Pitlochry and the Killer Train
On Friday I arrived in Pitlochry, I was rather exhausted and tired. I decided to pick the first hotel I spotted to get a room. So there was Fishers Hotel, completely clad in scaffolding, but hey fuck it! It’s just for one night.
As soon as I got into the rather cold room, I sat down and husband called me. It seems my beloved step mum has taken a turn for the worse and there is imminent worry for her making it through the weekend. I felt bereft and stupid for leaving home and not being there for my dad. At that moment the hotel door got banged.
“There has been a fire alarm and we are not sure if the hotel is on fire” a young woman explained quickly. My husband was still on the mobile and waiting to explain about mum.
“I never heard a fire alarm” I said with tears threatening to explode as I was worried about mum.
“No, it is an internal alarm” the woman said.
“A fucking silent fire alarm?” my husband shouted through the mobile phone as he was listening in.
“You have to leave the room” the woman insisted.
I hung up on husband and walked into Narnia; Pitlochry is steeped in deep snow and resembles the movie scene of the Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe. I cried into my snotty sleeve and worried about ditching the show and going back to Glasgow.
Husband called me back to check I wasn’t burnt to death, I explained that it was a mistake and I am back in the room and he then convinced me to stay and do the show. Which I did and it was awesome. People had travelled miles to come to Pitlochry and deserved fun and it was my job to provide it. They were a lovely bunch of people and I was glad to be there by the time the show was over.
This morning I got up and asked about the trains, I was told there was a train to Inverness as I had a show there to do tonight (Saturday). The problem was the train would have to stop at Aviemore and then get on a bus, but that’s ok, I will go for it.
So after much to-ing and fro-ing the train station decided to let me know that the train to Inverness is totally fucked and wont be going anywhere near Aviemore or Inverness, in fact it wont leave at all and a bus will take me instead.
I gasped in frustration, but agreed that the bus will be fine. Then the woman in the train station says to me “There is only one problem, the bus is full to Inverness and we don’t know when another one can be here tonight, the snow is heavy, the road has problems and we don’t have enough buses”
I stood in the station and just felt like battering my head off the ticket office window. I asked about trains home to Glasgow from Inverness on the Sunday. She stared at me blankly.
“Look there is a train coming just now going back to Glasgow, if I was you I would take it and get the hell out of here, there is no guarantee we will get you back to Glasgow from Inverness tomorrow if we ever get you up there”
She was right, so I called the promoter and explained I would need to pull the show. He agreed readily, he assured me all is well and told me to get the hell out of Narnia whilst I had the chance. So I got on the train and that when it all went horribly wrong.
Just as we were five minutes out of Pitlochry, I was sitting chatting at the very end carriage to some Rail staff members who were delayed in getting trains and had all jumped on the Pitlochry escape train as I now called it. One was called Tam; he was a train trolley bloke finally getting home after being stuck in Pitlochry. He was telling me that the station person should have got me a taxi to Inverness if they couldn’t provide a bus. “A bit late telling me that now Tam” I snapped.
The train came to a sudden halt. “Fuck what now” Tam hissed.
Then I spotted a staff member running alongside the outside of the train, he climbed into the end carriage and slammed the door behind him. He then opened the door into the aisle I was sitting at and screamed “Kate! Kate! Kate!” it was slightly disconcerting to see a middle aged train driver look so frightened and screaming down the train aisle. Kate was the catering girl; she was slightly out of his ear shot.
Tam stared at him, then at me.
“Mate, is everything ok? You screaming is worrying me” I said to the man.
I didn’t expect him to answer me so candidly “No, everything is not alright, I just hit a person at the crossing back there” The poor man was deathly white.
I just put my head down on the table and shut my big stupid mouth.
Kate turned and headed back to him. “I have hit someone” he shouted again. Kate ran to him and I could hear them in the back staff carriage making calls to the police and rail networks.
The young train worker Tam looked at me and immediately got up and hugged me. I didn’t need hugged, I wasn’t dead and I wasn’t in shock and I didn’t know him well enough for spontaneous hugs of sympathy. “Are you ok?” he poked his big face near me.
“Yes, I am fine mate, I am worried about the driver and the person on the line, I am absolutely fine” I pushed him gently off.
The train was sat on that line for over an hour as police and transport people were called to the scene. Apparently it was an elderly man who got knocked down by the train, but I am not sure of exact details.
Tam then sat opposite me and told me at least six stories of people who got smashed by trains, he was the death train expert and I just wanted him to shut up, but NO…he had more stories about people who threw themselves or fell onto train lines. He was the goriest wee bloke and it now made sense why he wanted a hug. He was mental.
The train finally set off and of course it couldn’t go straight to Glasgow now, for reasons I am not sure of, it was now stopped at Perth and I had to grab my suitcase and run up and over a metal bridge to catch a train to Glasgow.
So I am home, the gig got cancelled; the man died on the level crossing and my mum is still in hospital._