It’s not every day that you see a photograph of your bedroom from your teenage years published in a national newspaper. However, that was the sight that I was confronted with last weekend when I read the Sunday Post. Scone Spy, the Post’s weekly review of cafes, featured the tearoom at Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens. The tearoom is sited in a fine old Victorian house where I had lived during my schooldays.
My father worked as a gardener for what was then called the Corporation of Glasgow Parks Department and a tied house in the Botanics came with the job. The grandly named Curator’s House was split into two flats; we lived on the ground floor while the actual Curator and his family lived on the first floor. In true Upstairs Downstairs fashion, there was little social interaction between our two families. I went to the local Comprehensive while the Curator’s two sons were both privately educated.
In those days it was always made clear to me that I lived in a botanical gardens and definitely not in a park. Parks were for people who wanted to sit on benches and watch their children splashing in the paddling pool. The purpose of the Botanic Gardens was to cater for discerning horticulturalists and the powers that be would never have allowed anything as vulgar as a café.
Thankfully attitudes have now changed and today the Botanic Gardens plays host to a number of popular events, including the Bard in the Botanics outdoor Shakespeare season.
The House hasn’t been lived in for many years and has now been converted into a mini visitor centre. What was our living room is now the main seating area for the café, entrance to which is via what had been my old bedroom. Visitors can have an al fresco cuppa courtesy of the tables and chairs which now occupy the lawn where I used to play football with my school mates.
The Sunday Post article was a real nostalgia trip for me as that house has played such a huge role in the life of my family; my parents having lived there for a total of 23 years.
It’s strange to think that my childhood home is now a tourist attraction, I suspect that it’s one of the very few things that I will ever have in common with the landed gentry.