In The Guardian last weekend, Ian Jack wrote of a trip he made for The Sunday Times to Glasgow in 1980, with a brief to “concentrate on its fine architectural legacy and the lifestyle of its middle class”. He went with the Magnum photographer Raymond Depardon, who was much more taken with the Glasgow Jack was trying to avoid: “the drunk, the waif, the grim line of tenements awaiting demolition”. Jack eventually gave in and took him to the Saracen’s Head, where “men with those thin white lines on their cheeks – evidence of a razor slashing – sat drinking and looking ominous”.
The story reminded me of a passage from Laidlaw, the first of a trilogy of detective novels from William McIlvanney, a writer who can build the streets of Glasgow in a few paragraphs (see my earlier post). McIlvanney calls his pub The Gay Laddie.