09 Oct 2014
Looking out over George Square from the windows of the Chamber office there's no doubt that the atmosphere has dulled a little bit. It's October, the wind has picked up and the temperature has dropped. Gone are the crowds, so much of the colour and, especially, the noise.
The story of Glasgow's summer was played out in our Square.
During the Commonwealth Games the sun turned up and the crowds swept in, queuing to buy tickets or to shop in the merchandising pavilion or to take photos draped over the Big G logo. Never have so many cheerful, smiling people been seen in the square for so many days in a row.
With some of our members, we spent a glorious evening on the office roof watching the bustle below and sipping drinks as the sun went down. And the most unusual line I joined that summer was the 15 minute queue for crossing West George Street to get to Queen Street station during the cycling road race. The sun had gone, and it rained hard that day, but no-one seemed to care.
Immediately the Games were over, the Square donned more sober colours as the nation watched the commemoration ceremonies to mark the beginning of the First World War. The Cenotaph received the wreaths of remembrance from all across the Commonwealth. We added our own in memory of those of our members who died at the Somme in the service of the Glasgow Commercials, in the 51st Highland Light Infantry.
No sooner was the Square cleared of the Games paraphernalia than the Referendum campaign hit its peak. First there was a banner or two or a small group of speakers. Then came a flash mob Scottish country dancing session and soon thereafter the crowds began gathering night after night to sing, chant and declare independence.
That is not how the vote turned out of course and we saw the darker side of our country on the Friday night as angry groups clashed in violent disagreement. Social media conversations had warned of this well in advance and I had accepted suggestions that the staff should head home early that night to avoid the trouble that duly transpired.
Then the banners went up for the Ryder Cup and the Great Scottish Run to welcome another round of sporting visitors.
Now the Square is back to "normal", and so is the city, the temptation must inevitably be to ask - what's next?
Well I will be arguing that the 'what next' cannot be a search for another Commonwealth Games; there simply aren't enough events of that scale about. We can't expect to match or beat that experience. Nor can it be a focus only on constitutional issues, important though the next few months will be in settling the future governance of our country.
No, instead we will be arguing that the next year must be about exploiting economically the energy we experienced over this summer. We have every reason to be optimistic about Glasgow's future.
Whether it is the chance to attract back to the city many of the visitors who saw for the first time just what the real Glasgow has to offer or whether it's the change in our own understanding of just how well our city can perform, we have a chance to change the economic story of our city.
We want everyone to appreciate that Glasgow is back again as a powerhouse, an economic powerhouse, and we want the next few months and years to be a clear demonstration of that fact.
That's what the Chamber team will be helping to demonstrate as we go about our work, supporting our members and championing our city.