Friday, October 19, 2001

Another Day in Glasgow

Another Day in Glasgow

Graham and Brian told us we should not miss the Burrell Collection. This was a private collection of a man and his wife, but it was donated to the City of Glasgow. Burrell put the nine thousand piece collection in his will with the condition that the collection be kept in a country setting to protect the pieces from the pollution of the city. He also felt that it would be better shown off in the country. Brian said he walks there in twenty-five minutes, since it was close to the house and he gave us directions at breakfast. My portion of breakfast has been halved by my own decision. I get full much faster now.

We headed out for the Burrell and it was raining. We had no complaints as the weather has been as close to perfect as one could hope for. With our umbrellas in hand, we started our walk. After a few blocks of residential area, we turned into a driveway that was to lead to the Burrell and the Pollack House, another historical home. We walked for a long while down this tree lined road dodging a few cars here and there. The trees were wonderfully colorful and autumn like and the rain added to the change of season being in the air. We walked forever, and finally had the distraction of Highland cows on both sides of the road in pastures. They are so fascinating with their long fur and sturdy horns. The bull’s horns seem to curl less than the cows. There were many warnings along the fences not to touch the herd due to hoof and mouth, so we shot them with our cameras instead.

After walking for about a mile and a quarter, I was questioning whether or not Ron understood the directions since he did not have a trusty map to fall back on. Then there was a building in sight and he was given a reprieve. However, the pardon was short lived, as the building was not the Burrell, but the Pollack House. The Burrell was still another half mile. Onward cultural soldiers, march forward, I pray thee.

The building was built especially for the Burrell collection in a meadow area that had a forest on one side. Most of the building is done in glass to give the benefit of natural light. Burrell was known for his keen ability to collect the ‘right’ pieces of art. Not that we are jaded by our world travels, but we were not overly impressed. There were a few Rodins that we were grateful to see and a large collection of Degas. He had considerable collections of Egyptian art and Chinese artifacts. Running through faster than Ron, I went to the café for tea. Losing my head, I succumbed to a piece of pastry that was a moist graham cracker crust, topped with caramel and that topped with a thick layer of chocolate. My eyes were drooling looking at it and anticipating. I sat down with my tea and took a bite. It had the same consistency as raw oats and about as much essence. I wanted to cry with disappointment at the number of gastronomic treasures that are going unexplored, by me anyway.

The museum has a free shuttle that took us to the bus stop, which was fortunate as that was another mile and a half in the other direction. We hopped on the bus once again for the city center. Ron was interested in seeing the designs that Macintosh accomplished, so we hunted down the Glasgow School of Art and the Willows Tea Room, to see some examples of Macintoshes architectural designs. We were looking for the next bus to catch to get us to the Art School and I was walking ten paces in front of Ron looking up at the next bus sign. There are often three different bus stops within feet of each other. When I turned around to say something to him, he was gone. I looked around and could not find him, but since he disappears often, if I just wait it out, he usually reappears. Minutes later, I see him getting off a bus that had arrived as I was walking. I gave him an astonished look to which he replied, “I thought you saw me get on the bus and then I realized you weren’t with me.” I felt so inferior that the eyes in the back of my head were not as sharply focused, as they should be.

We made it was back to St. Mungo’s with cameras ready to shoot. After shooting the Dali painting from different angles and other displays in the museum, we went back to the cathedral for pictures of the stained glass. If my pictures come close to doing it any justice, I will be thrilled.

Coming to grips with a nasty task at hand, we stopped at a pay phone and I called Bank of America collect. I found out from Brian at the guesthouse that to get operator assistance in Scotland, you dial 100. Within seconds I was connected to Bank of America and their recording stated that they accept all collect calls, one fear erased. I had this mental image of some underpaid, apathetic, powerless person answering the phone and saying, “He is calling from Scotland? There is no way, we will pay for that call.” What I did hear was that “Due to unusual calling volume, the hold time would be ten minutes. You have been randomly selected to participate in a survey. If you would like to participate…” Great, I wanted the experience of spending ten minutes in a Scotch phone box waiting to find out why they will not allow me to access my own money and then tell them how well they succeeded in keeping me a financial prisoner in a survey. Whoever the Patron Saint of Bankers is, she or he was looking out for me, a real person answered in under a minute. After answering six questions to verify that I was who I said I was or at least someone that knew all of my personal information, the gentleman said he would take the restriction off of my account. They wanted me to call in to make sure it was I who was trying to break into the account and not some thief. Yes, that is encouraging, except for when you think you remember your password and don’t when you need it the most.

Ron was interested in shooting some film at the Modern Art Museum, so we went back there. In front there is a statue in front of Lord Wellington. For some reason that escaped us, there has been a running joke for over twenty years that someone has placed a traffic cone on his head and another through the reins of the horse.

Off to EasyEverything, we needed to see if Bank of America had truly absolved me of past transgressions and would grant me entrance to the inner kingdom. Success! I was bestowed access and was able to run my cyber fingers through our financial funds and move things about. Then I logged on to American to check the status of my account balances. I could not remember my username and was denied entry. It will be so much easier when we are admitted through an eye scan or voice recognition, though with my luck I will have laryngitis when I need to use my voice the most. One of these days, I will catch up with American Express.

My best friend, Daphnee agreed to be our personal postal clerk. All of our mail now goes to her and her partner’s home when it became evident that we could not trust my father to be dependable. Daphnee e-mails us when the bills and other important pieces of mail arrive, so that we can handle it from here. While we were at EasyEverything, Daphnee’s e-mail stated that the statement from the property manager showed that the new tenant deducted over $600.00 for paint and supplies. This was not in the contract for the rental, so we were more than dismayed. I had been e-mailing the property manager since New Jersey and have not yet received a response. I was going to call from there and verify her e-mail address, but when things got sticky, I had forgotten. Now I want to contact her more urgently then ever. Our contract spells out that we is to contact us for any repair over $50.00 and if the tenant wanted to repaint, which the property manager discouraged, the tenant was to be responsible for the costs. So when we were expecting to find a deposit of $1400.00 in our bank statement, we were beyond shocked and feeling a bit helpless at finding $371.00 credited to the account. Off goes a dispatch to someone in Modesto to call the property manager to e-mail us immediately so that we are sure we have the correct e-mail address and can carry on a dialogue. More stress!

We decided we had better go home and rest for a short while. I am exhausted and not eating has not helped my energy level. We were coming back to the city center tonight for the Shamanka performance. If you would like to check out the web site and missed it last time, it is . We did try Michael once again before returning, but the cell phone said he was unavailable and his home phone’s machine picked up yet again. This made our next move somewhat questionable as we had thought we would spend a few days in Manchester. We were not dependent on staying with Michael or Jean, but the sole reason for going there was to see them.

The performance was given for Ron and I plus a family of four. I was caught between feelings of being humbled or being embarrassed that so few take advantage of this work. The woman who runs the show is from Russia as are all of the artists on the team. All of the pieces are a political theme, they all have moving parts and many include the foot pedals of old Singer sewing machines and dozens of wheels. Each piece of sculpture is a brilliant piece of construction with all of the movements of the components and the music that accompanies it. However, being a political theme and coming from the pain of being Russian, most of the work has dark overtones. It is the type of experience that you are glad you had, but most likely would not repeat in the near future.

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