The Glasgow Effect

Emma McKie discusses that ‘something’ about Glasgow.

Glasgow, to use a cliché, is a clash of culture – gigs, film, ‘nights oot’, football, shopping; it’s all collectively mashed together to create a passionate, thriving city.  My mum herself summed up Glasgow: ‘it’s never tired cause it’s always buzzin’’.  So why would this lively city, with such a diverse population, have the highest mortality rate of any post-industrial city in the UK?

Well, to be honest, if you’re looking for a straight answer you’re not really going to find it; and scientists can’t explain it either.  Not even Limmy can.  It’s been branded ‘the Glasgow effect’ because, for some unknown reason, Glasgow boasts higher alcoholism and mental health problems than other similar post-industrial cities.  Some possible reasons for this, according to Wikipedia, are that Glaswegians are pessimistic, and that Glasgow itself is an alienating city.  I definitely agree with the latter – coming to Glasgow for the first time and having so many exciting things available at once, with no idea where to start, can be intimidating and make you feel quite alone.

I have a love/hate relationship with this city and yes, I’ve been hit with ‘the Glasgow effect’ – we all have.  However, I feel Glasgow recognises this; it is a place that seeks comfort in others.  You’ll find yourself chatting amicably to wee grannies on the subway; nodding in agreement because the weather is terrible, isn’t it?  The city banded together when threatened with removal of the infamous cone from the Duke of Wellington statue, grieved during the horrendous Clutha and bin lorry accidents, and you could feel the city foundations lamenting the referendum result.  Yes, there is an ‘effect’ from Glasgow, but at times when I’ve felt lonely in this city it really is the smallest things that make a difference.  It will be tough finding a place with a stronger community spirit than some areas of Glasgow, Dennistoun for example.  ‘People Make Glasgow’ became the statement during the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and to be honest you’d have a hard time finding anything else that suits this city’s ‘effect’ better.

[Emma McKie]

Originally published in The Revolution Issue, Winter 2016 

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