Paul Fitzpatrick: London, November 2021
There was a point in our mid teens when we felt it was time to cast the net a bit wider.
We’d progressed from playing in the street, to going up the local park, then a bit further afield, but generally within a two mile radius of our base…. but a bit like tiger cubs there came a point when we were ready to explore and roam new territories.
Invariably all roads led to….. Glasgow
Looking back, going ‘up the toon’ to Glasgow city centre was a rite of passage, it’s what the older kids did and like raiding Vikings they usually returned laden with treasure….
A Wrangler denim jacket or a pair of Levis from Jean Shack
The new Bowie/Rod/Zep/T-Rex album from Listen/23rd Precinct/Virgin
A feather cut or suede-head from Cut n’ Dried or Fuscos
An Arthur Black shirt from well… Arthur Black’s Shirts & Slacks.
The desire to start making our own choices typically came at at a point when parents were still picking some of our clothes and ushering us to old-school barbers, where glossy headshots of Peter Marinello covered the cracks on the walls, and where condoms rather than coriander conditioners were on display – ‘something for the weekend sir?’
Even if you had the temerity to ask for a Peter Maranello they’d respond, “aye no problem”, pull out the electric razor (the big old clunky ones with the cord) and execute the only haircut they knew how to administer…. the one that invariably left you with a big red rash on the back of your neck for a week.
Seeing the older kids with their goodies and cool haircuts inspired some of us young uns’ to follow their trail, however, it was a pursuit that needed funding, which is why a couple of us started up a paper round when we were 14 whilst others took up delivering morning rolls.
The disposable income we duly acquired was set aside for regular sojourns to Glasgow where we would aspire to emulate our elders.
Swanning around town before a triumphant homecoming – brandishing our 23rd Precinct & Krazy House bags with pride.
Going up the town per se was nothing new, after all we’d had years of being chaperoned to DM Hoey’s and Freeman, Hardie & Willis for winter coats and sensible shoes.
However, heading into town with your chums, with your own money burning a hole in your pocket, was a different proposition altogether, a proper adventure.
Once you’d been up a couple of times and knew your way around, part of the fun was going off-piste… exploring and navigating Glasgow’s grid system via lanes and backstreets and witnessing sites you’d rarely see in the Bearsden bubble – sites like adults blootered on Carlsberg Special Brew before lunchtime or witnessing the colourful characters that worked and hung around Paddy’s Market.
We could spend hours roaming around the town…..
Loitering in record shops – rummaging through the racks of vinyl and requesting to hear albums in the listening booths or the available headphones (Dark Side of the Moon with its stereophonic effects was always a good one).
Roving around department stores, from the sports dept, to the electrical dept, before bashfully taking in the sights and scents of the perfumery dept.
Visiting the legendary Tam Shepherds Trick Shop in Queen St, where the sickly scent of stink bombs was never far from the front door….. before heading to the rag-trade end of Argyle St, up towards the Trongate, where all the ‘on-trend’ clothes shops were housed.
A big part of the adventure of course was the journey…. for us it was the train from Westerton to Queen St or the ‘105’ double-decker (blue) bus that shuttled between Drumchapel and Buchanan St.
Our parents would always warn us about being careful, “keep an eye out for any trouble” but they probably didn’t realise that the biggest danger came from within and involved daft stunts like crossing live railway tracks to get from one platform to another or jumping off moving buses before our bus-stop… for a dare.
On reflection it showed that we probably, (no, definitely!) weren’t as ‘grown up’ as we thought we were.
Fortunately though, despite a few scrapes and close calls, we all lived to tell the tale, and would subsequently watch on like a David Attenborough documentary as the generation below us took up the mantle and followed our lead.
In the meantime…. we of course, now veterans of stepping outside our comfort zone were preparing to take the next big step in our personal development…. getting served in pubs ‘up the toon’!