“Safe Journey Home”

Glasgow West End 74

And so we’ve reached the end of our fortnight, full of images and encounters, including this LOVELY example of “Glasgow toile.” Now, for those of you who were Trading Spaces/Changing Rooms fans, you know how toile is this high-end, hoity-toity fabric that designers like to cover things with all over the house. We’re going to suggest that the Glasgow Toile is NAE what ye want on your wall coverings. While these plates show only the smallest section of the beauties of this fair and filthy city – someone shooting up, and someone peeing against a tree – the full fabric panels have hard looking mums pushing prams, drunks crashed out on park benches, a guy with a crack pipe, wee neds gathered on bikes, tower housing, and ugly, scabrous looking seagulls. It also has Glasgow landmarks clearly noted, like the Uni, the Clyde crane, the Armadillo, etc. It’s a great gag, but it’s ruinously expensive, at over a hundred pounds a meter, and we don’t imagine most people do much sewing with it… at £75, probably a decorative plate is even out of the question!

T. has suffered through leaving – her beloved Seconds again (plus agreeable adopted tenor) and we’ve seen our Uni friends, and made arrangements to see each other soon – at the beginning of the year, maybe in the summer – and through the abruptly cold and dark afternoon, they have gone, with hugs and waves, and choruses of “Safe journey home.”

Safe journey home. It’s a lovely wish.

Like with most holidays, we are “caked out;” while we have been strenuously walking around and have the ability still to fit into all of our clothes, we have rediscovered that you can only have tea and scones so many times before you are longing for some plain beans and avocados. Time, indeed, to go home.

Safe journey, with side trips for one more cake…

We have truly enjoyed ourselves, and enjoyed some of the rich plethora of choices on offer in a multiple-university town. First, we enjoyed the organ for the Chapel Choir Choral Interlude – and a very modern composer, full of atonal chords and all manner of dissonance. We went away… thoughtful. (Some of the thoughts included “What was that?! but those are good thoughts, too.) Our next was an All Souls service at St. Mary’s, where the Malcolm Archer requiem was performed. It reminded us a bit of the Duruflé, and we enjoyed the Pié Jesu and the Sanctus very much, though the rest was a tad derivative.

Glasgow West End 80

Our final musical fêtê was to attend an old-fashioned Singin’ School! We enjoyed a shape note workshop and learned the rudiments of the bizarrely shaped notes and the “fa-so-la” from The Sacred Harp with leader Tim Erikssen, who is sort of the end-all, be-all for the shape note folks in the Northeast. (You know you have arrived when you have your own Wikipedia page, and used to tour with Nirvana…) His energetic leadership whipped us into shape, and we ended the night with our heads stuffed full of knowledge, and with our ears ringing with the loud and hearty sounds of “hardcore Americana.” We’re hopeful he’ll someday come to the West Coast; he’s an amazing ethnomusician, full of facts and an excellent fiddler and vocalist as well.

Tomorrow, we’re off to Iceland for a few days, to luxuriate in the sulfurous stink of Keflavik and the lovely Blue Lagoon. Our hair will be a matted mess when we fly home, but we’ll be awfully relaxed. Our minds will be, hopefully, less conflicted as well. It was a joy to be here; it is a wrench to leave, and yet — this isn’t where we’re meant to be. We are not home yet. We’re still travelers – pilgrims and strangers, as it were.

Safe journey home. May we all arrive, someday.

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