Glasgow is a city of surprises, if you look beyond the beautiful buildings to the empty spaces you find all sorts of delights, including poems!
It was on a rather ordinary wall beside a cash machine that I first spotted the works of the Glasgow Cabbie, a mysterious, ninja poet whose words reach out of walls, shop windows and close doors to wrap you up in a wonderful hug of positivity and pride in the city. Perfect verses singing of our friendliness and welcoming nature. Showcasing the best that Glasgow has to offer, that being, the ability of the ordinary working man to reach out and make you smile.
I had no clue as to the identity of the Glasgow Cabbie but being of inquisitive mind I was desperate to know who the writer was and what was motivating him. Conversations started in the local shops debating whether he was a taxi driver, had anyone seen him, we all know the usual “Did you, Aye” type of talk. It was fair to say he had created a wee stooshie.
Many months later, on a day that in Glasgow can only be described as one where even the weather was fed up trying to decide what to do, so just decided to be grey, I hailed a cab. I was soon to learn that sometimes in Glasgow a taxi trip can be infinitely more entertaining than the destination.
Once in the cab I could see the Glasgow Cabbie’s poetry on display so struck up a chat with the driver about them, asking him if he knew the poet and just generally blethering about the amount of folk who were enjoying them throughout the city. About 500 yards later, the driver asked me if I would like to hear a recitation of his work. I nearly died! Here he was, the secret poet who was spreading his words across the toon. His name is Stef Shaw and he is a real Glasgow Cabbie. He treated me to a recitation of “Beautiful Scotland”. He then related how a Glasgow primary teacher had hopped in his cab and had asked to put “Welcome to Glasgow” to music. Next thing I knew, my toes were tapping along to the words that had leapt out of that wall to me! It’s a very catchy tune and a word of warning, once listened to you will be humming it for weeks!
In between the poetry recital, sing song and taxi journey I discovered Stef’s motivation. He does all this for Scottish children’s charities. Last year alone, he raised £3k for the Scottish Children’s Hospital. Most of this comes from donations from passengers, followers of his Facebook page and he has been lucky that a few business owners have been in his cab and has a few corporate sponsors. His poems are also sold in various locations throughout the city, including the People’s Palace. Ordinary folk doing extraordinary things sums up Glaswegians to me and Stef just excels at this. By the time my journey was over I didn’t want to leave. It had been a ceilidh in a cab! I left feeling great, the grey day had melted away and there was a song in my step.
That trip was over a year ago and since then I have followed Stef on his Glasgow Cabbie Facebook page and watched him go from strength to strength. He has appeared in newspapers and on TV, had his work featured on the People Make Glasgow website and his laminated poems can still be seen throughout the city. It had never struck me before how poetry could be an agent of action, create such a buzz and engender a collective desire to give something back, to make a difference for the good of our community. Much of what Stef has achieved is down to his personality and his ability to write poetry that just makes the reader feel good by connecting us to our inner Glaswegian, the swagger with pride, the confidence or just downright gallusness and the warmth we feel for each other.
His latest work is a piece on Andy Murray in honour of his achievements. It is entitled “King of the Courts” you can read or hear Stef recite it on his Facebook page: Glasgow Cabbie. He is hoping that through social media shares that someone, somewhere will be able to get the tennis icon to sign a copy to be auctioned for charity. To this end, he invites everyone to have a look at his page and share his work far and wide.
Finally, if you are lucky, the next cab you hail in Byres Road, the Finnieston Strip or the City Centre may just be his! Then you will appreciate the true fun of one of Glasgow’s own poets; the Glasgow Cabbie, Stef Shaw. I can promise you it’s the best taxi in town.
Jane Sweeney, 9 December, 2016
'Andy Murray signing copies of my poems has greatly enhanced my fundraising for sick children in Scotland.
"King of the Courts" has become a real favourite in Scotland, and actually reached American website, Tennis World, whilst Andy competed in the Australian Open at the beginning of this year! 🏆🎾
As Andy has comfortably reached the 3rd round of Wimbledon 2017, I felt the time was right to give a new recital, wearing my Scotland top, gifted to me by my supportive Facebook friend, Sheila Hari. 🎾🏆
Paul McDonagh of Scotland's most famous whiskey bar, THE BON ACCORD, is currently the highest bidder on my Andy Murray signed "King of the Courts" poem, with his bid standing at £500! 🎾🏆
Becky Lynch, my Welsh Facebook friend, and the lady who has nominated me for a Pride of Britain Award, is the highest bidder on my Andy Murray signed "Beautiful Scotland" postcard poem, with a bid of £20! 🏆🎾
I wish to thank previous bidders and buyers of my poetry, as well as all previous sponsors, as your money goes to fantastic use at Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity. 🎾🏆
Lets get behind the greatest sportsperson that the UK has ever produced! Andy Murray - and indeed the whole Murray family - do a lot for less fortunate people. This guy isn't just one of the world's top sportsmen, more importantly, he's a top class human being!
C'mon, let's hear it for Andy!!! '