Tuesday 3rd February
For once when it was a white hell in London we in central Scotland got off quite lightly. The programme wanted to reflect not only that, but also if the weather had been as bad, would we have coped much better? How in Scotland the whole thing would not have ground to a complete halt. So after getting the hire care that was waiting for me when I put my car in for a service I set course for Glasgow.
I was asked to get some vox pops, interviews with the general public, talking about how much better the Scots are when it comes to dealing with a little bit of snow. I came to Glasgow because generally if you want to get a good dose of unbridled Scottish opinion Glasgow’s the place. Edinburgh tends to be full of either tourists or folk with English accents. There are also a lot of women of a certain age that look at you as if you are emitting a nasty smell from every orifice when you ask their opinion. They would of course never want to be seen on telly particularly ITV. I get the sense that an exception could be made for a documentary on BBC presented by the ghost of the late Magnus Magnusson.
I had been having problems with the batteries for my camera for a while. Basically they go flat very quickly. There are replacements on there way from London but as yet they have not arrived. Today was the day they all decided to go flat one after the other.
Around the centre of Glasgow is prime vox pop country. I was looking for the ideal folk to talk to, but there were precious few around. I tend to find that trying to ask people that chew their own tongue or have them hanging out of open mouths below slightly staring eyes does not give good results. The inteligencia of Glasgow, or at least people that looked as if they might be able to string a sentence together did not seem to be out and about. There were of course the legion of guys that came up breathing fumes of Buckfast tonic wine over me asking “whit ur yi daein’?”
I am always polite with my reply because I feel that I don’t want to earn any of the trophy knife scars that they display on their cheeks or over their eyes.
One of the last times I was doing vox pops a chap came up to me in a similar manner, but before I could give him my polite reply he decided that he would not waste any more time and just took a swing at me. He sent his fist whizzing through the air. It came as a tiny surprise that the target was not any part of my soft delicate face. Instead he whacked the fairly tough unforgiving camera squarely on the side. Then he just strolled away. If what he was on has that ability to numb pain I might give it a go.
The batteries did give me enough time to get two vox pops done before calling it quits. I then had to retire to a Starbucks to get some charge into at least on of them. At least it was warm and out of the rain.
I gave the battery enough time to charge to let me use the camera and the little light on the top, because by now it was dark. I got the voxes done. They were not as good as I had hoped. I would have loved to get some good Gaswegian slagging off the soft southern English for not being able to cope with the bad weather. I think maybe now it is us Scots that are going soft. The bulk of opinions were that we could not have coped any better and it was just a very occasional occurrence and just bad luck.
There was one very nice chap who in a very mild soft spoken Canadian accent said that the whole weather thing was a piece of nonsense, given in his view all the snow that had fallen constituted a light dusting. He said the English were as bad as the Yanks. He regarded that as a very severe slight. Unfortunately he was not at all keen on saying it on camera because he had a rather sensitive job.
I had a couple of “weegies” that were desperate to be on camera. I had tried to give them a polite brush off. They were quite determined and not aggressive. Although I think that those unfamiliar to “Glesga” banter might have found a drunken face that had seen part of a broken bottle at skinsplittingly close quarters well inside ones personal space a tad intimidating. I thought it might amuse the boys in London when they viewed the tape if I did do a wee chat with Glasgow’s very own Wayne and Waynetta. Complete with what the first world war Prussians would have regarded as a superb duelling scar he perched on his girlfried’s back to do the interview. Through a mild drunken slur they managed to miss the point of the whole thing. The only thing that they said was to insist that the weather in Glasgow was really really bad. When I felt I had let them say their piece, stopped the camera and said thank you, the guy slipped off the girls back and in a practised fashion asked if I could possibly spare him a pound!
I took the tape to the STV studios to be fed to GMTV and headed home along the now slightly drier M8.