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The Calton and Bridgeton

I did a wee bit of looking around about Calton following my posting (The Poverty Ladder) yesterday. There’s a good Wikipedia page HERE from which this passage comes:

“The area became known for its weaving industry. On 30 June, 1787, a meeting of weavers was held on Glasgow Green. Their wages had dropped because of the increased importation of cheaper foreign textiles. Most of the workers decided to take strike action, although some accepted lower wages and carried on working. The dispute came to a head on 3 September, 1787: when violence erupted after some striking weavers tried to seize materials from weavers who had carried on working.
The military were called in and a detachment of the 39th Regiment of Foot opened fire on the demonstrators. Six of the men killed at the scene were locally called ‘martyrs’ and some of them were buried in the Calton Cemetery off the main London Road. The families of the men could not afford a headstone although, a century later, a memorial was raised to commemorate their actions.”

And almost inevitably for a deprived Glasgow area……..

“The area has experienced sectarian tensions for generations; the Orange Order have a particular foothold in this area and there are also Irish Republican organisations present. This is reflected, albeit much declined in modern times, in gang and sectarian related graffiti. In the 1960s, an area of the Calton was known locally as Tongland, prominently marked out as such by graffiti. Tongland appears in Gillies MacKinnon’s 1995 movie Small Faces.”

Bridgeton Cross

In my previous life in the mobile disco business, I did a bit of work just along the road from Calton in Bridgeton, which also borders Glasgow Green. In particular we did work in a pub just down from Bridgeton Cross and near to the Orange Lodge. Man it was mean. There were guys with knives, drug dealers and psychos – and that was just the bouncers! That was where you earned your stripes! DJ’s who worked there never feared going anywhere!
I remember one day coming up the road from Glasgow Green to drop the gear off for that night’s entertainment (the actual gig was usually delegated to someone else!). There was a commotion outside the Orange Lodge and several police vehicles redirecting traffic. There was also a fire engine. It turned out that one of the members of the lodge with paramilitary links to Northern Ireland had occasion to need a place to hide some explosives. Unfortunately he had stored them too near the gas oven in the kitchen and when some members arrived to cook up the Saturday pies the heat had got to the semtex or whatever it was causing an explosion! or at least so the story went.

I’m sure there are many similar tales of the Calton and Bridgeton.

The Poverty Ladder

Sometimes an item on the tv news can surprise you. Sometimes there will be a story which will disgust you. Sometimes the reaction may be shock or horror. Combine them all for this one. A World Health Organisation study has concluded that Calton , in the east end of Glasgow, has a male life expectancy of 54. Lenzie, a suburb to the north of the city, and a very pleasant one at that, boasts a life expectancy of 82. Lenzie is less than 15 minutes drive from Calton

Four times as many adults of working age in Calton are unable to work due to illness compared with the national average; nearly three times as many people are admitted to hospital; and 61 per cent of adults have no qualifications, compared with 33 per cent in Scotland overall. Calton has the lowest household income of any area in the UK. What little disposable income there is is often spent on booze, fags and junk food.

Last night on BBC news an Indian man was interviewed. He earns the equivalent of £200 per month. He spoke very well and explained that whilst he was poor he had enough to feed and clothe his family and give them a good diet. His life expectancy is eight years more than it would have been had he lived in Calton.

So while the European Parliament spends millions dreaming up new human rights to shower on us like so much confetti (and probably sending overseas aid to India), the UK government updates Trident and assists America in invading foreign countries, what about areas like Calton?
John Mason, the newly elected SNP MP for the area, said: “These statistics are shocking, but sadly familiar. Poor health has characterised the East End of Glasgow for far too long. It is absolutely inexcusable that life expectancy in Glasgow is lower than that of India, where 80 per cent of the population live in poverty.

“Clearly, the area’s challenges are complex and will not be resolved overnight, but action must be taken on the blights that have held us back for too long. For example: measures to tackle excessive alcohol consumption and a lack of exercise as well as addressing maternal health, drug and alcohol misuse and early-years provision.”

Meanwhile in other news, the seventh Duke of Sutherland has offered the nation two of his paintings for the bargain price of £100 million. The fist Duke had a rather less cilvilised way of making money. He cleared thousands of families from his estate and burned their houses to make way for sheep in the Highland clearances. He was the richest man in Britain.

The great and the good are wringing hands to explain how important it is for Scotland to retain these paintings. Meanwhile life expectancy in Calton is 54.

Pass the sick bag.

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