Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Let it (no') snow...

One of the problems with blogging is knowing when to post and when to leave the deathless work of artistry you're so proud of in place for folk to....jeer at/admire/ponder the significance of/wonder if you've died. Seeing as I was sitting next to my boss, Mr Jeff Zycinski, today, and he was pointedly pointing out that this blog had not been updated for some time, I felt it was time to abandon Oor Wullie (check out the documentary, Friday, BBC1, 9.00pm) and deal with what's been happening.
Snow has dominated all. I had to cancel two long-booked teaching engagements, first with assorted primary schoolchildren in Lerwick (all the Shetland schools were closed last week) and then last Friday with secondary pupils in Fortrose. In the end, I did manage to fight my way through the white stuff to Lerwick on Thursday, though only by the skin of my non-winterised, too-wide tyres. That meant I caught the ferry south on Thursday night.
It was my son Magnus's 18th birthday, hence the impetus to leave the Zetlandics. Arriving in Aberdeen, though, I wondered if I'd ever reach Glasgow. The place was knee-deep in snow, with more falling, and the streets gridlocked. I walked, (no hope of a taxi in this city with the worst cab availability in Europe)to the BBC through a blizzard and, bizarrely, a full-on lightning storm. There seemed litle hope of getting away by Megabus (£15 return) to Glasgow, though in the end, that's exactly what I did.
Megabus, Magbus tells me, offers fares as low as £1 if you book early enough. It's all a Stagecoach operation, which means Citylink is part of the group and you're as likely to find yourself on a Citylink coach as on one of those garishly-painted Megabus double deckers. I quite enjoyed it - somehow it's not as tiring as rail travel, though I've no explanation why that should be the case. Passengers were polite to each other in a way I haven't noticed on trains - the young lass next to me, before implanting her iPod Nano earphones in her lugs, earnestly asked me to tell her if I was being disturbed by sonic overspill. You never get that when Scottish Exec execs are shouting the odds and stumbling to you in Scotrail first class (£1 upgrade at weekends).
Anyway, the Sandyford as usual, meal with Mag, Walk the Line (belatedly; it was wonderful) and Syriana (impressive, but tricky to follow. Clooney is great but not as great as Christopher Plummer). Then whoosh, back up on the bus and into Aberdeen. A man with a head severely shaven'n'scarred sat ahead of me and talked incessantly, entertainingly and obscenely on his mobile, systematically sorting out what seemed like a turbulent personal life. No ventilation and it was stiflingly hot.
The snow was on the wane in Castle Greyskull, but not in Shetland, where they were being deluged with the stuff. No power cuts, my wife told me, so that was something. People were ski-ing and snowboarding just up from our house. But what do they do with the skis the rest of the year?
Anyway, last night Jeff Z and I ate at Cafe 52, which The Herald has declared something like 12th best restaurant in Scotland, and in which I have eaten superbly in the past. Not last night. It was OK, but the food was over-spiced, and chilli-laden Cullen Skink frankly I can do without. A disappointment. Also annoying that Beans, that handily-late-opening coffee bar on Union St, was shut, but there was, fortunately, the excellent Under the Hammer to repair to.
Today the snow is turning black, and it looks like all the schools in Shetland will re-open tomorrow. Hopefully by Friday, when I get the boat home, it will be spring.

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