Who belongs to Glasgow?
Who belongs to Glasgow?

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Who belongs to Glasgow?

2.3 Watching the programme

Activity 1: Watching the programme

There are two main themes to consider as you watch the programme:

  • (a) Image and identity

    • Note down examples of images of Glasgow. What/who is represented? What/who is not represented? Are there different interpretations of the images? Has this image been challenged – how and by whom?

    • You could use a rough matrix to help in this. For example:

Click here [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   to open a printable matrix for your notes.

  • (b) Uniqueness and interdependence

    • What wider (global) relationships have contributed to Glasgow's (local) character/distinctiveness?

Activity 2: After the programme

1. Briefly, try to develop the two themes in Activity 1 in relation to concepts of geographical imaginations, power relations, local-global relations.

  • (a) Starting with your notes about images:

    • What do these images contribute to Glasgow's identity?

    • How have the images been ‘constructed’?

    • Whose interests have been represented and whose suppressed?

    • How is this conflict of interests represented?

    • What do we mean by ‘multiple identities’?

    • How can a place mean more than just one thing?

    • What does all this tell us about power relations in Glasgow?

  • (b) Using your examples of local-global relationships:

    • How has Glasgow's uniqueness been constructed and reconstructed? What interrelationships have been involved?

    • In what ways does Glasgow's identity result from ‘what Glasgow is not’?

  • (c) Note briefly how we have used our concept of geographical imaginations to explore Glasgow's uniqueness.

2. Think about these issues in relation to another place or other places.

  • What is being represented/promoted?

  • Who gains and who loses?

3. The main points to grasp from this programme are:

  • that ‘image and identity’ are central to our geographical imagination;

  • that images and identities are socially constructed and are not neutral or objective: how we define a place reflects and affects our attitudes towards it and our experience of it;

  • that images are selective;

  • that places have multiple identities;

  • that images and identities are open to and reflect varied interpretations;

  • that these interpretations may frequently be contested;

  • that uniqueness of place is constructed out of local-global interdependencies.

Click to watch Part 1 of the TV programme. (5 minutes)

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Transcript: Part 1

Woman:
Nothing to beat Glasgow.
Woman:
Certainly very friendly, happy. Aye. Nice place to live really.
Man:
Great place, not as hard as everybody thinks it is.
Man:
Great place to live and work.
Woman:
Lot of violence in it. Lot of drugs in this area.
Man:
Glasgow? Ah, think it's alright, Glasgow.
Woman:
Great! Great place!!
COMMENTARY:
The identity of a city is complex.
To try to find the real identity of a city like Glasgow, we need to sift through the many images and historical layers that represent that place. So what do people mean when they say 'I belong to Glasgow'?
PAT JESS:
But in fact I don't belong to Glasgow. I'm from Belfast, a city which like Glasgow has part of its identity bound up with a river and with ship building.
COMMENTARY:
But there are other aspects to its image which Glasgow doesn't share. So to explore these ideas of image and identity, I'm going to talk to people around Glasgow and learn from their experience.
Pat Jess and Gordon Borthwick:
Morning Gordon. (Morning Pat, our only passenger today). Yes indeed. (Come aboard.)
COMMENTARY:
Maybe the Clyde is the best place to start. Many of the ships that sailed the international trade routes were built on this stretch of water. Gordon Borthwick has a keen interest in Glasgow's maritime history. His father worked on Clydeside.
Pat Jess:
Gordon, can you tell me what is the significance of the Clyde to Glasgow?
Gordon Borthwick:
Well there's an old saying that's been much quoted and even misquoted that Glasgow made the Clyde and the Clyde made Glasgow, and it's very true because here we have a river that was only fourteen inches deep and very sluggish and this was the river into which we were eventually to launch some of the largest liners and ships ever built. And over a period of about two or three hundred years, men dragging chains, barges; dredgers, they eventually deepened the river. So in a sense the city made the river and in return of course the river eventually made the city's fortunes.
The image of Glasgow is a strange thing, I mean only two or three centuries ago when Glasgow was a university city; small, quiet, described by Daniel Defoe who was well travelled, as "The beautifulest little city in all Europe", and suddenly all hell was let loose, the industrial revolution hit it and it became big, dirty brash Glasgow, the Chicago of Europe perhaps, and completely unfairly I think. I personally have been around in many cities throughout the world and I have never seen violence in Glasgow as I've seen it in other cities abroad, I've never seen a gang fight, I've never seen any razor attacks, but you give a dog a bad name and it sticks.
COMMENTARY:
Gerry Mooney grew up in Pollock, a working class estate on the south side of Glasgow.
Gerry Mooney:
Yes, I would say certainly over the last hundred years it was very much the shock city of Britain. Now nothing sort of illustrates that better than a book that was produced in the inter-war period called 'No Mean City'. Which tried to highlight the Glasgow wars, the sort of violent city portrayed by gangs, conflict, struggle, agitation etc. Another image is one coming out of the period of what's now known as the Red Clydeside, which is a period characterised by conflict, class struggle, the potential revolutionary situation that developed in 1919.
Now in the seventies there was a number of television programmes, dramas and documentaries, that were shown nationally which depicted Glasgow yet again as a city full of seething hoodlums and gangsters. If you take the films of the likes of Peter McDougall, for example 'Just Another Saturday', then that was film that actually portrayed Glasgow and Glaswegians in a very negative light.
MAN:
I'm no joking son. I'm gonna damage you.
MAN:
These people are animals.
MAN:
Oh is that right? Well you'd better save up your Embassy coupons for a Daktari gun, 'cos that's the only way you're gonna get near 'em!
Gerry Mooney:
Now I wouldn't say that was a wrong image, it was certainly only a partial image of what Glasgow represented at that time. But certainly that was the image that was, you know, exported outwith the city, and it was the image that many people would associate with the city at that time.
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COMMENTARY:
There's a different image of Glasgow today. The old image was constructed and represented through books and the media. Now there are shopping centres and wine bars in the city centre, and the Greater Glasgow Tourist Board actively promotes these and other images.
Linda Whiteford:
I have to say that I was surprised when I came here how friendly the place was, how welcoming it was. And it wasn't the dirty grimy place, it's er it has changed remarkably over the past ten to fifteen years anyway. Nowadays I would think of the beautiful architecture. It's a really wonderful city for Victorian architecture, and er over the past sort of twenty years the buildings have been cleaned up and you can see them as they were, as they were built and the Victorians really went to town in Glasgow.
My image of Glasgow has to incorporate the fact that in Gaelic, Glasgow means 'a dear green place', and we've got over seventy public parks and gardens, um that really are outstanding, and you would never think of that initially, you know, if you thought of Glasgow, ok, you've got the buildings, you've got the shops, it's a big city, it's sprawling, it's got a river, but you'd never think of it as being a green place.
COMMENTARY:
The change of image was quite deliberate. There were campaigns and events, some of which quite literally changed the face of the city. Jean Forbes lives in Milngavie, a middle-class suburb on the north side of Glasgow.
Jean Forbes:
It really all began in the middle 1980s. It was a very active Lord Provost, Mr Michael Kelly, in the 1980s, early 1980s, who decided as a, that he would take the definite step of trying to change this image.
Michael Kelly:
...so the Glasgow's Miles Better campaign is all about convincing people that Glasgow's improved, and we've really got to take it to London beacuse these are...
Jean Forbes:
And this was when our famous Mr Happy first appeared, the little, the little round sun-like figure with a big smile and it said 'Glasgow's Miles Better'.
Linda Whiteford:
I think the Miles Better campaign really got to the heart, it did the job it was supposed to do, in that it really got to the heart of the people. The people of Glasgow loved the character Mr Happy, they loved the fact that the people around the world were picking up on that logo, 'Glasgow's Miles Better', and they did begin to smile a bit better.
Gerry Mooney:
I don't think that you would have to say to Glaswegians that Glasgow was miles better, I mean they would all have known that anyway and certainly would have argued that. But really what they were trying to do was say to people outwith Glasgow that Glasgow was miles better than perhaps they had thought of, and perhaps was miles better than what the films of Peter McDougall had portrayed it as.
Nicholas Witche/1:
The Prince of Wales tried his hand at a Glasgow accent today and he and the Princess went for a ride in an open topped tram. They were in Glasgow for the city's biggest public event in fifty years, the opening of its Garden Festival.
Jean Forbes:
It was a great day out for the family. And er any time I was there it was always full of Glasgow people themselves sort of wandering about and enjoying themselves and it was a nice protected kind of place because it was, you know, it was free of traffic and there were many, many things to see and to do.
Gerry Mooney:
No, I think a large number of Glaswegians did attend the Garden Festival. Certainly I would say the bulk were probably tourists and people from outwith Glasgow, but it was somethin·g that Glaswegians actually liked and enjoyed. And it was something that they wanted to be kept within the city, you know, the sort of parkland area. But unfortunately as we'll see, it hasn't happened that way.
Unfortunately for most of the Glaswegians now, it's been left rather derelict, but there was a bit of a debate after the garden festival regarding the usefulness of the site, and certainly a number of people suggested that it should be kept as some sort of park or reminder of the garden festival itself. Which was a very popular event. As we see now, it's rather run down looking and doesn't appear to be serving much useful purpose.
Well what we have here is some of the housing that was put up on the Garden Festival site itself. And basically this is all that remains of the site. This was the main entrance to the Garden Festival, and along the riverbank here, you see some of the shrubbery and other grassland area that was created. And if we look across the other side of the river, you see again some very upmarket housing that was you know, created in the last few years, out of old dock warehouses.
COMMENTARY:
Symbolic of the old Glasgow is the area known as the Gorbals, remembered for the slums which were pulled down in the 1950s.
Gerry Mooney:
These are the multi-storey flats that are part of the Gorbals area of the city, most of them dating from the 1960s and 1970s. The Gorbals area was the first area in the city to be picked up for what was called 'comprehensive redevelopment', and this is the result of it.
Now the population of the area was reduced drastically in trying to lower the mass of housing densities that characterised the tenements, and many of the people were moved out to the outer housing estates of Castlemilk or Pollock or even to areas beyond the city.
MAN:
There's Glasgow. Forty thousand acres. And this small patch represents two thousand acres. And on that is crammed a hundred and fifty thousand of the city's dwellings. That is half the dwellings on a twentieth of the space.
MAN 2:
But that's ridiculous!
MAN:
Of course it is by any standards.
MAN 2:
What are you going to do about it?
MAN:
Knock them down!
COMMENTARY:
One of the outer estates of Glasgow is Drumchapel. Edward Stephenson lives in his father's flat on the estate, with his wife and their five children.
Edward Stephenson:
Our own house was gutted wi' a fire and we moved in with my dad. I'm not sure if it was an electrical fault, but obviously it went fire and we had to move in here. I don't know if it's been refurbished, but I mean they still got boards on the windows.
COMMENTARY:
Identity is not always linked to a country or a city. People often identify with an area or a street. The Stephensons identify strongly with the local area.
Edward Stephenson:
Definitely Drumchapel because I've more or less been brought up in Drumchapel.
Pat Jess:
Are you from Drumchapel or ... ?
Helen Stephenson:
Yes.
Pat Jess:
All your life?
Helen Stephenson:
Yes.
Pat Jess:
So you're a Drumchapel family?
Helen Stephenson:
Yes, thirty six year I'm up here.
Pat Jess:
Would you say more that you're from Drumchapel or more that you're from Glasgow?
Edward Stephenson:
Drum, Drumchapel.
Pat Jess:
Definitely?
Edward Stephenson:
Definitely.
Pat Jess:
What would you say is the image that Glasgow has now?
Edward Stephenson:
Oh, it has a better image. I mean the, the people are more friendly and everything. And we had that Garden Festival as well. We got tourists fe' all over the world that came and see that.
Pat Jess:
Did you experience the Garden Festival in any way? Did you go to it?
Edward Stephenson:
No. Well if me and my wife and children go, you're talking about what, ten pound there and back.
Pat Jess:
In bus fares?
Edward Stephenson:
Aye, in bus fares.
Martin Lewis:
The Queen has been to Glasgow to celebrate the city's new role as European City of Culture. Jacques Chirac, the Mayor of Paris, last year's Culture Capital, handed over the title. He spoke of the formidable renaissance of Scotland's largest city.
Jean Forbes:
It was a tremendous effort put into publicising the city as a place to come and visit during this particular year of 1990, and certain things the most particular being the construction of the new concert hall, they were tuned to arrive and be on the ground in 1990. Music programmes, drama, arts programmes, were all organised so that they would be there in that year, and it began on the first of January, and it just went like a fair until the 31st of December. It was a very busy year.
Gerry Mooney:
It certainly on an international level made Glasgow appear more attractive for inward investment, and I think that was the prime aim of the whole campaign anyway. But within the city itself it gave rise to a whole series of conflicts about where Glasgow was going, what was the new Glasgow about. Who was benefiting from this new Glasgow? But it was also a debate an argument about what was the old Glasgow like, because one of the attempts of the image makers in 1990 was in a sense sanitise the history of Glasgow, you know, undermine the old Red Clydeside image and create this new wonderful image in the 1990s and a number of people were very opposed to that.
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COMMENTARY:
So in selling the city, the image makers have bypassed the poorer aspects of Glasgow, highlighting instead those characteristics which attract inward investment, and with it, jobs.
Jean Forbes:
Well inevitably they haven't been as much in industry as you would like them to have been, because you can imagine the vast numbers who would be made unemployed by the closure of a shipyard or a major steelworks or even port facilities, and it's very difficult to replace those jobs for those particular people.
Gerry Mooney:
I would say that many of the jobs have been created in the retail and tourist sectors, a vast number of which I would say are low paid, primarily performed by women workers in the city centre. Now obviously there are a number of jobs that have been created by inward investment in the financial and banking sectors, but I would tend to say that that has been, you know, minimal. So you do have within the city centre, a large increase in the fast food outlets, the bistros, the wine bars, the conference centre type activities, all of which tends to be low paid temporary casualised type of employment.
Pat Jess:
So where is the real Glasgow? Is it here, in the city centre, or here by the Clyde and the old shipyards? Well it's a bit of both and many other aspects as well.
Gerry Mooney:
I think obviously there are people from Glasgow who would call themselves Glaswegians, but I don't think you can talk about one Glaswegian image at all. And there are within the city of Glasgow, very different ethnic backgrounds, gender divisions, class divisions, divisions of localities within the city. And people do have different images and representations of what Glasgow means.
COMMENTARY:
Walking around Glasgow, I've been wondering what images come to mind when Glaswegians think of their city.
Jean Forbes:
The city centre, the shopping centre which I think is now very attractive, it's a very pleasant place to shop. As a concert goer I'm very devoted to .the Concert Hall. Erm, I like the clean tenements, I think the tenements are splendid buildings, these great stone ranges of buildings, beautifully cleaned, either golden stone or pink sandstone.
COMMENTARY:
Edward Stephenson identifies with a rather different image.
Edward Stephenson:
lbrox. That's where Rangers play; It's the best in Britain. Parkhead is where Celtic play. If we can afford it, I try and get to as many as possible, but with five children it's not always possible. Now my youngest, his name's Graeme Souness; that's what I called him when he was born. At that time Graeme Souness was the manager of Rangers.
Gerry Mooney:
For argument's sake I would say that ordinary Glaswegians, if you can use that term, in the peripheral housing estates and elsewhere, probably identify more with each other and their experiences within the city in terms of a struggle to make ends meet, a struggle for survival, a struggle over bad housing, a struggle for employment, and maybe histories of previous employment passed down over the generations. I would say that probably middle class Glaswegians identify much more with sort of · physical things, with buildings. For example I think they would identify much more with Merchant City than many ordinary Glaswegians who had never heard of Merchant City until the image makers had created it.
Jean Forbes:
And then we're just passing on either side here ones which are nineteenth century buildings ... . . . I like what has been done to the Merchant City. This was an old really quite derelict part of the city centre, where it was the eighteenth century residential area for the merchants, the tobacco merchants. This is a very interesting building, this is the eighteenth century merchant's house which has now been ... The streets there are smaller scale than to the west which is a Georgian gridiron. The Merchant City gridiron is smaller and more intimate, and it really is a very attractive place to walk about and a very characterful place, very Glaswegian.
Edward Stephenson:
I was over in Belfast and I couldn't wait to get back to Glasgow, and I mean we've also been in England to visit my brother and my wife's sister, and we're always dying to get back to Glasgow.
COMMENTARY:
Glaswegians obviously have a great fondness for their city. But how do they see themselves?
Vox Pops:
Great people. Very friendly.
That's right, the people are friendly.
Well I'm a Glaswegian myself, so they're the tops.
Very friendly.
Very hospitable.
Jean Forbes:
If you're a stranger to the city and you open a map in the city centre and look vague, some Glaswegian will steam up beside you and offer to help you, and probably walk all the way with you, and I don't think that has changed at all.
COMMENTARY:
Like me, Jean Forbes is in fact from Northern Ireland. But she has adopted Glasgow as her home with considerable enthusiasm.
Jean Forbes:
I will hear no ill spoken of Glasgow, it is, I have been known to jump up in fury in distant cities when people speak poorly of this city. I think it's a splendid city, I've lived in it for many many years and enjoyed every minute of it.
Gerry Mooney:
Yes it is unique, but I think you can only grasp that uniqueness by looking at places or locales beyond Glasgow. So for example Glasgow isn't Birmingham, Glasgow isn't London. In a sense what I'm trying to get at is that Glasgow's uniqueness is not simply or only its geographical location, but it's the particular set of historical relationships that have been built up over time, relationships emerging out of the class base of the city, emerging out of the industrial and economic base of the city, and relationships emerging out of the stratified nature of the city today. So it is unique, but that uniqueness can only be understood by in a sense illustrating or discussing what Glasgow isn't as much as discussing what Glasgow is.
Pat Jess:
Well, I'm beginning to get a sense of what it means when people say 'I belong to Glasgow'. Though it's based on a very fleeting visit.
COMMENTARY:
The images that will remain in my mind include the Clyde, Merchant City, Drumchapel and the Garden Festival, and a sense that Glasgow is made up of much more than this.
Gerry Mooney:
I think again you have to talk about multiple identities and the fact that images and identities and representations are contested.
Gerry Mooney:
There's no agreement about the way Glasgow's been sold today or depicted today in the glossy magazines and in the media, just as there was no agreement about the way Glasgow was portrayed in the films of Peter McDougall in the 1970s. So there's a conflict there you know, about where Glasgow's going and what Glasgow's about.
Vox Pops:
We're born in Glasgow and we'll die in Glasgow.
Oh aye, very good in Glasgow, aye!
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