Thursday, 2 February 2012

Leonardo Part 1: Glasgow Central to the London Eye

Welcome to my wee photoblog on Glasgow, where we feature the  joys and unjoys of walking and cycling through a fascinating, beautiful and often badly run city. For the blog's origin and a  list of all posts see the  'Introduction' post  -

Today is Tuesday, 3 January 2012 and we are leaving Glasgow  to see the Leonardo exhibition at the National Gallery tomorrow morning - we have three much-coveted tickets for 10 am.

Central Station. Our train is due to leave at 9.30 but things are not looking good. The bad weather means most trains are cancelled. Even the roof above has been rattling in the wind.

So we take a wee walk out into Union St.

Nothing happening here. But even pre-Christmas not much was happening here. See

Back inside - all is still

Tantalising poster - but our chances of getting there today are collapsing

The TV people are out asking people silly questions about 'how they feel'

Nae chance.  We book tomorrow's  4.30 am train and leave.

At St Enochs Square for the underground. '£100M CHAOS'. Tell us about it.

And now it is 4 January, twenty to four, and we are back at Central Station peering through the iron gate.

All very quiet. The streets behind us are not quiet however. Drunks and clubbers trying to get taxis, wee neds looking for aggro. In front is us is a set for a film about the end of the world; behind  us is James Joyce's Nighttown.

A kind concierge at the Central Hotel lets us sit  in reception until  the station opens at 4; and we have just come through the hotel doors into the station, My mother was a cleaner at the Central and they had great Christmas parties for staff children in the late 50s. Her shade will be smiling,  and glad the Central still has style.

In Evelyn Waugh's Officers and Gentleman, the spivvy officer Trimmer seduces Virginia Tory at the Central Hotel. The waiter serving them both recognises Trimmer as a fellow fraud, an actor in the shifting theatre of war.

The novel's hero - Virginia's husband Guy Crouchback - had himself identified Trimmer as a fraud; he is right in  this but other perceptions are illusory. Trimmer is subsequently sent to promote the Brits in the US, where he is seen as an archetypal English gentleman.

Nothing is what it seems - in war and peace.

The Central is as quiet as it has ever been

One departure board lit up - the 4.30 morning train  to London

Crossing the Clyde

Carlisle. . .

. . .and from Euston (less than five hours on from Glasgow) we have a short walk down Gower St to the Academy Hotel to dump the bags and head out for the National

Gower St feeds into Bloomsbury St; on left there is that fine radical bookshop Bookmarks. See

You can't take pics inside the exhibition  of course,  nor would one want to; this is the exit corridor.

The exhibition is a  wonderful experience.  See

The National Gallery

Trafalgar Square. You can just see the London Eye behind Nelson's Column - that's where we're heading next

The latest artwork on the 'Fourth Plinth' is a model of HMS Victory  by Yinka Shonibare. Says the BBC: 'It's a celebration of Britain's multi-cultural society, which Shonibare attributes in part to Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.'
That sounds less odd when you reflect that there were 18 different countries represented among the crew of HMS Victory at Trafalgar. As all Patrick O'Brian fans know, the world of Nelson's  navy was a multiracial one - as is reflected in the illustrations of the time. See

Behind the cracked window of the Ugandan High Commission at Uganda House, 58-59 Trafalgar Square, sits a gorilla

The wee fella looks awfy sad as well he might. The bushmeat trade is killing off the great apes in central Africa; you can buy bushmeat in London

Crane door handles - pretty. These are grey-crowned cranes. Like all living things in Uganda, they are endangered.

Yuri Gagarin. The statue is only here until July 2012 apparently. See

'A statue of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, will be unveiled on the Mall, opposite the statue of Captain Cook and outside the British Council offices headquarters, on Thursday 14 July 2011, to mark the 50th Anniversary of Manned Space Flight. The statue is a gift from the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) to the British Council.  It will be installed on the Mall for a period of 12 months. '

Royal Marines monument: with lady getting her pic taken 

For descriptions of the statues on the Mall see

We are walking down the Mall to Buckingham Palace. A walk of long perspectives

Looking back at Admiralty Arch

Looks like the end of The Third Man

Waterloo Place up there - statue is of grand old Duke of York

We're on the left-hand side now; entrance to St James's Park, subject of a poem (A Ramble in St. James's Park) by the Earl of Rochester, one of the most obscene  in the English language. Unquotable here.

The Diana Memorial Walk, The mob came down here to Buck House after Di died demanding that the Union Jack  be flown at half mast. There were many tributes in George Square in Glasgow but no such hounding. This will be a heretical thought both sides of the border, but it occurs to me that the English  are at heart a more radical lot than the Scots. The Scots end up saying 'Aye Weel' - the English wifeys march.

I do like maps and this is a good one

Coming up to the Queen Victoria Memorial, Buck Hoose behind

We can see someone at a window. We wonder if it's Her. My mum met the Queen several times, once at the Central Hotel . They talked about horses, that common link between the lower and upper orders

We're crossing back to the St James's Park side

I am reminded of the Philip Glass opera, Einstein on the Beach

'Two lovers sat on a park bench with their bodies touching each other, holding hands in the moonlight.

There was silence between them. So profound was theire love for each other, they needed no words to express it. And so they sat in silence, on a park bench, with their bodies touching, holding hands in the moonlight.'

Don't feed the pelicans

The swans are bigger than our skinny-malink Glasgow ones. See

Heading out into Horseguards Rd, this chap on a bike passes us with loads of carrier bags. I am reminded of Sergeant Butler in Flashman and the Redskins, about to depart on  his doomed ride from the Greasy Grass, saluting Flashman  with the words ' Allo, Colonel! Long way from 'Orse Guards, ain't we though?'

On the Embankment now; that is not the Queen

Big Ben looming

After his capture, Guy Fawkes was brought to Jamie Saxt's bedchamber where he was asked he wanted to blow up Parliament (apparently it would have been the biggest human-made bang in history). Fawkes replied: 'To blow the Scots back to Scotland'. This part of his confession was suppressed as it would have made him a hero in London.

We're heading over to the London Eye

Wordsworth of course composed his lines here at dawn

Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802

Earth hath not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendor, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! The very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

A fine penguin

On the Eye

We are preceded by an empty carriage

Good advice

The Thames is a river of old gods

The River’s Tale, Rudyard Kipling, 1911

Twenty bridges from Tower to Kew

Wanted to know what the River knew

For they were young and the Thames was old,

And this is the tale that the river told –

‘I walk my beat before London Town,

Five hours up and seven down.

Up I go till I end my run

At Tide-end-town, which is Teddington.

Down I come with the mud in my hands

And plaster it over the Maplin sands.

But I’d have you know that these waters of mine

Were once a branch of the River Rhine

When hundreds of miles to the East I went

And England was joined to the Continent

I remember the bat-winged lizard birds,

The Age of Ice and the mammoth herds,

And the giant tigers that stalked them down

Through Regent’s Park into Camden Town.

And I remember like yesterday

The earliest Cockney who came my way

When he pushed through the forest that lined the Strand,

With paint on his face and a club in his hand.

He was death to feather and fin and fur.

He trapped my beavers at Westminster.

He netted my salmon, he hunted my deer,

He killed my herons off Lambeth Pier.

He fought his neighbour with axes and swords,

Flint or bronze, at  my upper fords,

While down at Greenwich for slaves and tin,

The tall Phoenician ships stole in,

And North Sea warboats, painted and gay,

Flashed like dragon-flies, Erith way;

And Norsemen and Negro and Gaul and Greek

Drank with the Britons in Barking Creek,

And life was gay, and the world was new,

And I was a mile across at Kew!

But the Roman came with a heavy hand,

And bridged and roaded and ruled the land,

And the Roman left and the Danes blew in –

And that’s where your history books begin!’

Up there is London Bridge, not quite visible.

Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn, 
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many, 
I had not thought death had undone so many. 
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled, 
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
 Flowed up the hill and down King William Street, 
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours 
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine. 
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying
 “Stetson!  You who were with me in the ships at Mylae! 
That corpse you planted last year in your garden, 
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year? 
Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed? 
Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men, 
Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again! 
You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!”

The capsule looks like an alien craft from an old Sci-Fi flick

Walking along to Hungerford Bridge we pass a begging snowman; as with Clydeside, the worlds of Gaiman and Machn seem never very far away

Brrr. . .

Now crossing Hungerford Bridge

Descending to Northumberland Avenue now; Corinthia Hotel on left, Playhouse on right

A feeble tribute to J Atkinson Grimshaw. . .

. . .my favourite painter of both Glasgow and London

The Playhouse Stage door; perhaps haunted by the shades of dancers and their 'Johnnies'

The Playhouse

Herman Melville lived here. In Glasgow we used to live opposite to where Bret Harte lived, a terrace now demolished alas

We are now in Villiers St heading for the Strand; Villiers St Arches down there off to our right

Strand up there

We are now in Adelaide St and will pause to say hello to Maggi Hambling's granite and bronze sculpture of Oscar Wilde, A Conversation with Oscar Wilde (1998).

Trivia moment: what connects Oscar Wilde with Partick Thistle? Up until 2004 - when I was made redundant - one of the books on my list was the Collins Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. Oscar's grandson Merlin Holland donated some signed (by him not Oscar) books to the Save the Jags campaign in  1998 and mentioned this (and me) while giving an interview to the Scotsman. By some strange process this came out in  the Scotsman as Oscar having given 'Edwin Moore' his coat because I was cold and and shivering in  the street.

Aye well, It's cauld enough just now (more on Oscar tomorrow)

Now in Chandos Place - iconic blue lamp on left

Now in Monmouth St

Now back in  hotel. We are in the Vanessa Bell Suite. We're not afraid of the Virginia Woolf Suite, but we heard she prefers a room of her own 

Feel free to drop me an email with suggestions, offers of £20 notes etc. The address is

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Reviews of Scotland: 1000 Things You Need to Know


'I love it - I'm giving this copy to a friend and buying another for myself' - Darren Adam, Presenter, Radio Forth, 17 November 2008

‘It’s a great wee book’ – Stephen Jardine, introducing Edwin Moore on Scottish Television’s Five-Thirty Show

'A fantastic book' - Scott Wilson , talk 107 Breakfast Show host

'A great read' - Dougie Jackson, Drivetime host, Smooth Radio 105.2


'Despite its apparently humorous format, this is a serious and extensive dictionary on all things Scottish; from Jean Redpath to Lorne sausage, from Flodden to the Corries. Is particularly good on history and minutiae. There's a useful chapter on famous Scottish legal cases and another on literature. Excellent' - Royal Scottish Legion, Feb 2009

'This is the ultimate Scottish reference book' - Waterstones Christmas catalogue, 2008

'This is a fascinating look at the history of Scotland: its languages, politics and great achievements, from its origins in the ancient landmass of Laurentia 400 million years ago, to devolution and Billy Connolly. Edwin Moore has collected a thousand important facts about this beautiful country, covering Scottish history and culture, correcting misconceptions, and examining the mysteries of haggis and bagpipes with insight, warmth and impressive attention to detail' - The Good Book Guide, November 2008

'This is a recipe for revealing how horribly ill informed you are about your country. Although, if you are skillful, you can nod sagely as you read some new fact and mutter 'Ah, yes!' as if recalling the information from your excellent schooling. Where else will you find a real recipe for making haggis from scratch side by side with a potted biography of David Hume; a section of the Declaration of Arbroath and the curiously touching fact that Lulu was only 15 when she had a hit with 'Shout'? The whole thing is of course, silly - but oh so addictive.' - Matthew Perren, i-on Glasgow, December 2008

'. . . well crafted and witty' - Bill Howatson, Aberdeen Press and Journal, 18 October 2008

‘While most of Edwin’s entries are entertaining and scholarly – he writes like a Scottish Bill Bryson – it is when he takes an interest in the backwaters of history, the details lost down the back of the sofa, that he is at his best’ – Jack McKeown, The Courier, 27 October 2008

'History, it is said, is written by the victors. Trivia, meanwhile, is written by the guys with the smeared spectacles and the breathable rainwear. The first discipline is linear and causal; to quote from Alan Bennett’s play The History Boys, history is “just one f****** thing after another”. Things look different, though, when viewed through the prism of trivia. The past is reduced to one big coleslaw of fascinating facts that in their randomness tell a more mixed-up tale entirely.
The first approach leads to big, frowning books by the likes of Tom Devine and Michael Fry. The latter results in small, cheerful books such as Scotland: 1,000 Things You Need to Know, Edwin Moore’s valiant attempt to navigate the more trivial contours of enlightenment and clearances, crown and parliament, dirt and deity.
Moore proceeds from a sincere and controversial first principle: Scotland is really a rather pleasant and interesting place. . .As a work of popular scholarship, though, it’s in a different league to the Scottish novelty titles that get stocked next to the bookstore tills as potential impulse purchases, those little handbooks of parliamo Caledonia and regional braggadocio, such as Weegies vs Edinbuggers.' - Allan Brown The Sunday Times, 21 September 2008

'In his book, Scotland: 1000 Things You Need to Know, Edwin celebrates all that sets us Scots as a race apart - our language, law, flora, food, and of course, our people. From our poets, architects and inventors, to our artists, entertainers and fighters. But he doesn't shy away from the more unpleasant aspects of our history. . .' - Robert Wight, Sunday Post, 14 September 2008

‘We think we know all about William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and the Union of the Crowms. However, according to Edwin Moore, author of , Scotland: 1000 Things You Need to Know, we’re still in the dark about many aspects of our history and culture. . . The Big Issue looks at 20 of the most astonishing examples of secret Scotland.’ – The Big Issue, 18-24 September 2008

'What's the connection between Homer Simpson and Larbert, and why are generations of lawyers grateful to a Paisley snail? Need to know more? Author Edwin Moore has gathered 1000 facts like these about Scotland in a quirky new book. Brian Swanson selects a few favourites. . .' - Scottish Daily Express, 13 September 2008

'The palm for Christmas-stocking books seems to have passed recently to popular science, with best selling titles every year such as Why Don’t Penguins’ Feet Freeze? This year there has been a gallant attempt at a historical fight back. Scotland: 1,000 Things You Need to Know(Atlantic Books, £12.99) asks (and answers) such post-turkey questions as ‘How many kings of Scotland died in their beds?’, ‘Who on earth decided that the Declaration of Arbroath was the cornerstone of modern democracy?’ or ‘Why is iron brew spelled Irn-Bru?’ Mark Mazower,History Today; The Best of History in 2008, December 2008

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