Billy Connolly’s History & Culture Of Glasgow Made In Glasgow

Glasgow’s in the middle of a huge transformation. I was born just over here, and I was brought up just down the river in Partick. And I went to school in Govan, which is just over there, all on the sides of the River Clyde.

And the biggest change I’ve seen in my life is the lack of shipyards on the Clyde. And now there’s more pleasure on the Clyde. I think the River Clyde is unbelievably special. The River Clyde is the reason for Glasgow being here. When Glasgow was called Glaschu and the Clyde was called [Chluaidh 00:00:43]. That’s why people settled here. The Clyde was the sole reason for people to settle just along the road there, near the Mullen Diner Bern, and then it grew from there, from just along there in the East.

And I’ve played over there, by the Armadillo, and there’s cranes everywhere. It was an atmosphere of moving forward. Glasgow isn’t the ship-building, steel, coal town that it used to be. It’s a shame, because I kind of miss it, guys my age, because I’m nearly 70, and I miss the wet Glasgow, the dark evenings, when the cobbles were wet, and you could see the neon reflected in the cobbles on Hope Street. That’s the Glasgow I lived in.

But for the Glasgow that you live in, it’s this one here. You know, with squinty bridges and festivals, and concert halls. There was no concert hall when I was a kid. So, it’s brilliant.

The one thing that really excites me is the cycling velodrome in over at Park Head there. I mean, they built one for the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games, and it had no rood. Which, they did their very, very best, but when it rains, it makes that thing unbelievably dangerous, isn’t it? A wall of death. But we’ve got the real thing, and I’m really looking forward. I’ve never seen a cycle race in a velodrome. I’ve been in a velodrome, and I’ve seen cycling racing, but I’ve never combined both, and I’m really looking forward to it.

I think the people of Glasgow will enjoy it immensely. They’ve always enjoyed it, the Garden Festival, the City of Culture, they’ve enjoyed these things immensely. Even when I was a boy, they had campaigns for Billy Graham, the evangelist, and they had huge audiences. They had campaigns for tuberculosis, get yourself x-rayed. The great Tinker Parters. That’s Glasgow! You know, people will show up to see anything. They would follow a flinton and full of fire engines to see what happens.

This is the only town I’ve ever seen, apart from Liverpool, where people walking along the street will ask directions of a person walking the opposite way, and they’ll say, “Oh, I’m going there myself,” and turn around and take you. “Let me even stop off for a pint on the way.”

There are some cities, and I won’t mention them, that are famous for dead things. You know, the great, great museums, and you can go and see paintings that were done by guys who have been dead for ages. And you go to libraries and see books that were written by guys who died a long time ago. But this is a place for live, writing poetry, rock and roll, classical music, opera. It’s buzzing, jumping. Always will be, always slightly ahead of the game, [inaudible 00:03:46]

It’s got music written all over it, and dancing written all over it. I love it. It’s just… It sings and dances.