1 EAGLETON NOTES: A Fire and An Allegory

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Thursday, 22 March 2018

A Fire and An Allegory

I'm in Glasgow. Tomorrow I go into Ayr Hospital and, hopefully, the Surgeon will sort out the problem that has been contributing to my bouts of sepsis.

Today Anna and I went into Glasgow City Centre. As we were driving in and were still some miles away we could see and smell smoke. It became obvious that there was a pretty serious fire somewhere in the City Centre. As we drove along the street into the car park we could see the flashing lights and the fire engines and the tall water cannons with the firemen mounted high into the sky above the buildings.

In fact the fire had only started or been discovered an hour or so before we left Anna's. It was in Sauchiehall Street - one of Glasgow's main shopping streets (although a shadow of it's former glorious self).

We went to John Lewis for coffee. The main windows in the café look right up Sauchiehall Street and the fire and firefighting were there for all to see.  I put my stuff down on a table and went to get the coffees and cakes. Anna came into the café as I was getting the food and went off to the table. 

As I sat down with the tray Anna announced that she had got the news on her phone and regaled me with what was happening - as I was looking at it. Anna had been so busy going to the table and looking for the information on her phone that she was blissfully unaware of what was unfolding in front of her eyes.

And that, I thought, is the story of so much of our lives these days: it's all happening in front of us but we are too busy looking for it (whatever 'it' happens to be) elsewhere that we miss what is staring us in the face.

From the bottom of Sauchiehall Street just below the window we were looking out of.
Aerial press photo
Aerial press photo

35 comments:

  1. Good gracious! That’s a significant event!
    I hope the rest of the day was as significant but in a mote personal way.

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    1. It's been so long since I wrote that post, Kate, and so much has happened (or not happened depending on they way one looks at it) that I've almost forgotten about this post. It was a very significant event: the largest fire of its kind dealt with by the Scottish Fire Service.

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  2. You make a good point that we are so occupied with devices that we miss what's going on out there.

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  3. Whoa, that is a huge fire. We miss what is staring us in the face, well said.

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    1. Kay, it was a very significant fire and the building will now have to be demolished.

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  4. My mobile phone isn't mobile. The only time I use it is if my landline connections is out of action...thankfully, that's not often. For the rest of the time my little, el-cheapo mobile phone is plug into a socket...and recharged once a week...just in case.

    There was a huge fire in Dublin yesterday, too, I heard on the news bulletins.

    All the best for your hospital visit, Graham. I hope you stay isn't long...and the outcome is positive for you. Take good care.

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    1. Thank you Lee. The stay was supposed to be one overnight. It turned into four overnights. Ho hum. C'est la vie.

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  5. That looks like a very serious fire, there was no mention of it on the news.

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    1. Cro it made the UK BBC news and, obviously, the Scottish news as it was the largest fire of its kind dealt with by the Scottish Fire Service.

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  6. Oh my, that looks very scary! I hope nobody was seriously hurt in the fire.
    Hooray to firemen for doing their job!
    I hope your next hospital stay will indeed help sort out the recurring health problem.

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    1. Meike, no on was injured at all fortunately. Thank you. I think this time I may well have been sorted out.

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  7. Slight sense of "its not real if its not on your phone" - there is an interesting picture at https://singularityhub.com/2013/03/14/beforeafter-comparison-of-pope-announcement-shows-incredible-proliferation-of-mobile-in-just-8-years/
    I think it was seeing that that made me make a conscious decision to really watch things and feel them these days - without filming them. A form of mindfulness i guess...
    Wishing you successful surgery and a speedy recovery :)

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    1. Thank you Fi. That was a telling comparison wasn't it. I'm hoping that this episode is now coming to a close. After 5 days the signs are very encouraging.

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  8. Timely story - our NYFD just lost a young father of 4 in a Brooklyn fire last night, on the set of a Bruce Willis / Ed Norton movie. It was set in an old jazz club - they don't know what started it yet. Fire is a scary thing, especially in a city where all the buildings are connected. Hope all is well there.

    Thinking of you every day, hoping the docs get you sorted and sepsis free, ship-shape in Bristol fashion!

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    1. Thank you kindly for your thoughts and words Mrs S. Fortunately no one was hurt in this fire despite its size.

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  9. Wishing you all the best and I truly hope the docs can sort your infection out once and for all. We change the clocks this weekend so an hour more daylight at the end of each day after that. Spring should surely follow on soon afterwards as we are all heartily sick of this long drawn out winter.
    All good wishes winging their way north Graham.

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    1. Thank you Beverley. I arrived home at 2015 this evening and it was still light! Spring is here!

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  10. In your first picture there is a woman with a purple bag. She is focused on her phone with her back turned to the dramatic fire. I hope that the surgeon in Ayr is fully focused on your operation instead of checking out the price of new surgical gloves on Amazon. Best wishes Graham - I hope that all goes well.

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    1. Thank you YP. Your comment made me smile when I read it in hospital. Which is exactly where one needs the smiles.

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  11. wow that is scary! Is it possible we have become so accustomed to fires and things such as this that we are somewhat desensitized to it? Anyway hopefully the specialists can come up with what's going on for you.

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    1. Amy I think that we have become desensitised to violence, warfare, catastrophes and much more by the fact that television and social media are everywhere and instant and available to the world.

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  12. People in that first photo seem curiously "undisturbed" by what's going on? With all that smoke indicating something "big" I think I'd probably be backing away from there... (But always hard to predict how one will really react in any sudden situation.) - I very rarely have the internet on when I'm out and about in town, or just out for a walk. Often put my phone on silent too, if not expecting important calls.

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    1. Monica we were over a 100 metres from the fire so were quite safe (and were actually about to go in the other direction anyway).

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  13. That's a big fire! i might have needed two coffees to give me time for sticky beaking :)

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    1. Okay Kylie please enlighten me. What is sticky beaking?

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  14. You're so right, Graham. Too many looking for "it" and missing reality.

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    1. I like it Heather. You are so good at seeing the greater picture.

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  15. Hope all goes well for you and you make a quick recovery and soon back home to enjoy the beautiful spring weather.

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    1. Thank you Cath. As you will see from the post I have just written I arrived home a few hours ago and things are looking good.

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  16. I hope you will make a quick recovery, Graham and that the surgeon can sort out the problem. Give us a quick update when you have time. Thinking of you.

    You are right, it's easy to be looking at screens while life is going on. I always find sights like that rather horrifying, I'm hoping nobody's caught in it.

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    1. Thanks Jenny. It took longer than anticipated but I think I'm now on the final lap (so to speak).

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  17. My wife, daughter&I landed in Glasgow on the evening of ‘the fire’. We got off the airport bus at Buchanan St station and were met by police with masks (risk of asbestos fumes we later learned). On asking directions to our hotel we were in informed that it may be inside the cordon and therefore inaccessible. It was all a bit surreal. Fortunately the hotel lay just outside the cordon so we were ok. Coincidentally we had lunch in John Lewis the next day (very nice it was, too). The authorities were certainly taking the fire seriously...the next day as we walked around water was still being hosed into the building from the top of the fire ladder. I’m sure the building has been completely ruined, if not by the fire then by the water.

    I hope your health has improved and things are on the up.

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    1. Thanks for telling us of your experience Michael. The buildings were so badly damaged that they are now being demolished and the whole block is still cordoned off. I was walking past there a couple of days ago. And my health is now good thank you.

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