I’M A great person for quotes and one of my favourites is from Winston Churchill who once said, “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty”. That's how it happened - writing a book and getting published
And so it came to pass when a little difficulty presented itself in my life in October 2010 it was in an optimistic state I entered into tackling it.
Taking a package from work after 35 years with the same company which would allow me, at 55, to not only pick up a work pension every month but would leave me with a reasonable amount in the bank was a much more enviable situation to be in that many of those in the newspaper journalism industry in which I worked. Battered by the arrival of the web and rapidly decreasing number of newspaper readers the industry was, and still is, struggling to survive.
But what would I do when this golden opportunity arrived on a platter? This was the difficulty. I have often felt I was born to work. I have done so since the day I left school at 18. I was a working mother of two daughters now aged 23 and 20. For years I juggled interviews, writing, page proof reading and edition times with shopping, playgroup, school concerts and in-service days. Being busy, busy, busy was all I knew. And, to be honest I really did not want this to change. At this stage I hadn't considered writing a book.
For a few months it did little, thanks to one of the worst winters in years. I was thankful I did not have to slide through the snow and ice to get to work. But then came the Spring and an opportunity in which I saw no difficulty apart from a lot more work than first talked about! I was asked to be a co-author in writing a gook,
I will always be grateful to two people for this opportunity...one was Laurie Nicol, the manager of the recently refurbished 130-year-old Grand Central Hotel, adjoining Central Station in Glasgow and the other Bill Hicks, a fellow editorial colleague who took a package at the same time as I did.
Bill had done several stories on the hotel, one of Glasgow’s landmark buildings while the refurbishment was being carried out by new owners Principal Hayley. Built as one of the great railway hotels of the Victorian era the hotel had an amazing history. The list of stars and celebrities of the past who had stayed there read like a Who’s Who of showbiz....everyone from Bob Hope, Laurel and Hardy, and Cary Grant to Jean Simmons, Mae West and Roy Rogers who famously walked Trigger up the stairs. Even Winston Churchill had been a guest and had eaten in the famous Malmaison restaurant which opened around 1927.
Astonishingly very little of the hotel’s history had ever been documented and Laurie wanted this to be done in book form. She enlisted Bill’s help, and when he realised what a task was ahead, and knowing my love of history he asked me to come on board as well to help writing a book about the hotel.
There were just a few challenges. When we discussed writing a book we were told that the book had to be ready for January 2012 to mark the hotel’s first official year of reopening. We also had to fill 160 pages which was no small target in the timescale!
Over the next few months we spoke to past members of staff and guests and built up a picture of the part this hotel had played in Glasgow’s life.
We pored over archive material belonging to the Caledonian Railway Company which built the hotel. We got tired eyes looking at microfiche copies of the Glasgow Herald going back to 1883 searching for anything to do with the hotel. We sourced no small amount of images relevant to the hotel...like about 600!
E.mails and telephone calls bounced from one side of the globe to the other. All this was part of writing a book about the history of the hotel.
I found myself researching during the day then writing far into the night. The housework and the planned cleaning of drawers and cupboards had to wait.
The end result of writing a book was 'Glasgow’s Grand Central Hotel' which was published by Waverley Books in January 2012.
It was an amazing feeling seeing the finished form for the very first time. Just over a year previously I had been wondering what on earth to do with myself and here I was looking at a book with my name on it which was going on commercial sale.
And it isn't finished yet. In August both Bill and I were chuffed to bits when the Royal National Institute for the Blind transcripted the book into both an audio version and into Braille. Early in 2013 the hotel’s history was part of a TV antiques programme. And while we loved writing a book we've also discovered Glaswegians, and others further afield, have got a great fondness for this hotel and love hearing about its history.
So far we've given talks to a variety of groups and aim to do a lot more in 2013 to mark the hotel’s 130 year history.I got one golden opportunity which led to another. Now, what will be next I wonder?
The book is available through Waterstone's and some independent book stores.
Cover price is £20. It is also on Amazon.
It was only after writing a book and the book being published that we really began to realise what a great fondness there is for
this hotel and the memories it holds for some people. Not just from
Glaswegians but from people all over the world who once have either worked
there or been a guest.
People are also fascinated by its history..how it came
into being because of the railway mania of the Victorian era and why it was
the chosen hotel of the many celebrities who visited Glasgow to
appear at the many theatres the city once had.
It has resulted in us
preparing a presentation for a talk based on the hotel's history, how we
researched it, where all we got information from. The talk lasts for about 40
minutes but can be adjusted to suit.
So if you are a member of a group which
would like to hear all about the history of probably Glasgow's most famous
hotel then please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0776 346
Pictures courtesy of Waverley Press
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