Sunday, May 17, 2009

The one that got away !

I'm almost calm enough now to write about this little episode in my recent past !
Almost, but not quite ,..,
It started off as one of my pretty good ideas .,,. not one of my greatest ever ,, but plenty good enough to convince my beloved and our friends Joyce & Steve to go along with it.
We would take the much heralded scenic train ride from Glasgow to Mallaig ,,the West Highland choo-choo journey of a lifetime with photo opportunities to die for ! And stay a couple of nights in the lovely ( but remote ) Mallaig ( pronounced Mallig btw by the natives .,,. just thought you'd like to know that ! )
So we met at 10am and set off to walk the 10-minutes to our local Patterton station.
Into Glasgow's Queen St. with time to spare we had coffees ,,, all very organised and normal ... We got on the train, sat down in our reserved seats at the correct side of the train for the best views en route, the girls had even prepared and brought along lunch rolls filled with all sorts of lunch time goodies ,, complete with nuts, crisps etc, and of course the wine ! We set off on our mini adventure full of the joys of early summer. It was a glorious sunny day and more of the same was forecast for Up North ,.., We did the train di-de-de-dum, di-de-de-dum, di-de-de-dum ,,through station after station .,., still in the Scottish lowlands but getting there ,, definitely getting there ,,, we got chatting to a couple of lads going home to Fort William from a mid week footie match .,,. Mel & Stirling, both Scotrail employees, the boys seemed to have good times regularly in the Big City, and also liked a wee swally .,., so much so that during one notorious night Mel had got off the train at one of the stations for a smoke ,,, and it had left without him ,,, costing him a fortune in taxi fare trying to get home !
How we laughed at the stupidity of that night of drunken stupidity !
He had learned little too, for at almost every station stop there he was, out there on the platform with the ciggie going .,.,
Di-de-de-dum, di-de-de-dum, di-de-de-dum .,., onward & upward .,,. We had lunch passing along the shores of Loch Lomond ,,and then we pulled into the A station ,, eh, that's Ardlui, but we won't ever mention that name again .,.,
The announcer told us that there was a slight problem further up the line and we would have a short stop ,, 5-10-minutes ,, at this station ,, You may get off the train but don't leave the platform .,,. As if ?
Mel was up and off like a rat up a drainpipe, ciggie packet in hand ,, I was at his back, camera in hand. Snapping away on the platform ,, I added pics of the Loch, the local phone box, the deserted train lines and the arrival of the train on the opposite side of the station ,, I wandered back into our carriage and took a telling shot of my pal Steve ,, sound asleep and us only 2-hours into our 5 hour plus journey.
No more than 2-minutes had elapsed so ,, back I went off the train ,, the one opposite was now leaving, heading back towards Glasgow ,, so I just had to catch a few more shots as it sped off ,,,
Satisfied that I had exhausted the photo opportunities of the A place I turned to re board our train ,..,
To my absolute horror I saw it was moving .,,. slowly, but moving .,., doors all closed ,, I chased after it banging on windows, doors ,,caught up with our carriage and exchanged horror looks with my beloved before having to give up the chase ,,, the bastard train guard had left me .,,. stranded and alone in the A station ,,,
Not a hoot hoot, not a bell, not a whistle ,,not a flag, not an Everybody Aboard yell ,, NOTHING ,, just a silent closing of doors and a quiet slithering away ,..,
I simply couldn't believe it .,., No one pulled the Red Emergency handle ,, no one, it seemed, cared enough to even push the OPEN DOOR button, there on every bloody door !
So there I was ,, me, my camera ,, fortunately ( I thought ) my mobile phone ,, ( unfortunately a new one with which I was much less than familiar ! ) .. Oh & I had my wallet in my pocket .,,. no jacket, no camera bag, no medicine ( I had antibiotics to take at 3pm ,,) no glasses ,,, ( to see with , not to drink from ! )
I was LIVID ,,, angry beyond words ,,, if a Scotrail employee had appeared on that platform I dread to think the abuse he'd have got ! I lifted the Emergency phone and pushed the button as advised on the accompanying sheet ,,, Nothing ,, this service is not operational !! I started out of the cursed station wondering what the hell to do ,,, when my mobile rang ,, I finally managed to answer it at the second attempt my wife made at calling me ,,
The Rail guys Mel & Stirling, on seeing my plight had immediately moved into top gear and called a local taxi firm .,,. a taxi would pick me up in the next few minutes and chase the train to the next ststion ,,, Phew .,., well done the lads !
I waited ,,,and waited ,,,
Ring-ring ,, it was the wife again ,, disaster ! .,,. a road accident had blocked the road so the taxi couldn't get to me ,, the train was also delayed again because of this same road accident so maybe ,, just maybe ,, we could still get there ???
Alas, some 40-minutes passed before the taxi arrived .,., Way too late ,, the train was already speeding on it's merry West Highland way with a giggling fool, his quiet smiling wife and a couple of incredulous young lads the only company my dear wife would have for the next 10-hours !
The crazy taxi driver told me there was now no way for us to overtake the train but that he could take me to Crianlarrich ( for a mere £15 ) ,, then pass me onto a mate who would deliver me to Fort William ( for a further £85 !! )
And what then I asked ,, how to get the final hour and a half or so to Mallaig ?? Eh, well there isn't any transport for that last bit of the journey ,, maybe another taxi ? or you can wait for the next train through here coming to Ft. W ???
Oh I see, says I ,, I can pay you 100 quid and catch the next train at Ft. W rather than wait here for it for nothing ?? Byeeeeee Mr. Taximan. ( the train fare from Glasgow to Mallaig is £13-75p incidentally )
I spent the next hours ( the longest in my life ) wandering miles back & forth around that place taking photos and trying to hitch a lift to Mallaig !! ( I had seen one van go by as I walked during the first half hour .,., Something's of Mallaig ! ) Shit, if only I could have stopped him ,, I might even have won the race to Mallaig ? ) but I didn't have any paper or pen to write a hitching note .,,.
I went into the A hotel and had a beer ,, more calls followed from the beloved ,,the guard had sort of apologised ,, he was dealing with a wheelchair passenger at the front end of the train and hadn't noticed me ,.,. Aye right ! ( we'll see what his bosses think of that one ! ) and I would be allowed to travel on the next train free of charge ,.,. ?? You better believe I would ! It would arrive at the A station at TEN MINUTES TO EIGHT at night ,, it was just after 2pm now ! Holy Jesus ,,
I swore like the proverbial trooper ,, all f***ing day long ! and it would hit Mallaig at 11-31pm ,,, I felt I wanted to KILL .,., that stupid bloody guard preferably !
The two waitresses in the local pub/hotel tried their best to cheer me up ,, no, they didn't have any regulars who drove to Mallaig ! but tried all they knew on the pub computer to get me some alternative transport .,,. alas no joy ,,
I had dinner with them later and they insisted I get back to the station with almost an hour still to wait ,, just in case !
At the appointed hour & minute it arrived .,., train #2 rolled into the A station .,,. I did wonder what crime I might commit if it didn't stop .,., It did !
I was immediately recognised by the ticket collector as the guy with the camera whose tickets were in Mallaig !
I spent the next 3 hours + in a practically empty carriage ,, taking some meaningless blurred photos on a fast moving train in the coming semi darkness ,,
Eventually, tired and exhausted I arrived in the lovely Mallaig at precisely 11-31pm, some 6-hours later than planned !
They were all there ,, the giggling Steve ,,( not quite so smug now however having had to listen to both wives all day on his own ! ) the quiet smiling Joyce, who comforted me all the way to our B & B hotel ( all 3 minutes walk ! )and the beloved who presented me with my jacket to keep me warm and a very large G & T with a slice ,, but no ice !
There were others too on that late night platform shouting and waving at me ,, ??
The wife & "pals" had missed me all day and tried hard to make me smile again ,, they failed ,, :( !
At least the B & B I had booked was very nice ,, and had stayed open late to let me in !! We had a few drams to deaden my anger & allow me to get to sleep .,.,
A nice breakie next morning almost set me back to normal but first the landlady and then her man naturally had to make some wise guy comments about my train escapade ,, walking down the street it seemed that every bugger in Mallaig knew the story .,,. a girl in a gift shop chatted to me like a long lost friend ! ( she was their waitress in the restaurant the night before and would be again tonight ! ) and there was talk of a story in the local newspaper !
Sitting later in the day at a table outside a pub with a cool beer, a damned Yankee & his wife stopped , stared and pointed right into my face .,,. Hey, it's you ,, you made it ,, ha ha ,, we were on the train and saw you running alongside our window ,,,
Move along I told him ( in my best NYC cop voice ,, there's nothing for you here ).,,. I don't do autographs ,.,. not before 6pm ,,,
The rest of the hol was great, weather blistering hot and sunny so we took a lovely boat trip to Eigg & Rhum .,.,., the beloved of course, not being any kind of a sailor ,, especially early morning ,, commented that she preferred her Eigg with bacon and her Rhum with coke please ! We also saw Muck & Canna from the boat ,.., a beautiful day out and an evening meal of some note ,,, the girl gift shop worker and waitress had also been one of the people on the late night platform ( meeting her boyfriend ) had felt so sorry for me that she'd kept the biggest Dover Sole I'd ever seen just for me ,,, Steve was gutted with his half size fish so finally a result in my favour !
So that's it ,, now everybody knows !
I'm off now to wtite my letter of complaint to Scotrail ,,


Phyl said...

11.5 hours to get from Glasgow to Mallaig??? I managed to do Glasgow Manhattan in 4 less!

Rachel Holmes said...
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