I’m a bit later at Waverley Station than I’d hoped. Missing the 9:30 train to Glasgow I’d planned to take. It doesn’t help that the nearest tram stop is quite a walk from the station.
But the next train is only 15 minutes later. Meaning I have time to buy two bacon baps. They’ll be my breakfast. On the train.
I forgot to buy a drink to accompany my salted grease. Luckily a chirpy young man comes around with a trolley and I can get myself a cup of tea to wash the food down.
This is a new train route for me. And, for the most part, a very attractive one, through verdant pastures bounded by craggy hills. It’s all very green. Then again, it is raining. And looks like it has been for the last couple of hundred years.
It’s a short hop on the subway from Queen Street Station to Kelvinhall, closest stop to the Scottish Brewing Archive. They seem to have poshed the subway stations up. Though there is still that strange smell down on the platforms.
The archive’s surroundings have changed quite a bit. The neighbouring flour mill has been replaced by student flats. Which probably explains all the young Chinese women on the streets on my way here.
I’ve requested 34 documents. Should keep me busy for most of the day. The nice young lady who is the archivist today already has the first batch ready. I’ve six hours to get through them all. Meaning I’ve got fewer than ten minutes per document. Plenty. I hope.
While I’m busy with my snapping marathon a few students trickle in and out. Mostly young women, who look at a few documents, photographing them on their phones and making notes. All in a leisurely way, unhurried way. I barely notice, busy as I am hacking rocks from the coal face.
At 13:30 I’m through everything they’ve brought up. “The next lot will be here around two.” The nice young lady says. I retreat to the lounge for a glass of water and a read of a history magazine. Then at two, I get out my pickaxe again.
I feel quite sorry for the archivist when TU/6/9/1 appears. It’s a loose-leaf brewing book that’s almost the same size as her. And is probably heavier. I can barely lift the thing.
As usual, I don’t waste much time studying the documents. Just photograph them and move on to the next. Some are notebooks where I need to snap every page. Others are brewing book where just a few sample pages will suffice.
I’m surprised when at 16:00 the nice young lady says: “That’s the last one.” But also happy, despite my aching back and blackened fingers. I’ve taken 1,476 photos in 5 hours. 4.5 hours if you allow for my break. Not bad going at all. Though it will take me months to process everything.
I’m meeting Robbie Pickering in the Three Judges ad 17:00. I get there pretty early – 16:15. I can barely get through the door. There some sort of do on. Is it a wake? Lots of people are wearing black. I wriggle my way to the bar and get myself a pint.
I eventually find a seat in a corner and read the paper and occasionally sip my beer. It’s very soothing.
Robbie turns up half an hour later. He comes over with two pints of Loch Lomond Stout, one for each of us. “You look like you need a beer.” He explains.
It’s a lovely beer, bible black and beautifully burnt. So nice, that I go to the bar and buy two more pints.
The landlady comes by and says we’re welcome to help ourselves to sandwiches from the buffet. Thee wake, or whatever it was, hasn’t got through all their food. I tuck in enthusiastically.
“Do you fancy a pint of Bass?” Robbie asks. “Oh, yes, please. Not had it for ages.”
I let him lead the way. He knows this part of Glasgow well. We’re headed to Tennent's. When I first spot the sign, I assume it’s the brewery name. It isn’t. It really is the name of the pub. Evidently it used to be run by someone called Tennent. And yes, he was related to the brewing family.
It’s pretty crowded in here, too. Robbie comes back with two lovely looking pints.
I take a large draught of my Bass. Where’s the farty smell? I wonder. It’s not a bad pint. Just doesn’t really taste like Bass.
“Do you want to try mine?” Robbie enquires. I’d assumed we both had Bass. Our pints look much the same, but his is Marstons Pedigree. They taste pretty different, mind. The Bass being much drier.
With no seat in sight, vertical drinking it is. The last thing I want, more standing. I’ve been on my feet most of the day. I’m not 18 any more. Nor 50, which I’d take, given the offer. I’m just thankful I can still stand unaided.
“What about a curry?” You don’t have to ask me that twice. Especially as eating a curry pretty much guarantees sitting down. We go to Ashoka, which is just around the corner.
They have some interesting cross-cultural items on the menu. Like Haggis Pakora. “It’s better than it sounds.” Robbie assures me. He’s right. Even if it is rather odd.
I order Pardesi Paneer and a nan. Both are pretty good, though the curry could have been hotter. I wish I’d known earlier about the curry. I wouldn’t have been so gungho with the sarnies.
After we’ve eaten, I head back to Queen Street Station on the subway. I don’t want to get back too late.
Entering the concourse, I swim against the stream of girls in miniskirts and makeup, in town for a big Friday night out. A cheering sight, youngsters in search of fun. All I’m looking for right now is the quickest route to my bed.
I leave the train at Haymarket. It’s closer to the airport than Waverley. And the tram stop is right next to the station.
I’m in bed by 22:00. Though tomorrow is a totally free day. Nothing to do, other than find a pub where I can watch Scotland play England without getting killed.
Buy my new Scottish book. It's why was in Scotland.
141 Dumbarton Road,
Partick, Glasgow G11 6PR.
191 Byres Rd,
Glasgow G12 8TN, UK
Ashoka Ashton Lane
19 Ashton Ln,
Glasgow G12 8SJ, UK
Artyfacts from the Nyneties #5: Sainsbury’s Bière de Garde, 1991 - The image above comes from the Sainsbury’s supermarket in-house magazine for November 1991 and is a great reminder that interesting beer didn’t arrive in...
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