A tale of two cities
So much for the rivalry between Glasgow and Edinburgh: which city is the best place to live? The List delves behind the tourist-friendly images, to find out what we really love about our cities.
rying to hail a cab at 2am in Glasgow one Saturday night in 1999. we waited two hours by the side of the road. No cabs catne. l was visiting from London. and we‘d just been shown a
typical night in the city. getting blootered. We‘d toured some of
Glasgow's bars. each one friendlier and more intimate than you'd ever find in central London. yet now here we were. at four in the mominU. along with hundreds of other weary Glaswegians trying to make their way home. I was told it’s quite normal: a regular feature of every Saturday night in the city. The next moming. [As A checking out the clothes in Cruise. 1 saw an ordinary looking Weegie lad spend £500 on an Armani suit: then we took a taxi out to Possilpark to the site of an art project in a housing estate which involved creating a skateboard arena and basketball court. Graffiti on the surrounding walls said ‘Fuck the Polis‘. and you ordered food in the local shop through metal bars. We felt like we‘d seen a true cross-section of the city. not just a tourist‘s view. Some of what we saw was ' shocking and some of it was run down. but despite this.
in comparison with grey. clench-jawed London. I had a clear sense that Glasgow people T"; \ really like living there.
' Is the same true of Edinburgh? I faced this 1' a question last year. when moving north frotn London. My partner had just landed a job in Edinburgh: but some of our friends suggested we live in Glasgow and commute. 'You know about Glasgow‘s night life and the great art scene.‘ they said.
NEWCOMER, IT'S EASY TO SEE JUST HOW GREAT THESE CITIES
‘but it‘s also a proper European mercantile city: it’s I got the friendliest people: it’s got the eerily special river Clyde. And at least one decent ; T football team.‘
‘D‘oh!’ responded friends in Edinburgh. ‘Why live in Glasgow when you could live in one of the world's most beautiful cities? Why live on a motorway central reservation. when you could live somewhere with architecture. bridges and views like these‘.” What impressed me was not the rivalry between the cities. but people's passion for their own.
Now I‘m here. I realise the truth is more complex. There's a sense that if Glasgow and Edinburgh are great places to live. it‘s because people have battled for them to be so: and we could easily squander the successes of recent years. Friends here are often analytical and self- critical: off the record. they're as likely to tell you the things that annoy them about each city as they are to wax lyrical. As a newcomer. maybe it's easier to see just how great Glasgow and Edinburgh really are. So over the next eight pages we write an extended love letter to each city: we revisit the unnoticed and the forgotten highlights; the things you'd probably never read in a tourist guide: and even a few of the things we love to whinge about — because they speak volumes about what we‘d love to love.
Then. just for kicks and because it‘s Valentine's Day. we take a deep breath and decide which city we love most of all. (Nick Barley) b
5—15) Feb 2004 THE LIST 15