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Glasgow’s Art Deco Heritage 20: Byres Road

There’s almost no Art Deco in Glasgow’s Byres Road.

There’s a new Nardini’s ocupying a street corner site – but that’s only within the last five years and is only a facade over the older building. I featured it here. (Compare with the Largs original.)

When I was there in October 2017 I did, though, spot the glass above these doors:-

Byres Road Deco

Glasgow’s Art Deco Heritage 19: Kilmarnock Road

The taller one to the right is a bit worse for wear now.

Art Deco Buildings, Kilmarnock Road, Glasgow

Upper tier. Strong horizontals and verticals. Rule of three in upper windows:-

Upper Tier, Art Deco Building, Kilmarnock Road, Glasgow

Building to left:-

Facade, Art Deco Building, Kilmarnock Road, Glasgow

Skirving Street, Glasgow

I mentioned in my posts about the Battlefield Monument, Langside, Glasgow, and Langside Hill Church that one of the good lady’s collateral ancestors was the architect Alexander Skirving.

A mile or so away from those there is a street named after him. Whether he designed any of the tenement buildings here I don’t know but I suppose it is possible.

Skirving Street, Glasgow, Sign

Looking back from midway along Skirving Street:-

Skirving Street, Glasgow

The street links Tantallon Road and Kilmarnock Road and crosses Deanston Drive so there are lots of Skirving Street signs:-

Second Skirving Street Sign, Glasgow

Third Skirving Street Sign, Glasgow

Fourth Skirving Street Sign, Glasgow

Looking towards Kilmarnock Road from Deanston Drive:-

Skirving Street

Fifth Skirving Street Sign, Glasgow

street sign

Looking back from Kilmarnock Road:-

Skirving Street, Glasgow

I wonder if Alexander Skirving could have conceived of a Chinese Restaurant being named after him:-

Chinese cuisine

Former Victoria Infirmary Building, Langside, Glasgow

The Victoria Infirmary was housed in an impressive building opposite the Queen’s Park in Langside.

Former Victoria Infirmary Building, Langside, Glasgow

Aspect facing onto Queen’s Park. The hoardings are because the building is undergoing partial demolition and redevelopment:-

Rear Aspect, Former Victoria Infirmary Building, Langside, Glasgow

Entrance facade, Former Victoria Infirmary Building:-

Facade, Former Victoria Infirmary Building, Langside, Glasgow

This picture, where the infirmary makes up the background, is from the Infirmary’s Wikipedia page.

Former Victoria Infirmary, Glasgow

Glasgow’s Art Deco Heritage 18: Langside

Not even a stone’s throw from the Battlefield Monument but just about that from Langside Hill Church lies this brick-built Art Deco building. I don’t know what it was when it was built but it’s now a supermarket.

There are many Deco hallmarks: horizontals, verticals, glass bricks, rule of three, canopy. I was delighted to see it and have the chance to photograph it:-

Art Deco, Langside

A different angle reveals the building is a Tesco Express. There’s even a curved wall this side:-

Art Deco Tesco Shop, Langside, Glasgow

Curved wall close-up:-

Curved Wall Deco Feature, Langside, Glasgow

Door surround:-

Deco Door Surround, Langside, Glasgow

Former Langside Hill Church

This former church lies very near to the Battlefield Monument, which I featured a few posts ago, and was designed by the same architect, Alexander Skirving, a collateral ancestor of the good lady. Many buildings in surrounding streets were also designed by him.

The church is now a restaurant, not Bar Buddha as in the link but the Church on the Hill.

Former Langside Hill Church

Church on the Hill, Langside

Langside Hill Church from west:-

Langside Hill Church from west.

From northeast:-

Langside Hill Church from northeast

Battlefield Monument, Langside, Glasgow

The monument, now in the middle of a roundabout, was designed by one of the good lady’s collateral ancestors, Alexander Skirving, and commemorates the Battle of Langside, site of the last defeat in Scotland of Mary Queen of Scots, and is somewhat at odds with its modern surroundings.

From east:-

Battlefield Monument from East

From south:-

Battlefield Monument from South

From west:-

Battlefield Monument From West

Battlefield Monument plaque:-

Battlefield Monument Plaque

Planter at monument’s foot:-

Battlefield Monument Planter

The Distant Echo by Val McDermid

Harper, 2010, 569 p. First published in 2003.

 The Distant Echo cover

I probably wouldn’t have read this – I wasn’t particularly taken by the author’s The Wire in the Blood – but the good lady had just finished it and mentioned it was set partly in my old stamping ground of Kirkcaldy and partly in St Andrews (which I know well.) So I thought I’d give it a go. The locations in the book aren’t restricted to Fife, it does stray to Edinburgh, Stirling, Glasgow, and even Seattle but the main events take place in what the locals like to call “the Kingdom.”

The prologue lets us know of a Fife Police press announcement of a cold case review and a shadowy figure haunting a cemetery before Part One plunges us into the 1978 discovery of the dying body of Rosie Duff by four students at St Andrews University (schoolfriends calling themselves the Lads Fi’ Kirkcaldy) taking a short cut back to their flat after a party. One of them is a medical student and tries to save her life but fails. As discoverers of the body and covered in blood they naturally become suspects. The investigation cannot summon up evidence even to charge them and the case is unresolved but they are still subjected to suspicion, threats and violence – especially by the dead girl’s brothers. McDermid makes a lot of this finger of suspicion and the effect it has on the four and their relationship(s). Part Two sees the resurrection of the case and its reintrusion into the four’s lives. But in the intervening twenty-five years the main evidence from the victim’s clothing has been lost and there seems little hope of progress. But the review has stirred the old suspicions and someone has the four firmly in the frame.

McDermid’s prose is certainly efficient but rarely rises above the workmanlike. The book’s structure, too, made it slightly odd. Part One was more or less scene setting, involved a lot of information dumping and therefore dragged somewhat. McDermid makes passing reference to the fascistic fringe and government encroachments on citizens’ rights in the late 1970s. (That sort of thing has become even worse of late with intolerance having been adopted into the political mainstream and governments eager to seize any excuse to restrict citizen’s rights.)

I would have said that it was cleverly executed except that the resolution was disappointing. It has more holes in it than Stoke City’s defence and depends too much on the prior withholding of information from the reader. In the last (tie-up) chapter it is revealed that one of the four Lads had a piece of information that would potentially have pointed to the murderer but never told the other three – nor the Police – during all those twenty-five years of suspicion. We can only suppose this was to create an artificial sense of suspense and it kind of obviates the point of the book (no matter what reason he might have had for his reticence.) Moreover the murderer seems to have been able to carry the body up a hill to where the Lads stumbled upon it without seemingly getting any blood on himself, even though the victim had a gaping wound.

McDermid has a wide readership. I assume they don’t like taxing their brains overmuch.

Pedant’s corner:- the main drag (St Andrews has a main drag?) Roger Waters’ (Waters’s. And I know he wrote Shine On You Crazy Diamond but did he sing on it? Wasn’t that David Gilmour?) “[Kirkcaldy’s] Town House looked like one of those less alluring products of Soviet architecture” (is more than a bit harsh. It’s a fine buiding.) Raith Rovers’ (Raith Rovers’s,) Brahms’ (Brahms’s,) “had strode” (stridden,) “‘Gonnae no dae that’” (is referred to as if it were a catchphrase from the early to mid 1970s. It wasn’t. Chewin’ the Fat, where it originated, was first aired in 1999.) “‘We lay low’” (we lie low – but it was in dialogue and the character had lived in the US for years and they can’t seem to get the lay/lie thing correct over there,) Soanes’ (Soanes’s.) “The sky was clear, a gibbous moon hanging low in the sky between the bridges.” (sky….sky,.) Sainsburys (Sainsbury’s.) Plus several instances of “time interval later”.

Garnethill by Denise Mina

Orion, 2014, 427 p.

One of the 100 best Scottish Books. One of Scotland’s favourite books.

 Garnethill cover

Maureen O’Donnell is an abuse survivor in a relationship with a psychiatrist at the same hospital where she is receiving treatment for her continuing trauma. After a night out with a friend she tumbles straight into bed and wakes up in the morning to find her (married) boyfriend tied up in her living room with his throat slit. The police, the man’s wife and politician mother all believe Maureen, or her drug dealing brother, did it. In an attempt to make sure her name is cleared Maureen begins to investigate the crime herself.

The proximal subject matter, sexual abuse in institutions, is an important issue but I am astonished that this book could appear on anyone’s list of best or favourites as Mina’s writing leaves a lot to be desired. There is a profusion of telling not showing plus acres of unconvincing dialogue. Chapter titles tend to be people’s names but quite often those people barely appear within them. Every time there is a police interview we are told about the tape recording protocol. It is as if Mina believes the reader must be shown every little detail of her hero’s experience. We really don’t. In what must surely be a breach of police good practice one of the investigating officers conveniently gives her privileged information.

The novel is set in Glasgow but the city itself seems absent. None of its vibrancy or character comes across. Also there are constant references to the Byres Road, the Great Western Road, the Maryhill Road. No Glaswegian I have met has ever mentioned a street by name and used the definite article. It’s always just Byres Road, Great Western Road, Maryhill Road. No “the”.

Yes, the purpose of this sort of thing is the unfolding of the plot and the unravelling of “whodunit” and in this respect it just about meets the need. Yet even here there was a hiccup. Quite near the novel’s end Maureen is told the name of the murderer by one of her interviewees but Mina does not let the reader know it at that point. I don’t read much crime fiction but I would submit such an attempt to prolong suspense artificially is unfair on the reader. (That the murderer’s identity could be worked out fairly easily vitiated that attempt in any case.)

The more the book progressed the harder my suspension of disbelief became. Towards the end I wasn’t believing any of it.

Moreover the book is riddled with punctuation errors (see Pedant’s corner.) The edition I read was a reprint; the latest of numerous editions. (Goodreads lists well over ten.) How can these errors not have been spotted and rooted out long before this? Does no-one care about quality control? Some might say these are niggling concerns but when they stop a reader in his/her tracks and force a line, sentence or paragraph to be re-read to decipher the sense it becomes non-trivial.

This one is for die-hard crime fans only.

Pedant’s corner:- cagoul (cagoule,) no start quote mark for a piece of dialogue (x 9,) a missing full stop (x 7,) for badness’ sake (badness’s, x 2,) butt naked (I believe the phrase is buck naked,) a missing comma before a speech quote (x 3,) snuck (please use sneaked instead of snuck,) smokey (smoky,) “really don’t want to tell you” (I really don’t want to tell you,) “for implicately slagging her mammy” (implicitly,) the team are known (is known,) teathings (tea things,) Germoline (Germolene.)

Willow Tea Rooms, Buchanan Street, Glasgow

I thought I’d posted this photo (taken in December 2014) of the exterior of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed Willow Tea Rooms in Buchanan Street, Glasgow, but searching the blog gave no results so perhaps I didn’t.

Willow tea rooms

The tea rooms were I believe defunct for a while but have been refurbished. In April this year the good lady and I partook of the facilities within. Lovely lunch, reasonably priced.

Rennie Mackintosh style chairs:-

Willow Tea Rooms Interior 1

A banquette:-

Willow Tea Rooms 2

Interior panelling. Typical Mackintosh motifs:-

Willow Tea Rooms 3

More panelling:-

Willow Tea Rooms 4

Window blind. Signature Mackintosh lettering:-

Willow Tea Rooms 5

Table accoutrements (sadly not quite in focus):-

Willow Tea Rooms 6

Lampshade:-

Willow Tea Rooms 7

Blue and purple lampshades (again sadly not focused):-

Willow Tea Rooms 8

There are two tearooms inside. This is on the stair up to the Chinese Room:-

Willow Tea Rooms 9

The Chinese Room itself. Note the chairbacks:-

Willow Tea Rooms 10

Lower stairwell. Again thoroughly Mackintosh lampshades and banisters:-

Willow Tea Rooms 11

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