Train travel in Britain requires WAY too much faith.

. . . especially for an industry that is so infamously bad, it has even earned itself an episode on the much-needed and it-would-be-funny-if-it-wasn’t-so-true “Brassed off Britain”, a programme which showcases all the worst-run industries in Britain (and when I say “worst run” what I also mean is “how badly they screw the consumer”). And to just continue this pointless tangent, click here to read some stories about how bad the mobile phone industry in Britain sucks. Scroll down to the bottom. See that? It’s my name. Yeah, I wrote in. I’ve since been informed that America is about 40 million people bigger than I said, but that just makes it worse!

Anyway, moving on. Today, I made the first of what will doubtless prove to be many impromptu trips across Scotland. I decided that I couldn’t wait for my monetary situation to get any better before I went and looked at more castles, so after only checking to make sure the trains actually went where I needed to go, I caught the subway down to Queen Street Station in the City Centre and hopped a train to Stirling. Once there, I had to catch a cab up to the castle (because it REALLY wasn’t obvious how to get there). Once there I was informed that until my actual Historic Scotland membership card arrived, I wasn’t entitled to free entry, which means an additional 11 pounds went down the drain (8 at Stirling and 3 at Linlithgow) on top of the 24 I already paid for the membership! This trip was moderately more successful than the last one. At least both sites had some usable heraldry, and I also got some pictures from the Chapel of St. Michael of Linlithgow, as I am now heading off into the realms of religious edifices as well (read my Abstract, which is out of date, or my Outline which, while not fully complete, is at least being perpetually updated!). Pictures will follow as soon as I can pay to get four rolls of film developed. Maybe five.

Again, moving on. The point was the transportation. Let me explain it for the folks back home. You show up at the train station. You say “I want a one way ticket to Stirling.” They look at you as if you were just making up a random name for the fun of it. Once you get them to acknowledge that there is indeed a city called Stirling (don’t even try to get them to admit that it was once the capital of Scotland), they say “Ha wasyhn alkfe alkemalklje?” You say “huh?” They get a look of martyrdom on their face and say in a louder voice “Ha wasyhn alkfe alkemalklje, adn alknen American?!” At this point you know that you’re being insulted, but still have no idea what they’re saying beyond that. Now’s a good time to guess. You say: “One way” again. They nod, as you obviously guessed correctly and give you a ticket after charging you enough to actually buy the train itself. Taking your sanity in your own hands, you ask “Now after Stirling I need to go to Linlithgow then back here. Can I get those now too?” They shake their heads and again spit at you in something that once might have been English. Guessing that that means that the answer is no, you flee as quickly as possible.

Now, you’ve got a ticket. It says “Glasgow to Stirling” on it. So, you think you’re waiting for a train that says “To Stirling” or something simple like that. After several minutes of staring at the monitors, you notice in tiny writing that the train to Aberdeen stops at Stirling. Do you go? Do you wait for something more explicit? You go. You turn out to be lucky. The train does indeed go to Stirling, and you make it in one piece. Happy ending.

Of course now you’re in Stirling, the place with the highest suicide rate among students in Scotland, so that’s not quite so good. Nonetheless, you get your job done, and you head on to Linlithgow. Apparently the employees at the train station in Stirling do in fact speak English, so that part is easier, but once you’re done at Linlithgow, you’ve got a problem. You see there, you have to deal with the BIGGEST IDIOT ON EARTH. This man not only doesn’t speak English, he doesn’t understand it either. Once you finally get it across that you just want to go home, damnit!, he sells you a ticket which costs more than the previous two tickets combined, and then points you in the wrong direction for the platform. So, you miss the first train that comes along. Finally, you figure out your mistake, trudge back to the correct one and proceed to wait. And wait. And wait. Finally a train comes along . . . and it’s the wrong one. No sign or anything, you just happened to ask someone before the stupid thing left. When the correct one does come along, again there is no sign to indicate it. Just hop on and ask someone if they’re going to Glasgow. If they are and it’s the wrong train, at least you’ll have someone to hit when you don’t get there.

So, that was my adventure. I’m not bitter or anything though.

P.S. People have pointed out that I’ve been blogging an awful lot. Well, I’ve been in front of a computer a lot recently, and you’d be surprised how satisfying it can be to complain to the annonymous masses about things you just can’t change!

Slainte.

“They made up their minds
And they started packing
They left before the sun came up that day
An exit to eternal summer slacking
But where were they going
Without ever knowing the way?”
~Fastball – “The Way”

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