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Les Quinn

Mankie bill smoker


Twenty First century Glasgow has now joined the ranks of the most basic of European cities and embraced a café culture, borne out of a Labour government’s pledge to ban smoking in public spaces in the summer of 2006. Prior to this, if you wanted to sit outside on the short lived sunny days that the west of Scotland had to offer, you’d be laughed at by the established status quo, and if you ventured out of a pub with even a soft drink in your hand, you’d be reprimanded, and in all probability barred from the pub you happened to be drinking in.

The most taken for granted occurrence; that of sitting outside a bar, café, bistro, whilst the norm on the continent, was always alien to these weirdest of British shores. As a non smoker, I, and likewise the readership, are all too aware of the arguments for and against the dreaded weed and them what smoke it. I’m totally against a blanket ban, but hey; I’m against most state interference anyway, so me and the smokers amongst you may find something to rub shoulders with.

Glasgow has long been pregnant with an identity crisis; its unsure if it should be Scottish, (or heaven help us), an international city of European repute…Hmmm. Moronic Councillors in smoked filled City chamber ante room’s may argue otherwise; but there again they would- for when is an argument ever right; lest it’s a one way argument with no public scope for retaliation, and that’s exactly the arguments the folk who purport to run this city enjoy.

Does sitting outside a souped up café, or overpriced bar smoking your lungs out, with a pint of tennants fizz piss in your hands constitute a euro thinking city? I think nay. The smoking ban has brought the ill, sick, fat, ugly smokers out from their lairs and spewed them onto the city’s pavements; where low and bebloody hold, every comfort is laid on for them…in an otherwise grey cityscape, the providing of B’ n Q table and chair sets; awnings of Gay colours and patio heaters all serve to meet the needs of meestah bill smoker and his manky ilk.

Glasgow has some of the most stunning architecture to be found throughout Europe. It doesn’t, however have streets or vistas to compliment that architecture. Regardless how much public money is thrown into regenerative streetscapes, the streets and pavements are too damned narrow- the buildings can,( in some instances), be intimidating, but ( and this is where I really am scunnered)- there’s no damned tree lined streets or vistas, to provide a nice walkway through. Why IS This? I’m not even going to mention our red square and the removing of the trees that furnished it. No, again, back to most Euro cities , you find yourself delighted to be walking through tree lined streets. City centre Glasgow has NONE!

What do we have? We have bill smoker and his mankie ilk, all purple and blue neck veined, sitting on street corners; inhaling the fumes from the one hundred and fifty buses that pass him every hour, ( if you stretch your arms out in a yawn, you may just touch one of them buses)! And then there’s grey pallid methadone boy, gaily allowing his dog to pepper the city streets with temples of shit; - sending fear into passing tourists as litter wardens walk on by, in their quest to fine bill smoker and his mankie ilk for dropping fag butts!

As I try to traipse the city street, more and more space is being granted to these eat and drink out- of doors- delights, throwing the foot weary into ever decreasing walk space, making us an easy target for the legitimised beggars who have some can of good cause to rattle on to us about!

No apologies…get bill smoker and his mankie ilk back inside the pubs; keep them hidden. They blight the city further still, some even piss where they sit, such is the diuretic effect of the tennents fizz. It’s not really a case of damned if you do; damned if you don’t…as a non smoker I have to inhale both bus and cigarette pollution now, whilst sidestepping round the aforementioned methadone boy’s muttdawg offerings. THIS IS BAD SENSORY OVERLOAD!! This city really should come with a HEALTH WARNING

And guess what? On a recent trip visiting Glasgow, a Dutch friend was literally horrified when, after a few pleasing hours drinking outside, the umbrella, table and pavement banner were removed from around us as we drank, for given an archaic licensing law, this great European city of Glasgow will not let you drink outside after ten pm! Oh dear…oh dearie dear.

Given it was a Wednesday night and not much happening, we decided on a stroll around the city, counting how many building sites there were…we gave up after twenty eight, and that was in the scope of a thirty minute walk! My friend suggested we do as the French do- buy some wine, bread and sit in a local park…again it pained me to try and explain that given our international city of repute, such everyday European pleasantries are not tolerated in Glasgow…
Though we did see a lot of sporty types hanging around Glasgow green, bantering and exchanging indecipherable sounds with each other. They seemed to be drinking, albeit we decided it must be fruit juices of sorts…

If Glasgow is intent on selling itself as an internationally friendly place to visit, it must address the pollutants and eyesores that haunt it’s hallowed streets…it has to stop creating ghettos and soup kitchens in the city centre, where tourist rubs shoulders with reprobates…it must evict dog owners from the city, (why does anyone need a dog in an area full of one bedreem tenements with no gardens)…it must re assess it’s licensing policy, and only when this is addressed, can we turn to bill smoker and his mankie ilk and send them back indoors!