Today saw the launch of the new campaign to promote Glasgow, my home city if you will. I’ve spent most of my entire life in it’s shadow, my Mum grew up there, my Gran still lives there, and, if you go by postcodes, I’ve spent 27 years of my life living there too (of course the G postcode stretches pretty far so I’ve never actually lived ‘in’ Glasgow).
Capitalising (geddit!) on the legacy of Charles Rennie Macintosh, the campaign aims to sell Glasgow to the world as a cool, sophisticated city. Which is a fair aim I guess… except I think it’s missing the point completely.
Glasgow is not about stylish bars and restaurants, grand architecture, arts events and the other trappings of ‘style’ that remain hidden from me. Glasgow is about it’s people. Now, don’t get me wrong, the stylish bars ARE very stylish (and very grand, if you ever get to Glasgow, nip into the Corinthian just off George Square), the restaurants are varied and mostly first-class, yes the architecture is stunning, and yes the arts scene is vibrant and varied. But then this is true of any major city if you know where to look. In this sense this “new Glasgow” almost fails at the first hurdle it’s forgetting what makes it great (or “miles better”).
Take, for example, the Merchant City area. It’s been revived over the past few years and now houses more pubs, bars, and restaurants per square foot than.. well a small place with too many pubs, bars, and restaurants. However, if you turn down the wrong street and walk for two or three minutes you pop out in a decidely un-stylish place (Trongate). Sure you can marvel at the architecture, or even sample a traditional Glasgow pub, but I’ll be honest, I’d be too busy minding my wallet.
This is NOT a bad thing though, far from it. For me it’s what gives Glasgow greater appeal than all the nouveau-styled cocktail bars. The fact that classes/cultures/lifestyles clash and rub against each other is what gives Glasgow it’s great charm and edge. It can lead to some interesting situations when they meet; I’m often surprised when I overhear that gaggle of ‘society’ ladies as they stumble from the Metropolitan cocktail bar:
And that’s another thing. Glaswegian. When will it be recognised as it’s own language? I love listening to the wandering drunks, draped in Celtic’s finest, talking to passing traffic cones in something that resembles English but only just.
Glasgow is a working class city, I just hope this new campaign isn’t a move to forget where it all started.
Ohh and for you east-coasters; No, this new slogan does not mean that “Edinburgh: Scotland with substance” is true. Remember, you’ve got all the politicians… nae substance there!