Hey everyone. At 10.25 on Friday night a police helicopter crashed in to Glasgow city centre bar. This tragedy has torn at the hearts of both Glasgow and Scotland and First Minister Alex Salmond braced us for casualties which have now come to pass. This assertion was supported by the local Labour MP Anas Sarwar whose constituency covers the area in which the pub is located.
The incident happened at the Clutha Vaults in Stockwell Street which is one of Glasgow’s oldest and best known bars. It is a bar I know well, with a vibrant music scene and regular gigs the bar has many seasoned music fans amongst it’s regular clientele. It is also a well known haunt for many of those on the left who support more radical Scotland or Britain such as the Scottish Socialist Party and more socialist inclined wings of both the Labour Party and the Scottish National Party. It is a pub I have frequented on more than the odd occasion and it has close connections with it’s more famous sister pub the Scotia Bar.
Like the Scotia, the Clutha has been the favoured watering hole of more than a few writers over the years and is often visited by Billy Connolly on his visits to his birthplace. Indeed it used to host regular spoken word events back in the 1990’s and was one of the first places I ever performed my poetry so it has always had a special place in my affections.
To say I was devastated on hearing the news would I think be a wee bit of an understatement. The first I heard of the tragedy was when my friend and chosen sister Siobhan Harkin sent me a text at around 11PM saying I hope your nowhere near the Clutha tonight. Once I told her I was fine and having a quiet night watching the telly then she replied informed me of this terrible disaster. I like the rest of the city went in to shock. As I checked my twitter feed I viewed the first tweets on reaction to the news from Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson and local MSP and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. In fact such was my heightened state of emotion, I, a lifelong nationalist, felt compelled to send Ruth a supportive tweet to wish her well and let her know I was glad she was safe. Well at times like this, we forget political differences and remember that a common humanity is the chain that binds us together.
Naturally I was very concerned for any friends who may have been in either the pub or the surrounding area and my facebook status reflected this as I asked for prayers for those caught up in the events of what was a tragic evening for our city and our country.
It was at this stage of the evening with emotions still raw that I contacted friends to make sure all was well with them and confided my fears to a few selected members of my inner circle or as I refer to them the chosen family, that some friends and acquaintances may be in the bar or the surrounding area.
I was also genuinely moved that so many friends were concerned for my safety and enquired after my well being. However though I was moved by the concern of my friends and contacts I was not really surprised after all Glasgow is that kind of city and Scotland is that kind of country.
As politicians from across the political divide united in sadness at the disaster that brought carnage to my city and one of my favourite pubs, they also united in pride at the magnificent efforts of our emergency services and ordinary members of the public who supported those in greatest need. Amongst those ordinary citizens was a Member of Parliament who after a busy week was making his way to go out for some downtime with friends but seeing the nightmare as he drove past in his car Jim Murphy Labour MP for Eastwood left his car and went to offer what help he could whilst people waited for the arrival of the emergency services.
In interviews with the press and media a visibly shaken Mr Murphy said ‘I saw what was happening I wanted to help, It was just human instinct kicked in. Now whilst I will readily Mr Murphy and I are polar opposites this was a night I saw not a politician but a private citizen doing his best to help others.
This is not the time for political points scoring and I have to say I have been greatly impressed but not surprised by the decency and dignity shown by all those interviewed from Jim Murphy to our First Minister Alex Salmond
not one of them has attempted to make political capital out of this tragic and horrific situation and anyone who says they have is either a bigot, a liar an idiot or and this is perhaps most likely answer all of the above. This is a day which has united of all of Scotland except possibly a few attention seekers or hard-line nutjobs who are more to be pitied than laughed at.
You know it saddens me that some people judge the success of their lives by whether or not they have a partner or the latest gadget or gizmo. However last night proved if proof were needed the true value of friendship and why it is absolutely priceless and in that pub in which I had many happy memories of great poetry gatherings friendship were made which have lasted to this day. So it should perhaps come as no surprise to anyone and certainly not to Glaswegians that on a night of tears and tragedy a chain of hope was built and an ordinary people shone a torch of human spirit.
Love And Best Wishes