Yesterday I went to Glasgow. It isn’t very far from here, but I don’t go very often; one of my grown-up sons lives there, and visiting him is really the only reason I go.
Trying to judge the timing of my return journey to avoid the Saturday football crowds, I took a taxi back to the station. It was dark, wet, dismal, and the traffic was very slow.
The driver was bald, with a thick neck – the only view I got of his head was exactly like those old photos of WW1 artillery shells.
“Where you going?”
“Queen Street station, please.”
“What train you catching?”
“It doesn’t matter – I’m travelling to Edinburgh, and they are every 15 minutes or something – plenty of time.”
“Edinburgh? [uh-oh] – I see you beat us today, then!”
“What game was that?”
“Hearts beat the Rangers three-nothing.” [Excellent!]
“I didn’t hear the result – not really a Hearts fan.”
“What you doing in Glasgow then? [this question doesn’t follow from the football discussion, since the Hearts game was, in fact, in Edinburgh – perhaps he thought I might have come through to Glasgow just to avoid seeing the game.]”
“I was visiting my son – he lives off Maryhill Road.”
“Oh – that’s all right then – why not, eh? [Why not? – hmmm…]”
Short silence, while the driver tried to tune in his radio
“Crazy day – the town’s full of foreign bloody visitors – none of them speaks proper English, no-one knows where they are supposed to be going – they’re a bloody nuisance. [Right – one of those – presumably he refused to take their money]”
Thinking this was a poor reflection on the former City of Culture, host of the Commonwealth Games and all that, I just grunted. No stopping this guy, though.
“I hope we get out of Europe – what’s all that about? They have rules about the shape of a ****ing banana, it says in the paper – what’s all that about? I’m a taxi driver [really?], and I don’t see why I have to work every hour God sends to pay my tax, so some black lassie with five kids can get a house somewhere – why isn’t her man paying tax? [Erm…] It isn’t fair, I say, and there’s a lot like me. [I fear you may be correct]”
“Yes, I suppose you’re right. [Whatever]”
“Right? I’ll say I’m ****ing right. That’s what’s wrong with Britain today. Anyway, you’re obviously English, are you, from your accent? [uh-oh] What you doing living in Edinburgh?”
“Well I’ve lived in Scotland most of my life – I live on the East coast, not far from Dunbar. [I guessed Dunbar was big enough for him to have heard of it – I was wrong]”
“Dumbarton? [harsh guffaw] When I was at school, that was on the West coast – you’re away the wrong way, pal!”
“No – no, Dunbar – its about 40 miles the other side of Edinburgh. [where is that bloody station…?]”
“My daughter lives in Sheffield,” he said, “and all her neighbours complain to her because they can’t understand ‘Still Game’ on the telly – they say it should have subtitles. Can you understand it? [Holy Moses]”
“Yes – never had any problems with that.”
Thank goodness, we reached the station. I paid my fare, and thanked the driver, not very effusively in either action, so be sure. He had one last piece of worldly advice.
“Mind how you go in the station – these ****ing ‘Big Issue’ salesmen and that will have your wallet off you quick as a flash.”
With any lasting pleasure I might have gained from my visit to Glasgow severely muted, I set off to take my chances with the cruel foreigners.