January 26


Urban Warfare: Glasgow

Copylab is based in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London. But which is best? I know what you’re thinking: FIIIIIIIIIIGHT! Throwing the first punch in this blog battle, from Glasgow’s corner, is Carmen Reid:

Crime writer Ian Rankin once claimed that he’d never seen a Rolls Royce in Edinburgh because the city was so very discreet and so ‘old money.’ Salmon-pink corduroy trousers, maybe, but a flash car or diamond-studded watch, never.

In good time Glasvegas, you can forget about discreet: good taste is out and bling is in. The cars of choice are Porsche Cayenne, Range Rover Evoque, or how about a Bentley Continental? Preferably with plates that scream R1CH.

Back at the beginning of the industrial era, Glasgow got very rich, very quick. It boomed throughout the 1800s with hordes of self-made merchant millionaires trading sugar, tobacco, cotton and slaves, then lashing their loads of money on brand-new wedding-cake buildings made of columns, stuccoed plaster, marble, gilding and bling.


All the way from Helensburgh to Clydebank, there are vast sandstone mansions on the waterfront, built so that those past masters of their universe could literally watch their ships come in. Head down the mighty Great Western Road and every four- and five-storeyed townhouse is bigger and bling-ier than the last.

But alas, the bubble had to burst. In the 1870s, a global depression, coupled with a series of disastrous banking crashes (sound familiar?) brought the Glasgow party to an abrupt halt. Booms and busts have been the defining feature of the Glasgow economy ever since, making their mark on the long-suffering and yet perpetually cheerful population.

Glaswegians are more friendly, more enterprising and certainly more talkative than the reserved residents of Edinburgh. They wear their hearts on their sleeves, they’ll tell you if you’re being an arrrrrse. They are undyingly loyal to family, old friends, their area, their football teams and schools. It’s no surprise that the city has attracted a large Italian population who feel right at home… despite the endless rain.

Rain town

When Glaswegians are in the money, they spend: on cars; brand new houses; designer clothes; big jewels; chandeliers; plastic surgery and glitz. Why have an antique feature when you can have a boob job or a state-of-the-art jacuzzi? They love Christmas and shopping and birthdays and giving mega gifts.

And if you’re not in the money, the rule in Glasgow is Fake It Till You Make It. From Thursday night onwards, there’s always a party to go to somewhere. Dress code: fake tan, fake nails, fake hair and as much glitter, sequins and heels as you can handle.

Go out in Glasgow and there’s always someone, somewhere buying a bottle of champagne with a crumpled, hard-earned £50 note. Party on!

Carmen Reid

26 January 2015