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Friday, 5 October 2012

A long day

I had a very long day yesterday travelling to Nelson, Lancashire for a job interview. As I don't have a car at the moment, I ended up taking three trains in each direction. The day wasn't without incident...

Up early, suit on, and out to catch the first of my trains, the 07:03 from Milliken Park (my local station) to Glasgow Central. I very rarely wear a suit, or a tie, so this was a bit unusual for me. Now some people look like they were born wearing a suit (Prince Charles, David Bowie), and some people look like they buy one of random size and sleep in it for a week (Boris Johnston), but I just look like 'The Accused'!
I hadn't been on a train for many years, but when I got to the station I noticed the first change.

Someone in their infinite wisdom has decided that railway stations in Scotland need to have bilingual signs. The question is, who is this for? I seriously doubt that any Gaelic speaker has visited this station and it's hundreds of years since anyone in the area spoke Gaelic as their first language. It reminds me of when Highland Council started erecting bilingual roadsigns, and even the Gaelic speakers complained. 'It confuses the tourists, and we know where we're going anyway' they said and complained about the unnecessary cost. Needless to say, this was done without any form of consultation, because our Government 'knows what's good for us', so we just have to pay up. They should really look across the water to Ireland - their various governments have tried to bully the population into speaking Irish for the last ninety years, and what do the people choose to speak - yes, English.

The train soon got to Glasgow where I embarked on the next leg of my journey to Preston. This has a very slight motorcycle connection in that it was a Pendolino train that banks into corners. When I had booked the ticket I had specified the 'quiet' carriage, where you're not allowed to used a phone and are asked to keep noise down. This worked fairly well and the only piece of interest was when a couple got on at Carlisle. They were in their 60s, and the wife was like a real-life Hyacinth Bucket. She tutted and complained about everything, and treated her husband as if he was a mentally challenged eight year old. Everything he did was wrong, and Hyacinth collared the conductress to complain about various things including the the 'carriage being so hot she felt ill'.  The conductress adjusted the temperature, then Hyacinth complained about the sunlight dazzling her through the window. The conductress showed her how to lower the blind, but that wouldn't do as Hyacinth 'couldn't see the countryside'. I couldn't quite see what the conductress could do at this point other than to change the position of the train or the Sun, but she suggested that as the train was very quiet (less that a third full) Hyacinth could move to one of the empty seats at the other side of the carriage. This she did reluctantly with a lot of huffing and tutting, and settled down with her copy of the Daily Mail. (It had to be the Daily Mail, didn't it?)
Five minutes later, and she's snoring loudly! When the train got to Preston, I got ready to get off and Hyacinth's husband woke her up. She reacted badly to this, and somehow it was 'his fault' she had fallen asleep! Poor guy.
Next it was the hour or so trip to Nelson on a slow commuter train that made numerous stops. At one stop, three rough looking women got on, all clearly drunk! You've really got to be trying  to get that drunk at 11 in the morning, but somehow they had managed. They were loud and 'cackled' in a thick local accent, and I noticed that between them they barely had a mouthful of teeth!  Luckily they got off before my stop so the last part of my journey was blissfully quiet.
I got a taxi from the station to the company I was visiting for the job interview, and I felt it went well. Whether it went well enough for them to give me a job, I'll have to wait and see.
I realised that the company was quite close to the station, so I walked back. I had 45 minutes until the next train back to Preston, so I went for a walk round the town centre. Nelson is a fairly ordinary town, so there wasn't much to report other than the station still has a wonderful canopy of a type that's fast disappearing.

I had an uneventful trip back to Preston, and as I had three hours until my next train I went for a walk about the city centre, somewhere I'd never visited before. The reason for the three hours wait was that when I had booked the trains, the journey back would have been £59 if I travelled before 18:30, and £29 if I travelled after, and I arrived had at about 15:30.
I found Preston to be a very pleasant city full of busy shops and interesting things to see. I went to their very impressive looking Art Gallery:

It's got a very good collection that I spent an hour or so wandering round, and unusually for a gallery in England - it's free!

Some of my favourites from their collection. The photos of the paintings aren't too good as I had to switch the flash off (damages the paint).

Loved this statue of Mercury. Amazing to think that it's nearly 500 years old.
They also had works by Waterhouse (a favourite of mine)


And I was really taken by this very large piece.

Art should cause various conflicting emotions - happy and sad, light and dark, up and down - so this gave me a wry smile. Not the painting itself, but the description.

I found this picture very moving. My photo didn't come out clearly so I've used a picture from the Web.

After that I went for a wander and came across this very impressive piece of sculpture.

There was another plaque which mentions that two of those shot were only in their teens. Good article here on the incident.

I got something to eat in a café near the station, then it was on to the train for the trip back to Glasgow. As this train didn't make any stops before Glasgow, it took half an hour less that the train down.
As with the journey down I had booked a seat in the 'quiet' carriage. However, a woman brought a small child (about 3 years old) into the carriage which proceeded to shout and sing all the way back. When other passengers tried to point out to the woman that this was the 'quiet' carriage, she became very angry that anyone would complain about her 'little angel' and that she was 'within her rights' to sit anywhere she liked, and if people complained that there was 'something wrong with them'. This is so typical of parents, they think that their children are 'special', and everyone else should put up with them. It was a truly miserable journey, and I resorted to making rudimentary earplugs from toilet paper to try to make it more tolerable. Just wait for the follow up e-mail from Virgin Trains asking what I thought of my trip!
After that it was the short trip back to Milliken Park, and I was in by 22:30. I went to bed before 23:00 and slept for 10 hours! I was that worn out!
It was an interesting day out, and hopefully a fruitful one if I get the job.


  1. A real life 'Hyacinth', how funny. Sounds like an interesting trip all in all. I have not traveled by train in a while, but always enjoyed it when I did. A chance to kick back and watch things go by. Nice ironwork in the train station. There are still remnants of the old stuff in the US, but train travel just isn't as popular as it was. No charge for the art, how nice. Wish you luck in the job search.

  2. Flying Mercury in Ohio USA

  3. A great post Norman, I really enjoyed it and sympathise on the issue of the "quiet" carriage full of noisy buggers. Maybe I´ll have to stop complaining about Spaniards now! Loved the art. Hope you get the job!

  4. The most annoying thing was that it was one selfish parent with their noisy child who was ruining it for everybody else. The train was less than half full so they could have sat elsewhere, but INSISTED in sitting in the 'quiet' carriage.
    It was a pleasant surprise to find that Preston has such a good art collection, a lot of towns don't really have anything special, but there are some gems out there. Kirkcaldy is a good example, I really should write about their art gallery one day.
    No news on the job yet, but they haven't said 'no'!