Irrational Encounters With The Modern World


Putting The “Glass” Into Glasgow. With Force.

There is, I am reliably informed, an accepted technique when it comes to thrusting a glass into somebody’s face – in a pub, for example – which results in maximum damage to the antagonist (and to the glass, obviously), but which limits the chances of you sending broken shards straight through your own skin. I learned this twice, but thankfully only in theory.

The first time, and I forget how it came up, my friend demonstrated the correct method, as taught to her by her father. She talked me through both the move and the reasoning, and I mentally filed it away for potential future reference. We talk about stuff like that periodically, and our shared sense of humour often centres – like much of our culture – around violence, so I didn’t really think anything more of it. Well, until a week later.

I was in another pub, with three other friends, and two of them (a couple) were playing about with their drinks. Suddenly, curiosity spurred my single friend to ask if we knew how to glass somebody – before explaining precisely the same technique I had been taught mere days before. This struck a chord, not least because this particular friend is slightly built, openly gay, and very southern-English. Quite how he ended up describing the established way of perpetrating one of the most Glaswegian of violent acts bemused me, and so I asked him outright, “How the fuck do you know that??”

It turned out that he had been taught by his friend – the sister of the friend who had shown me. Small world.

What worried me, though, was the thought of what my friends must know about my future – of what was ahead of me – that had compelled them to supply me with this information within a week of each other…

It wasn’t entirely coincidental that these other friends knew my Glassing Friend’s sister – although they hadn’t all met, all five of us were working in the same industry, and some occasionally for the same company. It was just weird that this topic of conversation arose twice in such quick succession. I said as much to my friend, who told her sister, and the pair of them reported the whole thing back to their dad. As I heard it, his reaction was to shake his head and lament: “I taught you girls everything – to read, to write. But the one thing you’re telling everyone is – how to glass cunts.”


I’ve told this story many times since, and recently tried it onstage as part of my stand-up comedy (having been made to, and happily, promised not to share the exact details.) It didn’t work in that context, and so here it is in written form. It is worth stating that, to the best of my knowledge, none of us has actually put this theory into practice yet. The emphasis is on the final word of that last sentence.


What To Do If You Get Glassed (Act Cool)

A few years ago, I was working backstage on a pantomime – in line with my profession – and there was a company night out on Sauchiehall Street.

Drinking in a long, narrow bar somewhere opposite The Garage (or The Gay-Rage, as it is known colloquially), I saw the coolest guy I think I have ever encountered. He was chatting to (rather than chatting up) every girl in the place, making his way from high table to high table, drunk and a bit cheeky, but not lewd, and more entertaining than annoying. He was doing this much to the chagrin of one woman in particular, and from watching them it was obvious that they were, or had recently been, in some form of relationship. She was incensed, and he didn’t care.

As he made his way further into the bar, stopping by the ever-glamorous dancers at our table, you could see the machinations in this girl’s head, as she looked at him, looked at the empty glasses on the bar in this relatively quiet pub, and back to him. It didn’t take a genius to work out where this was heading, and – not being a genius – I foresaw it.

He was at the table next to ours, the second last in the pub, standing with his back to the door. There were two girls sitting at the table facing each other, and he was standing talking to them. They were humouring him, not enamoured by his presence but not giving him what could best be termed “fuck off ” vibes either.

She picked up an empty Stella glass (that brand, naturally), and advanced upon him. There were only a couple of us watching her, and I saw her turn the glass sideways in her hand before smashing it lengthways over the back of his head. Everyone turned to look, she stormed out the whole length of the bar and disappeared. His momentary shock at the impact lasted mere seconds, before he apologised profusely to both girls while brushing glass off his shoulders like it was transparent dandruff shards.

In front of the whole bar, he walked all the way to the glass door, lit up a cigarette, then stood outside the window smoking it, his back in full view of everyone watching.

It was the most pathetic attempt at glassing I’ve seen, designed to make a noise and a point rather than draw blood, and the coolest possible reaction I could ever have imagined: dust yourself off, apologise, and have a smoke.

This city is crazy, but I love it.

What To Do If You Get Glassed (Fight Back)

About seven years ago, I worked in a pub on Sauchiehall Street. It was my first weekend shift, and I collected glasses.

They issued me with the green plastic tray, and sent me on my way. It was a shit job. I hated the music and the clientele, my boss tried to be nice but was a tight, patronising, tunnel-visioned weed, the Friday and Saturday nights were heaving with punters, and I spent the whole time avoiding drunk neds or picking up and washing glasses covered in their mutant DNA.

About an hour before closing, at our busiest time (people used to queue to get in. To a pub), I had just filled my wee green plastic tray with another twenty glasses, and turned to make my way back in to the back bar. As I turned, I heard from behind me the telltale sounds of glass smashing and a lassie screaming. Bodies scattered, girls screamed, guys shouted, bouncers came running. Some guy had taken a dislike to another, and using his Budweiser bottle (what else?), he smashed it off a table and thrust it into the guy’s face. The usual, and anticipated reaction, when hit in the face with a broken bottle, is that you bleed a bit, maybe fall down dazed, call an ambulance. That’s the expected response.

This guy was different. He didn’t like being stabbed in the face with a bottle, so he picked up the tall, heavy barstool on which he’d been sitting, and fucked it across the other guy’s jaw. The bar emptied, the police came swarming in, at some point CID turned up to take witness statements – the story was something along the lines of, the glasser was acting cocky and targeted a local gangster, and now he’d been fucked in the head with a barstool he was experiencing regret and – moreso – immense fear of retaliation.

When we closed the bar, the carpet was still wet with blood. That was my first shift in a Glasgow pub. It was the same pub where, at closing time, treasure could often be found. I have, to this day, an engraved foreign army hip flask that I found behind a stool. And a black knitted ski-mask, of the type famously/stereotypically worn by the IRA.

It was also the same pub where, emptying dregs into the sink, one night a small dead fish came out of a glass. I still have no idea where it came from, or how it came to be in our fish-tank-less pub. It was definitely a fish though, and dead. One of the bar staff put it in a new glass, with soda water, a straw, and a slice of lime, and sat it on top of the dishwasher. I spent the whole evening offering any bar staff passing through a pound if they would drink it. When they inevitably declined, I upped it to a pound fifty. Still no takers.

Crap pub, horrible job, couple of good stories.