Piper Jam

It’s been a season of disrupted Central Belt Shuffling.


Kelvinbridge Underground Overground Station

Glasgow’s Queen Street tunnel has just reopened after several months’ of closure, which lengthened journeys to the north and east. For Central Belt Shuffler, this timing has been rather fortunate, as research leave has meant less need for frequent shuffling, and hence fewer, longer journeys than might otherwise have been necessary.

But while the trains are working again, with the works completed in time for Edinburgh festival trips, Glasgow’s subway remains closed for an extended period. There are replacement buses (overground undergrounds, which remind Central Belt Shuffler of a certain Wombling song).

The service is relatively good, and cheaper and faster than the normal buses. But the journey is of course subject to other street traffic.

Today, heading into the city centre, my replacement subway bus was held up by hundreds of marching pipers, part of the city’s Piping Live festival. Well, I suppose as jams go it offers authentic local colour (and sound).

(Oh, and here’s that Womble song. Because you can’t have enough sousaphones.)

Good for transport links

Two retired women, smartly dressed, are chatting on the subway. Their husbands stand, holding the bar, swaying to the movement of the train.

One is asking the other about how it is, living in the city centre.

‘Not the best,’ replies her friend, dismissively.

The first woman, slightly put back, presses her friend. ‘Why do you say that?’

‘Well, it’s good for transport links,’ she admits. It becomes clear, though, that it can be difficult for deliveries.

Their conversation pauses for a while, then the city centre dweller picks up, following the train of thought about deliveries.

‘I bought John one of those wing-backed chairs for his birthday,’ she reveals.

‘Does he know?’ (The two men remain oblivious to the conversation).

‘Oh yes!’

‘And a packet of those Werther’s Originals!’

Both women laugh at the thought.