When I took myself up the highlands last year, I kept a notebook full of musings about all that I saw and heard. What follows details the day I travelled up to the Kyle of Localsh.
Tuesday 5/9/06 - Travel day – East Dulwich to Kyle of Localsh - You take the high road and I’ll take the low road……..
I’m all prepared. I have e booked it all; have a code rather than a ticket for everything.
11.30am and my taxi arrives, not e booked, that would be a bit modern for Carol’s Cars. I normally tell the taxi driver some story about my boxer friend with gun who is staying in my flat whilst I am away in a vein attempt to ensure they don’t tell their burglar friends that I am en vacance and the flat is empty. To add to the unreality of the situation I fake a goodbye into the empty flat before I double lock and approach my driver. I didn’t go any further with my script as he had a cross hanging where the furry dice should have been. I decide that if he loves Jesus he’d know that helping someone to rob me would be wrong. I rest assured that if anyone is casing the joint seeing a burly Italian enter each day and run a full security check will throw them off their scent.
The taxi driver charges me £18 to get to Victoria, so I am robbed after all. I express my anger by saying ‘My word!’ - That’ll show him.
At Gatwick I am incensed by some (that word you’re not allowed to use at work) jobs worth security bastard who pisses me off to within an inch of my available resources. Something and nothing, but he is so jobs worth, I remember that if I had the gun I so wish I had, that I’d be in more trouble than could be imagined, so I let it go. It festers the rest of the day and I hope that he dies soon.
So I get through, there is nowhere selling walking socks so I head to Boots for some compeed plasters. I can feel a blister coming. I could have sworn I’d worn these boots in years ago. But I’m funny with my skin, so that’s that.
I was hungry – it’s not a sin. Luckily there seems to be no Harry Ramsden – life is good therefore. I head for EAT, a Latte and something yummy is within reach. I am happy and get a good sandwich, but where to sit? I wander over to a table with an old lady on, they are usually harmless or good fun, but I didn’t expect what I got.
“What does it say on your boarding card?”, I’m sorry? “What does it say on your boarding card?” So I show her and explain it’s just got my name on – home printed – e everything you know. I think she’s worried that they won’t let her on the plane, I assure her they will and it’ll be fine. She’s off to Turin to see Family, so it can’t all be bad. "Do you drive?" she doesn’t like driving especially at night. She often sees Cliff, Tom Jones and Engleburt Humperdinck – when they are back in town. These Surrey girls they’re all the same. Her friend has a Rolls Royce which he bought from Cliff. But it wouldn’t fit in his garage so he left it out, he’s got a BMW now, the roof is starting to go – “What a trial” I note, but then that’s life in Waydebridge for you. Thank heavens for Surrey. Taxi drivers should see you right in she suggests. I agree and say I must go and get my flight. I know she’s lonely and nervous, and that’s why I’ve given her half an hour so I feel OK escaping.
Flight all good – easy and super friendly transfer to train station. Already I am getting a sense of the wonderful countryside that awaits me.
We’re a bit delayed at Inverness for our train to Kyle, but eventually we are ready to leave. We are marshalled into a line to approach the train, although we are not actually allowed to approach the train until the man says. He obviously has a very small willy and makes up for it this way.
I am stood behind a man and a woman. She is obviously American and he is obviously English. I hear that they are both going to Kyle, but more shockingly that he is going to the SAME hotel as me. Well you see I have already arranged with the Hotel that they will come and pick me up from the station, I feel I need to share this with him, but don’t find a natural opportunity. I have a reservation on the train – e booked, so head for my seat.
Not long after the train pulls itself off from the station all is revealed as not being well. The rain has got into the electrics apparently, and some union rule says the driver can’t drive the train if there is impending doom via electrocution on the horizon. No wonder this country is in the state it is! So we all have to get off at the next station and await another train which has got to come past, head off back to Inverness, turn round and then come back for us.
Now it’s at times like this that smoking helped – it gave you something to do, it passed the time, but importantly made you look busy. But since my lungs are now weed free, I found myself chatting. Not something I am normally drawn to as an activity involving strangers. But I see the man, who’s at the same hotel as me, and the American, and we pass the time of day. It’s not so painful. Our train arrives, Dunkirk spirit has kicked in, everyone is being very stoical, but of course this train is sans reservations, so we all herd back on and I sit with my platform compatriots.
So what can I tell you about my new chums? Cindy doesn’t stop talking or asking unnecessary questions or sharing inappropriate details of her life. You know those times when you wish you had a stun gun………
She had been a very high flyer, but got burnt out. So now she’s a physical therapist – does a lot of work with Athletes – I bet she does – hand jobs for crack no doubt! She’s writing an article, didn’t say who for, so she is able to put the trip against tax. I can’t help thinking that a burnt out physical therapist who does hand jobs for crack (although this hasn’t been proved) would not actually pay a lot of tax on which to claim a trip against.
So we blah blah on well she blah blahs on. Tales of how she has made so many friends on her travels, that they have all become such good friends and how they have all let her stay in their houses or on the floor of their hotel rooms. Now I’m scared. I’m often worried in situations like this that I'm going to wake up in 8 months time, the person will be sleeping on my sofa saying, ‘I’m sure I’ll be able to get my own flat sometime soon’ I shudder back to reality to hear her ask “What do you think of the immigration issue?” Well I think it’s gone too far regarding letting bloody Americans in sweet cheeks!
David, for that was his Monika, works for local radio - radio derby I think. He reminded me of Duncan, not from Blue, but rather Duncan who Jo, Stephen and I were at university with. I ask him whether he has a brother called Duncan but he doesn’t. But he tells me that his ex wife had been a football widow.
Night rolled in as we travelled down to Kyle, so I didn’t get to witness any of the beautiful scenery I had read and heard so much about. We arrived at Kyle. I had finally told David that I had arranged for a lift from the hotel. He was all for lugging his rucksack up the hill on foot. 3 miles is a bit of a trek at that time of night though so he eventually gave in.
Cindy didn’t have any definite plans – now I'm very scared. Luckily David didn’t offer that she could come with us, so she sauntered off to get a bus or a taxi to the youth hostel over the bridge on Skye. I never saw her again, but I’m sure she made lots of great friends and they all thought she was great fun and they all let her stay at their homes. You guys!
To be continued………