Demolition of flats for Games is least of Glasgow's troubles

KELVINGROVE is iconic; the Finnieston crane is iconic; even the Duke of Wellington wearing his cone has become iconic.

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City Council leader Gordon Matheson should be embarrassed at handing the dreadful Red Road flats the same status.

The concrete monstrosities have dominated Glasgow's skyline for 50 years, but thankfully not for much longer. Plans to dynamite five of the six remaining towers have been cunningly brought forward to replace the customary fireworks during the opening ceremony to July's Commonwealth Games.

The 15-second demolition, the biggest seen in Europe, will be live on a 328ft wide screen at Celtic Park and beamed to a TV audience of one billion.

Typical Weegies. Find an empty, have a party and wreck it. Or maybe it's self-parody on the stereotype of the tight-fisted Scot.

Either way, it's sparked the biggest stooshie since Matheson's architectural aberration over George Square.

So, what relevance does such demolition have to a sporting celebration? Well, London 2012 opened with the history of Britain's Industrial Revolution and the NHS and by common consent was an Olympian success.

Glasgow 2014's opening is expected to reveal the city's rich history and culture, with the Red Road demolition woven into its social regeneration. And I suppose there will be contingency planning should demolition need to be postponed.

London's opening was directed by Academy Award-winning British director Danny Boyle. To hear Matheson's critics, he's hired Frankie Boyle.

It's a joke, they cry, something could go wrong, so let's not risk it (an uncanny echo there of Bitter Together's Project Fear message).

What could possibly go wrong, with almost one and half tons of explosives placed by demolition experts Safedem? Give thanks they didn't ask ConDem.

As a back-up, perhaps the council could sponsor a competition to invite one lucky ratepayer to light the blue touch paper using the ubiquitous Weegie chip pan fire.

At least the potential air pollution will make Games visitors from the likes of Lahore and London feel right at home.

Critics claim it's a crass global message to those who don't have homes, or are living in tents, but I doubt they will be tuning in.

Others think it's a bold and brilliant wheeze, but I believe it's not so much showcasing the city as exposing the Labour council's historic housing failures.

Back in 1947, a delegation from Glasgow Corporation visited the French Riviera, allegedly seeking architectural inspiration.

Our city fathers, who have always enjoyed a wee junket at the ratepayers' expense, came home from Marseille full of ideas for City Engineer Robert Bruce's mad vision for Glasgow. This is a guy who wanted to demolish Kelvin-grove Art Gallery, Glasgow School of Art, and the City Chambers, yet for 20 years the council failed to have him locked up.

His infamous Bruce Report ripped the heart from Glasgow between the 1950s and the late 1970s, demolishing the old tenements and creating the housing schemes.

Plans to build maisonettes no taller than four storeys were ditched in favour of French-style high-rises.

I started life with my two big sisters in one such old tenement, a room and kitchen with outside loo in Haugh Road behind the Kelvin Hall. I spent my primary school years in one of Bruce's new flats in Corkerhill.

Both homes were flattened years ago and while I have happy childhood memories of the area, the bricks and mortar were no loss.

Matheson and Co will now be debating a U-turn on his "wow factor", with thousands of people signing a petition to have it scrapped. I'll bet many more could care less.

OBJECTORS claim it's not a "positive international spectacle". They want to "ensure Red Road is demolished with dignity, not as entertainment".

"Dignity"? Now there's a quality you don't associate with Glasgow's social deprivation. As for "positive international spectacle", well, what else could we tell the world?

How about showcasing the heart disease capital of Europe, and the UK leader in low life expectancy, murder, and teenage pregnancy.

Let's highlight Glasgow as our nation's child poverty capital, with one in three of all city kids living below the breadline, and interview some of the thousands surviving on food banks.

Scotland's former chief medical officer Sir Harry Burns could explain how some Weegies are not so much sick as thick, having too many babies with no clue how to raise them.

And as we congratulate our Northern Irish Games visitors on the end to The Troubles, we can explain how a law against sectarianism is deemed necessary in our Dear Green Place.

No, Red Road flattening may be the least iconic image we could show the world, but why get so worked up when Glasgow has far more dangerous demons to demolish.

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