Across Continents

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Thelma and ….. Billy

I’ve great admiration for Scotland and its people.  A recognisable nation state with a very distinct feel to it.  Or put it another way, you know you’ve entered what used to be a separate country in its own right.  You can name Kings and Queens of just Scotland, or at least I could this morning if the chap in the next room hadn’t snored so loudly.  But you get the picture.

I also like Glasgow.  A lot.  But I suspect even its residents would grudingly admit that the district of Scotstown (pronouned ‘Scotstun’ I understand) won’t be appearing in any tourist brochures anytime soon.  It does, however, feature on National Cycle Network Route 7 from Glasgow to the southern shores of Loch Lomond.  You’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d be best avoiding the place.  True, the local shipyards are unlikely to win any awards for industrial archaelogy, but in even the most deprived of areas you often find something heartening.  And I don’t just mean no discarded syringes on the cycle path.  Which makes a change from Merthyr Tydvil a few years back.

Back to Scotstown.  Thelma and her daughter Billy own and run the ‘Golden Grill’ burger van, a short walk along from what used to be Yarrows shipyard.  They tow away their concession before dusk each evening, and that’s probably not to avoid the midges.  What I liked was the friendly welcome and dry humour – the polystyrene cup on the counter marked ‘Thelma’s divorce fund.  House leaks.  No TV’, or, for example, the story behind the ‘Empire’ biscuits by the tea urn.  Turns out the latter were known as ‘German’ biscuits until sales began to drop off in autumn 1939….  Her son, Thelma told me,  was away training, getting ready to raise funds for a local hospital charity by cycling from Glasgow to the Isle of Skye.  I made a small donation to the divorce fund and then continued my journey towards Loch Lomond Youth Hostel.

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