Glasgow showed its true strength after the Clutha tragedy

MORE than a week has passed since tragedy unfolded at the Clutha Vaults; yet I know, for many, time has stood still.

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Glasgow has known loss and grief before, of course, but there was something about this calamity that struck at the heart of our city.

Its victims were friends, relatives and workmates; sharing a drink, a joke and a song.

In the passing days, we have endured a maelstrom of emotions. Sadness, always - but sadness run through with admiration for our emergency and public services; pride in our friends and neighbours, and a quiet resolve to stand strong.

People from all walks of life have come to stand beside those affected by the tragedy - from the First Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Prince Charles to Glasgow's very own Billy Connolly.

In many ways, it seems too early to talk about healing. But the truth is Glasgow laid the foundations of its recovery even in the midst of the pain and confusion of that Friday night.

To some extent, that was planned. We have strong public services that are practised in working together and have shown that, when the city calls, they meet the challenge.

But it was also instinctive. Unspoken, but understood by the strangers who formed a human chain to pass the injured out of the rubble, or those who brought food to keep the rescuers going.

It can be hard to articulate; but I felt it this week in a remarkable moment when local media, who had waited long, cold days and nights with the bereaved, laid down their cameras and notebooks to help council staff and emergency workers move a mountain of floral tributes closer to the Clutha Vaults.

Like the brave souls who ran towards danger, or those who will walk with the injured as they recover; they are the reason why Glasgow will lift its head high again.

THE world lost a giant last week with the sad passing of Nelson Mandela after a long and dignified battle with illness.

Mr Mandela's place in history as one of the world's great leaders is already assured.

He changed South Africa and inspired the world with his fight against apartheid.

And if there is some portion of his extraordinary story that is forever linked with Glasgow then it is in the anti-apartheid movement, which led to us being the first city in the world to confer its freedom on Nelson Mandela in 1981.

He later said that it made a difference to know that a city some 6000 miles away had remembered him. It helped keep him and his comrades going in that tiny prison cell in Robben Island.

Nelson Mandela will continue to speak to us for all times.

That history is alive with possibility. That the days of injustice are numbered, even when it is years of struggle that end them.

For in the end Nelson Mandela taught us the hardest and the simplest of all life's lessons: how to forgive and how to be human.

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