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Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End


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About gladtobeglas

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    Visiting for tea often
  • Birthday December 24

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  1. A 'hello' to everyone from south of the border and yes, everything is looking very Christmassy where I am. Manchester is crammed full of Christmas market stalls which are spread across the city centre. I was also in Bath a week or so ago - a beautiful and interesting city - and enjoyed being among the lights and their Christmas market. I hope everyone is well and I can see some very familiar names so a special 'Merry Christmas' to you.
  2. We dashed across the platform, squeezing through the crowd, and boarded the train. The doors rumbled behind us as they slid shut and I turned around. There you were, my five-year-old, there, staring at me through the glass. Stupidly, I looked down at my hand. Did I really expect to see yours? When was our grip lost? The underground train jolted and started to move. Your small form being swallowed up by the crowd and my decreasing angle of view. The carriage plunged into the tunnel. I called out. Looked up for a handle. Button. Panel. Anything to force the train to stop. But nothing. Packed in among the crowd of passengers, I was lost. My stomach hit with sickness and my head ready to burst. I turned to look for help and all I saw was indifference. Everyone lost in their worlds. Thoughts hurtled through my head. Get off at the next stop then go back. Or get off and report what happened. Which would be quickest? Who could I tell? What if there was no one there? Precious seconds would be lost. Terror took control. Headlines sped through my head. Lost. Abducted. Abandoned. Left Behind. #whatkindofather. The train slowed and emerged into the station. I pushed at the doors which finally slid open. I pushed through the crowd of travellers. Had to get back to the other station. I dashed down the platform, through an arch and down and up steps to get to the opposite platform. I stood there. Almost alone. A sign said two minutes. So much can happen in two seconds. How long was two minutes but then I felt the rush of air being pushed ahead by the train and then the roar as it burst from the tunnel. I stepped forward, almost touching the carriages that were still speeding past me. Then they squealed to a stop and I moved towards the nearest set of doors, my hands pushing hard against them. As they opened, I pushed against the tide of passengers stepping out of the carriage. I held up my right hand. How could I have not noticed? Even in the crush of the platform? I never let go of you. We were never apart. And now I felt as though my very soul had been ripped out of me. The carriage clattered along and, as once more we emerged from the tunnel, I strained to look over the heads of passengers to the platform I’d left some 8, 10 minutes ago. But it was crowded. Packed. The doors slid open and I was again sprinting down the platform, jumping down then up steps, along a tiled passageway and back onto the platform of departure. A train was just moving away. Picking up speed. Then disappearing into the blackness of the tube, down on the left. All leaving the platform eerily empty. I slumped forward. Then looked to my right. There, slumped on a seat, expressionless and unmoving, was my boy. I dashed forward and picked up his lifeless body. I held him to me. Heavy tears in my eyes. I ran my hand up his cold back. Searching. And then his eyes snapped open and his neck twisted round. I looked into his dry glassy eyes. ‘I’m so sorry,’ I said, tears now rolling down my face, ‘I’m so sorry. What can I do to make it up to you?’ His eyelids dropped and his mouth moved, mirroring mine. ‘I want,’ he said, ‘ I want . . a gockle of geer, dad. A gockle of geer!’
  3. Thursday 23 December Midnight Dear Diary Been thinking all day about the Prince’s Ball. Grimelda and Safi have been a nightmare all day ordering me around, getting everything ready for THEM. No time for cleaning. I’ll pay for that! Not even had five minutes to myself and been close to tears all day. But didn’t cry because that would have just made things worse for me. Now just trying to keep these pages dry. I hate those two. It’s so unfair. Friday 24 December 11pm Dear Diary It’s been worse than Hell. The Devil himself couldn’t be so cruel. They’ve made me do all yesterday’s cleaning today. I can’t run after them AND clean. But that’s what they expect. I should have kept my mouth shut. I just gave Grimelda an excuse to slap me and now my cheek’s red and swollen. I look horrible. 1am Dear Diary I can’t believe it! I’m going to the Ball. I can’t tell anyone. I need to write this down now. IT WAS NOT A DREAM! I heard the hall clock strike 12 and on the last stroke a bright light shone under my door. The first thing I thought was what are they up to now? What have I done? Then my door opened and there she was – my God Mother! I almost disgraced myself I was so scared. She’s been dead nearly 20 years and every day I see her portrait hanging at the bottom of the staircase. And now there she was, walking across the floor towards me. So beautiful. And when she said my name I knew it was OK. I just forgot about being scared. Oh how I wish I could remember her words. I heard them. I know what she was saying but I can’t remember what she said. Does that make sense? But I AM going to the Ball and she’ll come back to me tomorrow evening as soon as Grimelda and Safi’s carriage takes them away. OMG! I can’t believe this is happening to ME! Sunday 26 December 1am Dear Dairy My head is spinning. That was the most wonderful AND the weirdest night of my life! I can hardly write. So much has happened and so much has changed. I believe in magic! I believe in love! I believe the Prince is my future! OK. My God Mother came back just like she said she would and she brought the most beautiful ever ball gown, a diamond tiara and a pair of amazing glass slippers. She took me outside and there was a snow white carriage that whisked me through the town and up to the Prince’s Palace. I have never seen anything so amazing! So many beautiful people but when I walked into the room everything went quiet. I was going to run away when the Prince himself came over to me and asked if he could dance with the most beautiful woman in the world. I said ‘I’m sure you can’ then I realised he meant ME! I felt soooo stupid. And we danced and danced and he kept giving me glasses of Champagne and we sat down and talked and then he said ‘do you want to see my throne’ and I said ‘YES’! I remember walking across the dance floor and the guests moving out of our way and we went up this amazing staircase, all white marble decorated with holly and ivy and mistletoe. But then I heard the palace clock strike 12 and I knew I had to go. My God Mother had told me the magic would end at midnight and I remember turning round in tears and running down the staircase and across the ball room. I think I bumped into a few people and by the time I was outside I was almost hopping. I’d lost one of my glass slippers. I don’t even know how I got home but now I’m here and feeling so giddy with it all. I’ll end now, dear Diary, I need to sleep but I don’t know if I can. Sunday 27 December Dear Diary This morning the Prince Tweeted he was coming into the town to find the woman who left a glass slipper in his Ballroom. Every woman between the ages of 18 and 30 would be visited and whoever’s foot the slipper fits would be declared the Princess-in-Waiting. I heard my sisters clucking in excitement and comparing foot sizes., I told them I would have to see the Prince because I’m 18. Do you know what they did, dear Diary? They laughed, then dragged me down to the cellar and locked me in. I cried and cried and when I heard the Prince’s carriage pull up outside I started to howl. But then the cellar door swung open and my God Mother was outside. ‘Run child, run’ she said and I dashed up the stairs and ran into the parlour. The Prince was there with all his men-in-waiting, holding my slipper. He stopped, he looked at me. I know I smiled. He looked me up. He looked me down. And then he burst out laughing, said something ‘you must be joking’ and left, with all his lackeys laughing too. And when I looked in the mirror I could see why. My face was all swollen and blotchy and red and my eyes were bulging like a frog’s and my nose was running. I don’t believe in magic. I don’t believe in love. And I hate the Prince. And if I ever see my God Mother again I don’t know what I’ll do. Monday 28 December Dear Diary This morning the Prince came back to the house and ordered Grimelda and Safi get me from the scullery. He had my glass slipper with him and when it fit he said how sorry he was and how beautiful I am and how much he loved me and I’m HIS PRINCESS and he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. How COULD I refuse? It was easy . . I just said NO!
  4. Reflections I knew what it was before I’d finished opening it: the weight, the size, the shape, the feel, they all told me what I needed to know. And, as I tore the final piece of packaging away, I found myself looking down at my reflection. It was that mirror. The letter from Aunt Sarah’s executors had explained that I would be receiving a package containing, to use the words in my aunt’s will, ‘something to remember our brief times together by’. I looked at the thing now resting on my knee and was taken back to my childhood and those occasional visits to see my mother’s great aunt. The long train journey, the bus, then the long walk. Her house, I remember, was imposing and, although my memory holds more of an impression of the place than a clear vision, I remember the tall, dark rooms soaked in sepia, like an old photograph. Mum, dad and Aunt Sarah would talk over tea and biscuits while I, as a bored child, would wander off and explore. If I was lucky, I’d come across Snowy, Aunt Sarah’s fluffy white cat. She wasn’t the nicest cat. She’d lost her tail in some sort of accident and I remember a little angry red bottom just below the stump. But she’d let me pet her for a while before strolling off, leaving me, once more, on my own. Then there were the dolls, porcelain-faced little creatures dressed in lacy clothes. They were dotted around the house like lost children who’d given up on ever leaving. Like so many things, it’s only when I look back that I can make some sort of sense of what it all meant. At some point, during our visit, Aunt Sarah would lead me up to her bedroom to brush my hair. I never thought much about it back then, but now, thinking back, it was a little bit weird. She’d sit me on a stool in front of the mirror and run her silver-backed brush through my hair. She’d splash droplets of lavender water along the strands and tell me how beautiful it would make me and what she called my golden tresses. And then she’d tell me about the mirror. Every time we went it was the same story of how, long ago, she’d worked in a home for lost children and that very mirror had hung in one of the parlours. Mrs Grimble would bring certain girls into that parlour to brush and style their hair, ‘but oh, she was a cruel woman,’ my aunt would say. ‘If that mirror could speak, what horrible tales it would tell. If you watch very closely, my dear, you may see one of those poor souls. Mrs Grimble could be so cruel. So unspeakably cruel.’ I’d learned to look towards the mirror and study the thick, metal frame that held the glass in place. And if I looked into the mirror, I’d focus my eyes on me and my hair. I knew there were the dead eyes of a few dolls in the background but I found I could make them a fade away by looking straight at my own eyes looking back at me. There are times when I think I should have said something to my parents but they probably thought there was no harm in letting a maiden aunt brush a young girl’s hair. They didn’t know about the things she said. I looked back down at the mirror resting on my knee. I was an adult now and a square of silvered glass in a tarnished metal frame was not a scary thing. So, with some fondness, I hung it in the broad hallway, opposite the console table. I stepped away and looked into it. I was there, dyed, cropped hair; smudges of make-up and lines around my eyes. I smiled and looked beyond me at the table top; a couple of picture frames and my mother’s paperweight – more relics from a lost lives. I went back busying myself around the house. But that night, I didn’t sleep well. My dreams were vivid. I was back in Aunt Sarah’s house . . and lost. I went from room to room, looking for a way out, but every turn was a dead end. The eyes of one doll followed me as I crossed another room and I sensed she, and her sisters, were stirring. I woke with a start and turned my bedside lamp on. The light killed my fear, or so I thought. I swung out of my bed, slid my feet into my slippers and got up. I was thirsty, so I made my way downstairs, through the hallway and into the kitchen where I poured myself a glass of water. After a couple of gulps, I put the glass down. I walked back into the hall and stopped by the mirror. I turned to face it full on to see what the night’s disturbance had done to my face and hair. I leant forward. My eyes were red and my hair was scuffed this way and that. Then a small white hand touched my shoulder. I screamed and turned around. No one was there. I jerked my head back to the mirror and saw a face that wasn’t mine. And then it was my face but one with such a look of horror, I barely recognised it. Something moved behind, a shape, fast and blurred, fleeing before I could turn again. The shock of terror had already hit me, something primitive had taken over, my body numb and my mind barely responding to what my eyes had seen. I then knew I wasn’t breathing and I struggled to catch breath, as if my throat had been clamped shut. Panic rose and then burst as I finally inhaled, my lungs grasping at the air, saved from drowning. ‘Damn you all!’ I screamed and I picked up the paperweight from the table beside me and hurled it into the eye of the mirror. The glass shattered and an explosion of silver shards hit me. Everything turned red and I was falling. The floor slammed hard against me and the red turned to black. * * * They remove the bandages tomorrow. They say I’ve healed well. But what healing is there when I’ll never see the light again. I’ll never see the moon and the stars set in a night sky. Never see the sun dance on the ripples of a lake or light up the eyes of all my little children. And I’ll never see myself again, a brush running through my long, lavender-scented hair. * * *
  5. 30 June 2016 He slumped forward, his face crashing into the dessert. Bits of almond and apple Bakewell hit the nearest diners and a Special Branch officer dashed over, his training fully triggered. After a brief examination he announced, ‘I’m afraid he’s dead. Please, nobody leave the room.’ Then, as an after-thought, ‘and do not touch the food.’ Another officer spoke into a radio, ‘Seal all exits. Number 2 down and out.’ The VIP guests settled back into their places. Some visibly shaken, others clearly disappointed that their Best of British Luncheon had been spoiled. Almost all of them spinning theories of what could have ended their companion’s life so dramatically. * * * * * 2 weeks earlier The courier delivered the package at 11am. I was expecting it. An enemy of the state had been identified and processed. Authorisation to terminate had been given at the highest level. I opened the package. I recognised the name. I didn’t really need the picture. For a moment I was surprised that he had been confirmed as a severe threat but I also knew there can be a degree or two of spite informing a decision. I stopped thinking about the person and got on with my job. * * * * * 2 weeks after the termination Interestingly, the initial thoughts of the pathologist were around possible cyanide poisoning, either by accident or by intent. Toxicology reports and microscopic examination of the digestive tract showed traces of apple seed and amygdalin. Additionally, there was also the smell of bitter almonds in the deceased’s mouth. However, the pathologist’s report showed this initial theory was quickly dismissed when it was discovered the deceased’s face had plunged into a bowl of half-consumed almond and apple Bakewell tart and the level of amygdalin was negligible. A pastry chef may have inadvertently included a crushed apple seed in the filling but that would certainly not have caused any harm. A foot note in the report recorded that to kill a man of the deceased’s weight of approximately 20 stone, he would have needed to have ingested approximately 250 crushed apple seeds. The report concluded that the deceased had died from natural causes that could not be specified. In layman’s terms that meant he’d just dropped dead. I placed the pathologist’s report into the shredder and watched, with satisfaction, as the thick wad of paper was chewed into dust. I sat back and closed my eyes. I was no longer called in for a debrief after a termination. That was a sign of respect and complete trust but in a way I missed them. Sitting in a quiet, wood-panelled room in Millbank, the panel forensically examining every part of the termination, gave me a great deal of satisfaction and also allowed me to perfect my art. I now had to carry out my own debrief in my own head. As I lead my mind through the process, it was like reading my own story with the eye of the severest critic, looking for any flaws in planning, plot, structure and execution. I examined each and every detail. There were some flaws that I would address. There were some improvements in the technology that needed working on. But, all in all, I was pleased. And so was my employer. The outcome of the killing was not my concern. That done, I could finally relax and enjoy the satisfaction of my success, not just with this latest termination, but also with the previous ones. My mind wandered along its path, or, more appropriately, along the wobbly bridge. The inspiration for my means of dispatch had come from the Millennium Bridge, opened and closed within 24 hours due to its motion. I was fascinated by the science of it all. The bridge's movement was caused by synchronous lateral excitation. The natural sway motion of people walking caused small sideways oscillations in the bridge, which in turn caused people on the bridge to sway in step, increasing the amplitude of the bridge oscillations and continually reinforcing the effect. Ultimately, any resonance that hits the critical frequency of an object is destructive. Think opera singer shattering a glass. Think sound stopping a heart. At this time I was working in the bowels of Thames House, Millbank having been recruited by MI5 during my Doctorate at Cambridge. I was initially an expert in ultrasonic sound and communications, or at least in the theory of it, but my work, down in sub-level 8, placed me with a brilliant micro electronic engineer (who has since been retired from the service) and to develop my theory into practical application. In a nutshell, every person’s heart has a unique frequency, within a narrow range, and if a sound of the same frequency and adequate intensity can be made in fairly close proximity then the heart stops. It all happens at an atomic level and the collision of biology, physics and chemistry is astounding . . and deadly. The final part of the jigsaw was how to deliver the sound which, fortunately, was beyond the hearing of practically every living creature. This was relatively straightforward as nearly everyone carries the solution – their mobile phone. It took around four years to perfect the messaging that would hack into and modify the phone’s software and hardware. But once it was done, the results were spectacular. Within milliseconds of sending the message to the target phone, the handset would emit a range of high intensity ultrasonic sounds with 50 changes of frequency each second. That was 50 chest shots a second and a hit guaranteed within 5 seconds. An Apple phone can be as deadly as an apple seed. * * * * * Later that day I turned my television on to watch the news. Five minutes later I was watching a recording of the Prime Minister delivering the eulogy at his ‘friend and colleague’, Boris Johnson’s funeral. I turned off the TV. I needed some fresh air. I slipped my mobile phone into my handbag and left my house.
  6. Life is fine. Made redundant a few months ago but recently started a new job. Grandad for the second time. Keeping busy with my writing group and just finished proof-reading and editing our latest anthology. I still think about Glasgow and the West End and I have many very good memories. Hope all is good with everyone.
  7. A very belated Happy Christmas but an early Happy New Year to everyone here from a wet but not submerged Manchester.
  8. A few weeks late. January 1 January wakes with a weary yawn, a sore head – heavy and hung over from the year before. A dead chill holds streets and alleyways, reluctant to let go, while low clouds loiter with heavy regret. Ice clings – a glaze of crystals holding on for dear dear life, in failing defiance. A drip of water, the creak of a gate, a lone bird fluffs out its feathers, a cat watches. The air shifts into a whistful breeze; scraps of coloured paper, remnants of last night, lift then fall. A curtain shifts and a glazed face peers out onto a frozen yard, cast in monochrome. A turn of the head, a muffled response, ‘Too cold to go out today.’ Let things lay for a final lie-in. In other homes bodies stir, taps are turned on. Plumes of vapour rise as houses fire up. Preparations begin. A back door opens to release the echo of last year out into the cold. A bin lid slams shut. January 1, a cold pause before plans form and thoughts turn from what has gone to what should be.
  9. I know this is a bit belated but - - - all the best to you lynnski and the new Mr lynnski!!
  10. Watching the lead up to the opening ceremony - ah! the memories of Glasgow!
  11. I got as Scottish as David Cameron - that surprised me as I didn't think I was that Scottish!
  12. Enjoying the sunshine here in Manchester and hoping it's going to last and last. It makes such a huge difference from the chop and change weather we've been having for most of the time. All I wish now is that it stays around for a few more weeks as I'm off work the first two weeks of August and want to really be able to take advantage of the great weather. Enjoyed a day in Cumbria at the weekend with my daughter who now lives there although I did pass on the proposed swim in Ullswater - nothing would tempt me into the water no matter how hot the air was. Then, in a few weeks time, I'm off down south to see my son, his partner and my grand daughter. So, all in all, a good summer! All the best to everyone here.
  13. Temptation The path meandered drunkenly between the inn and the church, skirting tombs and gravestones laid out randomly on the consecrated earth – a path, made by use rather than design, and the shortest distance between the holy door and the Devil’s porch. Every night at 11 a dark, cloaked figure would depart the sinful glow of the inn, turn to bestow a final blessing on the patrons within and then meander its contented way back to the sanctuary of St. Petroc’s … and a nightcap of communion wine. Then it would be a case of choosing a pew to stretch out a weary soul and slip into a peaceful sleep until the morning light filtered through the coloured glass and leaded form of St. John the Baptist. The nightly visits to the inn were the source of much pleasure and appreciation for those who chose alcohol over hymns and prayers, and stirred the disapproval of the parishioners who preferred the altar to the bar. But it could be said that, in a truly Christian way, Reverend Tremain was the link between the village’s two adult factions. Two congregations – the complacent converted & the worthy sinners – two different approaches, but the same basic message, whether given from the pulpit or offered over a glass. And now he lay at peace having spent the day both in spiritual and spirited ways. October sunrise, and the refracted colours of St. John crept up on the sleeping reverend and he stirred. He would have to get up before Miss Wickerby, the church cleaner and flower arranger, came along to do her daily sweeping, dusting and floral duties. No one knew he’d been using the pews as his bed for the past five years, since his dear wife died but it felt right to him – much better than the now hollow vicarage. The church had become his resting place. He stretched, yawned and slowly moved his body so he could sit up. Now in his seventieth year he knew he had to do this with care but this morning, for some reason, he found it so much easier. His feet found the floor with ease and he stood up without any of the strains and aches that he normally felt in the morning. His body moved freely. He felt good, light, alert and ready to take on the day’s duties. Ahead of him were the usual pastoral visits, replying to any correspondence, thinking about what else to put in the parish magazine and taking the assembly at the local primary school. Pretty much a typical weekday. And, of course, his regular visit to the inn – 8 to 11 – to finish the day. Pretty good life really, he thought to himself … and I feel so good today. The reverend started to move along the pews towards the aisle when he heard the echoing click of the latch and the clacking footsteps of Miss Wickerby. “Morning, Miss Wickerby,” he called out in his best pulpit voice as the familiar figure appeared through the stone arch at the side of the church. “Splendid day today,” he continued. But there was no response. She was looking at him, or rather, at something just beyond him. He turned to see what had caught her attention and his gasp mingled with her call of, “Reverend!” For there, on the pew where he had laid down to sleep, was the stretched out body of himself. The racket of hard-soled shoes, approaching at speed, made him turn to look at Miss Wickerby. They were face to face. Eye-to-eye. Too close! And then she was gone. He swung round – and there she was leaning over the cloaked figure on the pew. How did she get there? – and saw her shaking … him … on the pew. But he was here, watching all this. He called out. She didn’t hear. He caught her shoulder. She didn’t respond. He tried to pull her around. She didn’t move. Reverend Tremain stepped back and then knew what had happened. It was as if, in an instant, his sense of immediate panic and urgency had been swept away by profound understanding and peace. So he watched, as a spectator, totally detached from the dead, hollow husk that had carried him for all the years of his life. He watched people come and go, both churchgoers and inn-goers, paying their respects, laying flowers beneath his pulpit, and all until, once more, he was on his own with his memories of all that had been his life. He surveyed the church, his church, God’s church … and then he sat down at the foot of the altar and wept. The time was edging towards 8pm and, as the light retreated through the stained glass windows and the various saints faded into darkness, Reverend Tremain knew he had to leave. He walked slowly to the exit and raised the heavy, iron latch, opened the ancient door and stepped out into the night. The church door closed silently behind him. He saw, across the graveyard, at the end of the mazy path, the welcoming glow of the inn windows. And he could hear the rise and fall of familiar conversations and the soft waves of laughter breaking gently over the gravestones, and he started to follow his path, disturbing not a single blade of grass. But then he stopped. He felt his attention being drawn back to the church and he glanced over his shoulder and there, held within its arched entrance, was a brilliant swirl of white light, beckoning. He then looked back to the inn. The Reverend Tremain had spoken so many times to both his audiences and had explained there is love & hate, good & evil, salvation & sin … and between them lay temptation. And that there are always choices, that there are always options but yet there was only ever one path that could be followed. He looked from inn to church. Then back again.
  14. It's great and of course she's the most perfect baby in the world!
  15. Merry Christmas to everyone and best wishes for 2013 from a dark and wet Manchester.
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