Glasgow, Part 2: Saturday and Sunday

Left Alexandra’s company in the morning, and began an even more adventuresome day, culminating with a manic Shooglenifty concert and a long walk across the city, talking to strangers, and then calm. Finally returning home, and resting.

Woke up around 11, and walked with Alexandra, Aly, and Lindsey to the University gym. I walked to a tube station, and bought the cool ticket that lets you take as many trips as you want for 1.90. I sat on the tube, and on a whim, went around the loop twice before getting off, making note of how many people were in my carriage on each leg of the journey. A loop took about 25 minutes. I got off, and went to Borders again. I sat down and read a few change-the-world and environmental books. One of them was really good. Some tips:

  • change some lightbulbs to energy-efficient ones
  • walk, bike, or take public transportation to where you’re going, at least sometimes
  • reduce the amount of material you use: eg reuse shopping bags, use both sides of paper, etc.
  • don’t leave the water running unless you’re actively using it

I know most of the people reading this share my sentiments about environmentalism to one extent or another, so time for a wee bit of choir-preaching. Why don’t people do these things and more to do what they can? I know many people who are great, smart people, who think the environment is important (to quote Al Gore, “On one side we have gold bars. Don’t they look nice….On the other side we have the entire planet. Hmmm….”), yet they don’t do everything they can to help? What are they thinking? I mean, there’s so much really easy stuff you can do. I mean, if it’s pessimism and cynicism (those are so chic), fine, but I’m pessimistic and cynical about the future of the environment too, and I do as much as I can. At the risk of the bastardly “why isn’t everyone more like my virtuous self?”: I don’t do everything I could either. But I try. Why doesn’t everyone? Okay, tangent over.

After Borders, I went back to the concert hall, where me mate Ewan was playing at some youth concert. I snuck in at intermission (aren’t I bad), and saw the second half. It was good, especially the Martyn Bennett tribute, but unfortunately Ewan had played only in the first half. I saw him and his friends afterwards though. I bought Shooglenifty’s new CD, Troots, before leaving. I caved to my hunger, and got a sandwich at Gregg’s, a Subway-like chain (although they have Subway here too). I got a text from my other Hogmanay friend, Andrew, inviting me to dinner at 6. I went, and met some new people (Leigh, Laura, and John(?)) and my Hogmanay mates. We went to a newish italian place called Zizzi, where I had one of the biggest single-person pizzas I’ve ever seen, and odd garlic bread, some of which I stashed in tupperware for later. Afterwards, I took the tube to the West End, trying to find Murray’s place. But, it was later and harder to find Murray’s place than I thought, so I turned around and took the tube back to where my concert was. I didn’t get a chance to listen to the CD before the show, sadly. Come to think of it, I still haven’t. I should get on that.

The opener for Shoogle was a band from Brittany called Skolven Big Band. Not many of them spoke English very much. They were really good, but I was sleepy. That changed when Shooglenifty came on stage, though. How long have I been waiting for this concert? Years. At least five years. More like eight or so. The youngest member, Luke Plumb, from down under, playing mandolin, was wearing an Aussie hat and tails. And of course the fiddler Angus R. Grant with his crazy wild dark hair and beard. Several times throughout the concert, he stopped playing his fiddle for a bit and just held it. I was just like, laughing, what the (toast) is he doing? Garry Finlayson didn’t say much of anything, just sat there being awesome with his banjax (electric banjo). The absolute most awesome thing that happened during the concert amongst the fellas was when Luke’s mandolin string broke in mid-song, and he had to restring it. A crucial mandolin part came along, and seamlessly, Angus just played the rapid-fire, plinkety mandolin part. I doubt many people in the audience realized what happened. However, even more amazing was the guest Shoogle had. She stole the show, if that’s possible. Her name is Tanya Tacaq Gillis, and she’s an Inuit throat-singer from Yellowknife. First of all, she was one of the more exotically sexy people ever. But her singing was like nothing I’ve heard before, both in the new and amazing way. She sang with the band on a number of songs, and did one bit just by herself. It was percussive, kinda like a drum solo, but also sometimes melodic, sometimes gruff and creepy, sometimes light and childlike, sometimes carnally sexual-seeming, sometimes pure musigasmic scream. The crowd loved it; I think she was a little surprised at how positively we responded. But really, she was amazing. (Toast)ing mental. And the dancing at the front of the audience was ridiculous, all that I could have asked for. So afterwards, I got my stuff from coat check and came down to get Troots signed. All of them signed it, but I talked with James Mackintosh, the drummer, for a little bit. He said that Luke and Angus sometimes make it in to Edinburgh for sessions at Sandy Bell’s, but the main session they play is at a place called Burnam Hotel in Perthshire, on Monday nights. I’m going to have to check that out. I met two other folks getting something signed, and they said that Burnam is really hard to get to without a car. So, I may have to enlist a friend. I’ll get there one way or another. Oh, and apparently my copy of Troots was the first copy of the new album to receive their autographs. How am I not the coolest…

I left and called Murray, and he gave me directions. I couldn’t find the road he told me to get on, so I just meandered my way west. When I had about gone as far as I knew I should, I asked some folks I saw walking by how to get to where I was going. They said they were going that way too, so I walked with them for a bit. He had long hair, was kinda quiet, from Orkney, and a grad student in physics. She had a pierced lip (which it seems practically EVERYONE has over here), was really nice & helpful, from a little Western Isle, whose name sounded like Tammernorie (a Shoogle tune), and which she said not even Scottish people have heard of. Anyway, I got to Murray’s fine (he came down and met me at a nearby tube station). He offered me some juice, and showed me a cool board game he’d just gotten. After a while of journal writing, one of his roommates, Andy, came in for some tea. He seems really cool: he wants to design sustainable household items, and he also wants to start a commune in the highlands, where apparently land is really cheap. I went to sleep on the nice comfy couch.

Sunday morning, I headed out before anyone else was really awake (said bye to Murray, though), and made off for the bus station. I could have taken the tube, but of course that costs a pound! So I walked the distance, and caught the 12:45 bus back here to Edinburgh. I pulled the stunt with the ticket, and the conductor looked at it more closely this time, and my heart pounded. But all he did was rip it in half, not to be used again, and let me on the bus. I imagine that’s what the last driver was supposed to do, too. Okay.

So, since I’ve gotten back, I’ve just been relaxing really. Went to dinner early, ate up, looked for the mail room in vain, then went back to try the trick of going into the dining hall twice. The lady at the door sorta recognized me, but I lied to her and she trusted me/didn’t care enough, and let me in. I was full, and nervous that she’d call me out, so I didn’t take a whole lot. Besides, there wasn’t much good stuff. I took out just four small items, and brought them back. Been chillin ever since. I have class tomorrow. Started making plans for two weeks from now, going down to London to visit Bethany. This Tuesday, FolkSoc is having a wee Burns Supper, as is traditional this time of year. I’m excited. Like I’ve said before, my weeks are going to revolve around these things. Anyway, hope you’ve all enjoyed this bit of the saga. There will be more. Woohoo.

3 Replies to “Glasgow, Part 2: Saturday and Sunday”

  1. Hi Alex, What a great trip to Glasgow — except for being hungry some of the time. Sounds like the concerts and the weekend were such a high point! Plus all the adventures finding your way around and figuring out where to eat, etc.

  2. Hey Alex,

    I’m enjoying reading your blog several times a week. I hope you are enjoying keeping it, cause I am enjoying checking it out. I’m impressed with the extent of your frugal measures! I’ve been getting in major walking-cause-it’s-free-type activities myself lately too.

    Also, thought you might be interested to know that my job at the moment is that I’m fundraising for “Environmental Action” – see for more details about what they do. We’re pushing the energy independence agenda, which seems like a good and necessary thing to me. I wonder what an informed bloke like yourself would make of their work.

    It sounds like you’re having some great musical fun of late. Are you familiar with the Scotswoman Evelyn Glennie? There is a film about her called “Touch the Sound” that is by the same filmmakers as made “Rivers and Tides” about the artist Andy Goldsworthy (in case you saw that: excellent too…). She is a phenomenal solo and collaborative percussionist and composer, who also happens to be profoundly deaf. I highly recommend the documentary! (Glennie was made a Dame by the other Queen Liz recently.)

    Hope you’re well!
    All the best,
    Cuz Liz

  3. I’m really enjoying your blog and glad you had such a good time, music-wise. I worry about your being so hungry. That does not sound like good organization by whoever suggested the eating program you are on. What do other people do? Also wanted to comment on an earlier blog when you were despairing about people not buying energy-efficient lightbulbs, etc. Actually, I think Americans have caught on to the fact that they need to make changes. Leonardo Dicaprio was on Oprah suggesting them. I think our politicians have not realized how ready the American public is to act on impulses to stop global warming, etc. Don’t worry about the long blogs. It is fun to follow your adventures!

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