Friday, 16 February 2018

Open? Or exposed?

We’re in Glasgow. This is only my third time in the city, and I’ve never been here for more than a couple of hours before. It’s raining. I suspect it may rain a fair amount in these parts. I’d like it to be snowing.

We came up by train. I love train journeys. We had our own table and were able to work and wander about, stretching our legs whilst buying cups of tasteless tea from the buffet car. I hate those little cups of UHT milk. And the splintery wooden stirrers you get instead of spoons.

I was similarly under-impressed by the Virgin loos. When you close the door, a ghastly little recorded voice pipes up: “Hello, it’s me, the toilet. I just wanted to ask you not to flush sanitary towels and nappies down me. The usual stuff’s totally cool. I knew what I was getting into...” And so it goes on, with a dreadful stand up routine which would make even the most confident kidney seize up. When she’d finally shut up, I had a wee, and tried to work out whose idea it was to have a talking loo. Which shocking ad agency was paid a massive wad of money to conceptualise and script that nonsense?

It wasn’t raining when we arrived, so we were able to see some of the city centre as we walked to the subway. The architecture is fairly reminiscent of the Wall Street area of New York. I like the colour of the stone. It’s sort of orangey.

The subway is super cool. It’s a circle of two tracks. The inner loop goes in one direction and the outer loop goes the other way, so you can decide which track will get you to your destination most speedily. The trains themselves are rather dinky. A tall person would definitely not be able to stand up inside. I did a little bit of reading about the Glasgow subway earlier and discovered that it was opened in 1896. It’s the third oldest underground network in the world after London and Budapest.

We’ve also been travelling on the busses. Based on two journeys, I feel equipped to make two sweeping statements. 1) Busses in Glasgow smell. 2) All Glaswegians are incredibly friendly. They’ll chat to anyone and seem to want to do nothing but help. The bus driver was a rude fella, however. Rude, or possibly simple. He greeted every question with a blank stare and refused to stop the bus when we pressed the bell.

We spent the evening with our friends Tanya and Paul, and their three kids, Tomas, Lily and Ivy. They live in a beautiful Edwardian house on the outskirts of the city, with glorious exposed wooden floorboards. We had tortilla wraps for tea and the kids kept us merrily entertained. We don’t see them nearly often enough. I’m ashamed to say that this is the first time we’ve ever visited them on their home turf. A lovely, relaxing evening.

We’re staying at the Hilton. I have an earache.

ps - I wrote “exposed” floorboards because Nathan told me that no one calls them “open” floorboards, which was my instinct. Have I gone mad? Is “open floorboards” a term? We had them when I was a kid, and Nathan had shag-pile carpets, so I’m hoping he’s wrong. Which is rare.

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