The first little story about “change” begins in Glasgow about …. oh about sixteen years ago; it must have been about 1992 although it might have been about 1993 but it doesn’t really matter but it was my first time back in Glasgow since about 1984 or 1985. Anyway, I came up the east coast on the train although I don’t know why I came up the east coast but I did and there was me on the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow, having changed at Edinburgh for Glasgow because there is no direct train to Glasgow from Newcastle upon Tyne Whatever, there was me on the train and I said to this, “getting on in years”, lady, I said, “this is my first time back in Glasgow in about ten years”, and do you know what she said? She said, “ye’ll no recognise it, son”, and I thought, “daft auld bugger, am no gonnae think its Edinburgh, am I?” Apart from anything else, Edinburgh has a great big fucking medieval castle stuck in the middle of the town. There is nothing really medieval in Glasgow apart from the behaviour of the locals, the cathedral and John “Killjoy” Knox’s house …. and the train pulled into Queen Street Station and the station had not changed one iota and I walked into Buchanan Street and …. well, they did have a new Shopping Centre at the top of the street and the Bus Station looked kind of different but changed, really changed? No, I was definitely in Glasgow and I did recognise it. This time around I haven’t seen Glasgow for about five years. However, I am sure if i were to go back, I wouldn’t get lost.
Now the second story about change takes me to Shanghai. At the beginning of 2007 I went on a staff development weekend with the company I was working for in China and we all got put up in this hotel called the ‘Ming Zhu’ Pearl Hotel, not really too far from Shanxi Nan Lu but a bit closer to Zhao Jia Bang Road. Whatever, as far as my person is concerned, there wasn’t much development going on during that staff development weekend but there was a lot of drinking. Indeed, when we were travelling back on the Monday morning, I was only vaguely aware that I had been in Shanghai. Therefore, I might be forgiven for forgetting the exact location of where I had stayed. However, the hotel left a good impression on me so the next time I was in Shanghai I decided to stay in the Pearl again so I typed “Pearl Hotel” into google and …. shit, there were three hotels called “Pearl” but, after a little bit of research, I was as sure as sure can be that I had located the right one. However, on phoning I wanted to be a little more sure than as sure as sure can be so I asked the girl on the reception if there was a Starbucks across the road and the girl had a look and she said, “no” and I was a trifle surprised because I did sort of remember a Starbucks being there. Still, I had been sort of hallucinating that weekend, a wee bout of the heebie jeebies, so maybe the Starbucks was a figment of my imagination. Anyway, to cut a much too long story short, I jumped into a taxi and went to the hotel and it was the one I had stayed in before. However, the Starbucks had metamorphosed into a Costa Coffee, the building, where the Costa now was, had been renovated out of recognition and half of Zhao Jia Bang Road appeared to have disappeared, or was it, in fact, beginning to appear? There were buildings sprouting up all over the place. If I go back to Shanghai in the not too distant future, I am not sure if I will recognise it. Of course, I am not going to mistake it for Beijing.