Jessie Lawson moved to Glasgow from London four years ago - here, she offers some insider tips for anyone else looking to resettle in the dear green place
The first thing I learnt when I moved to Glasgow from London was the phrase ‘Don’t be such a Jessie’. This wasn’t the ideal start I’d hoped for in my new life, as my name turned out to mean wuss, or chicken. Despite having to come to terms with this massive joke at my expense (and sometimes having to fight to convince people that, yes, I am actually called Jessie), moving to Glasgow was the best decision I’ve ever made. If you’ve just arrived to the Dear Green Place, here are some things that may come in handy:
1. Water is actually delicious
Photo: Sylvain L
It may seem trivial, but I’d say this realisation has greatly improved on my quality of life. I didn’t even know that water had a taste until I left London, and oh how mistaken I was. Water here is incredibly soft, which makes for the most delicious drink you could ever wish for. Also your kettle will never fill up with lime scale. Seriously, you will not be able to get enough of it.
2. Don’t casually walk around wearing green and white stripes
Photo: Eamon Curry
A few years ago, I found a cool green and white striped woolly hat in a vintage shop, and happily strolled out of the shop wearing it, proud of my new look. Unfortunately, green and white stripes here don’t scream ‘kooky-but-cool-hat girl’; they act as a signifier that you’re a Celtic fan. Celtic and Rangers are Glasgow’s two major football teams, and, despite Rangers’ fall from grace in recent years, aligning yourself with one of the two teams is still a statement too controversial to make if you don’t actually support either of them. I mean, Celtic fans were incredibly friendly to me, but going into a Rangers pub wearing that hat was not one of my finest life decisions...
3. You don’t need to get out to the countryside, because it’s in Glasgow
Photo: Robert Brown
Glasgow is incredibly green. Within the city itself, there are endless beautiful parks such as the Kelvingrove and the Botanics, as well as Pollok Country Park that comes complete with Highland cows. Then you’ve got the beautiful walkway along the river Kelvin, where you can sit in the overgrown ruins of the old flint mill and feel 100 miles from the city. If that’s still not enough, Loch Lomond is a 20-minute train ride, or 3-hour cycle away. It also has its own song. What more could you ask for?
4. Back up your booze
Glasgow has a 10pm curfew on alcohol, meaning that nights out need to be planned in advance. If you’re the kind of person that will drink whatever you have, then maybe buying three bottles of vodka ‘just in case’ isn’t for you, but if you can manage to beat the temptation, having extra booze on site is always a good idea.
5. On a similar note, clubs close at 3am
Photo: Dasha Miller
To be honest, as a girl who will drunk-dial her granny after one glass of wine, by 3am I’m usually tucked up in bed (aka asleep on the toilet in the club) anyway, so this is pretty ideal for me. If you’re a party animal, though, don’t fret - clubs closing at 3 actually means that there are more underground raves and flat parties after hours than in other cities. You’ll still find a way to boogie till the sun comes up.
6. You can grab a vegan burger for lunch, and a pizza supper for dinner
If you’re looking for a quick way to block up those arteries this side of the Atlantic, Scotland comes second only to America in its love for the deep fryer. Deep fried mars bars and the infamous munchy box (above) are widely available, though my personal favourite has to be the pizza supper: a portion of chips put on top of a pizza, which is then folded into a calzone and deep fried. Oooh baby. When the risk of a heart attack suddenly becomes a bit too real though, be assured, Glasgow’s got that covered too. It has the most vegan restaurants per person in the UK, most of which are incredibly cheap, healthy and very delicious.
7. When the sun’s out, you’ll know about it
Photo: Charles Clegg
Yes, it’s true, it rains all the time here. This means, though, that as soon as the sun comes out, no matter if it’s still barely above freezing point, everyone defiantly walks around topless and wearing shorts. This is such a popular tradition in Glasgow that they’ve coined a phrase for it: TAPS AFF. There’s nothing better than walking through the park on a blustery afternoon in February and seeing every inch of grass covered with topless people toting disposable barbecues and beach balls.
8. You can drink a holy pint
In Glasgow, you would be hard pressed to find a place where you can’t see at least one spire in the distance – there are a bunch of churches here. These are likely to deceive you, though, because quite often you’ll walk in to find a bar, instead of a line of pews. The 1970s saw the decommissioning of a lot of churches in Glasgow, many of which became pubs and theatres, and even lecture halls. I have to say it does feel good to drink a malt of the month in the house of God.
9. One of your favourite places will be a graveyard
Photo: Amateur Photography by Michel
The Glasgow Necropolis in Dennistoun (featured in Bonnie Prince Billy’s ‘I See a Darkness’ video) is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. To be buried in this Victorian graveyard, you had to be either rich or famous, generally both, and your grave was made to reflect your grand existence. Not only is the graveyard itself stunning, but it is alsoon one of the highest hills in Glasgow, meaning it is has one of the best views of the whole of the city. Tip: sneak in on fireworks night and watch the whole skyline light up.
10. You will never live in a more beautiful flat
Photo: Paul Robertson
I live in a three person flat with TWO toilets, in a room bigger than my mum’s living room, with ceilings so high I could comfortably install two mezzanines and massive, beautiful windows. Every time I come home I feel like a princess returning to her palace. If my flat was in London, it would cost at least three times as much as it does here, it’s glorious. That being said, beauty always comes at a price – my flat is so cold that in the winter I have to sleep with at least three jumpers on, but I’d say it was still worth it...
11. Buckfast is the one
Photo: Xabier Cid
Buckfast, brewed by the Benedictine monks of Buckfast Abbey (I’m not joking) is a 15% tonic wine with about as much caffeine in it as 10 cans of Red Bull. This sweet, sweet nectar will get you absolutely smashed, and keep you going forever. (And leave you waking up in the morning with a cold sweat and a heart beating so fast it’s as if you’ve just run a marathon whilst on two grams of cocaine, but trust me: it is so much fun.) It’s also often treated here with the same kind of stigma as White Ace is in London, so if you bring it to the party, be prepared for people to take the piss.
12. It’s normal to talk to people on the street
Photo: Graham Campbell
As the Commonwealth games slogan went, People Make Glasgow. This may be incredibly cheesy, but it really is true - people are lovely here. I once got lost in London and when I asked a passer-by for directions, he acted as if I was trying to mug him. Here, people are more likely to walk with you to where you need to go, and then invite you back to theirs for tea later.
Jessie Lawson is currently Glasgow-based and works for Wastepaper Magazine.