Jan 24 2016

On Oddness, or the Saving Grace of Glasgow

Ivor Cutler ~ I’m Happy

Scotch Odds, 1

Ivor Cutler has a gift – so says Billy Connolly – for capturing the dreich of Scotland, the dismal gray skies and the relentless, miserable wet that “seeps into you like a rumor.” It holds you in its clammy grip as closely indoors as out.

I did two years in the lowland dreich. As a young man from western Canada, who’d shrugged off one Russian Winter already (although the wind off the Gulf of Finland that carves through Leningrad in February does have its teeth), I felt Winter in Glasgow would hold no terrors, but I was wrong. After two months of the long daily trudge across Kelvingrove Park to the University, drizzle accumulating on my scalp and trickling down my back, and then back to an allegedly heated student flat, always coated in an icy film, I took to my bed and stayed there for a while. I wasn’t deathly ill, just wretchedly so, hacking, oozing and shaking.

I missed many Russian language classes and had to make my apologies to the instructor, a stern, thickly-accented Russian archetype with the unlikely name of Tatiana Frisby. She nodded with an expression of earnestness, but not of sympathy. She was always pleased to find a reason to get you to agree that life was shit. “Yiss,” she said, “everyone who comes to Glasgow gets this sickness. And then…
…they get the psychological depression.” She was right about that too.

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