Saturday morning, I woke up at 7:30am to get ready to take an early train into Glasgow. There was a big football game (Scotland vs Norway) happening that day at Hampden Park in Glasgow. Football (aka soccer) is like THE only sport in this country, apart from maybe rugby or cricket (and golf, as Tim pointed out, although you rarely see bar fights break out over golf tournaments). So this game was a huge deal, and the fact that it was at home made it even more exciting. Since we only live about an hour away, we decided to hop the train to Glasgow, not to watch the actual game (because it's near impossible to get tickets), but to watch it on TV in an overly-crowded pub. This is something we obviously couldn't have done at a pub in Edinburgh, or even in the comfort of our own common room. Also, you're not allowed to drink at the actual football game... and now I know why.
There were Scotsman tailgating the game in Waverly train station in Edinburgh at 8:30am, getting ready to go to Glasgow to watch their team play. That should have been our first clue...
We rode the train with a few Vikings, but mostly everyone who got on was decked out in a red tartan kilt, a blue Scottish football jersey, Balmoral caps and Glengarry bonnets with a long golden eagle feather. Every man who got on had his own six-pack of Tennents (or Budweiser). That should have been our second clue...
Glasgow Central Station
It was a gorgeous day, sunny and not cold (notice how I never really use the word "warm)", perfect for seeing the city and doing some shopping. We all met up at a pub called Red Lizard in Merchant City to watch the game at 3:00pm. The place was packed, but we all found standing room in view of one of the flat screen TVs on the wall. It was really fun to watch the game with so many passionate Scotsman. We actually had two Norwegians with us, Katie from Mylne's Court and Liam's friend from home, so it was a fun rivalry.
Shout out to Jamie Dunn! I'm glad you could come all the way to Merchant City to see me. Gotta love the Wissahickon presence in Scotland!
Me and Jamie at the Red Lizard
The game ended around 5:30pm with no score: 0-0, which is worse than losing. A couple of us were just gonna grab the train home because we had to get up early the next day for an all-day bus tour, but were somehow convinced to stay for dinner. Fun fact about getting dinner in Glasgow... you can't. We tried three different places nearby and none of them had seating available. Ok, so there were eight of us - but still. So our local friends told us of a place closer to campus (they go to Glasgow School of Arts) where there was sure to be seating for a cheap price and great food. What they didn't say was that it was about a fifteen minute trek to get there. It was right around the corner from where a drive-by gang shooting had happened recently. That should have been our fifty-seventh clue...
But they delivered as promised. Tate's had cheap food and places to sit.
But they delivered as promised. Tate's had cheap food and places to sit.
I was starving at this point, so I ran to the bar and ordered first, and I ordered a LOT of food. Then we all sat and watched the drunk Glaswegians' terrible dancing. We actually moved to a different table because the music was so obnoxiously loud (I can't imagine what would have happened had we not moved...). All seven of my friends got their food and were finished eating... still no sign of my food. I went to the bar twice to remind them that I was infact still starving, and had paid a boatload of money for a boatload of food.
*Brief Intermission - you've been reading for a while and there's still the whole Second Act, so feel free to use the WC or grab a drink.*
After about a half hour, I just asked for my money back. The girl behind the bar was walking toward me with my £8 when all of a sudden these four or five guys started to wrestle right next to me. There was no warning sounds or sights of an argument - no shouting. They just went at it. I was so shocked that it took me a moment to register what was happening, but I quickly moved out of firing range. These guys, like the rest of the country, had probably started drinking at 8:00am, so there was no adherence to the accepted rules of a bar fight which I constitute as: punch the guy who offended you while all your friends try to hold you both back. They didn't care who got in their way, innocent bystanders, girls, the pool table... they hit anything and everything that came near them, probably including their own friends. No one even tried to break it up. Or if they did, it was a lost cause because they just got the shit kicked out of them by one of the unnecessarily angry Wegies (Wegies = a Glaswegian = a person from Glasgow).
The fight grew exponentially. Now there are about ten guys battling each other, a few of them picked up bar stools and the fight swelled toward me. I move back as far as I can, but I'm trapped next to this pillar, all alone. In order to make it to the door I'd have to step out into the line of fire. Bar stools crash to the ground and splinter into pieces. This one fat guy, who's shirt had come off in the tussle (what a pretty picture), pinned another guy to the ground and was just pounding on him, punching him over and over and over. I really thought that guy was never gonna get up again.
All of the bartenders disappeared out into the back room, and were able to take most of the pool sticks with them. But now the group of little twerp seventeen-year-olds at the pool table decided they should join in the fight, so they used the pool sticks as bats. Now there were about twenty-five or thirty guys. That's not a bar fight - that's a war. It gives a whole new meaning to the football fans as "Tartan Warriors." To retaliate against the pool sticks, the big guys picked up pint glasses and beer bottles and starting chucking them. They shattered and glass went everywhere. Some guy took the full blow of a tumbler to his back. A bald guy had a huge gaping wound on his forehead and blood was dripping all down his face. But they just kept throwing glasses and bar stools and smashing each other with pool sticks. When the first glass went flying, I said fuck it, and made a run for it. I made it out the front door and onto the sidewalk. It wasn't until I ran, that anyone else in the bar thought to run - many people followed me out, but all of my friends were still trapped in the far corner of the bar.
Finally, the police arrived, but half the guys who were in the fight had fled the scene. My friends made it out safe and we high-tailed it out of there as quickly as possible. Just in case you've forgotten after that long description: I am still starving and am now out £8. That's $15. It was terrifying to be in that situation where you are separated from your friends and feel helpless. If they had gotten any closer to me, I would have had no control over my own safety and could have been severely injured. If we hadn't of switched tables, my friends would have been directly in the center of the "battle field" and they could have been badly hurt - not that they were any safer trapped in the corner.
My heart raced for the rest of the night. We trekked back to the Red Lizard where the rest of Mylne's Court was, and of course they were finished serving food. But my wonderful friends, who felt sorry for me, bought me three beers and an apple sour shot. Which I wholly consumed in approx. 20 minutes (not an exaggeration). So now my heart was really racing, the combination of anxiety and drunkenness on an empty stomach. But Leigh bought me two bags of crisps (which I jokingly called my appetizer and my second course).
So the eleven of us headed back to Glasgow Central to catch a train home. But made a necessary stop at Tesco for a 12-pack of Tennents. When we got to Central we realized that the only train heading to Edinburgh was leaving from a different station. So we all had to run through the streets of Glasgow to Queens St. Station. We hopped on the train on platform 7, and were so proud of ourselves for making it in time that we took a victory picture. Yeah - we were totally on the wrong train. But the conductor told us, so we easily jumped off and got on the right one.
We couldn't be more excited to be on the wrong train
On the train home we enjoyed the musical talents of four Scotsman sitting next to us. They sang their original hit single "Smoking on the Train" again and again. They were drinking boxed wine sans le box. No one was up for a game of slapbag though (which really isn't much of a game anyway). They referred to their red wine as 'pig's blood'. It was actually really entertaining. Although, if I had been sober I would have been so angry that they were actually smoking on the train. I was coughing and gagging the whole ride home. But I have some fun videos of them singing, which I've posted below.
Smoking on the Train
Smoking on the Train Encore
We finally made it home around 12:00am and the boys went with me to the Clamshell so that I could get a pizza. I fully enjoyed my midnight feast! I had earned it after my near-death experience.