Sunday, July 06, 2008

One positive spin off of the smoking ban

Generally the crowds of drinkers hanging around outside pubs are something of a nuisance. But if you are journalist dispatched to Glasgow to gauge public opinion it can be a godsend. There is a particular Glaswegian type of pub I'm thinking of – a windowless bunker – inside which you have no way of knowing what goes on inside, there is no easy means of escape, are often decorated with graffiti in support of the armed wing of the Old Firm and are generally located in the roughest housing schemes. (Some pictures will show you what I mean). Anyway, all of these factors ensure that they exude a powerful sense of hostility towards the word at large, much less any hapless outsider who is foolish enough to wonder inside.

It's possible I'm doing such places an injustice, of course, but entering such places can be a fairly daunting prospect. Nor are they confined to Glasgow – there were a few near the Dundee Courier's offices which no one who worked for the paper ever dared enter. For fun, that is, because I know a few hacks who were ordered to go into such places in Dundee or in Glasgow to gauge public opinion on a burning issue of the day – usually the fitba'. No one to my knowledge was actually attacked in these places but I got the distinct impression there were a few close calls.

But, come the current byelection in Glasgow East, and the picture is very different. As this Scotland on Sunday piece shows, no longer do journalists have to wonder into a place full of people who their paper generally overlooks in a part of town their newspaper generally overlooks and from which there is no easy means of escape. For now, thanks to the wonders of a smoking ban, journalists can gauge the mood inside the Centuar Bar in Easterhouse or Griers Longuebar or any other lions' den a sadistic news editor would take great delight in sending a wimpy hack into. For the people the reporter speaks to are all, oh blessed chance, standing outside in full view of passersby and where the changes of escape are legion. That's why it's a health and safety measure I guess.



Blogger dominic said...

Hmm...Any reason why your first photo link (the one under the word "will") goes to a pic of the RC church in Easterhouse

(albeit with a thumbnail to a link of a dodgy bar underneath)

A punning reference to incense, perchance?

6:58 pm  
Blogger bill said...

Purely an error on my part, Dominic. Now fixed.

7:34 pm  

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