Sunday, October 12, 2008

They fought like warrior poets, they fought like Scotsmen...

Yesterday was a big World Cup qualifying day. J and I headed out to a pub in Merchant City to meet up with friends of hers to watch Scotland-Norway there, and I learned two very, very important lessons about Scotland:

1. Scots do not mess around when it comes to their football. I thought the English were bad. Or the Canadians with their hockey. But this was just something else. Maybe it's because national sporting events means that thousands of men on the street are all wearing kilts at once. Or maybe because the streets are all empty and the pubs jam-packed. Regardless, it was an experience, being shoulder to shoulder in a completely at-capacity pub for a qualifying match. There is a different vibe between Scots and Scotland than between other people and their national teams. With Canadians, there's an arrogance. With the English, there's so much cynicism. But with the Scots, it's this desperate love and naive optimism and hope. It's very, very different. It reminded me a lot of watching the Puerto Rican basketball team. And it was a really cool experience. One that probably would have been a bit better had Scotland won. I don't really know much about Chris Iwelumo, except that he really, really should have scored.

2. Scots do not like the English. After the Scotland match ended, we headed back towards the West End, and wandered into a pub on Sauchiehall Street to watch England-Kazakhstan, because that was the match I really cared about getting to watch (knowing that there was no way I'd get to see the USA game). We get to the pub and it's not very crowded, but there's a decent sized group camping out watching the match on the big screens. I assumed since we were in the UK, people would cheer for England, and when Rio scored and threw my arms up and started clapping, I realized I was the only one. And then when Kazakhstan scored... the entire pub went up into cheers and celebration and clapping and singing. This was not some random Kazakh enclave in Glasgow. These were just normal Scots. Booing the English. Aiming the plastic guns from the video game machine at the screen when the English team was shown. It was definitely eye-opening for me, and I felt like a fool assuming that all that Braveheart stuff was in the past. Clearly, it's not. I did not cheer out-loud for the rest of game. And I was really, really glad I went with my gut and did not wear my Rooney shirt for the day. Because that had been my first instinct in the morning. To give it a workout and a breaking in in the UK.

On the way back from Merchant City, however, J points up and says,
"Hey, there's a Trader Joe's!" My heart leaped and I got so excited! Three Buck Chuck! Trader Joe's coffee! Gone Bananas! This Fruit Walks Into a Bar... bars! 100 calorie dark chocolate bars! Those air-puffed barbeque chips! Chili lime cashews!

But... no. It wasn't quite the Trader Joe's I was thinking of, and instead some old-person piano/karaoke bar. Oh, the sadness:

And for good measure, crossing the M8 at night, which is
still one of my favorite Glasgow things to do:



At October 13, 2008 at 7:22 PM , Blogger Patrick said...

I cannot overstate how glorious the US game was. 75 (err.. 23) degree day with crystal clear skies. 2 goals from Beasley, goal from Altidore, goal from Oguchi with an assist from Freddy.


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