At this very minute, the Sleeper train is pulling into Edinburgh’s Waverley Station. The carriage doors open, and out comes an amazing array of bleary-eyed people: commuters, politicians, tourists – all life is there. The Sleeper’s been in the news this week, when an Opera was performed on-board for the first time. But there’s always been an otherworldliness about it that conjures up another age. You can board early for a whisky tasting; have a quick haggis before bed; and, of course, porridge and shortbread for breakfast. If you’re very nice to one of the Harris-tweed-clad crews, they might even let you join their secret card school in the wee small hours. And veteran Sleeper-regular Kirsty Wark has fond memories of on-board political intrigue, that used to accompany the droves of MPs heading home on a Thursday night for their constituency surgeries on Friday. A hot ticket for a political hack, indeed.
There’s something magical about drifting off in one location, lulled by the sway of the carriages, only to awake somewhere quite different. You can perch by the window in your cabin and watch a lone golfer disembark at Leuchars, just in time for the first tee on the Old Course; or see a Monro-bagger, striding out at Bridge of Orchy; or spy an Island-hopper, distillery-bound at Crianlarich.
It’s our local version of the TARDIS, I suppose, with all the recent controversy about the forthcoming regeneration of Dr Who. While gender is fascinating, the TARDIS has always been the star of the show, wheezing though time and space on yet another adventure.
I think we love the TARDIS, because we love the idea of having all the time in the world. The Book of Ecclesiastes says: ‘there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.’ But it’s hard to be that patient, when time seems so fleeting. The older we get, the more time seems to gather pace and sweep us along, faster than we want to go.
Bu if you were to be granted one trip on the TARDIS, I wonder where you’d go, and who you’d take with you for the journey.
I have been delivering “Thought For The Day” pieces on BBC Radio Scotland since November 2016. By kind permission these pieces are reproduced in blog posts here on my website. To find my other pieces click here go to my Thought For The Day index page.