Christine Grahame: Bus travel just the ticket to get me to land of nod

You never know quite what to expect when you get on a bus. Picture: Greg Macvean
You never know quite what to expect when you get on a bus. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Well, here’s a daring, or should I say foolhardy woman, mentioning Glasgow in the Edinburgh paper. Deep breath and here goes. But you see, having a sister in Ayr we on occasion rendezvous in Glasgow being some half-way between our homes.

And so it came to pass that there I was on the 10.40 with many other pensioners set for a day in the Dear Green Place leaving Auld Reekie behind (do you think younger generations know these names?). Perched in the front seat was a young man who was determined to engage our Glesgae driver in chat.

Now no-one can banter like a Glaswegian behind a wheel but first we were instructed before take-off to fasten our seat belts. It was delivered in a manner that demanded immediate compliance. The seat belt light within seconds stopped flashing. Now there’s a first.

When the driver was challenged by our front seat driver if he was wearing his, back came the riposte,” aye, ah ken whit my drivin’s like. In fact yir safer when a pit oan the auto-pilot”. And so on it went. Reminds me of the time when Edinburgh was deep in snow and road works (ok there’s always road works) and our Glasgow driver was mystified by the temporary road signs on how to exit Edinburgh Bus Station. Well the entire bus rallied round and a bobble hatted lady in the front seat (yet again) assumed navigational duties.

We avoided Princes Street in its entirety and Lothian Road. Haymarket was touched on and then we were off on the open road with ne’r a stop. As we approached the Park and Ride at Harthill there was an informal referendum (very much in vogue these days) as to whether we should pull in.

By now we, the driver and the shivering passengers were a team and by a substantial majority we voted (due to the fact that the slip road was unsalted and therefore slippy in ways not intended) to bypass that stop. By now the driver had surrendered directional control to bobble hat and the rest of the passengers, although thankfully there was no outburst of communal singing.

Back in Edinburgh and I must start with that convention that passengers alighting almost to a person say “thank you “to the driver. I don’t know why or when this started but it seems to have caught on across the generations. I like it.

Now of course I am much more familiar with our Edinburgh buses and especially the Trackers. At least you can settle down at the stop knowing when your bus is due, or not as the case may be.

Usually because it is not long haul, there isn’t the banter of the Edinburgh/Glasgow bus. Detours are a rarity but I do recall a No 26 taking itself along George Street instead of Princes Street but we were all too “Edinburgh” reserved to comment.

Drivers in this city of course are unofficial tour guides, especially in Festival weeks and you just have to get used to lengthy exchanges in broken English and gestures (the tourist, not the drivers). Getting on the wrong bus too can be an adventure and I have done this.

Best of all is when you are on a long journey and you can nod off to the rhythm of the engine. Yes, you can tell I like buses.

Christine Grahame is MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale