A Walk on the Southside Wildside – Part 1

After yesterdays wee question and answers on Govanhill and Victoria road, its on to the other frames of fame that make the jigsaw of Langside life not just a still old pot-pourri of pieces sitting undisturbed on the kitchen table of life, but turn it into a 3D production of the ever moving gallery of dreams.

This is part 1. Part 2 will follow when sobriety kicks in.

Walk west along Caledonian Road and there you will be struck by the Gorbals’ penchant for the avante garde. It seems that the black humour of frightening the shite out of the weans and home-rolling drunks still brings a smile to many a cheery wife/parent. Let’s be honest for a moment, who would put these out of choice above their holy door unless they wanted a potential visitor to say “Hack off, I’m no going in there….have you not seen what they done to the bad boy in ‘Ghost’”

I mean we used to have stuff byAlexander‘Greek’ Thompson…..But someone just had to go and turn it into a burnt out shell ….(My lips are sealed)

One day they will refurbish this magnificent building. Probably redesign it as something that deserves to be burnt down mind you.

This is unlikely in the case of this one on Cumberland Street.

In a moment of creative madness someone on being told that it was to be a Station on Cumberland Street, called it –Cumberland Street station – it was the first stop out of St Enoch’s – another station that I remember as bigger, better and more iconic than the Central. I will however deal with the whole sorry fiasco of its destruction and reinvention as a friggin shopping centre some time in the future.  (that’s enough ya geek) There has been rumours for a long time that we are going to get a new station in the Gorbals but I bet it doesn’t have the character of the ghosts that haunt this one.

And so we come to what you’ve all been waiting on …..the first pub….or the pub defunct,dead, shut, closed, moribund and deceased…..The Good old Kiloran, at the junction of Cumberland and Eglinton Streets. Room for one group of , four normal sized individuals, thirty underfed unemployed from the tenements, one hundred and forty supermodels, or one burd and half her boyfriend frae Bridgeton.

I once had a drink in there and DIDN’T require my stomach pumped….only kidding ….it was just that everyone I know who used it  seen it as the house of last resort. They would typically have been banned from Sharkeys, The Brazen, Pig and Whistle and even the Riverside – presumably for mass murder on the premises (for which a three week suspension was the agreed penalty), and hence gravitated to The Kiloran. Wuth its closure these poor dregs of society including me at times tend to go straight Leverndale or if barred from there (two week suspension) its Carstairs or The Spirit on London Road.

But things aren’t all doom, gloom, arson and ghosts. As we progress down Eglinton Street to St Andrew’s cross our belly rumbles just as we approach that junction with Pollokshaws road. Here we find ……..

……….The Star Bar.

Beacon of salvation for the underfed, underpaid and tight bastards from the offices and shops who gorge themselves on the serious three course quality meal for £2.50. Go on try and cook one for that cost. People come from all over to taste the delights of The Star Bar. Buses leave regularly from the Belgrove Motel and The Salvation Army’s Hope House on Clyde Street.  Great meal, great beer, great value, great craic and doors on two streets for the quick escape in case anyone from ‘the social’ sticks their nose above their menu.

And so onwards and upwards…or southwards then Eastwards along…..well I was going to go along Calder Street, but as a wee cultural elitist detour I thought I would take a donner down Kingarth Street and grab a snap of that famous selective emporium of snotty nosed, pressed-trouser, rugby playing brigade who are destined to have a life at the BAR representing those others who are destined to have no-life at the bar (probably the Riverside) ……Hutcheson Grammar.

How is it they can park outside.  Us commoners aren’t allowed to do that. Mind you that’s probably because they own their cars and have tax discs (not Guinness labels) on their windows!

And so onto the main drag……Victoria Road…..Vicky Road…..and……..

The Pandora at the junction of the main thoroughfare and Calder Street. What can be said about Pandora’s that hasn’t already been written about its namesake in Greek Mythology. Full of strange delights, terrors and big bosomy surprises, the main surprise being that most of them are builders on their days off (Thursday to Tuesday) They work their erses off on a Wednesday mind you, but perhaps should pay a bit more attention to their man-breasts.

Victoria Road itself is just a great street.

It is a paradigm for the road from the ridiculous to the sublime, or as I see it….from Lidl to Queens Park. As you can see using pavements is optional.

And now to return to its many attractions……

There is of course The similarly named pub which now shares a beer garden with the Clutha. Since the Saltmarket CSC left the town centre one all those years ago I don’t really know what it has turned into but this one still lives up to giving its name to the nearby hospital, being a main provider of the operating room’s customers. Just joking. Walk in the door and you are in A PUB, A GLASGOW PUB.  But for feck’s sake don’t attract attention by winning THEIR money on the puggy .

I know I’ve already talked about 481 Victoria street bu for completeness the story is worth including…..

Commemorated in books, songs and thirty thousand feet who marched to Bowhill Cemetry in Fife,

On the morning of the 5th September 1931 John Thompson packed his kit bag and either headed for Ibrox or Maley’s restaurant. He lived in 481 Victoria road. I am not sure about how apocryphal the following is but on that morning he rapidly scribbled a letter to an American friend which said..’Off now to meet Rangers – a death or glory affair “.

One night I’ve promised myself to paint that bleedin door a proper colour and maybe superglue a wee plaque to the wall.

So just for those who may take a wee walk down Victoria road, it is directly opposite Queens Park Station. Stare across the road and I promise you’ll see him rushing out probably looking for a bus. If you try hard enough, he’ll wave to you.

The Prince of Goalkeepers indeed.

But enough of this nostalgic wallowing. Wipe the wet tales of yore from your cheeks and battle on southwards to Torrisdale Street ……

….McNeil’s….It’s not the booming bustling tavern it once was when big Billy owned it, but it still has its folklore like the modern tale of mystery and disappearing artefacts (Cash Register, Big Screen TVs, puggy, fag machine etc) which diffused into thin air strangely enough at the same time as another proprietor also evaporated from sight (you will all know the person concerned but I am going to stick in this case to the legal niceties as I can do without a big lawsuit and broken knees thanks very much)

And so back to the ribbon of magic that has more accents than a French grammer book full of acutes. When once it rang to the lilting tones of Italian, Yiddish and Irish, it now has Hindi, Polish, Russian, Rumanian, Albanian and even the occasional Airdreonian that has slipped through the weir at the green.

Tension sometimes spills into a mass open warfare as slashing of prices leads to open pitched battles between Cancer Relief, mencap and Guide dogs for the blind. It usually takes the calming influence of the ‘Free Hana Shalabi-  Palestine Refugee’ campaign to restore some semblance of order and settle the price of an old Jeffrey Archer novel at 12 pence.

When it all gets too much you can pop in to …….

The outside decor is reminiscent of a funeral parlour. Inside it can be more like a wake….mind you we all know what a barrel of laughs a wake can be. And Tir Chonnail is no exception. The only problem you are never sure exactly who the wake is for; the finger of fate can stop on anyone in the bar! Try to use pound notes rather than pound coins. The sound of change rattling will attract the attention of the ‘collection agents’. If you are going along, wear incontinence trousers to counteract the need to go to the toilet on yer own.

And so as we near the end of part one of our journey we spy….

The Queens Park Cafe. Sit at its ornate bar and you can taste and touch the memories of famous sons, drinkers, clients and visitors who have honoured the bar with their presence. In fact the dust and glass rings on the bar may very well be the oldest existing relics of the days before anti-bacterial dettol. Today they are preserved in amber and will soon be moved to People’s Palace to take their place proudly with the mangle, callipers and bottles of gentian blue that could treat anything from cold sores to skelly eye.

Handily placed across the road is the best Indian Curry House on the Southside …..

You can see the rare sight of the Rangers’ team bus just passing on the right.

And so to the end of the road, the end of part one and the park itself, or at least the entrance….(No way am I going in there without a tank)

DON’T BE FOOLED by the attractive vista of the rising road into the greenery. At times dangers can lurk in the trees, hedgerows and discarded super-lager cans.

So look through the fence by all means, but beware the strange breeds of joggers with long red hair, black beards and tackety hill billy boots that inhabit this otherworld. At night screams can be occasionally heard as grave robbers save the gravediggers the task of digging the muck. They simply  acquire pre-mortem specimens for the research labs. It is best to stick to the main highways unless accompanied by a rabid Doberman….sometimes that isn’t even enough…..

Cross the road I dare you. Wait for those brief few seconds when the traffic noise subsides and listen to the gentle breeze wafting its way through the leaves and branches. Listen to the haunting music it brings to the mind’s ear of the unsuspecting tourist or bravado stoked drunk…..That is not the sound of some jolly busker garnering a few pennies to keep the wolf from the door, it is the twang of a plucking banjo player  and the wolf happens to be his pet.

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security….remember the squealing pig scene ..(too graphic to post)


Hail Hail


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