Thursday, March 02, 2017
The strangely dirty, narrow splendour of Dundee intrigues me. Lanes and closes and alleys and ironmongery. Desperate Dan and the Broons never did walk this way but the pens and paper that gifted them a kind of life did, now they are immortal. Scribes and visionaries rolling out of some pub and jumping a tram or cuddling a fish supper set in real vinegar soaked newspaper. Far and away Dundee has a lot of sunny open spaces and telescopes beyond the cooncil mansions and the graffiti schemes; meanwhile the dark side hides out, what's left of it that is.
Many a new broom is sweeping this curious little city a modernistic kind of clean with the Victoria and Albert, station projects and ongoing waterfront developments sprucing up the remains of the old dead docks. Whaling and Polar exploration memorials. Still here and there the old stones prevail, the alleys and tenements and the great halls and churches, built for the rusting and rotten empires of jute and jam and journalism, two of which still survive in diluted forms elsewhere. A city centre with no clear middle and mostly bypassed by ring roads, fast food and the big sheds of consumer consumption.
We stopped for coffee and a sandwich, the Empire State Cafe, about ?as American as me really. Chromed, jumped up and trying hard. Cakes and pizza and hand cut (?) sandwiches. The food travels in an elevator, that seemed like the only NYC connection, that and sitting up on a mezzanine looking down at busy Dundonians picking up their donuts, dreaming city space sized dreams in a pocket sized Scotland. The Polish waitress smiled, there's a future here, same as everywhere but mobile and the shape is as yet unformed and unclear.