Idiot minority doesn't make Glasgow a bad place to live

WELCOME to Glasgow; please set your watches back 300 years.

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A violent scene from a stage production of No Mean City
A violent scene from a stage production of No Mean City

Us Weegies are well disposed to such self-deprecating black humour, but we've never appreciated outsiders taking the same liberties with our city.

And liberties there have been, in abundance.

Academics and media agitators seeking inner-city squalor and violence have ever seen Glasgow as a suitable case for treatment.

Countless TV documentaries have been happy to expose our local depravations and sell them to the world.

We've even become a magnet for so-called celebrities, eager to get in on the act.

Perhaps we should blame Alexander McArthur and H Kingsley Long for our No Mean City image.

It was unemployed labourer McArthur and journalist Long who penned that harrowing novel in 1935.

Their account of working class life in the Gorbals slums, with their hard men and razor gangs, has ever since defined us Weegies in the eyes of outsiders.

Taken from a Bible reference to Tarsus being "no mean city", it has become a byword for Glasgow.

But while it may have had some accuracy in the 1930s, some folk seem determined to prolong that stereotype.

In my late teens it was English crooner Frankie Vaughan, venturing north to Easterhouse on a mission to broker peace among the local gangs.

More recently, soap actor Ross Kemp in a 2012 TV series portrayed Glasgow as a Third World war zone.

According to him, he could have been in Pakistan, Mexico or Kenya, in cities plagued by organised drugs gangs, religiously motivated terrorism, and people trafficking.

Then last year actor twins Gary and Martin Kemp were less than chuffed about the hostile welcome they received in the east end as they filmed a similar stitch-up job for a TV series called Gangs of Britain.

Such documentaries have been dismissed as 'poverty porn' — think of Benefits Street in England, and Kilmarnock's The Scheme, the series about dysfunctional families on the Onthank estate, which made personalities out of half-wits.

The latest BBC offering from the same filmmakers is provoking a similarly bitter response.

The Street tells the story of the "resident" businesses, bar staff, and nighttime visitors who work, play and vomit on Sauchiehall Street.

The intention may have been to analyse the 24-hour interaction on what once was one of Scotland's most iconic streets, but the filming was hijacked by belligerent barefoot drunks — and that was just the women — and a racist attack on a Nigerian busker known as Melo.

Now, no right-thinking person would condone the barbaric physical and verbal assault by a couple of drunken, shaven-headed Neanderthals, but it was the only reason the programme merited headlines, especially since it had lost all other relevance by being filmed two years ago.

My fellow-columnist Humza Yousaf attracted a similar shaven-headed racist when he was selling the Big Issue on Queen Street recently as part of this year's International Street Paper Vendor Week.

Humza is a Weegie, born and bred.

Perhaps that, and the fact he is an SNP MSP, may be regarded by some sad souls as mitigation enough for ridicule.

But being the son of a Kenyan mother and Pakistani father is definitely no reason to be attracting abuse in any supposedly civilised society.

As my old mum would say, don't judge a book by its cover.

The same goes for Humza, and his native Glasgow.

These attacks no more prove Glasgow is a hotbed of racism, as some would have you believe, than a happy bunch of dancing kilted students proves we all live in Brigadoon.

The students have responded to racist attacks with an upbeat video, dancing at iconic Glasgow landmarks to the tune of American singer Pharrell Williams' hit song Happy. It's worth a look.

You can't damn a whole city because of the actions of a mindless minority.

Glasgow does not have a monopoly on foul-mouthed boozers and bigots. They could have been filmed almost anywhere in Britain.

No one would be daft enough to suggest we don't have problems. Which city doesn't?

We do have an underclass. Alcohol, and booze-induced violence, is a cancer at all levels of society.

And there is a serious argument to be had that the Dear Green Place is actually the Dear Black and Blue and Green Place, with sectarian issues that have been ignored for years.

And I don't mean the bingo hall that calls the numbers in Latin so the proddies can't win.

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