The ‘Glorious’ Twelfth of July in Belfast

For the first time in a long number of years, I found myself in Belfast, where I grew up, on the 12th of July. As I know many people from Belfast do, I have avoided the city around the 12th … Continue reading

Oxford Part 2: The Queen’s English, café people watching, and moving to Paris

Working in the Dictionaries department at OUP has allowed me to release my inner language geek, and this, as well as wandering around Oxford, has made me think about how interesting accents are. Living in Glasgow, I have become used … Continue reading

Oxford: solo exploring, personal pep talks, and finding myself a prime target for people watching

Unlike my past two summers, during which I went gallivanting around Europe, (and blogged about some of my adventures: Part 1, 2, and 3) living out my not so secret dream of being a travelling hippie, this summer, I am somewhat reluctantly thinking about what … Continue reading

‘Ripples on the Pond’ Review: subtle feminism?

Using the Glasgow Women’s Library’s 21 Revolutions series as a springboard, ‘Ripples on the Pond’ is an exhibition from Glasgow Museum’s collection, including painting, print, photography and film, exclusively by women. What I expected from this exhibition was a hard-core, … Continue reading

‘Into That Darkness’ Review

This post is a review of the stage adaptation of Gitta Sereny’s book, ‘Into that Darkness’ at the Citizens Theatre, adapted for theatre by Robert David MacDonald. The book is about convicted Nazi war criminal Franz Stangl, and the darkness … Continue reading

People Watching on the Subway – fifth-wheeling, shoe-studying, and terrible fake tan

Public transport is one of my favourite places to people watch. Being on a bus, train or plane puts you in close proximity to strangers, with no obligation to talk to them. Over the past couple of days, making use of Glasgow’s subway on my adventures, I have encountered a variety of people, and I want to share some of my favourites.

On one journey, I found myself seated in between two couples. Initially, my inward reaction was: “Well, this is a tad awkward.” However, the contrast between the two couples was so entertaining that I forgot about my fifth-wheeling in my shameless eavesdropping. Couple One are best described as cute. They were snuggled close together, holding hands, chatting and giggling quietly. They both looked dressed up, so I’d say it was date night for them. Couple Two, however, were having an in depth debate about the nature of God and what He means to people, including discussions about whether He is good, if people should think of Him as having an image, and whether the gods of different religions are actually all the same God. Like I said, brilliant contrast, totally worth the awkwardness.

As well as couples, another type of people I tend to notice on the subway are parents and children. Yesterday, I saw a girl who literally looked like a miniature version of her Mum, helped by the fact that they were wearing similar, slightly eccentric clothes. There are two things I love about kids on the subway. The first is how excited they get, making faces in the windows, counting the stations, reading the signs aloud to make sure everyone around them knows how clever they are. The second is that they don’t do what almost all adults do, and avoid eye contact at all costs. Kids smile and chat away quite happily, while adults awkwardly study the advertising or their shoes. (Speaking of shoes, my flatmate and I decided retail therapy was a great idea, and ended up with the same shoes. It’s totally justified, in fact, I’d say it’s a kindness to other people, because when we wear them together, people on the subway will have something fun to look at.)


The matching shoes

A couple of days ago, I found myself on the subway when schools had just finished, and three girls caught my attention. One of them was wearing particularly awful fake tan, and smudged bright red lipstick, and this, coupled with her black hair and fringe gave her an unfortunate resemblance to Mini Mouse. (No judgements, we’ve all made questionable fashion/make up choices) She was sitting beside another girl, also with an interesting fake tan job, but less extreme make up and a severe ponytail. As they got onto the train, this second girl pushed the third girl into the seat opposite her, put her foot up on her lap, and demanded she tie her shoelace. To my surprise, the third girl only hesitated slightly before tying the lace. In Mini’s defence, she didn’t join in with Ponytail, and I think tried to diffuse the situation by talking non-stop for the rest of the journey. At the time, I have to admit, I thought it was all quite funny, especially when I overheard someone else on the subway mutter:

“…and that is why I do not want to have kids in Glasgow.”

However, almost immediately after getting off the train, I wished I had said something. As previously mentioned, the British adult avoidance of eye contact on public transport meant that, apart from a few disapproving looks, no one reacted to a schoolgirl was being humiliated by her classmate. While the girls at my school were more bitchy, less obnoxious than Ponytail, I can relate to the third girl’s predicament. I remember very clearly trying to please and impress the “popular” girls at school, and also very clearly my realisation shortly afterwards that, actually, I didn’t care what they thought of me. I wish I had stopped the girl tying Ponytail’s shoelace, and pointed out that she didn’t have anything to prove, to her, or any other “Queen Bee” type, but I’m pretty sure she’s already on her way to that epiphany. For one thing, she was already doing better than me at that stage, since she hadn’t succumbed to the terrible fake tan trend.

Kirsty x

About Face and A Pint of Science

As promised, I began my adventures round Glasgow yesterday, and made not one, but two fun discoveries: ‘About Face’, a photography exhibition by Maud Sulter in Hillhead Library, and the Pint of Science Festival, which is essentially combining informal talks … Continue reading



My most sincere apologies for neglecting this blog and you lovely people of the internet. As I’m sure many of you are aware, studying and exams came and ruined all the fun. Over the last month-and-a-bit, life has consisted of many, many books, so much food, all of the tea, and the occasional motivational gin/glass of wine. (Don’t tell anyone.) However, now I am free from their clutches, and have had a wonderful celebratory weekend, complete with end of exam treats from the best flatmate ever – raspberry frangipane (nope, I don’t know how to pronounce it either, we have been calling it “frangy-pangy”), and possibly the most appropriate mug I’ve ever seen:

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I am slowly weaning myself off the endless motivational cups of tea and snacks, I have finally got round to renewing my gym membership, which definitely means I have become magically fit and skinny overnight, and I promise to be much better about keeping the blog up to date.

With the loss of my social life to being stuck in the library, which I took to referring to as ‘the prison’ on particularly bad study days, I feel like I have been missing out. So, in reclaiming my time, I am going to do more of what I like doing. What I have missed most, (apart from regular human contact) is keeping up with the arts, and discovering new artists, because there is always something new and exciting happening in Glasgow, so I’m planning on going to lots of art exhibitions, theatre shows, and anything else that takes my fancy. In between dancing around Glasgow in excitement at my new-found freedom, I will be blogging about what I find, with, as always, a focus on people. I will also, of course, continue people watching in my usual fashion, in case any die-hard fans were concerned.

Stay tuned for my musings on people, arts, and life in general!

Kirsty x

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Love in Unlikely Places

Today’s people watching story features one of my tutors at university. She is adorable – really passionate about her subject, and easy to approach with questions. The reason I am featuring her on my blog is because for the first time, I got a little glimpse into her personal life. Last week, she cancelled our tutorial, after triple checking we were all definitely ok with this, because she wanted to go to a sword conference. Yes, you read that right. But trust me, she gets away with the geekiness, because she’s so cute and enthusiastic.

So, of course, in our next class, we had to ask how the sword conference was, and, of course, she was delighted to tell us all about it; there were blacksmiths who talked about how swords were made throughout history, people who worked with manuscripts relating to swords, and, blushing a little with excitement, told us how she gave a talk on sword words – i.e. words for ‘sword’ in different languages, and across different time periods. A little subject context here might be helpful – I study Linguistics, hence the words focus.


Images from Pinterest

One of my classmates asked her if she wielded any swords, and her answer was; ‘No, but I get to do that a lot, we have lots of swords at home.’ Unsurprisingly, I thought she was joking, but she then continued; ‘My fiancé is a medieval fencing instructor.’ At this point I should add that her specialism is in Medieval Literature and Language – this particular series of tutorials is on Old Icelandic sagas. (Don’t judge me, I know I’m weird and nerdy.)

But anyway, back to the fiancé. How. Perfect. If I’d been able to conjure someone up to match-make her with, I’m pretty sure he would have had no chance against a medieval fencing instructor. But honestly, I had never thought about it. I love moments like that, when you remember that teachers actually have a life outside of their job. I was definitely one of those kids who assumed teachers never left school, so I’m always a little shocked by revelations like this.

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The beginnings of my Medieval wedding planning… Images from Pinterest

This finding also gives me hope that maybe there really is someone for everyone. I have a bit of a fear that I’m just to weird to be in a real person relationship, that I have too much crazy to cope with. But, maybe what I’m looking for is someone equally weird. Not all the time; my weirdnesses don’t really come out in public, in fact, there are very few people who have been allowed to see all of the crazy. However, if two people with such niche kinds of crazy can find each other, there is definitely hope for the rest of us, that a) we probably (hopefully) aren’t quite as weird as we might think, and b) we might actually find an other half on the same level of crazy, or at least who can deal with our particular kind of crazy.

Now, I really want to get myself invited to what is likely to be the most fabulously insane wedding ever, and I am convinced that they will be deliriously happy together. As long as they never decide to have a domestic in their house full of swords…