The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

And I’m not looking forward to the journey home…

5.34pm: I speed-stride through Glasgow Central Station – I refuse to attempt to run as it is so long since I last tried, my body has forgotten how to coordinate my torso with my legs, so I settle for walking briskly; very briskly - and leap through the door of rear carriage with literally only a few seconds to spare. Cramped, standing room only. The engine revs, a sudden jolt and we’re away.

Part of me had known that this train never leaves the station at 5.30pm, no matter what Scot Rail’s timetable might say, but this was closer than I’d expected. In fact the train had actually arrived in Glasgow on time this morning, which threw Dave out completely. He always has to wait at least 15 minutes when meeting me off the train, so was somewhat surprised to wander into the station only 10minutes late and find me already there, halfway through a Sudoku puzzle I’d started an hour and a half earlier, just out of Dumfries.

5.36pm: “Hello? Hello? I’m on the train. The TRAIN. Hello?” I’ve only elbowed one person in the ribs while getting out my mobile phone to let Maggie know I’ve caught the earlier train after all.

5.42pm: I try to fill in another number in the Sudoku grid, but the combination of heat, movement and claustrophobia mean I quickly start to feel travel sick. A flicker of disappointment crosses the face of the guy opposite me who I think had been mentally filling in the gaps before I put the puzzle book away.

5.49pm: First stop and enough people depart the train for me to flop down on to the only available space, next to a smartly dressed woman who proceeds to squeeze her body up against the window, trying to put as much distance between us as is humanly possible in a double seat only 3 feet wide. I’m self consciously aware that my earlier exertion and the crowded conditions means that I’m dripping in sweat. I feel like the odorous tramp everyone worries will sit next to them.

“And then he… he… he opened a triple pack of curried chicken sandwiches!” she will wail later. Her body shaking uncontrollably as she sobs at the memory.

“There, there,” her mother will reply soothingly, “it’s all over now…”

6.02pm: Another station and there’s now enough room for me to find a double seat of my own, but the smartly dressed woman gets off the train anyway. I wonder whether it was her stop.

6.13pm: We reach Kilmarnock; only the front two carriages are carrying on from here. It transpires that I didn’t need to shove the granny out the way nor tip up the pushchair in my haste to avoid being left in the wrong section, as the train is allowing plenty of time for the transition.

6.25pm: They really are allowing a lot of time. The rear carriages have left for Ayr.

6.35pm: The driver periodically revs the engine, teasing us, but we’re still not moving anywhere.

6.38pm: The driver announces that we will be underway as soon as a technical fault is fixed.

6.56pm: I’m getting a bit worried about the number of people using the toilet. I distinctly remember seeing a sign saying it should not be used while the train is in the station. If this goes on much longer, the rear carriage will become grounded.

7.12pm: We’re told to disembark. Out on the platform the driver is talking into his phone while making a rough headcount of the passengers. Coaches are being arranged to take us the rest of the way. The lady in the wheelchair rolls her eyes, while the woman with three children under the age of four is clearly at her wit’s end.

7.35pm: A taxi arrives for the woman in the wheelchair. She offers an old woman sitting nearby a lift. I overhear someone saying the bus will be here in half an hour.

7.41pm: An irate passenger is verbally abusing the woman at the ticket office. She hands him a Scot Rail Compensation form.

7.44pm: The woman at the ticket office looks like she’s calmed down, so I go up and give her a friendly smile; it’s not her fault the train broke down. She gives me a Scot Rail Compensation form before I can open my mouth.

It says that if my journey is delayed by half an hour then I can claim half the fare back of that leg of the journey. More than one hour and I can claim the entire amount. Whoopee. Two and a half hours stuck on a cold Kilmarnock Railway Station Platform and I might just be able to claim back £5.95.

7.50pm: Word has spread and there is now a long queue of weary passengers with nothing else to do except pick up a form and borrow a pen.

7.56pm: a young woman plonks herself next to me on a bench and lights up a cigarette. It’s over 16 years since I gave up smoking and I resent people forcing me to breathe their stinking, cancerous fumes.

7.57pm: F***, I could do with a cigarette.

7.59pm: According to the woman with three kids, the flush in the station loo isn’t working properly. I don’t think there’ll be much loo roll left either judging by the long trail of it attached to a 3-year-old running about.

8.02pm: The bus has arrived. It will have an overall longer journey time, and be less comfortable, but the next train to Dumfries isn’t for another 40 minutes and it’s getting cold. The heat and sweat from the beginning of the journey is a distant memory, unable to be recalled with any clarity. I follow the crowd out of the station.

It’s one of those Luxury Coaches with curtains at the window, a downstairs loo (not to be used while parked) and a little button you can press, next to the air vents, that apparently calls for a hostess. I can’t see anyone who looks like a hostess.

8.05pm: “Hello? Hello? I’m on the bus. The BUS. Hello?”

8.06pm: Maggie reminds me I get travel sick on buses.

8.10pm: The driver periodically revs the engine, teasing us, but we’re still not moving anywhere.

8.18pm: Apparently the driver can’t engage first gear. Everyone is getting off the bus.

8.45pm: A cheer goes up. The next train to Dumfries pulls into the station. This is the train I would have caught if I’d accepted Dave’s offer to stay to dinner instead of deciding to catch the earlier one to ensure I’d be home in time to put my children to bed.

8.50pm: The train starts moving. Another cheer goes up. A deep golden, full moon is just rising over the horizon. Only an hour to Dumfries now and a further 30 minute drive to Castle Douglas. I phone Maggie.

“Hello? Hello? I’m on the train. The TRAIN. Hello?”


34quinn said...

Hmmmm that didn't sound like much fun..But alas you arrived at your destination safe and sound and with a story to boot.

Stella said...

Oh Kim, I felt your pain....I have had journeys like that, nightmare stuff. Also for some reason I always ended up with the weirdo/lunatic sitting beside me, don't know why, just seem to attract em? Hmmmm

Kim Ayres said...

Quinn - "alas"??? I hope you meant to write "at least".

Stella - it's even less fun when you realise that you are thought of as the one who is the weirdo/ lunatic

34quinn said...

HI kim, I know I sent you an email but now I am once again trying to post a comment...

Yes, I guess I should have said at least...and not alas,, at least not in that context.

Is alas a word though in Scotland...?? and I do not mean ... a lass in a young girl LOL LOL ...

SafeTinspector said...

What an incredible adventure!
And it smacked of the finest vintage questing, as well.
Although it sounds as if you should either switch wireless providers or get a different phone. Poor Maggie.

One of the most amusing posts you've done yet, in my mind. I love a humorous triptych

Stella said...

But Kim you are such a nice weirdo/lunatic, sitting there quietly not doing your sudoku. My weirdos/lunatics always insist on engaging in weird/lunatic conversation. Once, while on a bus which was impersonating a tin of sardines, I had a perv pressing against me with an erection! Mind you I was a lot younger and slimmer then, these days he'd probably topple over in his efforts to avoid pressing up against me!

Kim Ayres said...

Quinn - glad you've figured out how to comment. Fortunately I allow anonymous comments on this site, otherwise I think I'd have lost comments from everyone who's switched to the Beta Blogger.

SafeTinspector - many thanks for your warm words of praise.

I wrote it in the pages of the Sudoku puzzle book as the journey unfolded, before I knew there was going to be a delay. I'd had the experience of almost missing the train, and of feeling self conscious next to the woman on the seat, so started writing it down once I got a bit of space. Then events just took over. I didn't have to do a great deal of editing when I came to write it up.

Stella - so are you saying that you yearn for the days when a perv would get an erection when pressed up against you? There's a lot of post-feminist dilemma to unpack out of that ;)

Kate said...

Oh, the joys of the British transport system ;-)

Stella said...

Eh no Kim, well young and slim maybe, pervs with erections no!


Attila The Mom said...

Oh dear Lord. However did you manage not to go postal?

You've ruined my image of the British Railway system now. LOL

jotcr2 said...

that travel sickness must have been bad to put down suduko

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

You have my sympathies Kim. Many is the time i have suffered at the hands of ScotRail, not to mention every other train operator in the UK. You kept your cool, and for that I salute you.

Kim Ayres said...

Kate - From what I can make out from history lessons, we need a fascist dictatorship if we want the trains to run on time. Democratic dictatorship just doesn't work so well.

Stella :)

Atilla - I dread to think what your image of the British railway system was then...

Jo - I think it was the swaying motion while overheated and standing that was the culprit

Dr J McC - strangely enough it was easier to keep calm once I realised I'd probably get a good blog entry out of it.

Dr Maroon said...

NOone gets travel sick on a train.

And to get travelsick on a bus at your age is nothing short of an indulgence.

I left a message at the other place as well. In case you're wondering, it IS "I hate Kim" week.

Kim Ayres said...

I get car sick if I'm in the back for more than 20 minutes too

Freakazojd said...

Ditto on enjoying a humourous triptych! This is really funny! Not a wonderful experience to be sure, but it made for a great post! :)

Kim Ayres said...

Thank you Freakazojd, and welcome to my ramblings!

Mary Witzl said...

Boy, have I been there and done that! It is bad enough in Japan where the trains are amazingly prompt and dependable, but here in the U.K., this sadly seems to be the norm. I blame Mrs Thatcher and others like her who buy into the myth that you aren't a success unless you have a car.

The commuter train I used to take into Tokyo every day would sometimes be held up due to what they called jinshin jiken -- 'personal incidents.' This almost always meant that some poor soul had decided to end it all by jumping in front of a train, ensuring a time-consuming clean-up and much paperwork. I always found it depressing how quickly my compassion for the suicide wore out as I stood there, cheek by jowl with what felt like half of the Kanto plane's population.

Brave Astronaut said...

That is hysterical. Well not really, but the way you tell it. There are days that I am glad I don't take the train to work every day. A day like that would be one of them.

Fat Lazy Guy said...

Oh man, hilariously painful. Great story.

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