The Barras - The Writing's On The Wall And Banksy Aint The Author - Alex Main

The Barras, the quintessential Scottish shopping experience in Glasgow, a real shopping experience.

If you want it, then someone has it, the real deal or a knock off.
Who cares?
No one gives a monkeys, unless it is a monkey you are looking for.

A parrot you say?
Stuffed or still squawking mate?

The magic that the place exudes, even in its increasingly dilapidated form, has always been rooted in the nudge nudge wink wink don't ask where it came from and we won't tell you devil may care attitude to commerce.

Half of it a glint in the eye joke that was part and parcel of the impression that was deliberately being given.

Of course the halcyon days are definitely gone, and it is doubtful that anyone would claim the stalls and hidden outlets crouching in the shadowy corners of buildings are a jewel in any crown, but there's still life in the old dog yet, and an allure that Is difficult to kill off.

And yet that is exactly what the powers that be are intending on doing.

The first shots in the battle are a distant echo now, but the fight has continued without a moments respite for a number of years.

Examples of the battle for the Barras have even recently made some headlines.

A little article about a nazi doll to create a negative perception, a positive spin on what the area could be leaking out, a major story about a crackdown on criminality wrestling with the news of regeneration cash to get through the door first.

It's the old double whammy of showing people the worst to guide them towards an alternative presented as the best, and unsurprisingly the press has colluded with the establishment every step of the way.

And yet what is really being offered as the alternative?

It all sounds good.

Promises often do.

There will be artists aplenty, bohemia with a Glasgow accent will flourish, a clean and shiny version of Camden market will draw tourists and a music venue will be created, but is that really what we will get?

Because while it is wrapped up in some sort of 'for the people' rhetoric it is simply a development project that will probably financially benefit the usual minority of investors whose names crop up with alarming regularity.

It's really just a class war being waged too.

Or so it seems.

The opportunities for a living to be scratched out using little more than an individuals wits exploiting the opportunities they create being sacrificed on the alter of the gentrification of the area that will repopulate it with bright young things, and their money.

One one hand the idea of the creation of an artistic hub as touted is something that we would normally get on board with, but on the other it all smells like the usual ulterior motive game being played.

If it looks like social engineering for profit, walks like social engineering for profit, then let's just call it social engineering for profit.

Locals who use the Barras, those whose livelihoods are dependent on the Barras, will be classed as acceptable losses rather than the casualties of a fight they didn't ask for, and had no hope of winning. They will simply be cast aside and forgotten as men and women in suits claim it is progress as the companies they are associated with rub their hands at their financial forecast meetings.

It is doubtful that the Barras will go down quietly, who expected otherwise, and that is as it should be, but it is also probably true that the outcome has already been decided.

It's a foregone conclusion that the big man will roll over the little man with nary a glance in the rear view mirror, or a sleepless night in consideration of what he has done.

The Barras is finished.

When all is said and done, maybe this is just our pre-emptive goodbye coming in far earlier than that of others, but we are nothing if we are not pragmatic romantics at the New Hellfire Club and with all that is happening it is only left for us to raise a glass to the writing on the wall and say 'we are going to miss you.'

Just don't say we didn't tell you.
The Barras, we doff our caps.