I was on the train this weekend visiting the 'Second City of The Empire', a title that was at one time given to Scotland's largest conurbation. That is at a time when Britain, by hook or by crook, had control over the governance and, more importantly, commerce of the lands of the vanquished. Why do we still have sporting events held every four years, with competitors from places I imagine many of us would fail to locate on a globe? All invited to compete based on their one time fealty to the British crown when a quarter of the world was shown on our old school maps as pink, signifying that it belonged within Britain's domain.
We have watered down the title of this friendship group and now refer to it as The Commonwealth or its official title, The Commonwealth of Nations. Thankfully, it is a now voluntary grouping and one which countries can choose to leave, which they have done and continue to do so.
Glasgow is a splendid city with imaginative and sprawling architecture represented in its fine buildings, many harking back to the time of the places visited, conquered and activities indulged in by merchant and investor under the protective cloak of empire. As an adopted citizen of Edinburgh and especially with it being a long established hub of finance, many similar accusations can be made about the capital's part in these events.
I had meant to be on the train the day before, for the shorter journey to my hometown. That journey was to supposed to allow me to attend a football game being played by my ex Junior, wee team, but alas the ongoing rail strikes put paid to that. Happy ending though, we had a comfortable cup tie win, so if we get drawn at home in the next round, I might just be able to be in attendance.
Sunday's journey was of a footballing nature too and I headed to the East End to watch the team my eldest brother John bestowed upon me. My dad leaned more toward the outfit I had set out to see on Saturday. However, my brother held sway, especially as he had a car. It was with immense excitement that we used to begin our journey around noon every second Saturday of the season, as we headed toward Nirvana or, as we like to call it, Paradise. Even better than that I was going to the game was that Mark, my youngest, was travelling with me. Father and son goin' tae the fitba'. What can possibly top that?
We departed on the 12.34 from Haymarket. I had arrived in time for the 12.04, but Mark did not. As we settled in our seats, we got to chatting and naturally our attention turned to the existential age old question of structure and agency, specifically the moral conundrum in appraising the value or pre-eminence of individuality against collectivism.
The journey went surprisingly quickly with Mark taking the stance that he was a shade more of an individualist than a comfortable part of a collective. We both agreed that as individual actors we at various times find ourselves being subsumed into a mutually beneficial collective. The irony was not lost on us that we were headed for a 60,000 crowd mainly made up of the supporters of one team. We moved on to consider the perceived value of 'being good or mutually supportive' in a competitive society, but this was cut short as we arrived at our destination: Queen Street.
The football was so-so. However, we got a win and this was down to relentless teamwork. Some collectives are benign, whilst others evidently malignant.
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