Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Missed by the BBC – Smudge!

Thanks to a hat-tip from our near silent followers, I was made aware of a nice cat-related story featured by the BBC:

Bureaucats: The felines with official positions

It’s a great article, and has brought a few characters to light which I’d never heard of.

If you’ve read the story of the CIA’s ‘Acoustic Kitty’ (which was NOT run over after the project ended), then you’ll not be surprised by the failure of the tale regarding the Belgian authorities, who in the 1870s recruited 37 cats to deliver mail via waterproof bags attached to their collars.

Yes, the Belgians clearly thought THAT through 🙂

But, sad to say, the story missed out Smudge, the People’s Palace cat.

Smudge Ceramic

Smudge Ceramic

Smudge was definitely part of the Bureaucatic system.

Smudge Memorial

Smudge Memorial

I’m NOT criticising the BBC for missing this one.

After all, when I visited the People’s Palace to find the memorial shown above, which is a paving stone visitors have to pass over in order to enter the north door of the Winter Gardens, not one of the staff had a clue where it was – which I thought was rather sad.

That said, anyone who was around at the time will also be aware of the departure of the then curator, when Smudge left with her, under circumstances which can best be described as gloomy, and Smudge’s memory was largely erased thanks to some sort of difference with the council. I’m aware if this as my mother was then in contact with the curator.

See ‘A strange decision‘ in this web site, which goes into more detail, and proves this is not my imagination:

Smudge, the Trade Union Cat. The People’s Palace Museum, Glasgow.

That seems to be long forgotten now, and I collected this during a recent visit to the People’s Palace.

Sadly, only a pic, and of an item I was completely unaware of, unlike the ceramic Smudge seen above, which I do own.

Smudge Mug 1990

Smudge Mug 1990

Display details.

Glasgow Peoples Palace Smudge Mug 1990 Description

Glasgow Peoples Palace Smudge Mug 1990 Description

I also kicked of a fairly extensive discussion here, some years ago.

Smudge, People’s Palace cat


January 28, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Irony at the antique shop window

(Full disclosure: Sad to say, this is actually an old post that got lost in ‘Drafts’ years ago, but since I found it and it was almost complete, I’ve finished it since the content remains interesting. However, the shop mentioned is long gone these days, and has been upgraded and opened as something else.)

Irony: There are plenty of clever definitions of various flavours of irony to be found in dictionaries, so I’ll go with a plain language version that didn’t come from such a source, A simple way of putting it is that irony usually signals a difference between the appearance of things and reality.

It’s been some weeks since I visited Parkhead Cross, and even more since I walked along Westmuir Street to get there. Other needs generally see me going along Shettleston Road, or Tollcross Road, and missing this one. It’s kind of depressing, as quite a few of the shops have thrown up the shutters in recent times.

However, new ones do appear, and when I did get near the cross itself I noticed what appeared to be a ‘new’ antique shop. Some would just call it a junk, or second-hand, shop, but it doesn’t really fall into either of those categories either. The reason I say that is down to the eclectic selection of items that (visually at least) are genuine antiques and could be valuable to the right collector, and I could also see some items which would be classed as architectural salvage, and command a fairly hefty price tag.

Parkhead Shop

Parkhead Shop

(I’ve since been past again, but did not have time to stop and look closely, but spotted a pile of original B&W prints in card frames, which appeared to be 1950’s survey pics taken over Glasgow. By the time I get back there though, I expect they will be gone.)

One thing caught my eye, almost hidden in a wooden cabinet with glass doors – a ceramic Smudge.

Smudge, for non-Glaswegians, was the famous Glasgow cat that resided in the People’s Palace, and was immortalised by a short run of ceramic copies of her likeness, and once sold in the museum’s shop, later came to be known as ‘replicats’ by some. Sadly, I have no idea what they cost, which varied as they were produced in different sizes. I believe 50 were planned originally, but the number was increased to 500 due to their popularity.

Smudge Ceramic

Smudge Ceramic

(This image actually came from Pinterest, which I have no idea how to work. I don’t have details of the source, and Pinterest blocks access if you click on an image, unless you respond to their blackmail and register an account to gain further access – and I will NEVER register with such a site.)

All the Smudges were hand-finished, and I think the one I have looks better than the one above.


Where did the irony come from?

While I was standing at the window of this shop, trying to spy enough detail to work out if I was looking at collectibles or modern copies (not worth anything), I was repeatedly approached by a local elderly ‘character’, trying to ‘tap’ me for 2 p. While this made a nice change from the usual kids or neds that generally accost me here, and want me to go into the shop and buy alcohol or cigarettes for them, I still wasn’t contributing.

If I need 2 p, I can generally find such a coin in the street, and almost suggested he try the same – and that’s where the irony came in.

When I turned around from the window and walked away… the first thing I saw lying on the pavement was a tiny 5 p coin, just waiting to be rescued. So, if he’d taken my advice (which I’m sure he wouldn’t), he’d have been 3 p up on the deal he wanted. As it was, I got the whole 5 p!

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment


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