I cannot believe that that the sixteenth season of Strictly Come Dancing has finished. Mam and I started watching Strictly in 2004, cheering Natasha Kaplinski and Brendan Cole to victory in that first series. The routines were very much of the dancing style she enjoyed, an extension of her old time dances in the hall in Crumlin. Year by year the dances became more involved and the final show dances tended towards gymnastic routines. I was unaware that “the live shows” started in 2008 but in more recent years when some of the stars brought their own shows to Ireland (Anton du Bek, Giovanni Pernice and Vincente Simone) I was niggled by the desire to see the larger cast perform live.
As the tour is British based, I needed to find an easy to reach location preferably serviced by “cheap” carrier Ryanair: Glasgow became my choice of destination and I booked the concert and flight tickets and accommodation.
I arrived in the Millenium Hotel in the iconic and historical Georges Square just in time for breakfast following which I headed for the Hop-on Hop-off tour of the city. It was lovely listening to the humorous stories of the city sites in the lilting Scottish accent.
I was amazed at how many of the statues around the Square I knew: The famous “George” for whom the square was named is marked by his absence. He had died before his statue was placed on the central plinth and Sir Walter Scott who wrote many famous poems took his place. Also recognizable were Queen Vicoria, her consort Albert, Robbie Burns, Robert Peel, James Watt and Gladstone.
I was very impressed with the many murals about the city.
The Glasgow coat of arms is linked to the stories of Saint Mungo, the city’s patron saint. It contains a shield framed by two salmon having rings in their mouth. In the shield, you see the same fish, a tree, a bird and a bell.
Here is the bird that never flew
Here is the tree that never grew
Here is the bell that never rang
Here is the fish that never swam
This verse refer to four stories that are told about Saint Mungo
The Bird: Saint Serf, a teacher of several children in Mungo’s youth had a robin (roodborstje) as a pet. Mungo, a good student, was disliked by his classmates who decided to kill the robin and blame Mungo. Mungo, however, miraculously restored life to the robin.
The Tree: Mungo fell asleep while charged with minding a fire in Saint Serf’s monastery. The fire went out and Mungo miraculaously restarted the fire without using only a nearby tree.
The Bell: the bell is thought to have been brought by Mungo from Rome. It was said to have been used in services and to mourn the deceased.
The Fish: The salmon and the ring relate to Queen Longuoreth’s affair with a young soldier and Mungo’s saving of the Queen. The Queen gave a ring (a present from her husband) to her secret lover. However, a servant informed the king of the affair. The King retrieved the ring when the young man fell asleep and threw it into the river Clyde. He then demanded that his wife show him the ring and when she failed denounced her and threw her into prison to await execution. In prison, she sent a messenger to Mungo asking for forgiveness and help. Mungo told the messenger to go fishing in the Clyde and to bring back the first fish he caught. It was a salmon, which on being cut open, contained the ring. It was immediately brought to the queen. When the King saw the ring he forgave his wife.
I always enjoyed Billy Connolly’s Glasgow stories of childhood life in the tenements of Glasgow and work the shipyards. It was particularly interesting on the tour to see the tribute the city paid to him on his 75th birthday – 3 giant muras were painted in his honour. The shipyards have now disappeared from the Tyneside- their only memory now is the giant crane.
I loved the story of Madeleine Smith and how her trial for the murder of her lover tied to the peculiarities of Glasgow justice system – findings of “Guilty”, “Not Guilty” and “Unproven”. Madeleine got off “Scot free” a term associated with the “unproven” verdict that a court can deliver.
Buchanan Street was a dream shopping area and I found some great bargains in the many sales- good sterling rate at the moment too!!! It was also great to visit Weatherspoon and cheer on the Scottish Rugby team to victory.
STRICTLY COME DANCING
After a busy day, I put on the glad rags and headed to the SSE Arena for the Strictly Live Tour. The atmosphere was brilliant as over 80,000 fans gathered to cheer on their favourites from the show and to watch spectacular dance routines.
My favourite group routine involved a ballet routine with Darcy Bussell. After an hour queuing in minus 6 degrees for a taxi back to the hotel I thought I was more than entitled to “A Glasgow Kiss” as a nightcap!