Dear Green Place: Exploring Glasgow one hidden corner at a time
Glasgow, Scotland's largest city, is a post-industrial city with an ancient past - and many hidden places. Our new guidebook, 111 Places in Glasgow That You Shouldn't Miss, is a tribute to this fascinating city, known as Dear Green Place, and the people who have given it music, art, history, architecture, whisky tasting, and stories.
We asked author Tom Shields to tell us about his experiences writing the book. As a journalist for the Glasgow Herald and the Sunday Herald, Tom knows all the stories, or most of them.
Author Tom Shields reads from his book at the Glad Cafe in Glasgow
How is "111 Places in Glasgow" different from your other books and writings? My previous books were collections of stories from the Diary column which I wrote for 25 years in the Glasgow Herald. The Diary was an antidote to the bad news and necessarily serious tone of the rest of the newspaper. It was not so much an article as a conversation with the readers. Much of the humour and many of the best comments actually came from interaction with the readers. The book editors suggested I use the same anecdotal and conversational approach to 111 Places in Glasgow, which was a relief since it is the only style of writing I have.
What was the most surprising fact you found out about Glasgow that you didn’t know before? That William Wallace, the Scottish freedom fighter of Braveheart movie fame, took his last sip of water as a free man in Glasgow before being captured by the occupying English forces and taken to London for brutal execution. There are impressive monuments to Scotland’s greatest patriot, but none so poignant as the simple, stone "Wallace’s Well" in a field on the outskirts of Glasgow.
What was the most challenging place to write about for you? The Necropolis city of the dead on a hill overlooking Glasgow cathedral is almost (but not quite) on a scale with the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and requires a book in its own right. I was delighted to discover that perhaps the most expensive mausoleum is the resting place for a Glaswegian whose wealth and fame, or rather infamy, arose from looting the riches of India in his role as an agent of the British Empire - including the theft of an entire elephant-load of jewels and precious stones from a maharajah.
Why do you think Glaswegians will enjoy this book more than anyone else? The book is not just about places. It is about the people who made, and continue to make, Glasgow. How did you handle Glasgow’s places through the ages, from ancient history to modern days? I set out to celebrate the present-day Glasgow, but for much of my journey of rediscovery, I was looking through a rear-view mirror. My own memories go back 65 years. What I did not know, and found out about when researching the city’s fabulous fossils (archaeological not human), was that 300 million years ago Glasgow was located in a tropical swampland near the Equator. We then had the Ice Age. The weather ever since has been between these extremes, but possibly closer to the Ice Age.
111 Places in Glasgow That You Shouldn't Miss features some of the most interesting, compelling, fascinating, beautiful, and unique places in the city. It includes vivid photographs by Gillian Tait, who is also the author and photographer for 111 Places in Edinburgh That You Shouldn't Miss. 111 Places in Glasgow is now available in book stores, specialty shops, and online in the UK, the US, and Canada.
111 Places in Glasgow Author Tom Shields
111 Places in Glasgow Photographer Gillian Tait,
also Author and Photographer of 111 Places in Edinburgh That You Shouldn't Miss