Friday, 5 August 2011

Merchant City Festival 23 July 2011

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 see the  'Introduction' post  -

An alphabetical list of all posts so far can be found at the end of this post

Today is Saturday 23 July, and with our friend Ian we are heading to the Merchant City Festival. See
In Buchanan St. See

The fashion for piping / drumming buskers who look like extras from Braveheart started some time after the movie. This guy sounded really good actually.

Off down the lane to the Lighthouse to pick up some programmes. See

Cobbled lane off to right

Now at Sloans Market off Buchanan St

We will first of all take in an 11am 5-act opera at Sloans on the right here. Sloans is Glasgow's  oldest bar and restaurant  -

The opera begins in the bar and moves gradually upstairs until the 5th and final act. Great music, great singing, and also great acting. See

First act was downstairs in the bar; we are on the first floor here

Lovely ceiling

Staging is finely done

Now in the bar; one of the singers is about to play a jukebox to wonderful effect

Now up on the top floor - they have fab ceilidhs here on Friday nights

Opera over - wonderful event. Now heading back down

Back in Sloans Market, Ian on left; over on the right there we note  that fine critic Joyce McMillan,  a prominent member of the Scottish establishment who, as Kenneth Roy points out in this 2 August piece in the Scottish Review, is very keen to deny she is a member of the Scottish establishment.

Denying that there is a Scottish elite is a very Scottish thing to do  - especially from members of the elite. Once, when I was at a book launch at the Signet Library, a friendly upper-class chap pointed to a group of murmuring advocates going into a quiet room and said to me: 'See them? You and I may come to grief, but those buggers will sail through every crisis that hits Scotland'.

Murmuring groups going into quiet rooms: you see this all over Scotland in 2011. People (I am not thinking of the exemplary Ms McMillan) who used to be stridently pro-union suddenly became pro-nat when they saw the nationalist gravy trains heading into the stations.

No change here. Elites have always been fundamental to Scottish governance: this is how the Labour Party ran Glasgow and Lanarkshire; it is how the Rotarians and masons still run much of rural Scotland, from Bute to the Mearns, as Burns knew: his Holy Willie's Prayer is  for all time,  all cultures, yet is also a personification  of the Scottish Great and Good -
 Yet I am here a chosen sample,

To show thy grace is great and ample;

I'm here a pillar o' Thy temple,

Strong as a rock,

A guide, a buckler, and example,

To a' Thy flock.

Perhaps, as that noted Scottophobe Anthony Powell observed

Vices that sicken; Virtues that repel

We Scots are especially prone to such hypocrisy. You have to reverse a line of Yeats. Instead of

Ireland shall get her freedom and you still break stone.

we have the rather less poetic but still truthful maxim -

'Scotland shall get her freedom but dinna worry there will still be highly paid committee jobs for those who please the New Masters'

Heading out to Argyle St

In Argyle St. See

Pawn shop on left; wonderful neoclassical building in distance; derelection and pound shops on right. Glasgow, check

Posters plugging the RSAMD. See

Kids boxing ahead: worthy but not for us

Italian Market

Note sign

Something happening here later: the story of all our lives

Old joke: a crocburger please, and make it snappy

The chap on the raised  chair is shouting at people, telling them to behave. . .

. . . nicely of course at wee kids running across the open space. .

. . .this girl was across in seconds. . .

There are two of them. They are called the 'Lifeguards'.
'No horseplay goes unchallenged, no running tolerated and petting is right out of the question.  Perched high on their chairs with their classic pool rules signs, the lifeguards attempt to impose the timeless values of the municipal baths onto the streets. '

Two First Aiders do a nice shuffle past

This lady and her partner are told off for 'petting'

Notice the pink creature in  the middle? We shall see more of that apparition shortly

A long-legged pink alien is stalking the market - let's follow

The woman on right is running away after kissing Pinky's bum

This pink alien is actually from Slovenia -

He is given a love cake. . .

. . .but drops it

Pinky meets a friend. Perky perhaps

A difficult thing to do  this

Alas we have to move on - bye Pinky

Now in the old Fruitmarket

Noe in Ingram St looking up at Montrose St. . .

. . . one of the steepest streets in Glasgow. For the view from the top see

View down Ingram St west to GoMa, for which see

View down Ingram St east, to High St

Now in George Square. For the Orange Order in George Square a couple of weeks ago - a colourful  event but more for the natives than for the tourists -  see
For the Square itself see
Like (I imagine) most observers I assumed that pole vaulters would be attempting the bar, but apparently it is set at the world record and is only there for aspirational reasons. Like the whole of the Festival itself, really, come to think if it.

'I assure you sir, it is only aspirational'

And so we head back to Buchanan St Underground. . .
. . .past Queen St station. . .

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

For previous posts see

Bad Posters
Bellahouston Park
Bellahouston Park 2 : After the Pope is Over
Big Teddy Needs a Home
Botanic Gardens
Bridgeton Cross
Buchanan St 
Buchanan St 2: a Meditation on Donald Dewar
Burrell Collection
Cessnock / Kinning Park
Churches (Working/ Non-Working), Temples Mosques etc
Citizens Theatre
City Centre
Climate Change Demo
Clydebank 1
Clyde River Festival
December 2010: Dusk, Dark and Dawn
Edwin Morgan
Evolving Odeon
Festivals and Fetes
Forth and Clyde Canal 1
Forth and Clyde Canal 2
Gartnavel Hospital: a Winter Walk, February 2011
George Square
George Square 2 July 2011: the Orange Order lays a wreath at the Cenotaph 
Glasgow Cross and Argyle St
Glasgow Green: the 2010 Scottish Junior Run
Glasgow North-West By-election 2009
Glasgow Piping Festival
Glasgow's Sikhs
Gorbals 2
Gorbals 3: Saltmarket to Tradeston
Govan Underground to Ibrox Underground: 40th anniversary of the Ibrox Stadium Disaster
Grow Glasgow
Hampden Park: Dundee United v Ross County Cup Final 15 May 2010
Hidden Gardens: Glasgow Harvest at Tramway
Hillhead / West End
Hunterian Museum
 Kelvinbridge: Adventures in Art - West End Festival 2011
 Kelvinbridge: Adventures in Art Part 2
Kelvinbridge Railway Station: the 'Re-opening'
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Kelvingrove Park
Kelvingrove Park: Sledging
Kelvingrove Park: the Fountain Vandalised
King's Theatre to Glasgow Cathedral: a November Walk
Lobey Dosser day
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Mela 2008
Mela 2010
Paddy's Market: the Last Day
Queen's Cross and Firhill
Red Road Flats
Red Road Flats 2
Red Road Flats 3
Ruchill Park
Save Otago Lane 16 October 2010
St Enoch Centre
Schipka Pass down, and a walk through Barrowland
 Sighthill Stone Circle
Sighthill Summer Solstice 2010
Sighthill Towers Before the Fall
Sighthill Towers After the Fall
Single Parent: Trials of an Extra part 2
South Street to Thornwood: an 'X'-Listed' walk in which we encounter the Secret State
Swingergate Day 2: Tommy and Gail Sheridan on Trial
Swingergate Day 11: 'How's He No' Gettin' Drapped Aff?'
Swingergate Day 28: A Large Pinch of Salt
Swingergate Day 37: Andy Coulson doesn't slip up
Swingergate Day 45: Waiting for the Verdict
Swingergate Day 46: the Last Day
Swingergate: Sentenced
Taggart: Trials of an Extra part 1
Tommy Burns Tribute
Alexander Greek Thomson
Alexander 'Greek' Thomson 2: the Egyptian Halls Part 1: the Interior
Alexander 'Greek' Thomson 3: the Egyptian Halls Part 2: the Interior
Townhead to Duke St St to George S
Welcome to Glasgow: the Dalmarnock Rd
Welcome to Glasgow 2: the Yoker Rd
Welcome to Glasgow 3: Charing Cross station to Dalmarnock station
Welcome to Glasgow 4: Rutherglen to Gallowgate, Part 1
Welcome to Glasgow 4: Rutherglen to Gallowgate, Part 2
We're Not being paid Enough For This: Trials of an Extra Part 2
West End Festival 2010

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 (see In Memoriam talk 107)

'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.'

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