In praise of Partick

27 Jun


Whilst searching this morning for the traditional Saturday breakfast (the Jumbo Cornish Pasty), one couldn’t help but notice that the streets were alive with a certain buzz. The kids I walked by were full of schools-out cheer, the dogs seemed randier than usual and the lamp-posts certainly weren’t complaining. In Mansfield Park, recently redeveloped from being a concrete football pitch into a landscaped square with basketball court, a marquee had been erected with a bunch of people playing the bongo drums, and a rather jolly looking man with a megaphone shouting the wonderfully odd slogan “There are no donkeys any more, swine flu”.

But what was the cause? Whilst the weather is usually a factor in public joy, today is nothing special. Quite warm, but overcast and quite humid. Muggy, or clammy if you will. Sports results often bring communities together, but with the football season being out, Wimbledon being unremarkable and the people of Partick being ambivalent to cricket (despite having a massive ground), I’m willing to discount sport for those very reasons. No, the reason the denizens of Partick were happy today was because… they always are. That’s right, Partick is happy central. Come rain or shine, win or lose, Deal or No Deal, the people of G11 are a curiously upbeat bunch. Even the junkies who are found dead in their stairwells, dead through drugs, die with a happy smile on their face, happy that they were THERE. And, presumably, smacked up on cannabaloids. What makes the people of Partick so happy? I’ll tell you why!

1) The Partick Pie

Coming back from Morrison’s where I found the Jumbo Cornish Pasty (I got two for £1.50) I bumped into Gregor, former banking colleague and former manager of the Whistler’s Mother public house, who enquired as to where I had procured the pastry dishes. “Morrison’s” said I, “two for one pou…” “Should have gone to the Pantry, son” jumped in Gregor, before disappearing like a flipping magician. And he’s right – only reason I had gone to Morrison’s is because Greggs had a queue and are rubbish.
The Pantry, for those who are unfamiliar, are a bakery at the southern end of Byres Road, and purveyors of the Partick Pie, possibly the best thing known to mankind. From the outside, it looks like any other scotch pie, with the flimsy casing and the hole in the top. However, peer through that hole and possibly take a bite, and enter another world of culinary delight. Prime steak, but remarkably soft on the teeth, almost as if the baker had chewed it prior to cooking it, and a gravy so divine it must have been created by a mad bovine scientist. And they’re cheap, a Partick plus if ever there was one. Indeed, the only way these things could be more genius would be if Heston Blumental were to make one out of ice cream and rice paper.

2) The Cricket Ground

OK, so I mentioned that the denizens of Partick are hardly cricket crazy, but yet they have a massive cricket ground. Makes little sense, but then there is one fact about said ground that anyone in Partick worth their salt knows, that the worlds first international football match was played there, on the 30th of November 1872 between Scotland and England. Yes Sir, Partick has football history! It’s only fair that I mention in passing the local team, Partick Thistle, who no-one in Partick supports.

3) The Farmers Market

Ok, not really in Partick anymore – because they redeveloped the old Mansfield Park, and gave it nice things like artificial mounds and, umm, grass, but luckily only a couple of blocks away up at Dowanhill Primary School. A great little place to go of a every-other-Saturday, with stallholders from all over Scotland providing everything from Ostrich burgers to wild Scotch Raspberries to some rather nice beer indeed. Only problem with it is the Green Party’s answer to Mr Shouty, who lambasts anyone who walks by without signing his clipboard. Actually, in fairness to the Greens, I can’t be sure if he is anything to do with them but someone told me once that’s who he was with – apologies if necessary. That said, I did see him chase a man round the park once for buying veal. And I did see him chase a man round the park once for selling veal. Happy days.

4) Stewartville St

I have no idea what goes on in Stewartville St. There is a building called the Annexe, which I presume is some kind of youth club. I hope it is. Every time I walk past, I can’t help but imagine what japes they get up to. It’s what can only be described as a Scottish version of Byker Grove happening in my head. Ha ha, McNoddy man, gerroff us like. Otherwise, it’s a fairly ordinary street. That, and the name reminds me of Sackville St in Manchester, made famous by the Inspiral Carpets as being a known red-light district. No prozzies in Partick, fact. Plenty of freebies mind. Partick 1 Manchester 0. McPJ mon, I cannae see!

5) Escape Routes

Welcome to Partick – nobody ever leaves (to borrow a phrase off the League of Gentlemen). WRONG. In fact, it’s well easy to leave Partick if you want to, because we have amongst other things, a subway/railway station which has at peak times a train every 4 minutes on both subway lines AND east/west on the national rail. Busiest non-terminus in Scotland, I’m reliably informed by those mad sorcerers at Wikipedia. Plus there are buses every few minutes, taxis, and I’m fairly sure I saw one of those rickshaw guys the other week on Dumbarton Road, but it was a sunny day and my eyes were bleeding, so it may have just been a cyclist towing a car. Speaking of buses, the driver on the 7.45 number 9 to Paisley is a genius, as he doesn’t like people who mumble. Should you ever have the opportunity, I recommend putting a handful of change into the on-board fare bucket, saying the name of a non-existent destination under your breath, stand back and watch the fireworks.

Of course, this is just one mans opinion, and opinions are ever shifting. Since I’ve started to write this, ooh, about an hour ago, whilst flicking between various news channels to find out the latest on Michael Jackson (still dead seems to be the general consensus), I can’t help but notice that the buzz on the street has quietened down a bit. Looking out the window, there appears to be an argument in progress over the road, something to do with the shopping bags. We even had the landlady come round to moan about a bike which isn’t ours that’s chained to a lamp post that isn’t hers. Maybe not everyone in Partick is happy after all, but it doesn’t stop it being a lovely place to live. Till next time!


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