The Meenister’s Log
First he took off his camouflaged army surplus jacket and folded (!) the crumpled garment on the seat next to him.
He was wearing a jacket underneath with badges up and down the lapels, all of which seemed to be railway related. In the breast pocket was an armoury of ball-point pens & inside a veritable arsenal of different coloured Bics.
Underneath was a home-knitted sweater with a picture of “Thomas” on it (actually it didn’t have a picture – I made that up – but it was a tank top)
He then delved into his backpack and produced several sheets of schematic diagrams, a couple of notebooks and a tin of baked beans – all of which he placed on the table between us.
After a few minutes, he got out a Swiss Army knife and opened the can, before starting to eat them cold with a spoon which magically appeared from somewhere.
Half way through this “breakfast” – it was something like 7.30 in the morning – he burped loudly, showering the table and his charts with tomato sauce. He wiped this off the diagrams with his sleeve.
Eventually, he said “Hi, I’m Trevor”
“like Sandy (sic) Shaw the Eurovision mega-star? I love Eurovision. Been to some of the preliminary rounds. One day, I’m taking a train to wherever it’s been held. Do you like Lulu? Brotherhood of Man for me.” Then, as an afterthought, “Isn’t Sandy a girl’s name”
“Not so much in Scotland”
Me: “I take it you’re a train spotter?”
“Good God no – they’re sad w*nkers; I’m a student of railway infrastructure. What about yourself, what do you do?”
“Do you believe in God?”
“I love the Bible, but with no disrespect, I’m a bit of an antagonist (sic)” I gathered later that he meant ‘agnostic’
he continued, “My favourite story is the one about God smiting the Good Samaritan. That’s a word you don’t hear nowadays, more the pity”
“Yeh” said I in reply.
“Hell”, I thought to myself, “I’m going to be stuck with Trevor the Tank Engine for miles”
“since you’re a man of the cloth, maybe you could answer something for me?”
“OK – I’ll try”
“Given that we’re going to be travelling through hill and dale on our journey, why did God put mountains in the way, causing umpteen navies to bore through them to make tunnels. A bit inconsiderate, surely?”
“Maybe God was setting a challenge or a test for the engineers”
“Why didn’t he do it himself?”
“That’s a good question – Oh, listen, that’s the whistle…. we’re on our way”
Trevor spent the entire journey ignoring the magnificent scenery. Instead, he checked what seemed to be every point, signal and railway infrastructure as we passed on our way.
At one point he ejaculated (probably in both senses of the word) “Oh, oh, Jesus (sorry, Rev) – they’ve got that wrong”, pointing to his chart and thumbing through his notebook with tomato-stained fingers – wait till I’m home (in Essex) and, by Christ (sorry, Rev) I’ll be in touch with these cartographers – big big mistake there- major error!”
And so it went. As I tried to catch a glimpse of the natural wonders outside the carriage window, his almost constant logorrhoea about what to look out for next (re: pointless points etc) virtually reached orgasmic proportions.
Eventually we reached Malaig
“I think I’ll have a wander around and worship at the ‘Altar of Bacchus” said I
“Oh is it his Saint’s Day in the Church of Scotland?”
“Do you want to join me?”
“That’s OK, thanks, I’ve got a tin of sardines in oil with me. I’ll just sit here on the platform bench and catch up with my Bradshaw and, anyhow, I want to do some calculations on the timetable – I’m getting off at Rannoch Moor on the way back and then on to Perth to connect with the night train south, getting off at Peterborough and on to March in east Anglia…..” (I’m not sure if that was an accurate reportage of his plans, but it was along those lines
And he did get off at Rannoch Moor station. And vanished into the night, but before he did he gave me a tin of baked beans – a kindly gesture, even though I didn’t have a tin opener nor a fork or spoon.
I then settled down – on my own – to read my copy of Herron’s “Law and Practice of the Kirk – a Practical Guide” – after all, you’ve got to keep abreast of the workings of the Institution. And anyhow, I’d seen the scenery on the trip up
(The West Highland Line links Mallaig railway station by rail to Fort William, Oban and Glasgow. The line was voted the top rail journey in the world by readers of independent travel magazine Wanderlust in 2009, ahead of the iconic Trans-Siberian and the Cuzco to Machu Picchu line in Peru. The four hour trip to Dumbarton Central railway station passes through spectacular scenery including seascapes, lochsides, mountain and moorland terrain, and offers views of Loch Lomond, the Gare Loch,Rannoch Moor, Ben Nevis, Glenfinnan and Glen Shiel, and Loch Eil to name just a few. The line also runs along the Clyde between Helensburgh and Glasgow and offers views across the estuary)