Ayrshire Institutions: The Last Train Home

Getting the last train back from Glasgow after a big night out can be an adventure in itself; Whether you saunter on down the carriage with your blue lagoon in hand, or rush in covered in sweat because it’s a Saturday and you forgot the last train on a weekend is at quarter past 11 so you ran full pelt because you swore you would not be getting the vomit comet bus home at 3 in the morning EVER AGAIN. At the weekend, with carriages packed with all manner of inebriates, football fans to hen do’s, work nights out to gig-goers, the atmosphere can turn from camaraderie to hostility in an instant. That social pressure cooker environment has no doubt produced some memorable moments in your life, as it has in ours. In loving tribute, we’ve collected a few of these stories from our readers- some …… For those not familiar with the last train just assume these stories will be PG 13 at best. Think of this like tales of the unexpected or twilight zone, except you know what to expect and it will probably be more purile.

Our first story is a cautionary tale about being a little too straight-laced.
It begins with the all too familiar conundrum of a broken toilet door. As the out of order sign flashes incessantly, a group of frustrated passengers congregate outside, shifting awkwardly and muttering to themselves. Until a hero announces himself from among their ranks. “Ken you can jimmy the door open on these toilets, aye?”, he says. our story teller doesn’t see exactly what this enterprising gentleman did to open the door, but for the grunting and banging it sounded like he just broke it down. Now, I’m sure you respect private property as much as everyone else here at the ACU, but our story teller was desperate. With half an hour till his stop and his back teeth already floating, he did what everyone else in that carriage did- queued up and pissed in the sink (the toilet was really, genuinely out of order.)

Now you might be thinking all’s well, that ends well, and if this were a Shakespeare comedy you might be right. But it’s not, so you’re wrong. About ten minutes later, after everything has seemingly settled down, a young man comes up to the toilets, sighs, and- to no one in particular- says “Out of order, aye?” At this, half the carriage jumped in all at once, a smug chorus telling him exactly how to strong arm the door. Surprisingly, however, the young guy balked at the thought of joining this mob of relieved delinquents. “am no breaking into a broken toilet” he says, and sat himself down. It quickly became apparent that, much like everyone else a few moments ago, this boy was struggling, but after a while of moving around on his seat managed to get comfortable. The next five minutes went by uneventfully, and likely would have continued as such, had God been watching that night. As the train draws near Dalry, just passing the bridge that flies by over head, there’s a wee bump in the rail. An insignificant hiccup, under normal circumstances almost imperceptible, that is, unless you have a bladder full of vodka coke and a head full of misguided principles. Watch, as our story teller did: the bump approaches. The bump passes by. On the honourable young mans face, a thousand emotions all expressed at once. Relief, rising to panic, then to anger, and finally to acceptance as his integrity slowly pools around his feet. The train rumbles on. The out of order sign blinks mockingly. A choir of neds laughing. A harrowing scene.

The next stop on our journey drags us kicking and screaming through the unwanted details of a couples married life. Good advice for a happy marriage is not to go to bed angry, and much like the marriage bed, the last train home is not something you should climb aboard if you’re in the middle of an argument. Hash it out before you get on, because, by god, you won’t be the first couple to decide on divorce on the last train home. Three lads, one of them our story teller, were sitting down when a couple, already arguing walks on, sitting on the set of seats behind them. The theme of this argument, as is the case with a great many relationship woes, was jealousy. Now jealousy is a slow and insidious poison- it makes people act in ways they would never otherwise and hurt those they love the most. This couple, a pair of rockers in matching denim jackets that had been married for near 15 years(Mr and Mrs Rocker from this point onwards), were arguing because Mrs Rocker was jealous of two things: The first was that Mr Rocker had taken his previous wife on holiday to Turkey five times, but not once taken the current love of his life so much as down to Wales. Without knowing the full details of their relationship, this seemed a reasonable concern for Mrs Rocker to table. The second reason she was upset was that Mr Rocker had previously been willing to engage in something she had termed “experimental sex”, but was now beginning to bore her. The other passengers shift in their seats. Mr Rocker turns red as a stop sign. Visibly embarrassed, he attempts to rein in the situation by pleading with her, saying He’d take her to Marmaras tomorrow if she would only stop talking. But it wasn’t enough, Mrs Rocker had tasted blood. The poor guy was crucified. despite Mrs Rockers complaint that he was somewhat boring these days, apparently in his hay day he would engage in things we’re unable to describe due to decency’s sake, however rest assured the other pasengers were given a full, if unwelcome account. We don’t know how this particular story ends however, with our story teller having to get off at his stop before the drama was over. For our part, the ACU hope the couple managed to patch things up, go off on a nice trip abroad and do things to each other that would make your mother blush.

The last stop on this frankly arduous journey is a bit of a weird one. The last train is never a sober affair, and consequently full of red faced older gents who think their insistent patter is a gift. Imagine you and a few friends managed to bag a table seat, it’s a long way home and you’re thankful you won’t be standing the whole way. Things are grand but then one of these guys swaggers up, no big deal yous have a spare seat and he seems nice enough. Yous all get chatting and you can tell he’s had a few but so far he’s amicable enough and you share a few exaggerated polite laughs. Until the conversations takes a turn. Apparently his daughter is away on holiday with her boyfriend, just turned 16 and they are away celebrating. That’s lovely, you begin to say, before he bulldozes over your pleasantries with “she’ll be pumping away like a rabbit the now” with a massive grin on his face, laughing away like he just told the funniest joke in the world. The conversation stopped dead. No one else at the table laughed, no one else on the carriage laughed, and there was still twenty minutes to go before the the story teller’s stop, every minute of which was filled with this father, oblivious to the change in atmosphere, elaborating endlessly on how lewd a time he expected his daughter was having. Awkward.

On a characteristically more serious note, please remember to treat rail workers with decency and respect; the last train home is always a mess, and it’s them that have to clean up the booze, sick and whatever else we leave behind when we get off. They have to deal with the drunk patter and break up the fights. They make sure we get home safe, so spare a thought for them.