Thank you, Glasgow: 48 hours with you were a delight, an education, a chance to watch one of the world’s great footballing fixtures and, oh, thanks for the unexpected heatwave. The 48 hours were a reminder of what an extraordinary city Glasgow is, packed with fascinating people, strangers who start up conversations as if old friends so that I was racking my brain to remember where I’d met them before. It’s the people who make Glasgow. 

So thank you for this opportunity to praise your characterful city. I walked a lot, both sides of the Clyde, and saw the extensive and much-needed rebuilding. But before this is simply dismissed as the shallow take of a tourist in town for 48 hours of sunshine and football, I’d highlight obvious concerns. Where are the cycle lanes? Why is Sauchiehall Street so grimy? And when is the George Square redesign happening for that matter? Why are the streets largely fine to walk down but the criss-crossing lanes often rutted, darkened throughfares?

And, most urgently, what is being done about drug problems, poverty levels, the disparity in life expectancy between areas (reflected in Government statistics), and about the homeless? Homeless Project Scotland says its night shelter “provides a temporary sanctuary” but warns on its website that this is “a Band-Aid on a gaping wound”.

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All British cities have to tackle these issues to varying degrees. No visitor can take any high ground. But, and this is only my perception, I always come away with the impression that not many people actually live in Glasgow city centre. There’s a slightly transient feel, and then I walked around on Thursday and Friday evenings, and saw the busy bars stretching on the pavements, and admired the choice of eateries. 

I enjoyed a great night out on Thursday, down in a bierkeller and then a long, very good curry. And I don’t even drink. Glasgow seems a city centre for going out in, but not staying in, beyond hotels. Again, that may be a superficial impression. 

I also visited some pubs for research before the Old Firm game. As journalists do. I told local friends which pubs and they raised an eyebrow and almost raised a posse to protect me. One was in the Gorbals. It was fine. If you’re respectful, and obviously someone fascinated by the Celtic memorabilia on the walls and behind the bar, they were completely OK. No sudden silence, no stares. A couple of nods in fact. 

The Herald: Glasgow pub The Brazen Head

I tried to get into a Rangers pub, boasting some interesting Tripadvisor reviews, but that was closed. So I headed to the Rangers Museum. If you want football museums, no British city matches Glasgow. Probably only Manchester comes close. In Glasgow, you’ve got Hampden Park, Celtic Park and two at Ibrox, the new museum in that terrific modern building next to the ground and the remarkable trophy room at the top of that historic marble staircase in the main stand, the famous listed stand designed by Archibald Leitch. Ibrox itself is 125 years old this year, by the way. The enmity between Rangers and Celtic, and the sectarianism, holds back a city surely keen to promote a more modern image. The fans probably don’t care, more intent on “whataboutery” of each other, but the dark side of the rivalry damages the city’s reputation. 

It’s sad because there is so much uplifting about the clubs, not least their community initiatives. And empathy. So many good people work at both clubs. I remember how Celtic Park embraced Liverpool’s grieving squad in the aftermath of Hillsborough, and how members of Strathclyde Fire Brigade, called to the Liverpool hotel when somebody let off the alarm, sang and consoled and lifted the spirits of Kenny Dalglish and his players late into the night. Dalglish woke up wearing a fireman’s helmet. Glasgow’s full of good people. 

People at Liverpool haven’t forgotten that compassion in their hour of need. And it will not surprise you to learn that the first person on the phone to Dalglish after Hillsborough was a Glaswegian, Alex Ferguson, rivalry put aside. 

The Herald: Glasgow Science Centre.

I once sat in Ferguson’s office in 2003, previewing a Manchester United trip to Ibrox, and mentioned I was taking the kids up. Ferguson immediately recommended visiting some new museums. So we began at the Glasgow Science Centre. I checked on the listings for today to see whether it was still as good. As well as the usual exhibitions, it currently offers “Fungi Web of Life” in Imax 3D and the Rupert Grint-narrated “We Are Aliens”. “Wonders of the Night Sky” is over in the Planetarium. 

For people, football, nightlife, museums and galleries, Glasgow takes some beating. You have much to be proud of, not least the immersive “Beyond Van Gogh” exhibition coming to the SEC in July. My heart fell when I saw the images of those terrible two fires that afflicted the magnificent Charles Rennie Mackintosh building at the Glasgow School of Art. 

I spent four years living in Edinburgh in the 80s, absolutely loved it, and it’s an even more confident city at ease with being Scottish and European. Maybe I was imbued with Edinburgh’s superiority complex but that disappeared when I first visited Glasgow, appropriately the Herald offices for some student awards. I didn’t win but I came away with a strong, positive impression of the people encountered on the trip, especially their humour. That hasn’t changed.

Glasgow has its issues but it also has a lot right. Celebrate that.