Friday, June 20, 2008

Night Rider

For a variety of reasons ( mainly available dates and my perennial meanness) I have spent most of a couple of nights in airports and train stations over the last ten days or so.
I'm actually thinking of writing a book about it - I found it fascinating.
The first one was in Stansted, when a late flight from Prestwick gave me a three hour wait for check in to open to Pisa. You might ask why Pisa as I've been in Romania. Suffice it to say there is a direct flight from Bergamo ( 4 hours away) direct to Cluj in Transylvania. Yes, quite.
Anyway, there I was having a cup of coffee at 1am, doing my emails, and all around me were literally hundreds of other people doing exactly the same thing. I know Stansted is a busy airport, but it appears that it is almost impossible to get there for check-in for their 05:30 and 06:00 departures. So lots of people, reliant on public transport, take the last train out and then just sit there.
There is the endless whine of the floor cleaning machine, expertly zig-zagged through recumbent figures. All the cleaners seemed to be speaking Romanian or Polish. There was one Brit in overall charge, who could only speak to the two groups via the self-appointed leader of each nationality. And they all spent most of the time on their mobile phones. Whether any actual instructions were delivered or received is, I would suggest, entirely open to debate.
Coming back, I ended up in Liverpool airport until about 2am, where I was accosted for money every few minutes. But I did meet an extremely helpful Arriva Bus man, who told me where to go to get some sleep and even where to get the bus to take me near to Lime Street Station.
Only it didn't go near the station. The driver took me TO the station. It was like having a rather large private taxi, and half way there the driver stopped to pick up his mate who was going somewhere else.
Once at the station, it emerged it didn't open for another half hour, but the head cleaner ( no Poles here, only Scousers - presumably they worked for even less than the Poles) took me across the road to a 24 hour cafe for taxi drivers. We spent the half hour eating the most delicious bacon and tomato sandwiches and drinking freshly brewed Cona coffee, and chatting of this and that. There was a riotous card school in one corner, and memorabilia of both Everton and Liverpool on the walls. We sauntered back to the station, where he let me in ten minutes early, let me into the loo for free, and made sure I got on the right train.
Which went to Manchester, where I had to change to get the train to Glasgow.
Now Manchester Piccadilly was seriously jolly. It was literally crammed with young people all in party gear waiting for the first trains to take them home to bed. They rode up and down the escalators whilst the staff looked on benevolently, until one young man fell over trying to run up a down escalator.
" Now now," said the watcher," You'll hurt yourself doing that". Which indeed he had as he was out cold - not from concussion but from alcohol.
" We just put them in the waiting room to sober up, " the watcher confided, as he and his mate dragged the now-snoring young man along. They opened the door to the waiting room, and dragged him into the middle of the floor where there were about another 30 assorted snoring males and females.
" Do you ever get any trouble? " I asked.
" Nah, " said his mate. " They're well beyond causing any problems by the time they get here. We sometimes have to throw water on them to wake them up before 6 as that's when the coppers come on duty, but other than that, not much to bother about."
I finally got onto the Glasgow train just after 4 and was able to sleep most of the way north - except when the " Train Manager" changed at Carlisle and woke everyone up, telling us so.
I rather liked the Virgin description of Glasgow as a place to visit.
"Follow the banks of the river as it winds through the city, and take a summer walk to Ibrox."
Ibrox is where Rangers play.
They are known as the Huns.
And behave rather like them during WWII.

1 comment:

Winchester whisperer said...

It doesn't sound as if you've found the ideal itinerary yet