Thursday 28 August 2008

More travels on public transport.

This incident happened a few years back on the Fort William to Glasgow train. It had been around the January period. At that time I was working. Managing to wangle a winter break I had headed north. For the best part of a week I had been up on the grey Corries and the Mamores. Snow conditions had been excellent. It had been hard going though. Coming off the main Grey Corrie ridge had been steep and tricky.Even more so than the ridge itself. A few times I had scared myself. It had been the same on the Mamores. At night the tent had regularly frozen solid. The weather had been relentlessly cold too. On the last day, as I headed out to the fort, my thoughts where on a hot shower and a fish supper before catching the Glasgow train. At that time it was possible to nip in to the leisure centre at the Fort, pay a pound and have a hot shower. A facility I used many times. On a Sunday there was only one train from the fort down to Glasgow. It left somewhere around six in the evening. Sitting waiting for the train was a cold business. The station empty and seemingly forlorn. It was with a sigh of relief that when I finally boarded the train. However, I had no sooner sat down when a boisterous group of youngsters also boarded the train. Coils of rope, tatty rucksacks and scruffy clothing, denoted them as climbers. Creagh Dhu boys from Glasgow. In earlier years they had a fearsome reputation as hard men. They had been climbing on the Ben. Sinking in my seat, I felt apprehensive. One of the guys glanced at me, his eyes taking in my rucksack, ice axe and crampons. He grinned. "Been on the hill then?" When I had told where I had been and what I had been doing, his smile widened. "Och, ye'll have had good snaw conditions then. My but it must have been mighty cold at night. Ye've done well." High praise indeed. As we pulled out of Fort William it soon became apparent that something was wrong with the train. It was freezing. The conductor came around, all apologetic. The heating had broken down and there would be none until we joined up with the Oban train at Crianlairich. Jeers and rumbles of dissent echoed around the carriage. The conductor looked worried, as well he might. One of the lads went and had a quiet word with him and the pair headed off to the front of the train. Shortly he was back. Of all things, he was carrying a boxful of bottled water. Where he had wangled them from no one asked. He dumped the box on one of the small tables. "Am goin' ta mak' a brew." Soon kit was strewn in all directions as people burrowed in rucksacks to dig out their stoves and cooking pots. One lad, appropriately nicknamed 'Tiny' at some six feet plus and solidly built, wrapped his faded and stained duvet jacket gently around an old lady who had been sitting quietly in one of the seats. "There ye are hen, thon, 'll keep ye a wee bittie warmer" Soon she was sitting regally wrapped in the old duvet jacket, sipping tea from a battered tin cup. Several of the stoves where multi fuel. Forget health and safety rules. Mine was too and well, after all I had been accepted as one of the crowd. Having a bit of fuel left, I joined in. Soon my stove was roaring away with the rest. A couple of Canadian backpackers where sitting wide eyed. "Is this legal?" One whispered as I handed her a cook pot of tea. "No dear, probably totally illegal. Just a spot of anarchy though." I explained. The conductor had wisely made himself scarce although one of the lads had kindly taken him a brew. There was a party like atmosphere as folk from the other carriage where invited through for a brew. Biscuits where found from somewhere and soon everyone was supping away. This was all a few years a back. In all probability no one would get away with it these days.
On a night run recently by coach out of Victoria coach station. A guy, rather disheveled and a bit worse for wear went to board the coach. The driver doing the tickets eyed him up, warning him that he could be refused on the coach because he had been drinking. However, with a warning to behave himself, get his head down and sleep it off, he was allowed to board. Unfortunately the man had also smuggled drink on board and as we pulled on to the motorway he became vociferous and abusive to all around him. The relief driver went back to remonstrate with to be met with a torrent of swear words. Enough was enough. The driver pulled in to the first motorway service station. Stopping the coach and angrily pulling on the hand break, he stood up. The relief driver looked at him. "Shall I call the police?" The driver shook his head. "Forget the polis, I'll deal wi' it!" he was a big strapping Glaswegian guy. Marching down the coach, he confronted the drunk. "Right Jimmi, you wus warned. Noo y're aff the coach. You've twa choices, walk off or I'll pitt ye aff " The guy saw sense and meekly shambled off the coach, his head hung low. As we pulled away again he stood forlornly by his suitcase, a sad and lonely figure in a deserted car park.


  1. Great stories, Dawn :)

    The one from the train is brilliant. I love to be taken by surprise by people like that. Appearances can so often be deceptive.

  2. we did a similar thing on a train coming back from the lakes, years ago. The train from Glasgow was 2 carriages short and was heaving with people luckily we had reserved from seats from Penrith. People were blocking the aisles so we couldn't get to the buffet car; so out cames the stove and we brewed up :-) some people weren't happy but that was they weren't getting any tea. :-)

  3. A book, a book I say! You must write a book!

  4. Good stuff Dawn!

  5. glad the FW story finally got the public airing Dawn

    More of these please