The Subway is going Smart

Smart Subway

The Glasgow Subway system is ‘going Smart’, in time, we are promised, for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

At the moment, this means stations are being transformed to sell and accept new tickets (what will Glasgow’s version of an ‘Oyster Card’ be? Something slightly less refined and more carbohydrate heavy, perhaps?)

In this transitional period, though, subway staff are manually checking tickets. And so at Buchanan Street, two men stand either side of the gate, invalidating singles with a black office hole punch. One says to the other:

‘Oh, you want a go?’ He hands over the punch. His colleague punches a ticket.

‘You’re like a big wean wi’a new toy you are.’

Architectural Shuffle

'All Greatness Stands Firm in the Storm' - Ian Hamilton Finlay's inscription in the granite of the columns of the disused Caledonian railway bridge

‘All Greatness Stands Firm in the Storm’ – Ian Hamilton Finlay’s inscription in the granite columns of the disused Caledonian railway bridge over the Clyde

Yesterday saw Central Belt Shuffler set off on a Glasgow Doors Open Day SubCrawl.

The architectural and cultural tour promised more than the normal drinking circuit (although a pint or two were downed at various points along the way and, as we squeezed through railings to look at abandoned dry docks, we were welcomed to Govan by local drinkers, who suggested that next time we bring wine glasses for our Buckfast).

The tour also took in the new cloister at the Catholic cathedral, commemorating the deaths of Scottish-Italian POWs in WW2, the Futurist Govan subway station, Cessnock station embedded within an Alexander Greek Thomson crescent, and, of course, Glasgow School of Art buildings old and new.

Oh, and quite a bit of pub design.

(More information on the Dress for the Weather Subcrawl is available here.)

Not in Fife

The driver at Leuchars, welcoming international students and tourists onto the St Andrews-bound bus:

Pounds only. No Euros, no funny money.

You can’t use your student card on the bus, or any bus in Fife. Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee. Not in Fife.

That ticket allows you to travel on buses in Fife for the whole day. Anywhere in Fife.

Where do you want to go? The golf course?

Are books his bag?

BooksaremyBagOn exiting from the subway station, Central Belt Shuffler overhears a snippet of conversation, between a pretty young woman and her fresh-faced counterpart – new undergraduates both?

Her: ‘… a Japanese writer.’ Pause. She continues: ‘Do you like reading?’

Central Belt Shuffler walks on, not hearing his response.

Young man, if your answer is a yes, you are guaranteed a lifetime of mental stimulation. And possibly physical too.

(Though this blog argues otherwise.)

‘I’m half French, will that be a problem?’

GiniCentral Belt Shuffler, as you may or may not have gathered from the masthead of this blog, is half French and thus – naturellement – is partial to Orangina (even keener on Gini, but that’s less widely distributed. Odd, given that the legendary Serge Gainsbourg wrote an advertising jingle for it, and it’s the ‘hottest cold drink’, according to OranginaSchweppes’ own marketing copy).

So imagine the scenario, one evening, as Central Belt Shuffler stands on the platform awaiting the homeward train. It’s a warm evening, and I’m quenching my post-cycling thirst with Orangina. I look down the platform, and note several fellow passengers also holding orange-coloured fizzy drinks. Irn-Bru.

Central Belt Shuffler might never quite fit the norm – but at least it’s the right colour?

Dark and Stormy Shuffling

A winter’s night, dark and stormy. At the station, all trains are cancelled, due to high winds.

Scotrail has dug up coaches from somewhere – from their appearance, possibly the 1970s. They offer the only option back home, though, and so I board, along with the other Glasgow-bound passengers.

Once out on the motorway, the storm buffets us. Water has found its way between the layers of window-glass, and run to and fro by my head. More for comfort than hunger, I eat the snack I’d carried to work that morning. Emergency flapjack.

We arrive in Glasgow, but the out-of-town bus driver has to be guided to Queen Street by a passenger. He parks up, and we all get off, relieved to have made it back home.