Long train running
I’m on a train to Scotland. Well, the train actually *is* in Scotland: we pulled out of Inverkeithing a few minutes ago. I am on my way to Carnoustie to see my father. It will be my first time in Scotland for over a year and a half. Because it’s a six hour train journey, I opted to go first class, which I always try to do if getting the train to Scotland. First class isn’t usually a big deal at all- the seats are a teensy bit bigger and there’s fucking endless cups of tea on offer- but this time it’s one of the older trains and it feels much more luxurious and less sterile than the new ‘fleet’.
As soon as the Firth of Forth came into view I felt a strange wrench in my stomach. I have felt this before, but usually I am getting off at Edinburgh so the wrench is all but gone by the time I’ve humped my bag out of Waverley. This time, however, I was carrying on through so the wrench remains. I don’t for a moment regret leaving Edinburgh but I do have a strange affection for it that I don’t feel for pretty much any place, even the town I was born and grew up in.
Most train journeys bring me hilarity thanks to some of my fellow travellers but this time it’s all been strangely pedestrian. I had a youngish, balding woman sitting at the opposite table who scowled her way up to Edinburgh and wore a Manic Street Preachers T-shirt. She was joined by a friend at Newcastle and was very curt and dismissive to him- so much so that I silently hoped for the speedy loss of the rest of her hair, preferably right in front of me. That really is quite cruel of me.
I ate a cheese and ham toastie which tasted like it had been retrieved from a supermarket floor by someone with dog shit on their hands and was charged £3.50 for the ‘pleasure’. I was almost charged £5: when the steward gave me my receipt she walked away and when I asked for my change claimed she had given it to me. She was quite persistent but I pointed out that I would have had to have been a magician to gave pocketed it; my hands had not moved at all and the receipt still rested accusingly on my right palm, right where she’d plonked it. I diagnose the early onset of dementia or perhaps ‘light-fingerus vulgaris’.
London was bright at 10.30 this morning but the skies darkened the more northerly I travelled. The sun broke through at Edinburgh, as if it were trying to tell me something, and the tall houses of the Old Town seemed to glimmer. Edinburgh can be a terrible flirt but I’ve fallen for that trick before; I turned my head back to my computer screen and did not glance up again until we reached the Forth Bridge.