Glasgow. It evokes images of Trainspotting, Inspector Taggart, and heroin addicts. In fact, Glasgow has the highest number of heroin addicts in the United Kingdom. So what better place for me to spend a cold, rainy and windy Sunday afternoon in October?
Nah, I wasn’t skulking down some back alleyway in pursuit of a fix. However, I WAS skulking down the city streets in pursuit of something else: the infamous deep-fried Mars Bar. Yes, you heard it here first – they actually deep fry Mars Bars! Hard to believe, eh? Mind you, the Scots aren’t always known for having the most healthful of diets. Or at least not the Glaswegians. As someone who’s addicted to Walkers salt and vinegar crisps, I’m not going to cast any stones here.
My mate Ben (who’s technically from Kent, not Scotland) and his girlfriend Bex (who’s technically from Scotland not Kent) had never partaken of this fine delicacy – nor had I, for that matter (Scotland isn’t just famous for its beautiful landscape, you know!), so off we headed to Glasgow city centre, certain we’d have our pick of deep-fried Mars Bars establishments. Just to be on the safe side, Ben and Bex texted a slew of their Glaswegian friends, asking if they knew where we could make a score. Of the few replies that came in, most were downright offended by the query. It appeared we were on our own.
We wandered up and down in the wind and rain, our hopes dwindling by the minute as we encountered pretty much everything (including a woman peddling The Big Issue in song to what I vaguely recognised as a popular show tune) – everything but a place to get this treat. Hunger was overtaking us, but we persevered, opting to parlay what was supposed to be a late lunch into an early dinner. We (or at least I) had to have a deep-fried Mars Bar – and it was now a matter of life or death! Not wanting to disappoint his guest (ie me), Ben popped into a newsagents and bought a couple of Mars Bars. To be honest, I felt really let down; I thought he was going to fob off some boring uncooked Mars Bar on me to shut me up. I expected better, considering the incredible amount of hospitality and care I’d been receiving from him all weekend. I mean, this was the very same bloke who had a supply of Fruili beer in the fridge just for me, not to mention a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream for Teddy – the very same bloke who’d been cooking up some first-class meals for dinner and always making sure I had a cup of tea first thing in the morning.
I tried to hide my disappointment and loped along, angling my yellow umbrella so it wouldn’t be flipped inside out by the wind. Ben passed the two Mars Bars over to Bex in a rather covert fashion, whereupon she took off on a high-speed chase, with Ben and I struggling to keep up. The next thing I knew she’d dashed into an Italian chippie, leaving us stranded outside in the rain with matching expressions of befuddlement. I assumed the woman was buying an order of chips to tide herself over till our delayed dinner. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Bex had a plan. And it concerned the Mars Bars.
Within moments she began to gesticulate at us wildly. We went inside to find out what she was on about, only to see her being handed a styrofoam container with what looked like two pieces of battered cod in it. Once again I felt let down. I wanted my deep-fried Mars Bar, and here Bex was palming off some lousy greasy fried fish on me. It was all becoming too much – the wind, the rain… and not a deep-fried Mars Bar in sight. Then suddenly it dawned on me. This was no order of fish and chips, this was the Holy Grail! Apparently she’d charmed the fryer at the Italian chippie into frying up the Mars Bars – and at no charge.
Off we went back out into the rain and wind, with me wondering when I’d finally get to eat one of the damned things, especially since Ben seemed to be holding the container a wee bit too possessively for my taste – and at this point I didn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. We ended up getting a reprieve from the rain outside the entrance to the Gallery of Modern Art, where at last we bit into our treasures, all of us expecting to be thoroughly disgusted. Au contraire! I was quite impressed. In fact, I’d eat one again right now if I could. Ben and Bex shared theirs, and I’ll admit to eyeing it greedily in hopes they wouldn’t finish it.
Since we were already at the Gallery, we decided to go in to get a break from the weather. At least it was free and dry and we were able to regain our energy for what was promised to be an authentic Scottish meal. And what better place for an authentic Scottish meal than an authentic Irish pub replete with authentic Irish fiddlers playing in a back room and a surly authentic Scottish waiter who ignored all the patrons? Of course being an authentic Irish pub they were out of Irish stew. I didn’t care, since I ordered a plate of haggis, tatties, and neeps in whiskey gravy (though I didn’t get a buzz off it). I also stole some black pudding off Bex, and it proved to be surprisingly tasty, unlike a nasty version of the stuff I’d once tried in the Lake District. A pint of McEwan’s took away the pain of life and left me a tad glassy-eyed, therefore I considered having another, except I knew I’d end up needing the loo.
At this point I’m not entirely sure whether I should write an erotic tale about Glasgow, if I end up doing a fourth volume of my Erotic Travel Tales anthologies. I might need to return for another of those deep-fried Mars Bars and see if inspiration hits!