Camioneta Dreaming, Part 2

IMG_0784Central Belt Shuffler and Dr D are back at the side of the road, waiting for the camioneta home. The light is starting to fade.

We stand a few paces away from three men, two older, fatter ones, wearing straw cowboy hats, and a younger, thinner one. They drink from beer cans, their language slurred. They’re doing a sum, ’17 and 17 is 42’, says one. ‘Oh God,’ says Dr D. ‘I hope they’re not getting on the camioneta with us. If a taxi arrives, let’s take it.’

A taxi comes, but it’s headed in the opposite direction from where we want to go.

A camioneta arrives, also heading in the opposite direction. The drunk men ask the driver something, then, as the camioneta heads off, swear at its retreating exhaust.

Walking down the road comes a small group of Mexicans, accompanying a tall, thin black man, smartly dressed with a calm demeanor. A visiting preacher from Paraguay. The drunks recognise one of the women walking with him, and say hello. She replies, nervously. The preacher calmly greets them, ‘Buenas tardes.’

Another camioneta arrives, heading in the right direction. It’s already quite full, and we get on quickly, making our way to the front. The three men also get on, causing a commotion on the camioneta. A few of the Mexicans look at them in disapproval, and shift around to give them space to sit together. A little girl is carrying a tiny puppy, which a woman then takes on her lap as the camioneta sways with the number of people on it. Several men are standing on the back bumper.

The drunks fall asleep. One lets fall an unopened beer can, which the younger man picks up. A family starts singing, the young boy repeating the words, to everyone’s delight. Then, the clear strong voice of the grandma singing by herself. Most of the camioneta join in for a moment, and laugh together at the end of the song.

An older woman, large in frame, gets on. One of the drunk men wakes up and tries to give her his seat. The woman, quickly assessing the situation, tries to dissuade his alcohol-fuelled courtesy, but he is insistent. She sits down, and he stands, swaying.

I reach my stop, and struggle to make my way through the throng to the back of the bus. The other passengers helpfully shout so that the driver knows to wait, and to the drunk, so he gets out of the way.

I squeeze my way out, then reach into my purse, counting out my 6 pesos, handing it to the driver. The camioneta continues onwards, passengers still clinging to the back. I hope Dr D manages to get out in due course. I head for some shopping, and a cooling margarita.

Dr D later reports on the continuation of this journey. The drunks start swearing, and she tells them off, reminding them there are children in the camioneta. When she reaches her stop, she climbs down. ‘Suerte,’ (Good luck), she says to those passengers continuing the journey.

They laugh.

 

Peter and Wayne

Two mid-sized pigeons, standing on a train

One called Peter, one called Wayne

Ride away Peter, ride away Wayne

Getting the Bishopbriggs train home again?*

*This doggerel was inspired by the sight of two pigeons standing on the roof of the Dunblane train as it pulled out of the Queen Street platform into the tunnel. Riding high, like a cowboy atop a train in a Western. John Wayne, perhaps.

Large, and orange

  

A variation, today, on planes, trains and automobiles.

Central Belt Shuffler boards the habitual morning train, stows the bike. Another bike (from another Glasgow-Stirling commuter) is leaned against it.

Then, a kayak.

A kayak comes on board the train, after some discussion with the conductor. It wants to go to Perth, the stop on from Stirling.

The conductor says that, technically, the train shouldn’t really be taking a kayak. It’s over-sized, and won’t fit into the luggage holders. (These are – it has to be said – under-sized for the amount of luggage on the train on some occasions. This time, though, he has a point.)

The conductor lets them on, telling them to stow it by the bikes, upright. It is large, and orange. It’s packed with luggage, and, it transpires the train tickets. There’s a lot of discussion about whether it should be upright or on the floor, and whether it will impede the passage of the trolley. Vertical, horizontal, vertical again. The younger man – a teenager – sits down, holding the kayak with one hand. Or, more precisely, resting his hand against it, while the other hovers over his smartphone.

His attention switches, and his hand hovers over the kayak and touches the screen. The train bumps over the points. The kayak starts to tip. I am in its fall line.

I put my hand out. The teenager too. The train steadies. The boat stays upright.

Stirling. Two bikes leave the train. One sea-faring vehicle remains.

I hope it made it to the Tay.

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.)

Carniolan Shuffle

You may not have noticed the absence of Central Belt Shuffler in recent weeks, as the demands of working life took over the recording of the daily commute. But now, though far from habitual terrain, an opportunity for shuffling has occurred.

In this shuffle, the train is heading away from the city, and towards wooded foothills, and a small, historic town known for its gingerbread and its bee museum (honey production is a speciality of the region). One of the two under-occupied train managers (the younger; the elder conveys a more world-weary air) is solicitous and ensures I leave the train at the right stop. I had, anyway, written the previous stop down on a scrap of paper: the tiny and charmingly-named Globoko – a station which, had Slovenia had its own Beeching – would surely now be gone.

GlobokoOn the journey, at the biggest intermediary station, descending passengers walk over the tracks to get to the exit; the station manager awaiting a brown paper envelope that one of them holds out for him.

I step down from the train at a sleepy station, to be greeted by the publisher I had travelled here to meet. Besuited and clearly the only possible publisher in the station, he nonetheless holds a hand-written sign with my name on it.

Later, I look down on the train tracks from the old town, over terraces of carefully tended fruit and vegetables.