OK, It's Friday night, the last train of the night out of Edinburgh to Glasgow, and it's fairly rammed. I managed to get a seat at a table next to the window. 3 girls, early 20's, obviously been for something of an evening out after work, sit down at the other 3 seats. We exchange smiles.
I have my mp3 player headphones in, though the battery has died because with drunk people on trains, pretending you can;t hear is a surefire way of avoiding talking to them.
So I assume that the girls think that I can't hear them, or if they did think I could hear, they didn't care. The exchange went something like this.....
Girl 1 (blond, red top, jeans) : How far tae Polmont?With this, number one disappears, and returns somewhere just before Polmont smiling and with her friends having spent the intervening 20 minutes discussing:
Girl 2: (dark hair, sunglasses, blu dress): Aboot twenty minutes, the why?
Girl 1: Well xxxx got my all excited there so I'm gonnae gae to the toilet
Girl 3 (bleach blond, pink top and black leggings): Ye gonna wet yersel' like?
Girl 1: No, I got my vibe bullet so I'm gonna finish off.
Girl 3: You're never....
Girl 1: I am. Text me at Linlithgow so I don't miss the stop.
a) the cleanliness of the toilets
b) the morality of their friend, and whether she had had too much to drink
c) could she be arrested
d) would it be different if a guy was to be engaged in similar activity in a train toilet
I can honestly admit to being totally bemused by the whole thing and even now I am not sure what to make of it, other than the people of Falkirk are odd - I blame Grangemouth!
So we move on to Saturday, and another trip to the capital. Having agreed to meet a friend from school for a drink, she was due to finish work around 9-9.30pm in the city centre, so we agreed to meet at the top of Waverley steps. I was there early and saw a nice gang of ned's, and some less neddy teenagers, waiting on the plaza on top of Princes Mall.
As befits modern ned's they were drinking buckfast and what I think was Vodka and a purple juice mixed in a 2 litre bottle. I noticed that each time the police walked by, a group of the teens would disappear down the steps into the station. The reason became clear when I noticed that the police were combing the bushes looking for the alcohol, and that was indeed what the teenagers with hoodies on, had hidden under their hoodies as they went into the station.
One not so quick member of the group was caught by the Police with his 2 bottles of Buckfast. He then took the (in my opinion) rather unwise decision to throw the full bottle at the policeman's feet. This got him a talking to and confiscation of the other bottle which was poured onto the flowerbed before the bottle was dropped into a litter bin.
Whilst stood there I saw a great deal of teenage behaviour which worried me but also made me question the image of teenagers presented in the media. One guy was taking a 'number 2' in the bushes on top of the Mall - I know this becuase he apparently disturbed a girl engaged in similar activity up there who was shouting loudly about the quantity and smell he was producing - much to the amusement of the bus queue and the bemusement of passing tourists. I did wonder what any residents of the Balmoral Hotel who looked out the window and happened to see the scene were thinking.
There was also the coming and going of various subgroups of teenagers, with much whooping and hugs. It made me wonder because doubt I knew many people from the opposite side of Newcastle when I was 14-16, but maybe with Edinburgh being smaller there is more interaction between teenagers from different areas.
There was also the random fights that break out, and the mob mentality of them all picking on the weakest member - for some reason this mentality seemed to affect the girls mostly, and ended up with a few crying on the Waverley steps and being comforted by passing travelers coming out the station.
It was an interesting 45minutes watching the teenagers - showing that although they aybe in a group, drinking shouting and running around the city centre, they are not threatening per se - the guy who threw the bottle threw is about 4 feet, only because the policeman was there, and was absolutely wrecked on alcohol.
Interestingly, about 10 metres from this scene was a large bus interchange and bus queues who were just watching, occasionally smiling and laughing, but who in no way seemed afraid, scared or intimidated. For the second time in 24 hours I felt bemused and confused at other peoples reactions.
Then today, I had to collect something from a friend staying at the Hilton hotel in town. Due to him being in a work meeting, I had to wait for about an hour, so I bought myself a very expensive glass of Coke and sat in the entrance hall watching the world go by. It was again an interesting time, and was very relaxing to watch people working, enjoying themselves and just life going on around me - it felt almost like a holiday. Although I did feel like I was about to be evicted at any moment. I think people who stay in 4-star hotels have a kind of confidence that they are supposed to be there - a confidence I don't have!
Anyway I am back to work tomorrow, so my people watching will be restricted to customers, who are uniformly annoying as I recollect.