Pavement Chess

Pavement Chess
Image: Gideon Malias

The behaviour of Scottish people at bus stops is very strange. Every place I’ve lived in Scotland over the years, I’ve noticed different patterns of behaviour. Not as part of some grand scientific experiment you understand, but merely as a gentle observation from years of relying on public transport to ferry me around this wonderful nation; and by wonderful I mean the United Kingdom as a whole.

Take this morning. It was 7:34am when the bus pulled round the corner, obviously running late but for the sake of four minutes at that time of the morning I wasn’t bothered. It wasn’t going to make me late, put it that way. I’m standing there with a bloke to my left, a school girl to my extreme left, and an old lady to my right. We’ve formed in an orderly queue as always seems to happen at Edinburgh bus stops. They look like the ones you would see in the ‘Oor Wullie’ annual as he whizzed by on his kart.

The bus pulls up and stops in front of the school girl. The automatic door opens. By rights the school girl should get on first. She’s at one end of the queue, and the fact the driver got the wrong end is neither here nor there—it was cold and I wanted a seat. The girl holds out her hand to let the bloke on first. Polite, thought I. Then the bloke held out his hand to allow the girl on first. Chivalry, to a ‘T’. The girl shakes her head, “No, no, after you,” and holds out her hand. The bloke does the same. Meanwhile, half a dozen people peer out from the windows of the bottom deck thinking the same thing I am; “will someone just get on the fucking bus?!”

To break this impasse and to register my impatience with nonessential over the top politeness, I stepped forward to get on the bus ahead of them all. At the same time, the little old lady must have been thinking the same thing and we clattered into each other. Cue more apologetic titbits. The old lady, though, wasn’t for turning and she stepped on, followed by me and followed, presumably, by the two politest people this side of Harthill.

In Glasgow we never have that problem. There are no queues, no hand gestures, and no dilly dallying like a bunch of Yorkshire lambs being shepherded into a pen. Everyone stands around in a semi-circular pattern around the bus stop, filling the pavement and creating an awkward obstruction. The bus (or train for that matter) pulls up and everyone files forward. The game of pavement Chess begins. There’s usually some bumping, toe treading and bags in the face, but very quickly an order is formed. The most strategically minded and devious people usually get a seat first. If an old lady gets on last after the seats are full, it’s usually the first on that resigns his seat. It’s a much quicker route to stepping onto public transport, and a heck of a lot more exciting into the bargain.

I forgot to mention yesterday that it was my dear old mother’s birthday. She informed me she’s now been 21 x amount of times (I’m not telling you what the ‘x’ stands for because she’ll never cook me a meal again if I do). Hope you had a good one mum—see you soon for a wee day out.

In writing news I discovered a short story I’d began to write just before my recent hiatus. I restarted it last night; fresh mind, fresh angle. I feel an urge to write more short fiction then I have done for a long time. Don’t know why.

There’s a competition being run The Sussex Playwrights’ Club under the title National Ten Minute Play Competition. I fancy doing it, and a couple of ideas for it along with a BBC writing competition drifted through my mind after I’d put the light out last night. If I can, I’m going to get away from work early today in order to work on the ideas.


The Scruffy Dog Review – Winter Issue OUT NOW!!


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About Colin Galbraith

Thriller author, music fan, St Mirren fan, fluff chucker, rabbit tamer, outstanding fake faller. Loves cannoli.
This entry was posted in Edinburgh, Editorial Comment, Family, Fiction, Glasgow, Scotland, Travel, UK, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Pavement Chess

  1. Diane says:

    You’re sounding so much more positive these days. Good. Welcome back. :o)

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