I have a long standing thing against public transport. Something about where to go, where to pay, and times has a way of making me unreasonably anxious. It took me until I was about 15 to travel by public bus myself, and it was such a rural bus; it was frequently just me on it. Today I’m travelling from Dumfries to Dundee by train with a stop off at Glasgow central. It’s the longest journey I’ve ever gone by train which would traditionally strike me with dread, yet I’ve felt relatively little of that which is odd. Sure there are the odd moments of panic or anxiety, but that’s something I live with anyway. The key is keeping my mind busy on other things; stopping it from worrying.
Now that I’m travelling by train I’m really enjoying it; you are enveloped in your own little bubble with the soothing sounds of fingers hitting keyboards, and the train travelling along the tracks. It is a beautiful day outside and there are few better sights than the Scottish countryside on a sunny Spring day. The lambs are in the field and buds are beginning to appear on the trees; an onslaught of picture postcard scenes greet me.
Sure it’s not the nicest train; mint green interior, rock hard seats, and no Wi-Fi, but it’s not so bad. The absence of internet gives time for reflection and contemplation. The world is such a busy place and with the internet and phone signal people can contact you whenever they like. It’s nice sometimes just to be in your little bubble. My little bubble involves me writing; I’ve just finished writing notes on Human Rights law and have now moved on to this. I’ve only been travelling for 45 minutes, the journeys 4 hours, at this rate I will have written a book by the time I arrive in Dundee.
The train also provides a great opportunity for people watching. It’s fun to try and establish a train style based upon what the majority are like. On this train the style for men is leather shoes, navy jeans, and a bald spot of varying sizes topped off with a waterproof jacket; I’m badly out of style with only having the leather shoes on that list. The style for the women is a bit more diverse but jeans, and waterproof jackets seen to still be prominent, and if I was to pick a hairstyle I would have to go shoulder length with a slightly bobbed end; either that or short ponytails. The similarity of the outfits reminds me of a line by a French comedian “Scotland, a land where the men and women look the same”. A little harsh maybe.
Another great thing to watch is parents trying in vain to control their bored children. Seeing the classic count to three brings back memories, and the look of resignation in a parents eyes as they know fine well that they are largely powerless to stop their child interviewing the stranger across form them who just wants to be left in peace. Unfortunately on this train all of the children seem to be behaving. I think they have been suitably bought off with food.
Finally the conversations you can overhear are brilliant. I just tuned into a tale about a women whose brother stuck a picture of an orangutan over her husband’s passport photo when they went on holiday together. Her brother had gone to the guards beforehand and convinced them to play along; considering this was abroad and the guards had guns when the husband was stopped he was reasonably panicked. When his passport was finally revealed, well picture for yourself a stressed and now laughed at Scot.
So trains can be great fun in spite of my initial trepidation.