Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Planet Glasgow

You would think that, having grown up in Cape Town - a developed city (although not without its social issues) - Glasgow would be an easier transition than Lusaka. But that really hasn't been the case. It all looks vaguely 'right'. The roads are generally well surfaced and the shops are well stocked (not to be taken for granted after Zambia) but there seems to be a social code that I don't quite understand. Glaswegians are friendly right enough. And the sense of humour is fantastic (Billy Connolly is only unique in that he is famous!). But people don't just drop by. And families don't mingle with other families on the weekend. And the children all know how to play indoors...

Then there's the languge barrier. Catherine Tate did a great skit with David Tennant for Comic Relief where she questioned his authority as an English teacher given that he 'spoke Scottish'. Now there's nothing wrong with Mr Tennant's Scottish. His is of the genteel, clear, don't-we-all-wish-Dr-Who-was-Scottish type of Scottish. But there is another type that comes at you like rapid fire and leaves you taking cover as you wonder whether your mother has just been insulted or whether you're simply in the wrong queue. At these moments I am certain the tardis has landed on Planet Glasgow.

But the thing I find the most unsettling is that people don't say what they mean. There's a niceness that flies in the face of honesty. People seem to avoid confrontation with zeal! But they'll complain vigorously amongst themselves. So I never quite know where I stand. Are people really being nice to me or are they just afraid I'll fight back if they tell me I'm breaking the social laws. I suspect this may have something to do with the soft focus pocket of southside Glasgow where we live. If the newspapers are anything to go by, brutal honesty can be found elsewhere in this city.

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