I have always liked trains.
There is something comforting about the gentle swaying to and fro, the clickety-clack of squealing tracks.
And so, with excitement in my heart, I rode the train on Thursday last, into the west.
I departed from Edinburgh, bound with two companions for the city of Glasgow.
Armed with recommendations, we were looking forward to a day of misunderstandings, wanderings, and museum gawkings.
An hour’s journey by train saw us in Glasgow’s centre.
The transition from Edinburgh, stately, gothic, to Glasgow, bustling modern, Victorian was shocking.
We chose a random direction and set off.
Before us rose a building, spired, majestic: the Glasgow City Chambers. The rotating door, a favourite architectural design of mine, left me laughing. Inside the building, the hall glowed warmly.
It was beautiful. Tiles, marble, magnificence. Glass doors led into secret parts of the building. Polished wood panels danced with light. We were prevented from exploring further due to signs of forbiddance.
Our feet took us from that place, through the city streets, past hundreds of people towards some nebulous and ill-defined goal.
The Museum of Modern Art. This place, this museum, stuffed full of the pretensions of artists, cloaked behind the shield of the modern, proved entertaining. Shapes, colours, objects, arranged in what I am sure to a practiced eye could be considered pleasing and full of meaning, was entirely lost to my less appreciative mind. We wandered through the halls, interpreting, joking and judging. Three floors felt our treads. Three floors heard our scathing voices.
Once more the city streets beckoned. Glasgow, with the song of the Sirens obscured beneath honking cars and shouting voices, called us into her streets.
We became lost. The maze of modern life swallowed us. Galleries flashed by, their expensive glow filled with expensive things. Pubs, crowded with empty tables refused us lunch service. On and on we walked. Through areas both savoury and less than such, our feet carried us.
In the covered light of the Market Square, we took our repose, consumed a lunch worthy of the miles we had walked. More lay before us.
One final museum, one final goal lay in the city. It was far to the west, miles way. We set forth, sated from lunch, ready to expand minds.
We became lost again.
Distracted by sightings of a Blue Box, that may or may not have been bigger on the inside and an inhabitant of Glasgow that could only have been a pirate, we found the river.
The Clyde, frothed and whipped by passing wind, surface dappled by falling rain, lay to our left as we followed its path.
The smells of wet leather and freshly turned earth accompanied us on our drifting path. We weaved between construction workers as the buildings disappeared, replaced by empty lots. Doubt ruled our minds, but we persevered.
Where once there were sights of city centre buildings, now we found car rental lots, office parks on a massive scale and computer shops.
Farther into the west we went. Farther into the west we wearily trod. Rows of flats, rows of restaurants, rows of strangely named pubs, met our gaze, followed our footsteps.
Signs, infrequent, inconsistent, pointed towards our destination.
Finally parkland opened up and at its centre, crouched like a fat red spider at the middle of her web, lay our destination.
We sprinted up steps, feet lightened by accomplishment, weariness falling away.
The halls beckoned. Knowledge called.
Inside such sights were seen!
There was the massive head of a pike, an empty display case where a taxidermied haggis once lingered, the heads of birds, awkwardly articulated monkey skeletons, dinosaurs, Egyptian mummies guarded by the sons of a primarch.
This we saw and more. We climbed the stairs, intent upon viewing yet more of what the museum offered.
A uniformed docent found us among the arms and armour of bygone eras. ‘We’re closing,’ he whispered in the quiet voice reserved for museums.
Shoulders slumped, we left the place. We left, back through the city. Back down the path. Back on the train and back to Edinburgh.
Now my friends, I must away. I must prepare my soul. For Chaos once more descends upon Edinburgh and I will witness its coming.
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