I spent my student years, plus a few, in the Scottish city of Glasgow. Moving there in 1998, the city had rid itself of hard man reputation and the odd Eighties campaign sticker of Roger Hargreaves’s Mr Happy with the words “Glasgow’s Miles Better” (or was it “Glasgow Smiles Better”?) could still be found in the back of some black taxi cabs.
First attracted by its vibrant cultural scene, my lasting impression of Scotland’s largest city is that it is one of contrasts. While the dark neo-Gothic spire of my alma mater Glasgow University still rises over the well-heeled West End, recent Campaign to End Child Poverty figures indicate that a third (33%) of children in the Glasgow City Council area live in poverty. Yet I rarely have come across a city with such spirit and where theatre, music, literature and arts were so ingrained in the every day lives of its citizens.
I’m fortunate enough to still have enough friends in Glasgow to justify paying it a visit fairly regularly and on my last trip in January, this particular doorway caught my eye.
Taken under a railway arch by the River Clyde in Glasgow city centre, I loved the incongruity of the name and the uninviting nature of the door itself. Likewise, the warmth of the sun on an extraordinarily sunny winter’s day almost seemed out of place. Most importantly, it made me smile.
A few weeks later, my partner Ian flagged up the National Theatre Port Urban Photography which was run in conjunction with their production of Port, by Simon Stephens. I entered and to my surprise my photo C’Mon In was selected as one of the finalists by renowned photographer Kevin Cummins. It proved to be a highlight of what was on an otherwise rather disappointing week.
In a nice little coincidence, Cummins is the same photographer that once snapped a photo of my other half during his own university years. An avid follower of Manchester City, Cummins was asked to record the football club’s final season at its Maine Road stadium and the result was the book We’re Not Really Here. In the book, there is a photo of my partner Ian looking rather dishevelled while walking to the stadium before the match. Ian met him a couple of years back and Cummins remembered the picture, saying he took it because Ian looked like he was on his way home from a night out. (He wasn’t, but there you go.)
In the photo, Ian can be seen walking past a brick wall, wearing a football shirt and with his hair in front of his face. And what is swigging from? Nothing but a bottle of Glasgow’s finest and most luminescent non-alcoholic tipple – Irn Bru.
To have a look at the winning photos of the National Theatre Port Urban Photography exhibition visit: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/discover/port-urban-photography-competition?play=1