Jan. 8th, 2014

parthenia: (Default)
Hello. I am not doing very well at the whole January talking thing, because, well, it demands talking and actually it's quite hard to do that after months of sitting at the edges of the internet and peering through.

I should have realised that early January is difficult. December-January in our house feels like one massive thing after another: Christmas, Young P's birthday and New Year all on top of each other; this year i took some leave before and after Christmas, to keep E. company. All very lovely but a tad overwhelming.

I'm back to the commute again. There was a blissful day last week when every right thinking person was still on holiday, yet all the trains ran to London on time, and I spent a peaceful day at my (hot) desk doing things for absent bosses.

Geoviki asked me about the north-south divide. I read this and laughed because of course I am Scottish and therefore north-north; but actually there really isn't a massive divide between, say, Glasgow and Manchester or Glasgow and Newcastle. Glasgow and London, though: wow.

I still find London strange. It's at once more cosmopolitan and parochial than anywhere else. The Glaswegian take on London is that it's full of cold posh Southerners. And, yes, I meet people in my new job who I would basically have to describe as London-unfriendly: it's a kind of bizarre negative energy that I don't think I would encounter back in Glasgow. It's people bundled on the Tube in a solid force-field of self-protectiveness. It's the unsmiling colleague who will sit at the next (hot) desk and never acknowledge you.

Glaswegians, on the other hand, tend to regard random strangers as people in need of entertaining and amusing. If there is one thing I miss more than anything, it is the cheerful, witty conversation that's offered to complete strangers right across the board.

My friend and I went to Glasgow on the train with our two dogs last year. We had to take a taxi from Queen Street station in Glasgow, out to the suburbs, and I was very worried that no taxi driver would let the dogs in their car ( taxi drivers round here probably wouldn't).

Me to taxi driver: 'Will you take the dogs?'
Taxi driver leans out, inspects the two mutts: 'Do they smoke? No? Well you're all right then, hop in...'

Glaswegians are brought up to talk to strangers. It's the polite thing to do. I have to kick myself sometimes to hold back my hilarious commentary, because 50 per cent of the time I will get that swivel-eyed look of incomprehension and mild fear.

It's not that the South is truly unfriendly - it's just a hell of a lot more reserved.


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