great post!


  7. I love the idea of a boiler party in boiler suits! My friend happened to be out in Victoria on the 31st, and he said there sadly were a lot of Brexiteers out in force that night – I’m glad I wasn’t there to see it.
    I like the photo of John by the Sharmanka Theatre sign in Trongate 103 – we bought a Sharmanka poster when we were there, and Marcus recently hung it up in our green room (it’s sort of a library/dining room/office, so it’s easier to refer to it by the colour of its walls) so I’m reminded of the robot penises every time I’m in there.