Bored with my usual Monday routine, I decided to take a train journey to
All went well until I arrived at Aspatria, when a hideous creature, a female version of Ann Widdecombe boarded the train and forced herself into the seat directly opposite me. The sound of the aluminium seat straining under her weight was frightening.
I dont use public transport often, because when I do, it is inevitable that a loony will sit next to me, despite the fact that there could well be 20 empty seats available on my chosen mode of transport.
I am a magnet for the mentally unstable.
"Would you like a sandwich" ?
"no thank you" I said, avoiding eye contact.
"theyre tuna and Ralgex"
Smiling nervously, I again declined her offer, how anyone can eat tuna is beyond me.
"I'm going to
"they dont sell them in Aspatria then" ?
"oh yeah" she replied, "but theyre cheaper in
Cumbrian farmers suffered greatly during the foot and mouth outbreak of 2001 and two thoughts immediately sprung to mind, 1. was she the first human victim of foot and mouth.... and 2. why, today of all days, had I chose to leave my bolt gun at home.
Without any encouragement from me, she continued talking......."I like music and religion"
Unable to resist the temptation to partake in a wind up, I said "really....do you like Martin Luther Van Dross" ?
"I've never heard of him" came the reply.
"I'm surprised, he's really big on both sides of the Atlantic......Uraguay and
"oh well, nice meeting you" I said, hastily making for the exit.
Anyone that has travelled from Maryport to
A quick dash along the platform, over the bridge and out of the exit, I find myself at The
4 hours later, nerves shattered, having drank enough Stella Artois to floor an elephant, much to my better judgement, I decide to go window shopping.
Walking through The Lanes, I fell upon (literally) a crowd of people who were watching a mime artist. I love to watch any artist perform, its refreshing. This guy was a master of his trade. I watched in awe for 15 minutes and at the end of his performance, he bowed and held out his hat for monetory contributions. Me, being who I am (and slightly inhebriated) took out of my pocket an imaginary wallet, opened it and carefully took out of it an imaginary five pound note and placed it in his hat. He wasnt pleased at this and told me so in no uncertain terms, before taking a swing for me. Some people have no sense of humour. Again, a hasty retreat was called for.
Walking past Carlisle Cathedral, I noticed a young blonde busker and I sat on the wall to listen to her for a while. She played the trumpet pretty good and had quite a powerful voice. She wasnt exactly Ella Fitzgerald, she couldnt shatter a wine glass using a Memorex tape, but I've no doubt she could scare the life out of a guard dog at 400 metres.
I decided it was time to go home and headed for the station. As I was leaving, a drunk staggered by and shouted "dont give up your day job lass" Guess what.......she looked right at me ! I was then subjected to a tirade of abuse from this angelic looking songstress and left the scene with her words echoing in my ears.
The journey home was quite pleasant, not a loony in sight.
When I got home, I found two leaflets on the floor behind the front door. The first stated boldly "ADOPT A DOLPHIN" that sounds good, but I considered two things. 1.it would be a pain in the arse keeping it in the bath and 2. what happens when it turns 18 and wants to meet its natural parents ?
The second leaflet said "CLOTHING COLLECTION FOR THE THIRD WORLD". Please send us your toiletries, cosmetics, perfumes, sports clothing and handbags !
I tried to imagine the conversation between two starving children in the poverty stricken third world......"What have you had to eat this week" ?
"Oh, just a handful of rice, but its ok, I've got my Gucci handbag, a Nike t-shirt, Le Shark deodorant, some Revlon lipstick and a bottle of Givenchy aftershave, things are looking up"
It turned out to be quite a revealing day.
I decided to disappear for a couple of days, just to get away from the smell that eminates from the fish factory, an odour that often contaminates Ewanrigg and the surrounding area whenever there's a slight Southerly wind.
But where to go ?
After one or two cans of Stella (probably more like seven) and some careful consideration, I decided upon ............Glasgow. Dont ask me why.
Suffering from a distinct lack of money, the only way I could get there......was to hitch-hike, as eight quid wasnt gonna go far. I set off from Netherhall Corner at about 4 a.m. and within minutes I got a lift, right into the centre of Carlisle.
I then walked to the M6 motorway.
I waited for a lift until 11.15 a.m. in the pouring rain and freezing wind.
Eventually, a truck driver stopped and offered me a lift to some unmapped region of Scotland, the name of which, I don’t know how to pronounce, or for that matter, care to remember, assuring me that I would be certain of a lift from there to Glasgow. I accepted his lift and enjoyed the scenery. Having reached the destination, I shook his hand and thanked him for his generousity, jumped out of his truck and landed, upto my knees, in what appeared to be a puddle, but what was in fact a small loch, thankfully, one that was uninhabited by a monster. It was still raining heavily, but after some 30 minutes or so, I got another lift......into Glasgow city centre, arriving at approximately 1.30 pm. Again I thanked the driver and set off to do a bit of window shopping. It was a pointless exercise really, as I didnt need any windows.
Turning onto Sauchiehall Street, I was accosted by a Hari Krishna type of person in a bright orange shirt, who invited me to an afternoon of enlightenment, prayer and some free food. An offer which I declined, rapidly exiting the area.
I decided to check out a couple of
Where was that Hari Krishna guy now that I needed him ?????
Later, it dawned on me that the food would probably have been ok in Nice and Sleazy, as all the crap was on the chefs clothes, maybe next time.
I found a Chinese restaurant on
I had a great meal, Chicken and sweetcorn soup, barbequed spare ribs in OK sauce, beef chop suey and fried rice. Wonderful. I was then given an After 69 chocolate mint wafer and a fortune cookie which contained a rather distressing message......"That wasn't beef you just ate"
That aside and having thoroughly enjoyed my meal, I paid by cheque and went looking for another watering hole. I decided the best thing to do was to find a guest house for the night, preferably one with a bar and after 30 minutes or so, I stumbled upon one. £35 for the night, which included bed and breakfast, an alarm call and countless interruptions throughout the night from the hen party that was staying there, a bargain at twice the price !
I was awoken at just after 4 a.m. by a scantily clad, biologically accomodating young Scottish woman, who rather drunkenly, offered me the opportunity to accompany her to her room to join her and her alcoholic friends for a few beers. "Stella" ? I enquired. "No" she replied....."Ruth" OK in for a penny in for a pound, what did I have to lose ?
I gingerly entered the room and was met by a bunch of muscle bound, tattooed skinheads ! My mind was spinning ! What would happen to me if their fella's turned up ?
I had a few cans of Tennants lager, (I use the word lager lightly) exchanged pleasantries and made a pretty lame excuse to leave.
It was almost 6 a.m. My alarm call was for 7 a.m.
I decided it was probably best, not to go to sleep and I just sat on the bed watching BBC News 24 until the proprieter came and knocked on my door telling me to wake up.
I grabbed breakfast and legged it to Central station to catch the train home. Having paid (again by cheque) I was informed that there were no trains and that a bus service had been provided, at no extra charge, to get me to Carlisle. Ok, it would take a bit longer, but at least I'd be able to catch up on my sleep.
Having boarded the bus, I soon found myself in the land of dreams, no doubt snoring my head off. The next thing I remember was being woken up by the woman sitting next to me, who informed me that we would soon be arriving at Lockerbie and that we would have about 30 minutes there, to stretch our legs, have a coffee and a cig.
I struggled to wake up, hitch-hiking and spending the night with the Glasgow branch of Alcoholics Annonymous had taken it toll on me. However, I was awake as we pulled into Lockerbie and I was astonished at the sign on the local garage wall.......JET WASH ONLY £2.75p........I figured they were tempting fate, the last thing they needed was another Jumbo jet dropping by.
Three coffees, two cigs and one slight stretch of my weary legs and it was back on the bus, soon I would be in Carlisle and only 40 minutes or so away from home.
On Carlisle station, I lit a cig and was nabbed by a copper from Cumbria Constabulary. I was unaware that smoking was banned on the platform. He carefully took my details and asked if I had a criminal record. A bit of quick thinking came into play, (considering that this government of ours has lost so much sensitive personal information on thousands of British citizens) I replied " Yeah I have a criminal record......do you know where it is" ? I dont think he was impressed, but he did manage a smile and he told me to go smoke outside. He let me off with the offence, but I couldnt help thinking that he had better things to do than nick people for lighting up in a train station, surely he should stick to his proper job of catching fare dodgers and protecting the Royal Family from its subjects.
I boarded the "Mersey Rail" (True) train to Maryport, for the slowest journey in the history of man, it was quite crowded, but I managed to find a place to lie down for the 40 minute journey. I had hoped it would be peaceful, but as is usually the case, a nutter landed next to me. "Hello" he said. Hmmmmm "Hi" I responded. He looked at me, eyes glazed and said "I've been running the London Marathon since 2003".....I thought for a second and said "Really, I thought it only took about 3 hours, what held you up" ? It was above him. Hyper humour.
As we left Wigton station, I heard a woman scream, the next thing, the train had screeched to a halt. The ticket collector ran the length of the train, to where the woman was and demanded to know why she had pulled the emergency cable. The woman replied "I'm having a baby" The ticket collector said "You should'nt have got on the train in that condition" The woman looked at him whistfully and replied "I did'nt"
Eventually, we got to Maryport and I breathed a sigh of relief.
I was home.
And as Zebedee from the Magic Roundabout said many times.......time for bed.