I remember once in Madison, I had a horrific experience with the metro bus system that left me stranded halfway across Madison and I had to walk back to the dorms in the middle of the night. Well, imagine that now magnified several dozen times in terms of horribleness.

I’ve been on trains now for the past 7 hours, coming from Edinburgh to end up where I am now, somewhere around Manchester. It all started at the end of the Scottish tour, where I was supposed to follow my schedule that I had, be at the Haymarket station in Edinburgh, and then catch a train to Wigan, and then there to my night in Liverpool for touring tomorrow. However, Michael suggested to me that I just get off his bus at Waverly station, the main one for Edinburgh, because any west-running trains would stop at Haymarket in a couple of minutes. I was unsure for a few minutes, but agreed with his logic and followed his instructions. This would prove to be my undoing.

Everything went sour at Waverly and it was such a simple thing too. I found a train to Glasgow which of course would stop at Haymarket on the way out of town to the west. My train from Haymarket to Wigan left at 18:57, and this train to Glasgow should arrive at Haymarket at 18:45. A smaller station though; I figured there wouldn’t be any problem.
However, the train to Glasgow was about 5 minutes late, so as I was getting my stuff settled on the train when it finally arrived, I heard the following announcement: “Due to the lateness of the 18:45 train to Glasgow, it has been cancelled and is now the 19:00 train. We apologise for any inconvenience.” I looked at my paper and at my watch. Nineteen hundred…this was the cincher; it meant I would be missing my 18:57 ride out of Scotland.

After pounding my head against the wall a little bit, I rushed from the train and to the information centre and begged the man inside to tell me the remaining options to get me from Edinburgh to Liverpool. He made a few wise-ass comments about my timing but finally told me that I could take a train that was about to leave, to get to York, to get to Manchester, to get to Liverpool. However the kicker is that the layover between Manchester and Liverpool was about 4 hours of sitting at a station, and I would be arriving in Liverpool at about 5:30 in the morning.

I did have a nice ride between Edinburgh and a little past York – I met a nice Chinese girl, a student at Leeds’ college, who was riding back from Newcastle. She and her boyfriend had just broken up, literally a few hours before and she was pretty distraught. We were both heading the same way, so we spent the next couple hours talking about our lives and relationships, et cetera. She was wistful about the whole situation and what she was going to do with her life, and so I did my best to help her feel better about things and get her to think positively, using both personal experience and things I’d learned in my classes about relationship tendancies. Times like those that I miss being a psychology major; I like to help people with their emotions and thoughts but I’m like a plumber without his complete set of wrenches – I can only do so much with the background and limited education that I gained before switching degree programs.

Anyway, I arrived at Manchester at about 12:50 in the morning. Wandered around the station for about an hour, both inside and outside. The station was filled with the sort of drunken, unruly people you’d expect to be in a large city on a Friday night, and the police were not an uncommon sight. I staggered about, bleary-eyed, thinking about finding a loo but not wanting to spend the 30 pence to get into it. I could have killed for a McDonald’s burger and chips at that point, but the restaurants in the station were of course closed at 1 in the morning. So hungry…

So I got back on the train, where I am now. I’m heading back northwards to York, where at which point I will wait calmly for the next train to Manchester and go south again. The conductor has said that we’ll be in York by 3:45 or so, so then I can take another train back as soon as I can and maybe by that point the trains to Liverpool will be running. I just don’t want to wait in a station filled with crazed yokels; I’d rather be on a train where folk are slightly more controlled and the seats are comfy.

My only thought now is (besides finding a toilet as quickly as possible)…there are trains running all over the east side of the country, and I must have been only ten miles from Liverpool…and there are no trains to that?

Bloody ‘ell.