Today’s post is another slight diversion. The loose connection this time is still train related though. Last night I took a short trip on Glasgow’s Subway for the first time in years. I always forget about it, mostly opting to explore the town centre on foot. I tend to get terribly lost among Glasgow’s grid system of streets with its multiple branches of HMV and Debenhams, but I rarely venture far enough to warrant it anyway.
Apart from the occasional trip to the excellent Kelvingrove Museum & Gallery, the city means two things to me: shopping and gigs. Last night I was on my way to see the brilliantly animated ‘gangsta country’ band Felice Brothers, and more on that soon.
Glasgow seems to get the lion’s share of decent bands in the central belt, Edinburgh – despite having some fine venues – just doesn’t compete. I don’t know why: maybe the Edinburgh Festival saps everyone’s event energy for the year or perhaps it’s just the innate conservatism of the place.
Anyway, as last night’s gig was at Oran Mor, far away in the boho, studenty enclave of Ashton Lane and Byres Road, (you can tell it’s a posh bit of Weedgieland cos they’ve got at least 2 artisan delis and a Waitrose) I jumped straight off the overland train from Queens Street to the underground one at the confusingly named Buchanan Street station, which is directly outside, to the right of the main entrance.
I quite enjoyed using this dinky little metro, with its scaled down trains and platforms, its simplicity and ease of use. Made a welcome change to London’s Tube or Paris’ Metro: the amount of walking you need to do when changing stations on either often makes the train journey itself feel redundant. A return ticket cost £2.40, not bad value except it’s exactly double the price of a single. Train operators don’t seem to get the concept of a return fare, do they?
Glaswegians affectionately call their underground the Clockwork Orange. Because it’s just one little circular line of 15 stations and the trains and station interiors are overwhelmingly orange. And brown and tan. It’s a riot of 70s retro design and typography actually. Depending on what mood you’re in, you’ll either think it’s quite charming or it’ll give you a migraine. Whether the line is also famous for some of the ultra-violence found in the book and film which shares the name I’m not sure. Maybe it runs like clockwork too, but I had to wait 9 minutes for my train to Hillhead. Stand up comic Dom Holland use to do a great observational gag about this: if you get to a train station with 10 minutes spare you breathe a sigh of relief, but on the tube you’re more likely to curse at the waiting time!
As the tiny platform gradually filled up I jostled for position with my camera-phone at the ready and snapped these pics. As I got off at Hillhead and waited for the commuters to dissipate slowly up the stairs towards the exit, a scary thought suddenly struck me: ‘Oh my God, what if they think I’m a trainspotter?’ Then another, like a hammer blow to the head: ‘Damn, what if I am a trainspotter?’
What’s your favourite metro network and can you you think of a city which badly needs one?