Motherwell

Motherwell seems to be an impossible destination.

The small town is situated some fifteen miles south of Glasgow and it can be reached via Edinburgh.  A bunch of Germans are trying – in a complicated manner – to get some pounds out of the cash machine at the airport so I have to wait. The cab driver opens the back door and mentions the fare before he leaves. He types in the address of the hotel but the satellite doesn’t recognize it so he uses the postal code instead.

About three quarters of the way through the journey the driver asks what brings me to Scotland. I tell the man that I’m here to see the musical Over the Rainbow. He is familiar with Eva Cassidy, ‘Terry Wogan played her songs after her death and then she became famous.’ Exactly. Sooner than expected we reach Motherwell. Even the driver is surprised by the illogical route we have taken, and I am sure that I would never have found it by myself. We drive in circles through the town and pass the same spot a few times.Mill Street turns out to beMill Road. We descend into the depths, which is a good sign: the hotel is near an old watermill. 

The receptionist gives the key to room one and I get the impression that I am the only guest in the small hotel.  A gurgling waterfall can be heard outside. The sound is calming, although it wakes me early the next morning. After a Scottish breakfast without sausages, I discover how beautiful the surroundings are. The autumn leaves on the trail along the river remind me of Eva in their mortality. Motherwell itself turns out to be a sad-looking, unattractive place. It is built in an illogical manner with disorientating streets, oddly-running railways and gloomy subways. There is no indication of culture in the city centre whatsoever, and nothing that refers to Eva Cassidy or any other musical or play. I ask several passers- by: ‘Where I can find the theatre?’, but they react as if I’d approached them with an indecent proposal. Talking about indecent proposals – all the girls in Motherwell have bleached their hair and styled it in the same way. They wear school uniforms with skirts that are too short for the time of year and have tried to make the most of their clothing with the help of frivolous ties, stockings and all kinds of frills. ‘Theatre? We don’t have a theatre in Motherwell’, someone answers firmly.  I notice a policeman; do they call them Bobbies outside Londonas well? He is wearing a striking yellow smock. He asks if I mean the Civic Theatre. If that is the name of the local theatre, then the answer is ‘Yes sir’. He directs me away from the city centre. The sky darkens, but it remains dry. I pass a medieval church with an old, erected stone and then, suddenly, there’s a theatre: the Civic Theatre. On its door there’s a poster of Over the Rainbow.

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