I wrote this when I visited the smouldering remains of the Mac a few weeks ago, although I didn’t get around to posting it until now as we were away in Ireland (trying to avoid the World Cup, in the same manner as Brazil's goalkeeper wishes he could have).

Even now, a week later, the smell of fire hangs in the air. 

Things look normal from Dalhousie Street, but Renfrew Street is filled by a giant mobile crane, its outriggers stretching from pavement to pavement.  Scott Street is barricaded off, and Reigart Demolition are already working on the dampened-down shell of the library.  

Saturday afternoon strollers peer through the Heras fence panels at the crane and a skylift platform parked alongside it.  Tourists take photos on their iPhones as the crane takes down the library tower, one block at a time.  A couple of men hang suspended in the basket of the lift, 100 feet up, slinging the stones and directing the crane driver.

The parapet above the library’s oriel windows, at the western gable end of the building, was badly damaged in the fire.  Each tiny piece of ashlar is lifted from its bed of lime mortar then descends, growing all the time until it becomes a metre-long block of sandstone which is landed gently on a pallet.  One of Reigart’s men notes that none of the blocks weigh more than 200kg – otherwise an even larger crane would have been required.

From my vantage point on top of a wall, I spot a couple of local worthies approaching.  One is like a middle-aged Anthony Burgess, whose features have compressed over the course of a hard life.  He has pouches under his eyes and broad cheeks which have slumped into large jowls.  Despite the sunshine his companion wears a greatcoat, and has a wild beard and sparkling eyes.  They are out for their Saturday constitutional, in between pit stops.

The bearded chap glanced sideways at me -
Ye ken what did it?
I’d heard it was a slide projector which went on fire, after a lump of foam landed on it.
He shook his head.
“A lassie in the toilets - smokin’ a fag - it’ll be in aa the papers!
In the papers?
He looked questioningly at my camera, then me.
“Are you fae the Evening Times?”  Shake of head.  “The Herald?”  Nope. 
I have met Peter Ross, of Daunderlust fame, though, and he notes that Glasgow may be the only European city to have once been home to more than a million people, but to now have fewer than that. 

That should give both of these worthies, the School of Art’s governors, and the City Fathers something else to worry about.  Glasgow’s tax base, how it projects itself, and its future are at stake – think for example of the “Scotland with Style” banner which hung incongruously next to the derelict shell of Gray Dunn’s biscuit factory on the Southside.

The bearded chap isn’t impressed by my analysis.
“What’s your interest then son?” 
I replied that I just wanted to see the devastation for myself.
He scrutinises me.
“Take it easy my man” he declares finally, as the two wander off up Dalhousie Street, arguing about how the Scottish education system should be funded…

Hopefully the restoration is swift and true.  No-one wants to see a burned-out husk where Macintosh’s best work once stood.

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