West End Pat answers my Proust Questionnaire

Pat Byrne: smitten with the West End of Glasgow and intrigued by the people, the parks, the history, the architecture and the atmosphere

Logo for Glasgow West End: Pat's Guide

Pat Byrne is the person behind Glasgow West End: Pat’s Guide, a website aimed at promoting this great part of Glasgow. It focuses on the local community, with a ‘what’s on’ guide and loads of useful information about restaurants, shops, pubs, galleries and more. She’s also a writer and involved in other projects, most recently Ten Writers Telling Lies, a unique collaboration between a group of storytellers, poets and the singer-songwriter Jim Byrne and which was performed as a live event and is now available as a book with an accompanying CD.

Pat was born in Glasgow’s Royal Maternity Hospital (known to most of us as Rottenrow) but her childhood was spent in Old Kilpatrick, a village half way between Glasgow and Loch Lomond.  As a child, one of her great treats was to go ‘up the town’ so the city has always been close to her heart but her discovery of the West End came later, as a student in the 1970s. Now, she says she’s ‘smitten’ with the area Continue reading “West End Pat answers my Proust Questionnaire”

Little Blog of Horrors’ Ayden Millar answers my Proust questionnaire

My favourite journey? The drive up north to The Drovers Inn or Rest And Be Thankful. Scotland is just bloody breathtaking.

The latest contributor to my Proust questionnaire series is Ayden Millar, a Scottish lifestyle blogger based in Glasgow. I came across her Little Blog Of Horrors when I was browsing Glasgow blogs and was immediately impressed by the the fabulous mix of content, how well written it was, and how striking the photographs were. (Actually, to be honest, what first impressed me was how flipping cool she was.)

Ayden’s blog started life as a university project when she was studying at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) where she was encouraged to keep an online journal of her work, experiences and reflections. Once she discovered the fashion, beauty and lifestyle community which existed online, it started to develop into something much more personal and less uni related. Seven years later, she works freelance in the art department for the TV industry and updates her blog regularly.

On the Little Blog of Horrors you can find everything from fashion to makeup, hair and skin care, tattoos (Ayden has some cracking tattoos), and her favourite places to eat, drink and play in Glasgow and beyond. Here she obligingly and honestly answers my rather intrusive questions, introduces me to a poet and an artist that I didn’t know (but probably ought to have), and reveals her slightly unsettling obsession with zombie apocalypse scenarios and her shameless delight in bbq sauce stuffed-crust pizza (who even knew that was a thing?).

1. What was the first music that you ever paid for?

The Spice Girls’ Album, ‘Spice’ in 1994.

2. What was the most recent music that you paid for?

A cheeky wee pre-order of my boyfriend’s band’s latest self-titled album, Alburn.

3. What was the most recent book you read?

A Mindfulness Guide For The Frazzled by Ruby Wax.

4. What is your favourite novel?

The Beach by Alex Garland.

5. Who is your favourite poet? Continue reading “Little Blog of Horrors’ Ayden Millar answers my Proust questionnaire”

Novelist Catherine Hokin answers my Proust Questionnaire

I can’t choose between gravy-based and custard-based options

Blood and Roses by Catherine Hokin

The second victim in my series of Proust questionnaires is the Glasgow-based author and novelist Catherine Hokin. Not only is she a fabulous writer but she is extremely generous and supportive of the rest of us who are trying to do the same thing. In her debut novel Blood and Roses, she draws on her fascination with medieval history, political propaganda and hidden female voices to bring a new perspective to the story of Margaret of Anjou (1430-1482, wife of Henry VI) and her pivotal role in the Wars of the Roses.

The theme of Catherine’s blog posts and articles is often dangerous women and I suspect that, under her apparently gentle exterior, she may be a pretty dangerous woman herself. Her answer to my first question is evidence enough.

Here she struggles with that age-old dilemma—whether to go for a gravy-based or custard-based meal—and reveals a slightly bizarre situation involving hats with animal ears (a situation that cannot possibly be hypothetical as it has clearly left her traumatised).

1. What was the first music you ever paid for?

Telegram Sam by T-Rex—it was a red vinyl 45. I was impressed [Ed: Me too. Impressed, that is].

2. What was the most recent music that you paid for?

Does shifting to Premium Spotify on the basis of severe guilt count? If so it would be Positive Songs by Negative People by Frank Turner.

3. What was the most recent book you read?

 The Devil’s Feast by Miranda Carter—delicious.

4. What is your favourite novel?

Wise Children by Angela Carter.

5. Who is your favourite poet?

I’m meant to have one of those by now but it hasn’t quite happened. I’m a bit more of a prose person.

6. What is your favourite work of art?

Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks.

7. What is your favourite museum?

The Kelvingrove in Glasgow.

8. What would you spend your last tenner on?

I’m assuming this is an apocalyptic scenario so a Continue reading “Novelist Catherine Hokin answers my Proust Questionnaire”

The University Café: Glasgow, Italy and Ice Cream

Pasquale in his suit and Guiseppa in her white apron, the windows full of adverts for Cadbury’s chocolate and Capstan cigarettes and, above the door, a sign masquerading as a lamp. Or a lamp masquerading as a sign. Ices.

The Soul of a City

There are certain landmarks in any city that always make the postcards or the souvenir bookmarks and mugs and tea towels, landmarks that even a stranger would recognise silhouetted against the skyline. In Glasgow, they might be the Finnieston Crane, The Mackintosh Building at the Art School, the Squinty Bridge (or the Clyde Arc to use its official name) or even the statue of the Duke of Wellington on Queen Street with his obligatory traffic cone.

But then there are those places that are less recognisable to folk who don’t know the city but which are easily identifiable to those who live there. Places which don’t shout their touristy credentials quite so loudly but which engender words like institution and hidden gem. Places barely changed for years which—because of the lives that have passed through them and the events they have marked—have come to embody the soul of the city and with which we can all illustrate our personal histories. In Glasgow, that might mean The Pavilion Theatre, for example, or the Glasgow Film Theatre, or the blue Dr Who-style Police Box at the entrance to the Botanic Gardens, or any of the numerous legendary (and I don’t use the word lightly) pubs and bars that adorn the city.

The University Café is one such place. Situated on Byres Road just around the corner from the University of Glasgow (the clue is in the name), it has been selling teas and coffees and its own ice cream to West Enders and students since 1918. It was a favourite of mine when I was a student and more recently a regular treat-stop when my nieces came to visit. My mother-in-law was brought up round the corner in Partick and remembers going there as a child. Even Jamie Oliver is a fan. There are two pages devoted to the University Café in Jamie’s Great Britain and apparently his 20 minute visit there extended to nearly an hour by the time he’d eaten breakfast and been shown how the famous ice cream is made.

Pasquale and Guiseppa

Recently, I had the enormous pleasure of chatting to Carlo Verrecchia, the current owner. In his early 60s now, he’s been working in the café since he left school, aged 16. He explained that his Italian grandparents Pasquale and Guiseppa Continue reading “The University Café: Glasgow, Italy and Ice Cream”

Man With Glasses Answer My Proust Questionnaire

Perfect happiness? A girl from Paisley named Michelle.

As you may have gathered if you’ve read my post about unknown unknowns, I’m pretty new to twitter and all that malarky and not exactly gifted at it. However, it isn’t all bad. I’ve made some pretty good discoveries since I started twitting. One of the bands I came across early on (i.e. about a month ago) are the fabulous Man With Glasses. They are based in Glasgow and hence qualify for my questionnaire. Their music is instrumental electronica, melodious and up lifting and I’m really chuffed that they agreed to answer my daft questions. Ian plays along with a fab mix of humour and sincerity.

1. What was the first music you ever paid for?

Rockin’ Over the Beat by Technotronic.

Still love this!

2. What was the most recent music that you paid for?

Trick by Jamie T.

3. What was the most recent book you read?

Seventy-Seven: My Road to Wimbledon Glory by the wonderful Andy Murray.

4. What is your favourite novel?

Of Mice and Men.

5. Who is your favourite poet?

I have not ventured into the world of poetry………

Maybe I will at some point but I prefer action more than words (maybe that is why my band Man With Glasses play only instrumental music).

6. What is your favourite work of art?

The Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Salvador Dalí.

7. What is your favourite museum?

My girlfriend’s Continue reading “Man With Glasses Answer My Proust Questionnaire”