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Clydeside Stories: soaking up the mellow vibe of Glasgow Green

If Wednesday was all about George Square, then yesterday proved that the focus had filtered out of the core of the city, made its way past the tenement flats and round the cross down towards the Clyde, before stopping just short at Glasgow Green.

One thing that remained the same, however, was that as a city it was slow to rise. At 9am there were few people in the park, and fewer still at work on the numerous stalls, activities and stages.

But what were present, were the host city volunteers: swarms of them in green polo necks and high-vis jackets with the words 'happy to help' on the back. It may be an idiom straight out of the American McDonald's handbook of customer service, but I didn't see one who conducted themselves in less than a completely mannerly way.

By late morning, people were milling in and making their way through The Kitchen - an area dedicated to dozens of global food stalls - past the stages which were then empty and through to a mini village hosting wooden sheds with artists and makers inside them. Again, if Wednesday was about George Square it was also about the people who were not from here. Yesterday was about the people manning these stalls: Glaswegians. Scots.

Stefanie Cheong leads O-pin, a collective of contemporary jewellery designers based in the Briggait. Cheong and the other jewellers leave small business cards each containing a pin lying around with instructions that when a card is happened upon, its pin will direct the user to the venture's website where they will be asked to make a special piece of jewellery from whatever they wish. O-pin's website shows Cheong's young nephew proudly holding his 'jewel' made from plastic bottles.

"Yesterday was a good steady flow of people, and quite a relaxed vibe because we didn't know how many people to expect. We weren't sure if it was going to be overwhelming or really quiet.

"It's been a mixture of different nationalities, for sure. We were speaking to some people from Holland as well as some locals.

"At O-pin we're looking to engage a wider audience and a wider public with what we're doing, so we've been giving out our business cards which lead people to our website. Generally, though, people are really interested. We showcase about 30 Scottish makers so it's been great to talk about the work of all of them. It's also a good way to show people a different side to tourist tat.

"I'll be honest, I was a bit worried at first about how this event at Glasgow Green would turn out because it has a bit of a Taps Aff atmosphere on occasions. But actually it's been really mellow and there's been a very welcoming, laid-back vibe. The impression that the organisers are giving off is excellent. There's been a lot of attention to detail put in. It looks well-established and high-end as a result."

Opposite O-pin is a large marquee in which children are drawing and crafting. Katie Fowlie is an artist leading the event, Big Draw for Glasgow 2014.

"What we're doing at our marquee is asking people to draw in a very broad sense of the word. Every day we're having different activities going on that feed into the themes of the Commonwealth, home, and Glasgow.

"Today, for example, we have some giant wooden shipping spools to tie in with the shipping industry, and also the textile industry. They've been wrapped with hessian and people are using wool that's been sourced to use that as a drawing line to make tapestries. Because they're cylindrical, they soon start meeting other people's drawings and so reacting to other things that are going on.

"The flotilla has started today and we've got 250 boats coming down the Clyde, so some people have been using that as an inspiration for the sort of things they're drawing. But essentially, these are going to be cumulative pieces over the duration of the Games, and collaborative pieces too.

"The tape you can see on the doors and around the marquee is paying homage to the Commonwealth Games branding. It's a nod to Jim Lambie who designed that branding: he uses electrical tape, plus kids don't really get the chance to use it too often."

"A lot of the activities we're holding show that you don't need much to make a drawing - just a bit of imagination. All these things can be done at home."

All day, the east entrance was swarmed with clouds of people dressed in light summer clothes arriving from Tollcross, from Bridgeton, from Shettleston. It might have merely been a planning requirement to place additional entrances to the park. But they could have been placed facing the north of the city, or the south. They weren't. They faced the east, and it was as if to say, we are here in your locale but do not forget that this is for you, too. Because the Commonwealth Games are not just for the tourists and the elite - those who have money to travel to Scotland and those who excel in sport. They are for everyone. They are for us.

It is perhaps worth mentioning that between the first Clydeside Story and this, there has been a certain opening ceremony that has divided opinion. On that, two things.

The first, that at lunchtime yesterday on the main stage, Orcadian band The Chair performed rousing stomp music (their definition, not mine) drawing on the archaic melodies of their home islands. In the crowd, men and women jigging. Men and men jigging. Women and women jigging. On the stage, the drummer, wearing tartan but not in a Barrowman purple suit eyesore kind of way: this was a long-sleeved t-shirt from hip Glasgow brand Abandon Ship Apparel proudly bearing our country's plaid. So, Scottish, yes: but a new kind of Scotland quite different to the parody of Barrowman's world. A Scotland that holds its traditions and values close to its chest but always allows them to update and grow as its fine stock of makers, musicians, artists and people give it renewed reason to. Because, moreover, we are a country that listens to each other. And then reacts accordingly.

The second, a huge space on the Green dedicated to sport. Not a put-your-email-address-on-our-swimming-mailing-list-and-you'll-get-a-sticker affair, but real activities. Hockey, badminton, coits, ball-sports, an Emirates racquet challenge, a race Usain Bolt game, boxing. The latter, in particular, showed coaches working hard with small kids to excite them about the sport. So, yes, pink faces in that sweltering heat, but pink hats too, as little girls got stuck into beating the crap out of a male-faced dummy. It was the busiest event by far, with children and adults alike queuing to have a go. A cynic would perhaps make allusions between the boxing's popularity and Glasgow's perceived violent reputation. But this was not about cynicism. This was grown-ups and their little ones of all shapes and sizes clamouring to have a go and to be active even in the heat. By the by, at any given point, those boxing queues far outstretched the ones for burgers.

So: unfit Glasgow? Parochial Glasgow? Not from what I saw at the Green. Not by a country mile.

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