Harvard, £20 Order at a discount from the Independent Online Shop

On Glasgow and Edinburgh, By Robert Crawford

A study of the love and hate between 'enlightenment' Edinburgh and 'industrial' Glasgow

Sparta glowers at Athens. Athens turns away in prim disdain. Nothing holds back modern Scotland more than the artificially sustained rivalry between Edinburgh and Glasgow, two cities with enough internal contradictions to be going on with.

Ask anyone: Glasgow is friendly, industrial and wild, a city that grasps you warmly by the throat, generous but with a blade tucked into its sock. Edinburgh is douce, cultured and reserved, where they say firmly "You'll have had your tea?", rather than offer you any. The reality, as natives and long-term sojourners know, is very different.

There's nothing unique in regional rivalry. Stockholm mocks Gothenburg and vice versa. LA and San Francisco are the Glasgow and Edinburgh of California. Moscow and St Petersburg have the excuse of both having been capital cities. Robert Crawford dedicates his book "for both / with love", a poet's epigraph and one that colours everything that follows, which is affectionate, sharply observed and sharply written.

A key observation, hinted rather than dogmatically argued, is that both Edinburgh and Glasgow are literary cities, in the sense that their cultural construction depends as much on writing and publishing as it does on architecture or art; there are surprisingly few good paintings of Edinburgh as civic space. In addition, neither city surrenders easily to generalisation.

"Enlightenment" Edinburgh is a thoroughly Romantic, even atavistic, place; Stevenson and James Hogg knew this, but so did David Hume, which is why he became David Hume. In the same way, "industrial" Glasgow remains the "dear green place", Gles Chu, its urban tropes forever reversing into bucolic or pastoral ones. On Glasgow and Edinburgh – the order reverses after an introduction – is a highbrow guidebook, as useful to carry on a visit as it is pleasurable to read far away.

It observes a strict democracy of emphasis – the great chimney formerly at St Rollox in Glasgow gets as much notice as the Scott Monument, the central tower of Glasgow University as much as the Outlook Tower that dominates the "medieval" skyline of the Old Town – and doesn't disdain to treat new architecture on the same level as the old. Crawford's description of the Scottish Parliament building is the best I have read.

It's impossible to catch him out. Pedants will leap on his reference to Queen's Park FC playing at Cathkin, which every fool knows was home to the now-defunct Third Lanark. But he's right. Queen's Park was based in Cathkin Park prior to 1903.

He does miss a few details. Having established the modern "tradition" of placing a penny under Newton's finger on the great Paolozzi sculpture outside the Dean Gallery, he fails to mention two other Edinburgh rituals: in recent years, university students have liked to rub the bronze toe of Sandy Stoddart's draped Hume on the "Mile" the night before exams. And while he mentions the car-park grave of John Knox just over the road, he doesn't explain why Edinburghers spit, often with phlegmy relish, on the cobbled Heart of Midlothian. It marks the old tollbooth prison.

I spent ten years living in a village exactly mid-way between the two cities, in sight of Edinburgh's Castle Rock but populated largely by displaced Glaswegians. You know you're on a cultural cusp when they offer you vinegar or sauce with your chips.

The cities' differences come down to more than condiments but the answer is to do as Crawford does and love them both. During the next visit to the Edinburgh Festival, make time for a trip West and spend a day in the consistently surprising streets of the Dear Green Place. Or have I tipped my hand?

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence