Rip Van Winkle!

The story of Rip Van Winkle is set in the Catskill Mountains before the American Revolution. It was a “region full of fable”, holding many memories within its mounds. My town never sleeps and is always vibrant and exciting. Read on to find out more about what’s happening in Glasgow.

My story is set in Glasgow where many people have come and gone but, my friend, The Mary is omnipresent and, likewise, my love for her is boundless! That’s why, tonight, against my better judgement, I’ve ended up in the Calton District to check out Van Winkle.

This area has changed so much in the past 20 years and is evident in the statistics regarding life expectancy of the local inhabitants. 54 years is often quoted but, with the population increasing by 36% since 2001, the estimate is now 68 for men and 77 for women. The value of housing stock has also risen by 31%.

The Mary was born there and it’s where she lived when I met her and, like Rip Van Winkle in the Mountains of Native America, it’s a place filled with tales of battles, ghosts and spirits. Me and The Mary have had many a scary night in Glasgow. In fact, she reminded me of one, in this very place, when it was called Eastenders.

It was 1983 and normal to encounter the local ‘working girls’ having a wee night out. It was always great fun with James Hughes, the local ‘cabaret’ artist, providing great entertainment. However, on that occasion my sister knocked one of the ‘girls’ off her chair and when I went to apologise, on her behalf, the lassie took an instant loathing to me!

The ensuing fracas resulted in The Mary running round to the Traders Tavern for reinforcements to come and rescue us.  The Clark sisters arrived in about two minutes, like fabulously, happy and excited, raging warriors. The party was just getting started for them.

I remember sitting terrified in the escape car outside, waiting for my mum to come out, while one of the wild, working, lassies was banging on the bonnet shouting,

“I’m gonnae f***king bottle that wee, ugly, posh, snooty, Ginger c**t!”

I was mortally offended because I’d never thought of myself as a snob!

Like Rip Van Winkle, the Calton had been asleep for about 20 years but is now experiencing a renaissance and fast becoming a vibrant, cultural and important centre of creativity, regeneration and the arts.  

Van Winkle has a very cool vibe and the décor is cosily industrial which is not that easy to do. They have corrugated iron on the walls, crude, grainy wooden tables and old school chairs making it both regular and eclectic at the same time. They have truly revived and reclaimed the venue as their own with panache and gritty realism.

For starters we had Buttermilk Chicken Tenders with bourbon, buffalo, extra hot sauce and the Buffalo Wings. The Mary’s eyes nearly popped when she tried it.  I had naughtily said it wasn’t so hot but it was actually nearly as hot as a guy I’d been dating’s new squeeze. Even I fancy her, so I’m not hurt or offended at all…I’m not…not really…well maybe a wee bit!

We then had burgers and they were deliciously meaty with melted, dripping cheese which I licked off my arm with glee. Later that evening I found some which had trickled down my bra and I scooped it out relishing tender memories of the evening and the past few weeks of fun, rollicks and terrific scran.

Regarding my recent encounters of the casual kind I sent him a message saying,

“Well done you and thanks for the beautiful memories!”

And well-done Van Winkle if it isn’t broken don’t fix it.  Me and The Mary will be back but, in the meantime, keep doing what you’re doing especially the two coursers for £11!

Today there is so much choice in every aspect of life and maybe we should learn to have some loyalty. If you ever want to be truly happy then give things a chance. Like dating, when you find something amazing, try to build on it without constantly trawling for something glossier.

Businesses open and close in Glasgow every week, hearts are broken, illusions shattered and lives are wasting away along with reputation and hopefulness. Even if you don’t frequent a place or are not too keen on it still try recommending it and don’t ever decry someone else’s dream.

So, when you find out what makes your taste buds tingle have respect in the fact someone has taken the time to prepare, nurture and present it for your pleasure. If your tingle fades, it’s not their fault it’s something lacking in you!



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