Top Ten Glasgow Pubs
Justin Currie’s top 10 Glasgow pubs
1. The Persian’s Forehead
An enormous hanger-like place tucked down a grim Dickensian back lane in the most sullen and sallow quarter of the east end, The Persian’s Forehead features low-lifes of every persuasion; stabbers, dealers, pimps and perverts – dipsomaniacs all – begging for another taste of the landlord’s special: Black Thunder, a mixture of Guinness and red wine. I wouldn’t recommend going here without a weapon of some sort – perhaps a saw or a table leg.
Dorothy’s lies in a low-ceilinged basement on Sauchiehall Street (pronounced Sickle Street) at the bottom of a flight of steps so steep and uneven that many customers and staff-members either permanently limp or use crutches. Dot is famed for her repartee, her elliptical Polish riddles a particular delight.
I once played here on Valentine’s day and was assaulted in the toilets by a one-eyed ballerina called Mary. She tried to kiss me and strangle me and I fought her off with judicious use of my elbows.
Reputedly an abbreviation for Thank-God-I’m-Fucked-Up, TGIF is a magnet for Glasgow’s burgeoning crack addict community. It’s a great place to hang out on Sunday mornings when Pol, the DJ can be heard playing four hour sets consisting of side one of Off The Wall over and over again. There are menus on the bar purporting to represent actual food being cooked somewhere on the premises but nobody’s ever seen any and besides – no one is ever hungry. And don’t use the disabled toilet. It’s a worm-hole into the next world.
4. The Union
Though I rarely darken it’s door nowadays, The Union was the venue for all of my formative romantic experiences. With its candle-lit circular tables and old 1950s movie posters it remains unchanged since its 1970s heyday. The vibe, too is the same. At every table sits an increasingly desperate girl who is usually reading a French novel in translation. Boys approach them warily and offer them refreshments. The general rule is if you don’t get glassed in the face – you’re in.
5. The Belgrano
A stylish and relaxed original art deco cocktail bar, The Belgrano is the hang-out for the 21st century yuppie, now called uppies since none of them are a day under fifty.
Folk fiddle with the latest mobile phone surrounded by shopping sacks and huge clumps of car keys while extraordinarily camp waiters deposit twenty pound drinks at their booths. Worth a visit to watch Glasgow’s political elite get cross-eyed on Champagne cocktails and crawl to the bathrooms over a gilded carpet while trailing vomit from their Prada shoes. I once met Sean Connery in here and he looked at me with a mixture of disgust and desire before telling me to go away and fuck my mother with a four-iron in an accent so unreal I thought I was dreaming.
6. Secret Police
This is the archetypal Glasgow “style bar”, characterized by a singular absence of style in either decor, fare or clientele. I only frequent such places to gather material for songs of loathing and disdain and the very, very cheap lager.
Formerly a student haunt with decent music and a beer garden, McMacs has lately become a meeting place for artists and writers, who through no fault of their own, have become has-been alcoholic bores. Any night of the week you’ll find a coterie of characters, ten sheets to the wind, willing to relate to any who will listen their sordid tales of disappointments, miscalculations and semi-succeses which usually involve fucking up commissions from rich people too drunk to know trouble when they see it. The paintings on its walls serve as a gallery of failure and a warning to any who venture here who still harbour hope, optimism and talent. I am to be found there most nights of the week, at the bar, chewing my wrist and catching my reflection in the shining bottles, the familiar mantra turning in my head – oh, God, oh God, oh, God.
8. Dead Turkey
Technically this is a club, and an illegal one. Situated below the monstrous,
towering concrete supports for Prince Charles’s bridge, the Turkey specializes in cheap wine and music so obnoxious that the only visitors are the mentally ill.
I had my 21st birthday party here. I remember little apart from the odour and somehow managing to chip my tooth on a plastic cup containing nothing but vodka
and a gay girl’s spittle.
9. My Place
My Place has a bar and a row of beer-filled refrigerators and ladies’ and gentlemen’s toilets. I have a rota on my bedroom wall, delineating the days when I clean, the days when I drink and the days when I serve myself. I don’t know if it’s profitable but I know if they close it will be a sad, sad loss.
10. The Kipper Club
Finally an establishment so classy, so elegant, so Je-ne-sais-quoi that I have never been let in. I sometimes press my nose up to the stained-glass window and wonder about the pleasures pursued within. Are the women fabulous, the men chivalrous, is the company delectable, are the drinks divine? The doormen stand like celestial sentries, never betraying a glint of compassion. You can hear the sound of laughter and congratulation ring out into the street when its doors briefly open to digest or disgorge another party of sophisticates. The Kipper Club is where it’s at and I am anywhere but there, but where it’s at is stiff and stuffy and stupid and I don’t really care.