For me London and Glasgow are two of the best cities in Europe, so I’m always up for an excuse to visit Red Clydeside. My reason for heading north last weekend was to do a performance at Transmission Gallery on Saturday 10 December. The train I took was about five minutes from the Central Station when Katrina Palmer – who’d organised the event – called me to say she was close by and would meet me when I got in. Her plan was to walk me straight to Transmission so that we could go through what we were doing that night. I made her detour via Turquoise – AKA “Scotland’s Turkish Kebab House” – where I got a carry out falafel. From Oswald Street we headed down to the Clyde and ambled along the river to the gallery because the city centre was heaving with Solstice shoppers.
It took less than 15 minutes to sort out what we were doing. Katrina wanted each performance to take place in a different area of the gallery and I was happy with that. I then headed across the Clyde to the Premier Inn on Ballater Street, a walk of about 10 minutes. Once I was settled in my room I ate my falafel. I was seriously hungry having skipped lunch because it was too expensive to buy on the train; meaning I hadn’t eaten for more than eight hours. After my grub I ran through what I was doing in the gallery, took a shower, and then read until about 6.45pm.
I returned to Transmission shortly before 7pm and chatted to Keith Miller and a few other people before the live action. Katrina kicked things off with a short reading. Immediately afterwards, Jefford Horrigan did a kind of waltz with a table – turning it on its side and treating two of the arms as legs – with improvised sax provided by René Salemi. With a duration of around 4 minutes, it was even shorter than Katrina’s spoken word act. I went on straight after Jefford and began by doing a headstand and reciting from my recent book Blood Rites of the Bourgeoisie. After that I shredded a copy of my novel Down & Out In Shoreditch & Hoxton – while simultaneously explaining that in transforming the tome into confetti, I was creating a work of art and thus greatly increasing the value of the book I was ‘destroying’. I finished by reciting from memory a lengthy passage from my novel Defiant Pose.
After these performances people stood around socialising and eventually most of us moved on to Mono for drinks. At 10.30pm I told Katrina I was hungry and I was going to get something to eat. She wanted nosh as well, as did René and Jefford. The Transmission crowd were more interested in drinking, so we left them in Mono (which stops serving food at 9pm). We went into an Italian restaurant only to be told they’d closed. The same thing happened in the first Indian we came across. We ended up in The Dhabba at 44 Candleriggs. My Palak Paneer (cheese cubes and spinach) was excellent – and Katrina’s Pilee Dal Tadka (yellow lentils), which I also tried, was really good too! As we ate, we talked about artists who do and don’t use the internet, and much else besides. I’m a real fan of the Banana Leaf in the west end of Glasgow – which does fantastic south Indian food – but the northern Indian cooking at The Dhabba made a nice change. Leaving the restaurant around midnight, I made my way back to the Premier Inn with Jefford and René. Katrina was staying at a different hotel, so she headed west down Argyle Street. Back at the Premier Inn I stayed up for a couple of hours to watch the TV news and read.
On Sunday morning I took a shower, made myself some tea and sat in bed reading. Breakfast in the hotel cost £7.99 so I decided to skip it. I checked out at 10am and headed into town so that I could drift through some of Glasgow’s many discount stores. I tried The Poundland on Trongate first, where I bought myself a sandwich which I ate outside the shop. They had one egg and cress special that was reduced by half to 50p – but it should have been removed from the shelf because it was past it’s sell-by-date. I wasn’t gonna take a risk on out-of-date eggs, so I parted with a round pound for my repast. Next I visited The Pound Shop, Pound City and Sports Direct. I got some Lonsdale shorts in Sports Direct and the girl at the till seemed surprised I wasn’t buying anything else – whereas I felt like I was really splashing the cash by paying a fiver for this piece of kit (with a special TV advertised bargain discount of around 70%). I then filled in more time by going to a remainder bookshop on the first floor of the complex above the Argyle Street underground station. The two and three quid books were mostly Scottish themed – and they even had discounted titles by writers such as Lorna Moon, whose work I rarely clock in London.
I kept moving west and where Woolworths used to be on the corner of Argyle and Jamaica Streets, there was a Poundland that I hadn’t seen before. Unlike the old Woolworths, Poundland weren’t using the first floor for their retail operation – but even on ground level alone it is a large shop space. Ignoring the many household items you might pick up at Poundland, I noticed they had a lot of HarperCollins (owned by Murdoch’s News Corp) titles in their book section. However, they’re not adverse to remaindering tomes critical of the Murdoch empire either, since copies of Peter Burden’s News of the World?: Fake Sheikhs and Royal Trappings were also on display. While I wouldn’t consider the Murdoch trash worth a pound of my money, I might have parted with a quid for the Burden book had I not already read it. Aside from showing up Mazher Mahmood (the so called Fake Sheikh) as a complete scumbag, Burden also explains how that wanker Neville Thurlbeck (a man at the very heart of the phone hacking scandal) acquired the nickname Onan The Barbarian – you can find this both in the book and on Burden’s website:
Thurlbeck is the hard-nosed hack who usually handles the dirtier celebrity shag’n’brag stories for the News of the World. A sting went badly wrong for him a few years ago. He’d set out to expose a naturists’ boarding house whose owners allegedly offered ‘extra’ sexual services to guests. Having made his investigations, Thurlbeck carelessly forgot to ‘make his excuses and leave’ (in the time-honoured News of the World manner). Instead, no doubt to his eternal regret, he made his excuses and came. He was caught on film begging the couple to have sex while he stood at the foot of their bed, exposed what, in its primmer days, the News of the World would have called his ‘manhood’ and indulged in an unmistakable act of onanism. Since the film was posted on the internet to the delight of his fascinated colleagues, it was inevitable that sooner or later the moniker ‘Onan the Barbarian’, bestowed on him by an uncharitable ex-colleague, would stick.
Obviously the Burden book is a few years old, so it has nothing about the closure of The News of the World in the wake of the ongoing phone hacking scandal. Still it’s an entertaining read – which is more than can be said for most of the trash published by various Murdoch presses.
Aside from books, I always find Poundland’s DVD selection curious. In the old days they often had a lot of £1 DVDs put out by the Manchester company 23rd Century – who among other things reissued a lot of public domain Italian horror classics of the 1970s and 1980s. The picture quality on these digital cheapies usually wasn’t great – but it was still good to see top of the range Eurosleaze reaching a vast new audience via pound shops. On this particular Poundland visit I noticed a bunch of DVDs released by GrabIt under the series title The International Martial Arts Collection. They had Bruce Li in Fist of Fury II and Return of the Tiger, Bolo Yeung in Bloodfight, Dragon Lee in Golden Dragon, Silver Snake (with Johnnie Chan) and The Dragon, The Hero (with John Liu), Chino in Five Fingers of Steel, Billy Blanks in Expect No Mercy and Showdown, and Mark Dacascos in Sanctuary. Some of these titles have long been popular with public domain budget repackagers – but it’s curious to see them turning up again as £1 disk reissues at a time when downloads and streaming are increasingly popular.
Crossing the top of Jamaica Street and staying on Argyle, a couple of doors along from the big Poundland there was a new shop called Thats Entertainment flogging cheap DVDs, CDs and games. The retail unit it occupied once housed the Glasgow branch of Tower Records, and more recently had operated as an outlet for the now defunct Music Zone chain. I got the feeling that there was some sort of morphic resonance going on, but since I had a train to catch I headed into Glasgow Central Station rather than pursing my psychogeographical investigations! Tower Records and Woolworths may have gone out of business, but pound shops and the like operating out of their old premises seem like a worthy subject for those into hauntology.
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!
Comment by Onan The Barbarian on 2011-12-12 23:28:04 +0000
You may see the constant references you make to masturbation as pulling readers in to this blog, but I rather suspect some of them are pulling themselves off as you do this. Isn’t it time some of them made their excuses and left.
Comment by Ten Thousand Anonymous Deejays on 2011-12-13 00:04:40 +0000
Marvellous to see the Banana Leaf referenced. The Dhabba’s always been good when i’ve been (thrice) – and yes: the spirit of Tower Records and all things curious persists in that shell beside the tracks – i went in there last week but was fatigued by the volume of shoppers…
Comment by Betty Boolean on 2011-12-13 00:21:44 +0000
I like all the pound shops in The Strand shopping centre in Bootle (of Jamie Bulger infamy). I often wonder if the place ever had a prosperous era like in the 60s or something. It never quite recovered from the 80s yet and now all the places are closing in favour of poundland and fly by night charity shops. One time some outfit called healthyplanet.org took over vacant shops for like literally one day and gave away 6 second hand books to anyone who wanted. The man told me that oxfam send all their books to landfill so this was how the planet would be saved. I feel kinda haunted by something when I go to these places , like all these old sci fi books i read years ago and now I read again . . . and feel alienated from the present by all these redundant and failed visions of a future that never materialized.
Comment by Christopher Nosnibor on 2011-12-13 00:32:27 +0000
Ah, reading that I was back there myself… I’m guessing Missing isn’t so much Missing as dead now. Shame, you could pick up an armful of decent vinyl for a quid durng he first few years of the new millennium (and with infinitely better titles than the pre-owned CDs Poundland are now offering!)
Comment by mistertrippy on 2011-12-13 00:34:48 +0000
Missing is still there amazingly. I just didn’t have time to check it out. But I walked past on my way into the station and it was open. It used to be around the corner, don’t know if it had moved to under the arches in your Glasgow days – but it has been there for a while now. And don’t talk to me about Poundland’s pre-owned CDs. Not even worth looking through… there is never anything of interest among them.
@Betty Boolean. There’s something about pound and charity shops… so many town centres filled with them too. Someone told me there’s even a pound shop opened on Aldersgate Street on the Islington edge of the City of London. I ain’t seen it yet but I have visions of it being haunted by ex-bankers and other former City boys who’ve lost their jobs because of the credit crunch! Maybe I’ll go and see if I can find it tomorrow. It sounds almost too good to be true!
Comment by Egg Fetishist on 2011-12-13 00:46:06 +0000
I love eating out-of-date eggs and then seeing how long they take to make my poo splatter out all over the toilet bowl… and don’t forget bowl is just bowel with a vowel taken out!
Comment by Porno Fun on 2011-12-13 00:58:19 +0000
Have you ever seen a £1 copy of Debbie Does Dallas in Poundland?
Comment by mistertrippy on 2011-12-13 09:29:16 +0000
I’ve never seen Debbie Does Dallas for sale in a Poundland store. I have seen a load of soft porn on DVD in various branches – Penthouse videos and other equally boring stuff. I did a blog about Pound Shop porno DVDs a couple of years ago: http://stewarthomesociety.org/blog/archives/2676
A few years ago a heavily censored version of the Bambi Woods DVD came out in the UK. I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t sell this version in Poundland…. It’s just I’ve never seen it there. Here’s a customer review of the 18 certificate UK release of Debbie Does Dallas:
“…consider the editing! It’s not the erasure of all the actual pornographic elements which is the worst crime perpetrated by this DVD. To fill in the gaps, bland shots of bare backsides and excited female faces are simply repeated over and over, padding out the film to an acceptable length…”
Comment by Sid The Saxist on 2011-12-13 10:00:40 +0000
Hauntology? I could have sworn someone else said that!
Comment by Happy Shopper on 2011-12-13 15:12:30 +0000
Hassled by a shop assistant over not spending enough in Sports Direct – wild!
Comment by mistertrippy on 2011-12-13 16:28:09 +0000
It was strange coz that Sports Direct is on two floors and it was completely empty when I went in and I had several different shop assistants following me around and asking if they could help…. I guess it was relatively early on a Sunday morning but maybe they weren’t shifting much and were worried about losing their jobs…. I guess the store would have filled up later….
Comment by DM Stomper on 2011-12-13 17:16:02 +0000
pah… i was laid up with the lergy.
Comment by Tubby Hayes on 2011-12-13 18:17:47 +0000
You certainly know your eggs and soft porn…. not to mention pound shops!
Comment by Christopher Nosnibor on 2011-12-13 20:12:17 +0000
The porn’s cool enough, it’s the Russell Brand DVDs I object to taking up a shelf in my local Poundland.. Seriously overpriced if you ask me.
Comment by JC on 2011-12-13 22:51:49 +0000
sorry I missed this… was cleaning baby shit and not sleeping instead
Comment by Christopher Nosnibor on 2011-12-13 22:57:38 +0000
Cleaning baby shit and not sleeping is the new going out, you know!
Comment by Young, Free & Single on 2011-12-14 00:58:02 +0000
If staying in and looking after a baby is the new going out, then I think I’ll just go out….
Comment by Red Hot Mamma on 2011-12-14 09:28:10 +0000
And I missed it coz I was laid up in bed with one of my toy boy lapdogs! He’s just 21 and sweet as a pea!
Comment by Ticky Dicky on 2011-12-14 15:44:12 +0000
Are you on drugs?
Comment by Loved Up Web Surfer on 2011-12-14 16:41:51 +0000
Repetition is even more groovy when you’re high on drugs!
Comment by Jenny Smallnose on 2011-12-16 15:32:01 +0000
Thanks for the food recommendations, love indian food and going to Glasgow soon. Some of those films are a bargain at £1. gotta love the classic kung fu films.
Comment by Michael Roth on 2011-12-25 21:32:23 +0000
Last time I visited Glasgow was 1998. I did not find any good shopping deals at that time, but my walking trips around the city were unforgettable.
Comment by mistertrippy on 2011-12-25 21:39:36 +0000
It’s a great city for sure – and great for walking around!