Actually, something of a feat. Today’s main business is going to Manchester, but we haven’t got there yet. Aberdeen to Edinburgh was fine, but we then picked up the Transpennine at Edinburgh, and it ran into trouble almost immediately because of the high winds, and crawled down Anandale at 50 mph. Just outside Lockerbie we were told we were going no further because trees had fallen across the line and brought down the overehead cables. Also, we couldn’t go back because the Glasgow train had hit another fallen tree at 140 mph, though it hadn’t actually derailed. Allegedly there were going to be buses from Lockerbie to Carlisle. At 4, which of course is is when all buses for miles will be booked for the local school run. We promptly legged it, and went to look for for a cab. Do not go to Lockerbie. It must’ve been a one horse town once, but they ate the horse. We teamed up with a nice boy called John from Preston, who had also ben quick to recognise the complete hopelessness of the situation, the Professor talked perhaps the stupidest cab driver I have ever encountered, a man like a strange fungous growth in a blue t shirt, into taking us to Annan, since he wouldn’t take us to Carlisle. At Annan (also not recommended, land that time forgot) we got someone else to take us to Carlisle, after a curious episode where the fungus, having been asked to take us to a cab rank, left us outside a pub where it turned out a fight was just starting (it seemed to be the local championship of ‘you lookin’ at me in a funny way, pal?’ into which someone with short grey hair, a posh accent and a Barbour worn over cashmere jumper and corduroys was, to say absolutely the least of it, otiose). In the end a nice chap with dyed blonde hair who talked a mile a minute was located, and obliged with a ride. At Carlisle Station, there seemed to be some trains going South, and we got on one: nothing happened for half an hour but then the Glasgow train limped in looking as if someone had punched it in the face, and once the Weegies had loaded themselves on, we took off at last. We are unfortunately going to Preston not Manchester, but that is a mere detail which will be sorted out later. We are now at Penrith. This particular train was apparently due at Euston twenty minutes ago, and the conductor has announced that since it isn’t on any kind of a schedule he will work it out as he goes along.
Our last conductor of the day, who was quite keen to know what was going on (’you’d think war had broken out’) said that at one point in the afternoon, Scotland had been declared shut. No operable rail links, the bridges were shut, and so were the airports. In case anyone is worrying, we got to Manchester at 8 and had a civilised dinner with Dr Biswell and Mr Wil.