Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Wee Bonnie Trip to Glasgow

I know he's not everyone's cup of tea, but I thoroughly enjoy Anthony Bourdain and his alcohol/recreational drug-fueled trips around the world.

I've watched him drift cars with Iranian teenagers.
Drink himself silly with jungle farmers in Borneo.
And sport wood and kiss the amazing ladyboys of Thailand.

If I were to travel the world with anyone, you know other than my wife who doesn't like the way I pack a suitcase, it would be with Mr. Bourdain.

Last week, I caught up an old show that struck close to home.
The homeland, I should say.

Anthony was in Glasgow, where my mother was born. This might explain the email address attached to this blog and my twitter handle: glasgowdick. It's not the most creative thing I've ever done but to be honest, I never thought I'd be blogging for 7 weeks, much less 7 years.

Before the show even begins, Bourdain prefaces the adventure by stating, "Glasgow might be one of his Top 5 cities in the world!" This is a man who has seen, eaten and drunk it all, so that's mighty high praise.

I've been there twice. And between the relentless cold rain, the biting wind, and smoldering smelly cigarettes in the hands of every pedestrian, I'm not sure Glasgow cracks my top 100 cities.

Not surprisingly, what Bourdain found so charming about this grimy, hard-nosed, working-class city with its quaint old building and penchant for irony...

...were the people.

As Bourdain found out while dining with one of the city elders, Scottish people are funny. Not ha ha funny, but dark, twisted, cynical funny.

The Glasgowegian explained while sipping on a bowl of rabbit/squirrel/boiled chipmunk stew.

"Americans are different than the Scots," she stated.

"How so?" replied Bourdain.

"You tell an American that your father just passed away and the immediate reaction is sympathy. Genuine, heartfelt sympathy."

"That's a good thing," said Bourdain.

"Of course it is. But you tell a Scotsman that your father just died and he might come back to you with something like, 'Oh, what size shoe did he wear?'"

I'm not interested in wearing a dead man's shoes, but I can appreciate the black humor that springs from generation's long thriftiness and hope eternal.

My own Glasgow anecdote...

After a 6 hour train ride from London, we (the entire Siegel Clan) arrived at the Central Station (pictured above). It was raining, naturally. But we managed to drag our 8 suitcases and paraphernalia across the street to the Taxi stand. A wee old man arrived in his Prius and with a little elbow grease managed to stuff all our belongings in the trunk. We squeezed into the cab and I told him to take us to the Grand Central Hotel.

The driver slapped his calloused hand to his forehead, "Yur already der, mate."

And with that he pointed to the building above the train station which happened to be the hotel. He hopped out the cab and started unloading the luggage. He even helped my wife and daughters drag it across the cobblestone street and into the warmth of the hotel lobby, where it was balmy 59 degrees.

Under his breath he mumbled, "aye your a dighted scunner."

I slipped him a twenty dollar, but he came away with so much more.

Because you know, and I know, and Anthony Bourdain knows, he'll be telling the story of the stupid Yank at the pub until they bury his shoeless corpse in the dark, danky dirty of good old Scotland.

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