Even in the pouring rain, Byres Road in Glasgow is not an unpleasant place to be, residing at the leafier end of things, patiently awaiting neighbours like Partick to become gentrified with their own coffee baristas and organic foodstops.
But controversy rages right now at the top end of the boulevard. Protestors are loudly clamouring to "Save the Botanics" from a rapacious developer. The world famous Botanic Gardens, home to giant greenhouse the Kibble Palace and generations of summer sun-seeking Glaswegians, is under threat, as one of the city's most successful nightclub entrepreneurs proposes a new fleshpot. He wants to rejuvenate a destroyed building at the edge of the Gardens, mostly underground, in premises facing a hotel, a pub (formerly a church), and a sausage roll van. The area's residents - lawyers, media mavens and estate agents - are up in arms, fired by crostini and Barbera d'asti, fresh tapas and crisp, clean Tempranillo, the revolution has started. Expect the flaming buses and barricades of Derry to arrive across Great Western Road any day now. Who said nimby?
So we flee to Tennents Bar, niftily bypassing the world's best restaurant , the Ubiquitous Chip, which eschews chips for gourmet delights and bacchinalian bonhomie aplenty, to watch the England Croatia game. The place is unusually crowded, although not compared to last week's Scotland Italy game where a queue of 40 people snaked around the building, waiting in vain for a spot to watch the game with several hundred other sardines. Made London Tube rush hour seem thin.
So why the crowd tonight? With Scotland out, maybe the groundswell of support has switched to our English neighbours?
Croatia score. The crowd goes wild, laughing and backslapping and cheering on Scotia's new found friends who're going to tank the English (which they do, consequently relieving the manager of his job some hours later) so we move on to less volatile pastures, the Aragon, whose more subdued clientele are observing with diffidence the duffing of the English.
And then the doors swing open and in walk "the team", a once famous Glasgow phenomenon of tribal turf wars and razor slashings. But these 25 young blades are dressed for golf, in Palm Springs. Plus fours, pringle knits, flat caps and calf leather gloves which would look slightly out of place anywhere, never mind a Glasgow pub. And of course they are students, playing "pub golf" which involves sinking 18 different drinks in 18 different pubs, keeping scores, working out complex holes in one, and generally making drunken asses of themselves (after drink number 10, we'll guess).
I ask why they didn't just stay in one place and drink 18 pints of lager, which is what most of the city's thirsty males would do on a cold, wet, football themed night. They think this is a good idea and will probably try that tomorrow.
And so we continue, down past the University Cafe, the cheapest and cheeriest tea and snack and ice cream purveyor, to the The Three Judges, where the telly is temporarily broke due to a frozen Sky signal - it is raining remember, and Sky doesn't like bad weather - and a small crowd who are temporarily crazy with curiosity because the picture has frozen at 2-2 and if it is to be a draw England will sneak through. There's intense speculation via mobile phone that in another game Russia might increase/dash England's hopes...... but in the end England do it themselves by getting beat, thus twinning the cities of Dubrovnik and Glasgow in effervescent ecstasy.
And so, to a branch of what can now be described as a chain of new wee curry shops just yards from where I am standing. In fact, they are called "The Wee Curry Shop", which is rather apt as they're wee. And they sell curry.
But no ordinary curry. This is the offspring of Mother India, the world's best Indian restaurant, and there are now three "Wee Curry Shops" in Glasgow which makes me very happy indeed. (at least when I'm in Glasgow).
We have brilliant food, starting with Chicken Tikka and Potato pakora which is served with a fresh spicy mango dipping sauce and what appears to be beetroot coleslaw - delicious, not a spot left - and then a king prawn and spinach something which was nectar from curry heaven. They forget a paratha so we get free drink instead and we are very very happy people who head off back into the rain, and the dark, and the cold wind, to further celebrate the birth of a new baby (I forgot that bit earlier) with champagne, tea, and a biscuit.