Firstly, John. “Who’s John?”, I hear you ask? Well, he was this lovely elderly gentleman I met just outside Ashfield station yesterday.
I had just arrived at the ramp that leads down to Platform 1 of Ashfield station and John was approaching from the opposite side. He made a gesture to let me pass. I thought he was heading for the bus stop as most of the elderly residents around here take the 75 and don’t bother with the trains.
I said to him “Oh, I’m going down there”, pointing at the ramp that leads to Platform 1 of the station, thinking he was gesturing to me to pass him along the bus shelter and onwards up Ashfield Street. “So am I”, he says to me, still gesturing for me to head down the ramp first.
We ended up walking at the same pace and I said “I wasn’t expecting you to be going to the station as most people seem to get the bus.”
“Where are you from?”, he says to me. Assuming he had detected my accent I replied “Sydney, originally. But I live in Glasgow now, just down on Walnut Road.”
“Walnut Road? Oh, I go to the bowling club just off the street there. Australia, you say?”
“Yes. From Sydney.”
“So, you like Glasgow?”
“I love it here. I absolutely love it here.”
“Better than Sydney?”
“I think it is, yes.”
I think that somewhat flabbergasted him. Lol. I wish I could have followed it with “because it’s people just like you that help to make it so.”
We got talking about the weather and he said that next week he was going to Tenerife for a week’s holiday with his wife and his great granddaughter. He took his wallet out of his pocket and showed me some photos he had of his great granddaughter. She looked a sweetheart.
“What takes you into the city today?”, I asked him. “I’m going in to get a Metro. My neighbour, she likes the Metro so I said I’d get a copy for her. I went to Lidl’s earlier because they have them on the bus but they had no copies on the bus so I thought I could get the train and pick up one from Queen Street station and get the train straight back. They’ve always got them at the station and it’s a straight run there and back.”
He also showed me his worker’s rail pass. He had worked on the railways on and off over the years, and worked in the shipyards and well, all over Glasgow, really, doing all kinds of hard graft.
As the train pulled in he let me on with a “lady’s first” gesture. I took a seat by the window and as he walked into the carriage he said “you don’t mind if I sit here, do you?”
“Not at all!”
We talked more about the weather and Tenerife. He talked about having friends that go to Benidorm. And that he’ll be going to Tenerife again in June and then in October during the school midterm break so his great granddaughter can go out there with him and his wife.
When he enquired what I was doing going into the city, I told him I was seeing a play at the Theatre Royal. “The Theatre Royal? I’ve seen a few things there. Well, I hope the play is good and you enjoy it.”
We fell silent for a moment. He then says to me, “What’s your name? I only ask because if I start talking about you to people ‘I met a lovely Australian girl on the train and we got talking’ and they ask ‘what’s her name?’ Well, they’ll think I’m making it all up. But if I know your name, see, then they won’t think I’m daft.”
This is the point in which I always cringe. Blessed with this cursed name. Lol. I tell him and he struggles to recognise it or say it properly, initially. I then start to spell it and then he gets it.
Once he gets it he says, “I’m John.”
As we alight the train he says “I better get a move on and get that Metro as this train will turn around and go back in a couple of minutes. It was lovely talking to you.” And he shuffled off as quickly as his feet could take him.
Meanwhile I can hear the announcement over the tannoy of “the train on Platform 5 is the 13:04 service to Anniesland; calling at Ashfield, Possilpark and Parkhouse, Gilshochill, Summerston, Maryhill, Kelvindale and Anniesland. This train consists of two carriages. Platform 5 for the 13:04 service to Anniesland.”
Inwardly I’m thinking “Oooh, hurry up, John. I don’t want you missing your train. You won’t get another one for another hour!”
I can see him as I am making my way through the barrier that he’s making his way over to one of the metal stands that hold the papers. He’s got one.
Just as I turn and make my way towards the Dundas Street exit, I hear “LARELLE!” It’s dear, sweet John and he’s holding up a copy of the Metro in his hands. I gave him a thumbs up and said “Brilliant!”
I love this city so much and I love its people. I changed course then and detoured around onto George Street to George Square so I could take a “People Make Glasgow” Met Tower snap and briefly mention my lovely meeting with John on Facebook.
It’s people like John that make everything what this city is.