#WeBuiltShips

Govan gravings docks looking east along the Clyde towards the SECC and Science Centre tower.

Hello everyone, bit of a gap between now and my last post, so apologies are due! I’ve been very busy, not just with the festive period but also with a new job and a new flat – top tip: don’t move house over Christmas and New Year, it’s very difficult and you will literally burst with stress.

One of my New Year’s resolutions (do people still do these, aye?) is to post more photographs on my blogs. However, this has been hampered a bit by the fact that I have no Internet in the new flat yet, and it otherwise seems to be a communications blackspot, with no mobile signal whatsoever.

Part of the old Fairfield Yard (the abandoned part, as far as I can tell)

Anyway, despite the lack of Internet I’ve ended up starting a mini photo project recently, and completely by accident, too. As mentioned, I recently moved to Govan, an area of Glasgow famous for its shipbuilding past. There are still a few yards left in Govan, most notably Fairfield Heritage, and BAE Systems, where recent orders for the Royal Navy are still being fulfilled and ships are therefore very much still being built (incidentally, BAE Systems and Fairfield Heritage shipyards are my neighbours and, I suspect, the main reason I can’t get any mobile phone signal in my flat). However, the amount of shipbuilding happening in Govan these days is a shadow of the former industry in the area.
I’ve been taking lots of photos, as I do, and have found myself using the hashtag #WeBuiltShips on a lot of my Instagram posts. From this a definite theme has emerged (or, is emerging at least) around the transformation of Govan from shipyards to what it is now – an area which is still changing and evolving out of the industrial era into the new age, so to speak. As always, the changing urban environment is really interesting to me, and so I’ve found myself documenting various aspects of the Govan architecture and urban landscape. And what a rich history Govan has!

The entrance to Fairfield Yard – one of my new neighbours!

These are a few of the shots I’ve gotten recently with my Sony Xperia phone – I’m finding more and more these days that there’s less and less difference between my phone and my DSLR, for daylight shooting anyway. Im currently considering a new camera, but I’d love to know people’s opinions on me posting camera phone Vs DSLR pics. Is there a noticeable difference, do you consider camera phone pics to be cheating or lazy, do you even care?!
Hopefully the #WeBuiltShips theme is something I can keep going with, and maybe even turn into a proper project. Stay tuned for updates, and as always, thanks for visiting ūüôā

Glasgow Dental Hospital

queenstreetbrutal2copyw

queenstreetbrutalcopyw

Via Wikipedia:

The Glasgow Dental Hospital and School is a dental teaching hospital, situated in the Garnethill area of the city centre of Glasgow, Scotland. Dental students have been educated in Glasgow since 1879, and the Dental School began issuing the Bachelor of Dental Surgery Degree of the University of Glasgow in 1948. The current hospital is based in a 1931 Art Deco building on Renfrew Street. Designed by Wylie, Wright, and Wylie, is protected as a category B listed building. There is also a larger extension fronting Sauchiehall Street built in the brutalist style by Melville Dundas & Whitson in 1970. The West of Scotland Postgraduate Dental Centre is located adjacent to the Dental School and provides post-graduate and distance dental education.

Kelvingrove Museum

 

The main hall of Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, mid September 2016 (click for larger image)

Kelvingrove museum is one of my favourite places in Glasgow. It’s always worth a visit if you’re in the area, even if just for a few minutes to grab a coffee and soak up the stunning architecture around you. I had no idea, but apparently the museum building is based on Italian palaces in the Italian baroque style, which I see now that its been pointed out. I also wasn’t aware (thanks Wikipedia) that Kelvingrove is the second most visited museum in the UK outside London and the most visited attraction in Scotland. And no wonder! the place is beautiful and the exhibits are amazing.

One of the things I love the most about Kelvingrove, like many of the museums and galleries in Scotland, is that it is free to the public. This isn’t because of the generosity of some rich collection owner, but because all the art in Kelvingrove is owned by and on behalf of the people of Glasgow. That’s right – if you live in Glasgow you own that art, so go and enjoy it! (if you’re that way inclined). I’m as working class as they come, but after learning about my joint-owned art collection I took a day out to admire the paintings.

I’m a big fan of Salvador Dali, and have been since I was younger. I was totally unaware that his painting¬†Christ of St. John on the Cross¬†(click the link to see the painting)¬†was part of the Kelvingrove art collection. I’m not religious at all but this is one of my favourite paintings. It’s unlike any of his other paintings and Dali wasn’t religious himself, so the painting’s contents are out of character for him – at the time he was better known for artsy surrealist films and a slew of weird advertising appearances. I love the perspective Dali uses in the painting; this is just my interpretation, but by placing the viewer above Christ, looking down on him as he looks down upon the world, Dali seems to be speaking to the man-made nature of religion. Specifically, I think he’s pointing out that man created Jesus and therefore man is God, and that’s why the viewer (‘man’) is placed above Jesus in the painting. Just my interpretation, of course, and I’m definitely no art expert.

On an unrelated note,¬†I’ve been doing a lot of black and white photography lately. The problem I always find with this is that I start building an unconscious bias to black and white and forget about colour altogether, then I always get to a point where I’m stuck with indecision about which to use. This is definitely one of those situations… Black and white or colour?

More pictures of Kelvingrove to come…

Black and white or colour? (click for larger image)

Birdman

birdmancopyW

Most people in Glasgow avoid the city Centre pigeons like the plague – and some probably believe they are avoiding the plague. When I saw this guy my automatic reaction was that he was going to end up pretty ill from handling ‘wild’ (do you call them wild when they’re habitat is a city centre?) pigeons – especially given this is in Glasgow, not the cleanest of cities on its best day.¬†However, despite my reaction, and similar reactions from puzzled onlookers, I was wrong.

Seeing this guy handle the pigeons without fear of the plague, or whatever, prompted me to do some Googling on the subject of urban birds and disease. I learned two things. The first is that there is actually an organisation called PiCAS – the Pigeon Control Advisory Service – who are¬†the¬†experts on controlling pigeons in a non-lethal manner (yay for the pigeons!), and the second, all the talk about pigeons being ‘rats with wings’ that spread disease is nonsense, even those greasy little city centre pigeons are probably fine. And, this is backed up by vets, various experts and agencies deal with birds, Public Health England, and even the Centre for Disease control in the US.

So as it turns out there’s no need to be afraid of our numerous winged neighbours. Except for seagulls, obviously. That lot are brutal.

At any rate the pigeons on Sauchiehall Street seemed to love this guy, given that they were happy to eat right out of his hand. I think he¬†may actually have some experience with birds, or perhaps he’s a vet, because he was also checking the birds for injury and seemed to know what he was doing. There are certainly some of the city centre pigeons that could do with some R&R, that’s for sure.

Lunch Break

workiecopyW

A ‘workie’ (slang Scottish term for a workman or woman) on his lunch break, enjoying some afternoon sunshine outside Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art on Queen Street, 21st August 2016.

Cuts to Scottish Welfare Fund РA hint of things to come? 

WelfareFundTitle_1The Scottish Welfare Fund is a discretionary payment allocated by local authorities and funded in part through the UK Department for Work and Pensions and topped up by the Scottish Government. This is because the DWP transfers the funding for the scrapped Community Care Grant and Crisis Loan, both of which the DWP used to administer, to the Scottish Government:

“On 1 April 2013, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) abolished two elements ¬†of the Social Fund – Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans – and transferred funds ¬†previously spent on them to Scottish Ministers. In its place, the Scottish Government ¬†established the Scottish Welfare Fund”

(Scottish Government, 2016a)

So the SWF is funded by the UK government (via taxes – which are then transferred to ScotGov) and then topped up by the Scottish Government. It is widely seen as the Scottish Government’s response to welfare reform, but given it is funded by UK Gov this is a little misleading – even if some (the lesser amount) is provided directly by the Scottish Government, since most of the funding for the SWF still comes from the UK government. This means that:

“For 2013/14 and 2014/15 ¬†[the amount provided by the DWP] amounted to ¬£23.8 million. The Scottish Government topped this amount up by a further ¬£9.2 million, giving the Scottish Welfare Fund a total budget of ¬£33 million for ¬†both these years. ¬†This level has been maintained in 2015/16 by the Scottish ¬†Government at ¬£33 million”

(Scottish Government, 2016a)

So, given that ScotGov has championed the SWF and many in Scotland have seen the SWF as an indication of both the ScotGov’s unwillingness to cut welfare and their resistance to such cuts enacted by the UK Government, I was surprised to see this in my mailbox at work, from Glasgow City Council:

“Glasgow City Council has seen a reduction to the Scottish Welfare Fund allocated from the Scottish Government in 2016/17. Further reductions are also expected into future years”

(Glasgow City Council, 2016)

Now, this is surprising Рparticularly since, having loudly championed the SWF (a cynic would say this was as much about making the UK government look bad Рwhich requires little effort anyway Рas mitigating the impact of cuts to welfare on people living in Scotland), the Scottish Government have said little about this cut (lending credence to the more cynical), instead leaving local authorities to announce it individually. Why is the SWF being cut? Is there less funding from Westminster, or can ScotGov not make the top-up they have in previous years? Essentially, why has the same level of funding not been maintained and why is it expected to drop in coming years?

Looking at the bigger picture,¬†what does this indicate about the Scottish Government’s commitment to social welfare, particularly since some welfare powers are soon to be devolved to Scotland? This includes responsibility for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payments (PIP) – will we see a cut in provision of these benefits, intended for adults and children with illness and disability that require extra support?

The Scottish Government seem to be cutting welfare before they even have their hands on it – and given the DWP guarantee the larger element of the SWF, you have to ask if it is ScotGov’s contribution which has been reduced, leading to the reduction in funding to Local Authorities. If that is the case, why aren’t the Scottish Government using their overspend, which has occurred for the past three years, to boost SWF funding?

As someone who voted Yes in the Scottish Independence Referendum I’m conscious that had the vote been in favour of independence, Scotland would be an independent country as of this year. Given the current reduction to the SWF, what might have occurred in a Scotland where the whole welfare system is under the Scottish Government – would we now be seeing cuts across the board to match Tory cuts to the UK welfare system? This is the crux of the problem for me regarding the SNP – we will never know how capable they really are until they can no longer resort to blaming Westminster – and by that point it would be too late, should their performance be less than satisfactory. That’s a chance I was willing to take back in September 2014, but now I’m not so sure.

The SNP sell themselves on a ticket of progressive politics and social equality, but that doesn’t seem to be their practice (yes, they are more progressive than the Tories, but that says very little – they aren’t any more progressive, or socialist, than Labour in power under Corbyn might be, but this is an unknown at present). With further welfare powers and responsibilities to be devolved, we’ll soon see the SNP’S true colours – I hope they stick to the principles they championed during the IndyRef and ensure a fair and secure welfare system for Scotland, and in doing so put people first.

As always, thanks for reading.

Scottish Government (2016b)

Scottish Government (2016a) Scottish Welfare Fund Statistics: Annual Update 2015/16. Official Statistics publication for Scotland.

Scottish Government (2016b) Social Security for Scotland: Benefits being devolved to the Scottish Parliament. SSFS slidepack update, July 2016.

(Disclaimer: Any criticism of¬†the Scottish Government or the SNP is usually perceived as an attack by some SNP supporters. Let it be noted that I am not currently affiliated with any party, either as a casual supporter or a paid member. This article isn’t intended as a political attack, but to highlight potential issues in the future of Scotland’s welfare system and to hold the Scottish Government to account on this matter – whichever party might be in charge – in the interests of everyone living in Scotland)

George Orwell on ‘the pigsty we’re in’

George Orwell's Burmese Passport photo. Image credit: headlong.co.uk
George Orwell. Image credit: headlong.co.uk

“I do not believe that a man with ¬£50,000 a year and a man with fifteen shillings a week either can, or will, co-operate. The nature of their relationship is quite simply, that the one is robbing the other, and there is no reason to think that the robber will suddenly turn over a new leaf. It would seem, therefore, that if the problems of western capitalism are to be solved, it will have to be through a third alternative, a movement which is genuinely revolutionary, i.e. willing to make drastic changes and to use violence if necessary, but which does not lose touch, as Communism and Fascism have done, with the essential values of democracy. Such a thing is by no means unthinkable. The germs of such a movement exist in numerous countries, and they are capable of growing. At any rate, if they don‚Äôt, there is no real exit from the pigsty we are in.”

– George Orwell: The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters; Vol 1 (via reliving the 80s)

Pubs and alleyways

DSC_0838W

I’ve been meaning to post this for ages… I’m trying to get more pictures with people in them, as apparently never having any people in your pictures (deliberately) makes you seem like a bit of a sociopath (no offence to sociopaths), This is – and I’m sure many people will recognise it – the lane off Buchanan Street that leads to Sloan’s Bar – the oldest bar in Glasgow, believe it or not ¬†(also, one of my favourites on the rare occasion that I have a bevvy). Black and white, because most of the alley was either black or white anyway!

Thanks for reading.