7 Am. I’m woken by a light knock on my cabin door. The train manager, a six foot skin
headed Glaswegian passes through a tray with a circular silver polished pot of piping hot tea, milk sugar and a finger of shortbread in its tartan wrapper. In the seventies he was a punk rocker doing the pogo like a madman to the sounds of The Clash and The Sex Pistols. Now he’s a confident sedate Night train manager, immaculately dressed, carefully carrying thousands of passengers a week through nightime and safely into
another country… I’m in another country. I’m in Scotland, home of the brave
As Philip the producer and I leave our cabins and step onto the station platform the cold
air surrounds us and starts to eat through our clothes as if the wamth of our bodies were food. This is the terminus. The end of the line. Glasgow. As we approach the concourse I see a woman wrapped in a black shawl, about thirty five, she cuts a huddled shadow on
the busy concourse. It’s the first interview of the day, I ask “why are you here?” She turns her head to the side and in a soft accent says “my grandmother has died. I am waiting for my mother, then we are going to her funeral”. She is half Scottish and half Ugandan. Her father is a teacher from Scotland and her mother from Uganda were they met.She came to England as a child with them at 8 years old, a symbol of their love. “hated it when I came here” she said “and the snow. I’d never seen it before”.
As the day continues we interview people at the station. The beautiful young woman whose parents were from Pakistan stays in the mind. She was at university and torn because her mother (whose parents are from Pakistan) who was born in britian was married to a man from Pakistan, her father, whom her mother clearly hated. “my mother cries every day” This articulate teenage girl drew us into her dilemma: Two parents both who wanted to control who she married but both whom wanted her to marry someone from a different country. There are stories like opened envelopes waiting to be read at Galsgow Central. Then there’s the Glaswegian who now lives in Nottingham with
his wife (by his side) who talks about his father whom he is meeting. He talks
of home and Scotland and his pride and his father and at the end of his conversation he turns to his wife “oh my. I haven’t let you speak have I. I’m so sorry”. He clearly didn’t
get time to talk about his Scotland when he was in England. But here he was in Scotland
owning himself, waiting for his father and then feeling apologetic to his English partner. It’s an old old story.
The day ends, and we’re exhausted, we catch a taxi to Glasgow airport and fly back to London Heathrow. By 8pm I am back home in London with all these voices swirling in mind. The train station is a portal for stories.