A packed carriage, on the way home.

Next to me is a youngish man. We get to chatting, and – it transpires – he’s learning his lines, an audition piece. Somehow, in this short journey, I find myself helping with this task, reading out the lines for the other part.

It’s an extract of just a couple of pages from a play. He doesn’t know where it’s from. It feels Russian, Northern European. Chekhov, perhaps? Strindberg? A pastiche?

Over the course of the scene, the plot thickens. I read deeper into the character. There’s something slightly unseemly in this relationship between the man and his wife, or mistress.

The lines feel slightly compromising. I camp it up a bit. Giggle, aware of the other passengers.

Glasgow Queen Street approaches. The rehearsal ends.

I wonder if he got the part.

True Grit in Narnia

Gritty PlatformThis winter, Scotrail took delivery of a bulk-load of white (rather than the normal orangey-brown) grit to keep the platforms ice-free.

Its appearance is more salt than muscovado, but also more akin to snow, or heaped hoar-frost. After snowfall, the salt does its work in camouflage, leaving no crumbled digestive stain.

Now we are at the end (Central Belt Shuffler hopes) of winter, the salt remains, even though the snow and ice are gone. The platforms remain frosted, a little bit of Narnia, sprouting lamp-posts and station signs, on the daily commute.

‘A bike up to here!’

The train manager, to a boy:

‘You must be very excited about your birthday.’

‘See, for my birthday in six days, what I’m going to get…’

‘What are you going to get?’

‘A bike up to here!’ He indicates the metal bar at which bikes are stowed, a height closer to his shoulder than his waist.

My kind of central belt shuffler…