Monday, 18 June 2012

The Olympic Torch in Glasgow

How these curiosities would be quite forgot, did not such idle fellowes as I put them down.'

- John Aubrey

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 Friday 8 June, and we are heading for University Avenue to observe the passing of the Olympic Torch. I have been cynical about the Olympic Games as such - since ancient Greek times the Games have been corrupt and self-serving arenas for spiteful City-state patriotism and narcissism - and as for internationalism, most Greeks would have though the very idea of allowing the likes of Egyptians  to compete as hilarious.

But that's just me.  The Torch procession has been wildly popular in Scotland, indeed has enchanted individuals and communities - for many Scots this has been a life-changing  experience.  A few days before, I spoke briefly to a well-kent SNP politician who grudgingly recognized the torch was 'somewhere' about in Scotland.  For some (though not all) nats the Torch in  Scotland is a queasy affair replete with too many Union Jacks. As we shall see, it's all a bit more complex - and human -  than that.

Coming up to Gibson St

Crowds gathering down Gibson St

University Avenue. The Uni looks ancient but is of course 19th century. The corbels on the building on the left are medieval, however, saved from the old building in the High St. As so often in Glasgow, things are not what they seem at first glance

Let's pick a vantage point. . .

. . . here perhaps

A cyclist. For some reason I think of the Persian outriders at Marathon. The Persians would likely  have been even less welcome at the Olympics than the Egyptians

The balcony of Glasgow University Union - excellent viewpoint

Something going on at the Union - a wedding reception?

Lots of Union Jacks about. In Glasgow of course the flag is associated with Rangers Football Club and hence  has uneasy associations for many other Scots - but not today (except for some grumpy nats)

First cop on bike

Guests for the Uni event crossing the road

Procession getting busier

More guests take advantage of a lull to cross

The Coke Wagon

The big official sponsors such as Coke and Samsung  will collectively  have paid up to and beyond 1 billion pounds  for their sponsorship. Big money. On the other hand, these kids are having the time of their lives. As Lucy Bannerman said in The Times, somewhere on the road among the sponsor trucks and flashing logos is a person in a white tracksuit carrying a torch

I like the wee mobile waving also

Bus driver gets  a cheer

Wee boy on bike appears - appearance noted by cop

Torch coming now

Aw - someone's birthday

View down Gibson St

It's later on - we are in town and heading for a drink at Babbity Bowser's and are coming up to George Square where there is a concert going on to celebrate the Torch in Glasgow

Event Staff: 'Here to assist you'.  Well, no reflection on the person in front of us but in general you get better and more civil answers from the Glasgow cops in situations such as this. 

Glancing down alleys such as this you can feel a tingle from the older Glasgow

Mounted Police passing the Museum of Modern Art

Let's head up to the Square, see what we can see

In George Square now

We can see the Olympic rings where the Occupy crowd were a few months ago. Like the rings, revolutions come and go. See

Out on Ingram St now, walking east

Can you help?

Peace Tour by Music Man. An English flag and a Union Jack could be seen as a provocation to some in Glasgow, but not much danger of any aggro today

Argyle St at 10pm-ish- heading for St Enochs Underground

Today is the following day, 6.30am! We are at the junction of Queen Margaret drive and Great Western Rd, waiting for the torch to come up from Byres Rd

Union Jack seller. You usually see these outside Ibrox. See

A banner for the torchbearer 

Here comes the advance - the heavy brigade

Torch bearer approaching. . .

. . .and here she is

Swedish flags as well. An unusual couple of Glasgow days these have been, with such a large and diverse number of  people being happy (we can disregard the few soor plums)

Great stuff - come again Olympic torch!  I expect the world will be a vastly different place if it ever does in some distant future. Who knows, we may look back on this as a Golden Age

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

'A real treat for the serendipitous Scotophile' - Reginald Hill

FROM THE INTERWEB (on the new paperback edition)
Book of the Month, May 2010
'Whether it's Scottish lochs or Enlightenment philosophers, the facts of the devolution referendums or the mysteries of Irn-Bru, myths will be debunked and truths revealed in this light-hearted but rigorous overview of Scottish history and culture.'

Also available for download on Amazon's e-book store is my 100 Brief Encounters (only £3.06!)

Here are some reviews of the print edition (published by  Chambers in 2007) -

Edwin Moore's quirky collection of a hundred encounters between (mostly) important historical figures is a gem of a book. Where else could you get concise enlightening accounts of Henry VIII wrestling with Francis I, Geronimo surrendering to General Miles, Ernest Hemingway presenting Fidle Castro with a fishing trophy or (as seen on the books cover) a baby faced Bill Clinton shaking hands with John F Kennedy. A marvelous 'little window on human history. ' - Dominic Kennerk, Waterstone's Product Planning and Promotions Co-ordinator (From the Waterstone's 'We Recommend' list for 2008)

Witty, light and packed with information -- The Sunday Herald

In 1936, in the wake of winning a clutch of gold medals at the Berlin Olympics, the great athlete Jesse Owens was snubbed by an imperious leader, on racial grounds. Popular belief would have it that the leader was Hitler, who is said to have stormed off, furious to see a black man beating European athletes. In fact the man in question was President Roosevelt, who worried that paying attention to Owens' triumphs might be a vote loser. Although Owens and the German Chancellor never talked, Owens claimed that Hitler greeted him with an enthusiastic wave. Such near-misses, shakings of hands and ships-in-the-night meetings are the subject of Brief Encounters – Meetings between mostly remarkable people, a likeable new book by Edwin Moore (Chambers £7.99). Flicking through the index, you will find some expected encounters (Dante stares at Beatrice, Corday stabs Marat, The Beatles strum along to a Charlie Rich record round at Elvis's house), and the book's intriguing and memorable cover shows a baby-faced Bill Clinton manfully gripping the hand of JFK. But Moore has navigated past some of the more obvious collisions, collusions and confrontations of history (there is no Dr Livingstone, I presume) and much of the book's pleasure derives from lesser known incidents.

Inevitably, some of the accounts of earlier meetings are somewhat sketchy but Moore offers some piquant speculation, laced with humour (the book is tagged Reference / Humour, rather than History and this feels right, but the book, though wry and opinionated, never stoops to wackiness). I was intrigued to discover that, though Attila the Hun did die on his wedding night, it was not in drunken and lecherous debauchery, as his enemies maintained, but supposedly because he was generally a simple and clean-living man who had a few too many which brought on a particularly bad nosebleed.

Moore's book is full of such tales – it would be wrong of me to steal the tastiest morsels of his research and pepper this article with them, but look out for a subsidiary reason for the Gunpowder Plot (too many dour and powerful Scots in Parliament); a great meeting of great beards, as Castro wins the Hemingway prize for sea-fishing; Dali bringing a skeptical Freud round to the art of the surrealists; Buffalo Bill's wife claiming an aged Queen Victoria had propositioned him; Oscar Wilde getting a kiss from Walt Whitman, while Walter Scott was more taken with Burns's charismatic eyes. This is an enjoyable and vigorous rattle through some fascinating and believable yarns. My only quibble is that it's a little on the short side – let's have Volume 2 please Chambers! - Roddy Lumsden, www.Books from

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