I was in Dundee today for work. I’m just home after a long journey.
I headed down yesterday afternoon and spent the night in Dundee, and thought it was going to be a smooth, easy journey, with what looked to be a mercifully short seven minute changeover in Perth, a station for which I have already expressed my dislike.
Sadly, though, circumstances were conspiring against me. Due to floods (they happen every year – will we ever learn?) it was a replacement bus from Pitlochry. You would have thought that on a route where driving and taking the train takes more or less the same time, we’d have still made it into Perth in plenty time to still catch the Dundee connection.
To my bewilderment, however, we arrived half an hour late, and while passengers were shepherded onto their replacement buses for stations to Edinburgh, the obligatory man in fluorescent jacket told me that there was no replacement for Dundee, despite the fact that the train I should was on should have arrived in Perth in time to catch it. I didn’t bother arguing. It wasn’t his fault.
Loads of other stuff probably was, but not this.
However, the next train was not for another hour and a half. I couldn’t contemplate sitting in Perth station watching… well, at that time on a Sunday night, there wasn’t much of a world passing by to watch. So I headed up the road to the nearest pub.
Strangely, despite being in the middle of town, Perth railway station is ostensibly nowhere near any decent pub, so I made do with the bar at the Best Western Hotel across the road. Yes, a chain hotel. Not a good move.
The bar was deserted apart from a couple of staff cleaning, and the noise of a music channel playing on the TV, and the fact it was “I will always love you” by Whitney Houston did not fill me with confidence. I took a deep breath, ordered a pint of Stella, and settled down with the Hitchhiker’s Guide trilogy, which I am currently re-reading. I bought it in New Zealand to entertain myself on the flight back (more on that in a later post).
However, concentrating on the restaurant at the end of the universe was not easy with a station playing in the background that I suspect was called “Crap Cheese Through The Years”. Ronan Keating followed Whitney, Take That followed him, and then Snow Patrol, Atomic Kitten and various other purveyors of soul-destroying commercial pop added to the mood.
I began to emphathise with Marvin the Paranoid Android as I read, and wondered whether I might have been better off in the station after all.
As it turned out, sitting having my mind numbed in the pub was marginally better than what greeted me back at the station once I’d finished my pint. An amorous young couple sat next to me on platform 2, fully absorbed in each other and coming up for air so infrequently I wondered whether they had evolved into amphibians.
Not long before the train was due, they got up and staggered past me. The girl – a thin skeleton of a human being – broke away from her boyfriend, and asked slurringly whether this was the platform for Dundee. Not hugely enthralled by the prospect of a conversation with her, I replied in the affirmative without removing my iPod headphones. She thanked me, then sat beside me far too closely.
“You having a good night?” she slurred. Headphones still in, I replied briefly but politely that I was (despite the fact that I wasn’t).
“Good. We’ve just been kicked out of a pub for having sex.”
This time I did take my headphones out.
“For having sex in the toilets of a pub. They kicked us out.”
She paused, clearly waiting for some sort of response from me.
“Well, I can see their point,” was all I could think of.
Her boyfriend called her. I suggested she should go. She did.
The train pulled up a minute or so later. I wanted to be sure I got on a different carriage from them, but they were back engrossed in each other’s company so I just got on. Luckily, only the boyfriend then unsteadily boarded.
The girl stood on the platform and bade her boyfriend goodbye with a hand action that would make this post a “certificate 18” were I to spell it out. A simple wave or blown kiss would have sufficed, I felt.
But then perhaps anything can happen at Perth railway station.
Usually, though, it’s nothing whatsoever.
I am not sure which I prefer.