Two for the price of one. Determined to make the best use of the second day remaining on the City Sight Seeing Glasgow bus tour we have planned an itinerary for the coming day.
Weather permitting of course.
Our landlord Tom has prepared us another veritable feast to begin our day. Pam of course is eager to get out and about however she becomes entwined in conversation with our new friend Nick who has entered the dining room looking decidedly seedy from his previous night out.
Outside the day is grey and cold, swirling tiny raindrops line the glistening sides of Pam’s ‘warm hat’ and dampen my long sleeve T-Shirt.
We are determined to make the starting time of nine thirty am for the tour bus however ‘the best laid plans of mice and men gang oft agley’ and we decide to take photos of the roadwork cone wearing statue of the Duke of Wellington as we wait for the 10am circuit bus to arrive.
The very slight rain has eased on our walk into town and I choose an optimal photography spot near the left rear of the open upper deck area of the bus. Pam had wished to sit in the enclosed space towards the front and begrudgingly joins me muttering under her breath.
Breath muttering is normally my department.
Cold wind slices through my jumper as we set off, I have not thought this all the way through. Despite my thin gloves soon my fingertips are feeling painful from the cold.
Grey, grey go away, the rain decides to return. Pam abandons me for the front of the bus as I do my best to struggle into the much maligned Rainbird that has finally come into its own in the cold damp of Welsh and now Scottish weather.
Juggling the camera, Pacerpoles and my bag is difficult to maintain on my own in the wet. I do my best to wipe raindrops from the lens with my T-Shirt as the bus bounces round corners.
We perform best as a duo. I am a dud solo act.
I have obviously confused our itinerary in my mind as it is only after I have confusedly made both of us alight at an early stop by Glasgow University that I discover we are actually headed for the Oran Mor which is a church that has been converted to a theatre and bar.
Insisting on pausing to photograph the names of the many luminary minds that have begun their journey at the gates of Glasgow University has Pam grinding her teeth for the bouncing cold ride has affected both our bladders and our need by now is dire.
We head downhill as fast as we can in search of a bar.
Every funereal head in the bar turns our way as we enter. Conversations immediately grind to a halt. It really is like a scene from a movie and only the fierce pressure in my nether regions prevents me from bursting out laughing.
Finally I am able to thaw the pain from my fingertips as we regather our wits in a warm corner of the bar nursing a couple of drinks.
Working out where the Oran Mor is situated is relatively easy however Pam apparently does not think pausing to orient ourselves outside the bar is a requirement for she has already crossed the street and is about to set off in completely the opposite direction by the time I have made my way through the door.
As previously mentioned we perform best as a duo.
The Oran Mor is renowned in Glasgow. This repurposed church is now a theatre and bar. Daily lunchtime theatrical performances accompanied by simple repast and social lubricant occur under the alliterative title ‘A Play, A Pie and A Pint’.
Performance begins at 1:00pm sharp with tickets supposedly being required to be purchased by midday.
If it wasn’t for the cold I would have been sweating bullets as Pam rushes me along the pavement. We arrive at 12:05pm however there is no problem buying tickets.
Now we have an hour to kill, in a bar.
By the time we are finding our seats surrounding the little raised central stage I am on my third pint and first pie for the day.
Pam strikes up a conversation with the lady sitting next to her who has a cast on her right arm. Turns out she and her husband are Glasgow locals and are regulars at the Oran Mor performances.
If the locals come more than once then things are looking good already.
Just prior to the play’s commencement a lady takes the stage, requests the turning off of annoying ubiquitous mobile phones and announces the name of the play and playwright ‘Wake Me in the Morning by Jeremy Raison’.
She goes on to say that online reviews (kept to a maximum of 100 words) of the play are welcomed and that the best review will earn a reward of a bottle of fine single malt scotch and be posted on their website.
Pam shoots me a knowing glance ‘we are winning that bottle’.
The stage is small and central and is dominated by a bed made up with white linen. An expectant crowd falls silent as the lights dim.
My posted online review (which is honed to exactly 100 words) begins with what I thought was the best line from the play.
‘We’re busy chasing alligators in the swamp of the American Dream’.
The moment lights rise on the scarlet dress of ‘The Blonde’, mud from this swamp starts flying. Crisp white linen of the bed at centre stage shall soon become crumpled, stained.
An allegory of desperation dispersed whilst pursuing power’s hollow heart.
Beauty succumbs, clinging to need. Power responds, fueled by blind greed. Love becomes loss when lust intercedes.
Such maelstroms oft prove fatal to the tender hearted.
Conversations secret, stationed in the crowd.
Shamefaced masturbatory necrophilia. Herein lies powers shroud.
‘I was never here’
But I’m glad I was.
Pam is none too happy with my declaration of intent to donate the bottle of scotch to cast and crew if we win for I have no idea how we will pick it up from Edinburgh.
Despite the applause from the crowd I feel an undercurrent of disquiet as the lights come up and the cast take their bows. This has been a heavy thought provoking subject fraught with tendrils of mental illness and despair that ends in a manner perhaps best described as ‘not for the squeamish’.
The local couple next to us seem dismissive, ‘definitely not a lunchtime comedy romp’.
Outside under the grey skies the rain has gathered pace. My suggestion that we rejoin the tour bus to make our next planned destination Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is met with scorn.
Thinking I am cutting a fine figure as we stride along I am perplexed when Pam tells me ‘I am an object of curiosity’ for the locals.
Apparently large men wearing tattered leather gloves and a black ‘Seven Eleven robber’ beanie under a plastic raincoat hoody turn heads in Glasgow if they also walk with Pacerpoles.
Soon we are crossing the bridge over the River Kelvin on the opposite side of Glasgow University from which we alighted and making our way towards the grand building that houses the art gallery and museum.
Choral blasts from the pipe organ at the far end of a massive hall greet our entry as we push through the doors.
WE have arrived.
Strange that no heads turn our way this time.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is busy. A large queue waits patiently to enter the works on display by the Scottish artist Jack Vettriano on the lower floor.
Council run galleries and museums are free to enter in Glasgow however the long queue and entry fee to this particular display find us wandering the rest of the building above after checking our bags/coats/poles.
There are many fine art works within these lofty halls. I had no idea that Salvador Dali’s amazing and famous Christ of St John of the Cross had found it’s home in Glasgow.
Sculpture by Rodin, paintings by Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh and many other masters.
Should you find yourself in Glasgow, Kelvingrove is a must see.
The museum areas are devoted to displays of Scottish history, natural history and prehistory, conquest, armament and attire.
Occasional bizarre absurdist moments seem interjected to remind visitors to remain attentive so as not to miss the Scottish sense of humour.
Pam and I have both enjoyed wandering through the displays and the sun is setting against patches of blue sky by the time we regather our checked gear and rejoin the chilly exterior air.
Squeezing the last ‘value’ from our Glasgow tourist tour tickets we wait over half an hour at a windy bus stop for the last tour bus of the day.
Far too tired to bother finding a new dining establishment we have dinner at the conveniently located Counting House. As we enter the establishment I nearly take out a locals eye with my collapsed Pacerpole tip. I have forgotten to take off my day pack which is very poor etiquette in a throbbing crowd.
Luckily no real harm is done and no punches are thrown as I rapidly apologise.
It is Friday evening and the enormous place is packed. Finding a table takes quite a while. Food once more is inexpensive, hot and tasty. The drinks cold and refreshing. Conversation is nigh impossible against the background roar of the friendly crowd.
Out in the cold night I am astonished by Pam suggesting we catch a cab home.
Keeping my often self defeating trap firmly shut I hastily approve.
Two thumbs up.
Mick and Pam