Talking Point, with Ron Harris

Ron Harris'Picture by Lindsay Addison
Ron Harris'Picture by Lindsay Addison
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Find out what’s upsetting our chief reporter, Ron Harris, this week!

IF they ever make a film o’ mah past week’s wanderings, they could cry it A Tale of Three Cities.

Or, perhaps, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Y’see, having a week aff and tiring o’ the same auld roond o’ Monte Carlo casinos/white sand beaches o’ Barbados, etc, mah Good Lady Wife and I did oor patriotic duty wae a mini-tour o’ Scotland, specifically Glescae, Embra and Perth.

Conclusion frae a tourist point o’ view: oor cities are braw, oor people are even better but I’ve seen better organised pile-ups oan the M74 than oor public transport system, especially the trains.

Let’s start aff wae mah auld stompin’ groond o’ Glescae which, ower the thirty years since ah left, has been transformed by those in charge intae some kinda nostalgic theme park for onywan hankering after the good auld days o’ life behind the Iron Curtain.

The welcome tae this still great city oan the low-level line is the pompously-named ‘Ring of Steel’ o’ automatic station ticket barriers which never seem tae work and require a staff member tae staund by each o’ them tae press a button and let the passengers through at a slow dribble.

Oan the day we arrived at Argyle Street Station, this resulted in a shuffling queue o’ frustrated travellers stretching a’ the way back tae Cambuslang, attempting tae reach street level; honest, yon trapped Chilean miners last year eventually made it tae the surface quicker than we did.

Two days later the still excellent and affordable Lanark-Biggar-Embra bus service got us tae oor capital city wae nae problems but, because o’ timetabling, we had tae attempt the return journey by train.

Weel, explain the logic o’ this tae me: right in the middle o’ rush hour, there were two folk manning the ticket office at Waverley Station, resulting in another angry queue a’ the way back tae Cambuslang, this time in the opposite direction.

When we reached the platform for oor choo-choo there were nae fewer than THIRTEEN staff waiting tae check oor tickets!

Let us move oan tae Bonny Perth where, deciding the near fifty quid each for a return rail ticket wisnae so much steep as ruddy vertical, we opted for the fifteen quid a skull tae take the bus there and back frae Buchanan Street.

This was grand value for money as there was even an on-board cabaret laid oan!

Oan the way up a creature that resembled Jimmy Krankie after a fifty year bender and wae a vocabulary consisting maistly o’ two four-lettered words – the bad wan and the REALLY bad wan – kept her neighbouring passenger, a very genteel lady heiding for Dunblane, riveted wae the injustices o’ her sorry life.

Oan the return trip the entertainment was provided by the French backpacker who enquired at EVERY stop for near a hunner miles “Eez zees Glaascoo Contral Staytion?”

The final leg hame by train frae Glescae back tae Bonny Lanark finally proved a theory I had been forming all week: the Fat Cats in charge o’ oor railways havenae had tae use public transport themselves since they were weans.

I’d like tae see how lang THEY’D tolerate an hour-lang journey oan a train service withoot a cludgie!