Glasgow Gallivanting: January 2022
After a hiatus of several months, I’m back gallivanting! In fact, last week was so busy that I could almost write the whole post about it alone. But first, Paisley where Mum lived. Her house is now gone and I have completed most of the tasks associated with her affairs: for everything left to do, the ball is now in someone else’s court and I am waiting for a response. The photograph above was taken on one of my last visits to the town – I realised I did not have a picture of the church Mum and Dad attended, and where both their funerals were held, so I wanted to put that right.
I was on my way to the solicitor’s office that day, and took the opportunity to walk through Dunn Square where a new monument has recently been erected to the 71 children who died in the Glen Cinema disaster of 1929. A smoking film canister caused a panic and there was a rush to the exit where the metal gates had been shut causing a fatal crush. I’m not sure I like the design, but it was very moving to read the names of all the children which are inscribed around the pedestal. It’s near another memorial, to women who have been murdered by their violent partners, which has featured here before. The plaque is showing signs of wear, but every time I visit it there is a different floral tribute proving that it is well cared for.
So what made last week so active? I went to two events in real life, two virtual events, met a friend for coffee, and at the weekend we had a whole day out that wasn’t in Glasgow. It almost felt that life was back to normal. Our outing was to Linlithgow in West Lothian. Linlithgow Palace is famous as the birth place of Mary, Queen of Scots but, like many Historic Scotland properties, it’s currently closed while they check the stonework. It’s still possible to walk round the loch and view the palace, and the adjacent St Michael’s Church, from the outside.
We spotted many other interesting buildings and decorations on our stroll around the town. The flowers on the bench at the end of the gallery looked very fresh, and when I checked the plaque I realised why: it was the commemorated person’s birthday.
Controversial these days is the Black Bitch pub. It does sound like an offensive name and the current owner, Greene King, has announced plans to change it, prompting a local outcry. The black bitch in question is a dog which has featured on the town’s coat of arms for centuries, the result of a medieval legend about a criminal who was sentenced to starve to death on an island in the loch. His dog swam out each day with food for him, and when this was discovered she was chained to a tree on a different island and left to suffer the same fate as her master. The townspeople admired the animal’s loyalty and bravery and adopted her as their mascot: only a couple of years ago a statue was unveiled to her. I remember being utterly shocked by the name when I first visited Linlithgow 40 years ago, before I knew its history. I can’t remember how obvious it was then, but you can see from the images below that these days the pub makes it quite clear that the words refer to a dog. However, times change, language moves on, and I think it might be time to give up the name – though by all accounts, Greene King has gone about it in a very cack-handed way without taking local opinion into account.
On our way home from Linlithgow, we stopped off at the entirely uncontroversial Beecraigs Country Park and had a walk round its Loch before it got too dark. I liked the trees (or, rather, the one twin-trunked tree) stuck in the middle of the path.
In January, we are usually frantically busy with Celtic Connections concerts. Last year was all online, but this year was meant to be entirely live. Unfortunately, the Omicron variant scuppered some of those plans, and restrictions on the number of people allowed to attend an event meant concerts during the first week had to be postponed or cancelled. So we have two to look forward to in May / June, and on Sunday we attended the first of our three bookings which are going ahead. We went out for dinner beforehand and it felt just like old times. Will this improvement continue into February? Fingers crossed!