7 Things I’ve Learned Since Moving to Glasgow

7 Things I’ve Learned Since Moving to Glasgow

Two months ago, I took the plunge. I’d adored Scotland from afar for most of my life, and I decided it was high time we made it official. So I threw myself a solo wedding and moved to Glasgow, as one does.

Although I’m pleased to say I’m still very much in the throes of love, I have had to make a few wee adjustments in my thinking as I’ve accustomed myself to being in a committed relationship to the place. But then again, it’s had to make a few allowances for me too…

Here are a few things I’ve learned. Usually the hard way.

You’ll Inadvertently Talk about Your Underwear
“Last time I was in the UK, I just wore thongs everywhere,” I recently told a new Glaswegian acquaintance.

“JUST thongs?” he asked.

“Yeah,” says I. “I know. It was completely inappropriate. This time I’ve got proper boots that I can tuck my pants into so they don’t get wet.”

“WHAT.”

An important lesson. Thongs = underwear. Pants = underwear. Don’t talk about your underwear unless you really mean it. Especially don’t ask your new boss what colour pants you should wear to work.

When the Sun’s Oot, Taps are Fucking Coming Aff
There’s a little saying in Glasgow: “Sun’s oot, taps aff.” Translated to English, this basically means start stripping at the slightest tease of sun, something the locals seem to take literally.

Taps Aff!

Taps Aff!

 

Partially cloudy and 17 degrees? Time to do some bare-chested basking on the balcony! At 10pm! Or 4am! Best not waste those nine cumulative days of summer.

No-one Understands Why You’ve Moved Here
Without fail, when I tell people I moved to Glasgow from Australia, I get one or more of the following questions:

1. Why?
2. Did you live near Home and Away?
3. Did you live near Uluru?
4. But… why?
5. Was it because you obviously hate the sun?
6. Was it because of the spiders?
7. Do you want to go back yet?

I tell them I love it here. They stare back at me with a squinty face of doubt.

You Don’t Understand a Worrrd Anyone’s Saying
Did you know that only about 1% of the Scottish population speaks Gaelic? And that their iconic rolling Rs are starting to dwindle from their speech? I was shocked when I read this. Dismayed. Felt like taking to my bed in a frenzy of weeping.

Luckily, the Scottish burr and its associated delightfully unintelligible locutions can be found alive and well in Glasgow, a city renowned for its broadly accented denizens. In the East End of Glasgow in particular, it’s hard to miss it. In an old man pub in the East End of Glasgow, you may as well give up trying to understand anyone and just revel in the brogue.

The problem is that I work in an old man pub in the East End of Glasgow. The revelling has to wait until I figure out what the fuck everyone wants to drink. And that’s not easy when I think they’re talking about livestock.

“I’ll hae a pony and a hoof an’ a hoof an’ one fae yersel’, hen.”

“You want a… pony?” I ask, thinking I’ll deal with the hoofs and the hens once I sort the horse out.

“No’ a pony! A pony. A PONY.”

Established translation – after several attempts around the bar, some pointing, and general questioning about my intelligence (“Aye, well, she mun be daft, she left Australia tae come tae Glasgow after all”) – I finally worked out that a “pony” is a Peroni, a “hoof an’ a hoof” is a hauf an’ a hauf which is a half and a half which is a whisky and a half-pint of lager, and “one fae yersel’” is a tip.

And I’m the hen.

Everyone Understands What You’re Saying – and They’ll Slag You Off for It
They’ve all seen the Aussie soaps (even if the Aussies haven’t). They know how the Aussie accent goes down. That won’t stop them from taking the piss every time you say shower or water or owl. They’ll mock and deride you not only for dropping the letters that are actually meant to be there, but also for dropping the letters the Scots add in that aren’t meant to be there. (“It’s AOWWELL”).

Chucking in a couple of arvos and servos and bottlos will leave them guessing though (afternoon, garage, off-licence).

And then there’s the utter disbelief you’ll encounter if you have the audacity to not be called Mary.

“What’s your name, lass?”

“Michaelie.”

“McCeilidh? McCeilidh! Ha! Do you like the Gay Gordons? Soonds like a last name! I canna call ye that. What’s your middle name then?”

“Louise.”

“Well noo, that’s a first name, no’ a middle name! What’s your last name?”

“Clark.”

“Aye. Clarky it is!”

The East End is the Opposite of the West End
This isn’t just a geographical distinction. There’s a whole different culture from one side of the city to the other (bearing in mind that the interpretation of long distances is relative, and you can cross the entire country in but a couple of hours).

The G12 is where it’s at. It’s the place where Westy trendsetters abound and hipster girls carrying ornamental walking sticks sip outrageous cocktails and parlay about social fripperies.

I enjoy the G12. I do. A rendezvous out west is always filled with curious encounters and vodka.

But there’s something intriguing about the rough-edged reality of the G31, with its surplus of outlandish street marketing, shady characters and emerging bars and eateries that have all the savoir-faire without the knobbery. If the East End was a person, they would have dirt under their fingernails, be smoking a match-thin rolly and still be wearing last night’s ‘pants’. But they’d be having a rollicking good time and would be giving exactly no fucks about any of the above.

Connie's Bathrooms - when they plumb it, so does the neighbourhood's sophistication levels.

Connie’s Bathrooms – when they plumb it, so does the neighbourhood’s sophistication levels.

 

It was a deliberate decision on my part to throw myself into the gritty city of Glasgow, sight-unseen, and then up the ante by roosting in the East End. All it took was one inadvertently hilarious forum post waxing lyrical about the disastrous consequences of being an Eastender, and I was there.

Cue even squintier faces of doubt.

Everyone’s Friendly, Even the Murderers
Glasgow is absolutely brimming with scoundrels, rogues and provincial gossip-mongers who seem like they may murder you and/or go to extreme lengths to find out everything about you so that they can tell everyone else. But they’re delightful!

Seriously though, I’ve never before encountered so many friendly strangers. Rather than studiously avoiding eye-contact with other humans, people on the city streets here will engage in weather chit-chat at pedestrian crossings (“How’s this weather?” – could mean anything) or toss you a cheery “aw right” – and not even mind when you reply with, “Hello. I mean yes. I mean good. Hi.”

A convicted murderer even offered to let me live with him, without cost, after he asked me every possible question about my flat and decided the rent I am paying is ‘criminal’.

I’ve found Glaswegians to be very welcoming, interactive with each other and generally lacking in conversational pretensions. No-one has tried to stab me over anything I’ve said about football. Not even when I deliberately provoke them. And when they tell you to fuck off, they do it in such a way that you know they think you’re quite a good egg.

It’s true what the signs on the hire bikes say: the people really do make Glasgow.

I think this country and I are going to live happily ever after. At least until my visa runs out and I’m forced to live like a gypsy in the heather somewhere to avoid deportation. But I’ll worry about that later – for the noo, I’m having too much fun.