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Issue 59 - Footprints of history

Whisky Magazine Issue 59
October 2006

 

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Footprints of history

Dave takes us on a walk through the Glasgow of his childhood

Where is home? The place of your birth, the place you live in now, somewhere else where you feel the most content? When people ask me where I am from, I say Glasgow even though I've been clinging to the south coast of England for 17 years. Glasgow is home.

Yet any time I return it is not a home I recognise. Many of the old landmarks (pubs, mostly) are there, but there is a strange dislocation which allows me to look at Glasgow in a new way, to see what isn't there. The city becomes a jigsaw whose major pieces are invisible.

This was brought home earlier this year when I walked the Glaswegian life of my grandparents. He was from Abernethy, she from Kilbarchan. Both came to the city in the late 1800s. They married and moved to a cheap tenement flat in Duke Street, near the heart of old Glasgow, an area dominated still by the grim bulk of the Royal Infirmary, the cathedral and the gothic territory where both meet, the Necropolis.

The tenement is long gone, purged in the 1960s, replaced by a brewery. Their journey however took them and their two boys across Alexandra Parade, past the cigarette factories (beer and fags... there's a Glaswegian heritage for you) to Coventry Drive. That block has gone as well, replaced by functional pale brick housing. They flitted once more, across Alexandra Park, to Dinart Street in Riddrie.

The cigarette factories, like cigarettes, have gone. Their flat however is still there. A child's teddy looks out of the window at me. Things change.

That...

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