Me & My Life, Travelling

We’ll Always Have Glasgow

Strange fact about Wilf: I always type Glasgow as Glasglow. And before you start – it’s not a choice man, it’s the way I was made. I’ve always been this way.

Alright

I’ve made some decisions since you last saw me.

  1. I don’t like Glasgow.
  2. I don’t like McDonald’s.

When McDonald’s meets Glasglow, the result is not pleasant. Let me explain.

Although I have been to Glasgow several times (thrice with school, once with my brother, and back in February with z3rb1 for some fun), most of my time there has been spent indoors or walking around with a purpose, so I’ve never been able to get a feel for the place. Finally, over 5 years since my first visit, I think I can hold an opinion on Glasgow.

My brother is off school at the moment for the autumn holidays, and my mother suggested that we go to Glasgow together. We thought that was a good idea; maybe we’d visit the Glasgow Science Centre – especially the planetarium, I’ve never been to one before – then maybe we could do a bit of shopping. We got the train2 and went to Glasgow.

Glasgow Science Centre

The trip was largely uneventful. We visited the science centre – the exhibits almost identical to my last visit, although still enjoyable – which was swamped by young, noisy kids. I was a kid once, and I remember how cool science was to me at that age, so I didn’t complain.

It was annoying that when we’d bought the tickets3, we entered the science centre with them completely unchecked. Anyone could have walked in off the street and freely experienced what we’d just paid a lot of money for4.

But what pissed me off the most was that the planetarium was sold out. We arrived at about midday and planned to attend the 1 o’clock show, but we’d’ve had to wait until 4 for the next show. We couldn’t wait that long, so we didn’t go. I suppose it’s good that people are interested in science, and it’s not the centre’s fault that it’s sells out, but it would have been nice to know that booking ahead might be a good idea, and I was quite disappointed5.

But all of that’s beside the point – the Science Centre could have been in Timbuktu, and the experience would have been the same. This post’s about Glasglow.

Glasgow

Yesterday, my first impression of Glasgow was Queen Street station. I was impressed by the design of the roof – it reminded me of London St. Pancras a little (a beautiful station) – but it was a shithole. It had the potential to be a grand station, but it was just dark and dingy. There were ticket barriers separating the platforms from the concourse, and it gave the station a very subdued feeling. It was my first time at the station6 and I wasn’t impressed.

After leaving the station, we made our way down to the Clyde before heading west to the science centre. I saw the House of Fraser, the Vodaphone shop, the Apple Store, and I was struck by how I could be in any large city. London, Birmingham, Manchester. I tried to think of what made Glasgow unique, and all I could think of was the Clyde with its motorway and road and train bridges and its fully concreted banks adorned with anonymous modern business buildings, and a city centre filled with people, cars, and uninspiring architecture. Of course, there’s that accent too, as well as a multitude of pound shops and sad old men selling newspapers on the street.

Sure, Glasgow may be a good place to shop, and I hear it may even be a particularly good place in which to go out at night, but I hate shopping and I’m not the world’s most enthusiastic party-goer. There was nothing which endeared Glasgow to me – no beautiful buildings, no relaxing open spaces or grand central meeting areas; — no heart of the city. To me, it just feels like a large crowd of buildings. Like a collection of atoms exactly matching that of a body, there’s something missing that is needed for it to be a living person. It needs that spark7.

Perhaps I missed the good bits. Perhaps it was the time of year. Perhaps it was the weather. Perhaps it was just was me – maybe I’ve been spoiled by Paris. I’ll give it a second chance sometime, but for now, Glasgow is not a city for me.

McDonald’s

I have indentified one major problem with McDonald’s. The food’s good but not great ok but not good8 and the ‘restaurant’ is typically filled with noisy and dirty people, with a young unpleasant staff mopping the floor and failing to clean tables. That’s to be expected from an such an establishment, however.

What I dislike most about McDonald’s is their queueing system. Basically, there is none. You enter the store and just join a mass of people waiting to be served. This mass tends to the form of one long queue, as would make sense – first come first served, much like it is at Primark or Borders where the person at the front of the queue is called forward to the next available server. McDonald’s is slightly more complicated in that you hang around for a minute or two after placing your order whilst waiting for it to be fulfilled, during which time another person can be served.

What McDonald’s needs to do is to create a clear place to queue, and a clear system whereby the person at the front can be called on.

Instead, what happens is that some McEmployee with a modicum of responsability shouts at the queue that self forms, telling people to make individual queues for each of the servers. What does this do? Firstly, it changes the line into a bunch, secondly, it makes you feel like you’re back at school, and finally, first-come-first-served no longer applies. It’s annoying – whoever picks the best queue wins, and it pisses you off.

And what happens when McDonald’s meets Glasgow? Well, it’s pretty much the same except the accents are Glaswegian. Not that shocking to be honest.

BTW…

On a tangentially related note, I bought this poster at Forbidden Planet whilst I was in Glasgow. Was it worth the £3.99? Materially, no; but it sure looks good on my bedroom wall.

Engage.



Footnotes:
  1. We went out for a lovely Valentine’s meal at Pizza Hut, along with Murray
  2. It was almost the same price as the Megabus and it’s more convenient and comfortable. 
  3. Mine was £8.25. 
  4. We weren’t the only ones with unchecked tickets, judging by the mass of discarded ones by the exit. 
  5. What’s more, the next time I visit, as well as the £2.50 supplement, I will have to pay for another £8.25 ticket for the science centre (which as I’ve seen has hardly changed in 5 years), even if I just want to see the 30 minute planetarium show. 
  6. After previously taking the Megabus. 
  7. I know it sounds like I’m calling Glasgow dead, but I don’t think that. It’s a busy city. I just couldn’t think of a better image – I just think that there is a difference between a large collection of buildings and a great city. 
  8. Though I do like the Sweet Chili Chicken, particularly when it is Deli of the Day at £1.99. 

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