There’s nothing that can take the shine off the romance of a long leisurely train trip. Except for your fellow travellers, of course.

(Part Four of the 'Tripping Up In Scotland Tales.')

All Downhill In The Highlands.

Sat on the Saturday train rattling up to Inverness,
Passengers packed in chokka-block, cheek by jowl,
At Pittodrie onto the train stepped a maid in distress,
Coughing and spluttering away with a cough most foul.

Towards the last empty aisle seat she wheezed-
The window passenger looked most displeased.

These days, with Covid blessedly on the wane
I'd hoped, nay prayed I could tuck my mask away,
But as she shuffled and snuffled down the train
I wished I'd retained mine to reduce her fine spray.

The train inched slowly up the long incline
Accompanied by a nasal and diesel whine.

The wheels of the train spun 'round and  'round
Trying to gain traction to crest that highland hill,
Sparking squealing wheels masking a ghastlier sound,
My thoughts turned to my life insurance- and will.

In tandem diesel and damsel were working hard
Judging by the panicked look of the passing guard.

Up the painful grade the twain coughed and hacked,
In this carriage of infection a miasma of doom clung,
Could (should?) our carrier get quarantined, sidetracked?
Would our Highland Princess bring up the other lung?

I searched in my coat for a Kurol or Fishermans Friend*
But I fear I'll hear her accompaniment till journeys end.

I had no lozenges to offer her or me much relief,
No sweet something to sooth her irritating throat;
Also, loath to proffer her my pristine handkerchief,
I turned away, turning up the collar of my overcoat .

She sat, openly coughing, never a thought to mask it,
Would she, the poor diesel, or just me bust a gasket?

To those of us unluckily stuck in the closely confined crowd
Keeping clear of her presence proved  stickily problematic,
I showed her my back as she hacked on, foghornly loud,
I couldn't face her expectorations and remain phlegmatic.

And so my three day stay at Inverness was plagued with fear,
Every morn waking, hoping my covid test and snot ran clear.

*Brands of supposedly soothing throat lozenges that smell and taste like a cross between mentholatum, wintergreen, Kimchi and kerosene.

'Breath warmed up.'


(Song for this post is- no, not 'the Doobie Brothers 'Long Train Running' but an obscure one, Hammond Gamble, 'Whistling The Blues In The Rain.')

©Obbverse.

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16 thoughts on “There’s nothing that can take the shine off the romance of a long leisurely train trip. Except for your fellow travellers, of course.

  1. No one wears masks here but time to start again. A wave of strong cOvid plus flu especially in children is traveling from the east to west coast. Masks and sanitizer at ghe teady👍🏻😧

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    Liked by 1 person

  2. Egads, Ob, visions of tossing her coughing carcass off board must have run through your head at least once. This line is one of my favorites: “In this carriage of infection a miasma of doom clung,” I’ll be surprised to hear you didn’t pick up covid!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. She was a treat to be near for sure. I would have gladly conducted her off board myself but I was a mere passenger. And I do love the word ‘miasma.’ As for the Covid we’d already had it a coupla months before and survived, but our little walking talking spreader of jo- germs sure put our antibodies to the test. I did not like having Covid- weird and not wonderful dreams. Have you had it, if it’s not prying? As I say, I and my wife both had a very odd night, as if someone had slipped something illicit into our meal. Not recommended.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was thinking of a passenger revolt where you all just tossed her off. I can see where you’d have weird dreams in a container full of germs and no way to get out of it. No, I haven’t had covid. I’ve been almost germphobic since the pandemic started and have not gone into any large (or small) crowded inside areas at all. I have groceries delivered or do curbside pickup. N95 masks. vaxed and boosted. My son has what has surely been covid a couple of times, even though the tests say negative. He works in a hospital and there has been mask mandates, but the effin hospital allows “religious exemption” from wearing (translated at drumpf magates who believe covid is a hoax and treat their disbelief as a religion) With the negative tests, you’re still expected to come to work, unless you want to use your accrued sick leave. The last time son got it he took the sick time because he couldn’t get out of bed.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, working at a hospital is optomising the chances of getting it. My sweet wife works at a rest home and they have daily tests still required, and masks have been required until very recently. Here we’re coming into summer but Covid WILL come back, no doubt. I am in awe-or rather, awwww- of the ‘religious exemption’ loop(y)hole defence- ‘God will protect me, it’s the Godless Commie Fauci lovering unpatriotic rabble who will feel His righteous wrath! Meanwhile, I won’t wear a mask, I won’t sanitise my hands, I won’t take no test or take a shot of that voodoo Vaccination.’
          Sympathies to your son, I hope he has not lost his faith in the majority of humankind. He must see some proper morons in his line of work.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Yep, still see a lot of people like her around , I don’t think I’d want to be on a train or bus anywhere yet. We just went out to lunch with friends last weekend & that was pretty much the first time I’d been anywhere in public and not worn a mask in a couple of years. And now I have a raging head cold …but it’s almost soothing to be dealing with a simple, throwback nuisance like that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Scotland was an eye-opener; mostly no-one outside the airport- where the mask clad tourists deboarded- wore one. It was almost like pre-Covid days, but this walking talking spreader of God knows what made me realise it’s not time to forget about it yet.
      Ain’t it sad when you feel grateful to have only a headcold?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Indeed, who would have figured we’d be nostalgic for the ‘good old days’ of winter colds? This one is lingering longer… either the virusses have gotten stronger or my body forgot how to shake them off . Used to be with the right sleep, some echinacea early on, a day or two of doing nothing, I was good to go again.This is day 6 and still needing to take a cold decongestant, etc, pill every three hours or so to function.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sounds a doozy, in a bad way. My grandson has been awash in green slime for the last few days, and the parents are both hacking away and barking like seals. I guess the body has learnt to fight off Covid, but that leaves the body open to other nasties.
          Hope you feel better soon. A week of being laid low is more than enough.

          Like

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