Rome, the Celtic, and Social Labor Night

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

From a near standstill to whirlwind, this semester is wrapping up in a blur. Last Wednesday, Frank (McAveety, the Member of Scottish Parliament with whom I work, just for record-keeping) took me to a Glasgow Celtic (pronounced “sell-tick,” no joke) football match. Before watching them outclass Villareal, Frank introduced me to a variety of people who have met other famous people.

My favourite was the Lord Provost of Glasgow, who around his neck wore a rather heavy, solid gold, 200 year old chain passed down in the succession of Lord Provosts (pictured here). It was, without a doubt, the absolute pimpest accessory I have ever seen, and after a quality whiskey and glass of wine, I took it upon myself to explain to him exactly what bling is. He was priorly familiar. Later, in an unfortunately n00bish move, I erased all the pictures from my camera, so the gold chain will have to live on in my memory and other people’s pictures. Celtic won 2-0.

The train home was an absolute sea of green; easily three quarters of every car I searched, looking for a seat, wore ostentatious Celtic gear. Many people were merry.

Glasgow Celtic has a large following among a well-integrated but still very distinct group of Irish immigrants and descendants. Following the Great Famine, the Irish distributed around the rest of Europe, and Glasgow, an industrial powerhouse in the 19th century, was a popular destination. Glasgow Celtic is the club of the Catholics, and the Rangers belong to the Protestants.

Vini and Leonard try to fit in with the philosophers. They needed more gesticulation.

The next day, I met my flatmate Leonard Lewis (in Edinburgh through the Dartmouth Philosophy program) in Rome. Often I hear people complaining about an area or activity being
“too touristy.” But what exactly am I? I was in Rome to see the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum and the ruins. So I took my digital camera around everywhere, spoke unapologetic English and paid exorbitant premiums to eat when and where it was convenient. We stayed in a hostel and did much of our touristing with a Brazilian fellow named Vini we met there. Possibly my favourite moment was seeing the School of Athens in the museum leading to the Sistine Chapel. My first thought was “hey, there’s that picture on Wikipedia’s philosophy portal!”

A pub crawl and three nights later, we flew to London, though Leonard immediately departed for Edinburgh. I walked around, found a hostel, called it adequate, and bought a day pass on the underground. London – now there’s a city for someone who grew up outside Manhattan. Buildings are grand, subway manners familiar and determinate, hole in the wall restaurants absolutely superb. I walked on the river near Westminster, reminded of Battery Park, which for me is the serenest part of New York, and thought about the things I want to do. I finished the evening with an IMAX screening of “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” which was exactly as loud as I wanted, but totally failed to carry through on its license to be righteous – I have simple desires, and when I see a movie about the end of the world, I want to see humans cowering in fear. Is that so much to ask? – After a brief stop in the British Museum (home of the Rosetta Stone!) I trained it back to Scotland.

The next evening, my program gave us our certificates in a ceremony, and I left a bit early to head to the Labour Party’s Christmas Nite Out. Frank is also social convener for the Labour party, so for a week, he and I had been getting food orders from all MSPs and their staff, distributing tickets, and arranging musical acts and skit. A bit I wrote about Rod Blagojevich opting to nominate Sarah Palin to the Senate and her subsequent visit to Scottish Parliament ended up on the cutting floor, as did a song Frank wrote about Scottish National Party Leader Alex Salmond to the tune of One Man Band. Instead, we got a poem about Parliament’s football match against the sports journalists (which I discussed here) and a satire of the SNP to the tune of Rihanna’s Umbrella (when exactly did she become such a big deal?).

An old friend from band camp is visiting for the week; the internship winds up tomorrow, and my project remains unfinished. On Sunday I meet my mom in Vienna, and we’ll be in Prague for Christmas. I suppose we’ll find something besides chinese food and a movie to do this year. Happy holidays and good luck with finals!

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