Living out in the sticks undoubtedly has many advantages: such as the joy of being engulfed in a medley of birdsong and bleating from the moment one opens one’s eyes each morning; or the pleasure of watching a rather fat pheasant strut across the lawn and nod his head politely at the two equally portly pigeons waddling in the opposite direction.
However, there are times when even a country girl has to venture into the Big Smoke, and last Sunday was one of those days. So it was that by 9 a.m., fellow hockey mum, S, and I had dutifully dropped our respective sons off at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow for a 6-hour hockey training session in the blazing, relentless sunshine. Both were wielding sticks and – more importantly – water. A lot of water.
Maternal mission duly accomplished, we set out on foot to the nearest underground station, which happened to be beside Ibrox football stadium. As we passed, I noticed a couple of bouquets of flowers lying in front of the big, blue main gate and wondered, idly, if they had been left there ironically by Celtic supporters to hint at the potential demise of the Rangers club. Although I’m more of a rugby girl myself, it’s difficult not to be aware of the current ongoings at Ibrox, owing to the frenzy of press coverage in recent months.
Having no allegiance to either club, I find it rather sad that a once great club has been so badly mismanaged and every bit as sad how much vitriolic pleasure the other great club is taking in their rival’s suffering. It’s not that I don’t understand the concept of being highly competitive – as you’d know if you saw me take to the hockey pitch of a November morning! However, the feeling that comes out of many exchanges between rival fans is one that verges on hatred rather than healthy competitiveness. Which makes it rather difficult for those outside the sport to buy into the concept of the “beautiful” game.
Anyway, enough footie philosophy. In a matter of minutes we had alighted from the eerily-quiet underground and were back in the sunshine, beetling up the pavement to our intended destination: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. This magnificent building is constructed in red Dumfriesshire sandstone and opened in 1901 as the Palace of Fine Arts. Being a tad early, we first fortified ourselves with a cooling glass of lemonade at a conveniently located Beanscene. Then it was time to enter the museum time warp and immerse ourselves in things cultural and cerebral for a few hours. Though it has to be said that even several hours was far from sufficient to take in the gamut of 22 galleries full of fascinating exhibits, which ranged from an ultra-cute (stuffed!) baby fox to a slightly disconcerting display of hanging, disembodied plaster heads.
For S and myself, the most unexpected and memorable exhibit of the day was a large painting that (being a cultural philistine!) I’d not heard of before: the “Christ of Saint John of the Cross” by Salvador Dali. We found ourselves intrigued by this most unusual depiction of the much-painted “Christ on the cross” scene. The lighting in the picture is strangely haunting – as indeed is the fact that the cross seems to be hanging suspended in space above the earth and, unusually, depicts a Jesus with no blood, no nails and no thorns. Yet the overall effect is perhaps more powerful than if those missing elements had been included. It was somehow a very moving image, even for someone who could in no way be considered “devout”. And it felt a million miles away from everyday life at the smallholding.
All too soon, it was time to trot back down to the underground, zip back to Ibrox and walk the mile or so back to the hockey pitch, where two sun-mauled (you try getting a 17-year-old boy to wear sun lotion and a sunhat…) lads were just cooling down after training – although whether “cooling down” was remotely possible in temperatures verging on 30 degrees Celcius was doubtful…
My personal victory for the day was that I bravely sat and watched slimline friend S downing a seriously tempting desert (precise details too painful to commit to paper/screen…) in Kelvingrove Gallery’s airy basement cafe, while I practised the art of abstemiousness. Which means that Day 7 of the dreaded diet has passed without “sin”, and four more weeks of fasting (or, to be more precise, eating horribly healthily!) are left before DaughterNo1’s 21st Ceilidh. A wealth of willpower will certainly be required throughout the month of June… Otherwise the only garment Yours Truly will be able to slip into on party night is the generously proportioned hessian bag that is used to store our potatoes each autumn!