Striking Up

The subway draws into Cowcaddens. The brakes make the sound of bagpipes striking up, the a dhuine dhuine in Gaelic, Central Belt Shuffler is given to understand.*

I lift my head at the noise of the brakes, and remember that this is the subway stop for the National Piping Centre. Rather unexpectedly, I once was involved in a project with the NPC’s ELearning Hub where – as initial website analytics showed – online piping classes where of most interest to (in order) individuals in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Belgium, the Isle of Man, Germany, Ireland, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands.

Even a couple of stops from home, the world expands at the sound of the brakes…

*alternative, and not always entirely polite, suggestions for this sound from friends included ‘annoying’, ‘the tuneless racket before the tuneless racket’, ‘gasping, heaving, moaning’, and Central Belt Shuffler’s own contribution, ‘an elephant giving birth’.

Piper Jam

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

FullSizeRender

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.)

Weapon of War

Travelling by bike and train has its charms. And its occasional challenges.

Particularly when catching a Friday evening train some hours into its journey south from Aberdeen.

Not long started on the Central Belt Shuffle, and boarding a busy train one evening, I had to ask someone to get up from a tip-up seat by the bike storage area so I could get my bike in. The two of us were then standing for the rest of the journey.

Another, prematurely elderly, tin-drinking man took offence. He started snarling at me, if you can both slur and snarl. I’ve no idea what he was saying, and smiled as best I could.

Five or so minutes later, out came a small set of pipes, with black* velvet bag.

I’d heard that bagpipes were a weapon of war. In a packed train carriage, with 20 minutes journey-time remaining, that was confirmed.

*This post was previously entitled The Black Piper, until my PC-checker suggested I might change it to avoid any confusion. Good call, Miss J.