Gondolas pulled in city punters

THE Glasgow International Exhibition of 1888 transformed the city's Kelvingrove Park into a wonderland of world-class attractions.

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One of the favourites amongst visitors, of which there were nearly 6,000,000 over the course of the year, was a gondola ride on the River Kelvin.

The singing boatmen, imported especially from Italy for the event, soon picked up the Glasgow nicknames of Signor Hokey and Signor Pokey. The expression, hockey-pokey comes from the Italian 'ecco un poco' - 'here [try] a bit', and also provides the derivation for 'pokey hat' when we talk about an ice-cream.

You can just imagine this pair, powering down the River Kelvin singing O Sole Mio (that's the Just One Cornetto ad music the non-opera fan readers).

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