I’ve become one with Glasgow

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IOL glasgow Getty Images Flag bearer and Rugby Sevens Player Cecil Sebastain Afrika of South Africa leads the South African athletes during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park. Photo: Quinn Rooney

Glasgow - ‘Howzit’ is a passable greeting in Glasgow. It’s about as close to “Hou’s aw wi ye?”, an introduction I found on a Scottish-English translation website that is about as close to South African as you might get at the 20th Commonwealth Games.

I’ve never heard anyone say “Hou’s aw wi ye?” in my three-and-a-half days here. I have heard them use several other words, though, the most common of which starts with a “c”, ends with a “t” and has all sorts of gender issues in between.

It is usually accompanied by the adjective “f**king” and is used by young, old, male and female towards anyone.

This is a city of f**king c**ts, it seems. Or, if you are not one, then there is someone ready to suggest that you are one or have tendencies towards being one.

A colleague told me of an incident he saw down on the bicycle-pedestrian path beside the River Clyde. A six-year-old girl was pedalling along near her parents, a little unsteady, but having a grand old time out.

A 30-something lout came up behind her on his bike and started ringing his bell to make sure she didn’t get in his way. She was a kid. She was going to get in his way. It’s what they do. She swerved slowly into his path and he was forced to come to a stop. He looked down at her: “You f**king wee c**t”. She blinked up at him, but there were no tears.

Perhaps it is a term of endearment in Glasgow. Perhaps I should start using it in restaurants and shops. “Can I have a receipt, please, you f**king c**t?” “I’ll take the c**ting ramen with f**king chicken, thanks.” And to quote a friend who passed on an old Australian saying: “See that c**t over there? Well, he’s a c**t.”

The f**king opening ceremony was held at Celtic Park last night, and those c**ts Rod Stewart and Susan Boyle, who look the same these days, were the star attractions.

Two South Africans caught a taxi to the athletes’ village the other day. Their driver was a Rangers fan.

The village is close to Celtic Park, and the closer he got to the home of Celtic, the enemy, the more he began to spew. Celtic Park made his skin crawl.

The roads around the village were blocked off for security reasons. The driver lost it more and more. He swore at young volunteer security guards and even the police – and the latter barely blinked under the onslaught.

On Tuesday, I spent most of the afternoon in the international zone at the athletes’ village interviewing Cameron van der Burgh and Richard Murray. We sat through six flag-raising ceremonies. The flag-raising ceremony at any Games now involves a theatre company putting on a show.

In Glasgow it seemed to be about making sure the athletes got to the city for the Games, with a giant packing case, much throwing around of backpacks and a surprising number of English accents from the actors. They’ll be first against the wall when independence comes.

Arriving in Glasgow was no fun for Nur Ayuni Farhana Abdul Halim of Malaysia who won shooting gold in Delhi, but has been ruled out of Glasgow after her competition jacket did not arrive with her luggage.

The rules state she must wear a jacket, but they could not find one to fit her and she felt she would need two months to get used to a new one in any case.

Myself and a colleague left the village and caught the train to Argyle Street.

On the train a volunteer told us we could not get off at Argyle Street. I told her we could. The restrictions only started on Thursday. I was wrong. She asked the conductor. They spent 15 minutes talking about it, repeating the same point over and over.

The train slowed as we got into the Argyle Street station and then stopped.

The volunteer looked devastated that she was wrong. I shrugged at her and got off. As we strode out on to Argyle Street, I turned to him: “What a stupid f**king c**t.”

I had become one with Glasgow.

* Kevin McCallum is chief sports writer at Independent Newspapers.

The Star


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