If, like me, you have a penchant for bus timetables or falling asleep in public places, you had better read on.
It always struck me as odd that, every Friday and Saturday night, there are four 66 buses an hour from town to East Kilbride, but only one in the opposite direction. On Friday night, I heroically set out to blow the whistle on this apparent witchcraft. This is my story.
The first problem is quite pathological. How can an otherwise rational person bring himself to visit East Kilbride unnecessarily? The Answer: Narcolepsy™! With just one hit of this magic product, you won't even notice that you've sailed past the point of no return, and into the bowels of the beast.
An intrepid adventurer will persist all the way to the end of the line. At this point, the surly bus driver will invite you to leave the bus, since he's "running out of service, back to the garage". This surprises you, because it would surely be more economical to take fare-paying passengers, rather than running with the lights off, but you don't question the man, in case he slaps a Penalty Fare on you. Your Zonecard ran out some distance back.
Befuddled, drowsy, and unsure of exactly where you are, you step off the bus and start walking. The roads curve like so many roundabouts, until you have little idea of the direction in which you are moving. You come upon a bus stop, and — Look! — here comes a 66 bus. It stops when you flag it down, but the driver demurs with the same explanation, and kindly informs you that a bus back to town will be along in an hour.
You trudge onwards, until the road ends at a desolate shopping parade, exclusively fitted-out with tanning salons and violent pubs. You eschew the three random undesirables at the bus stop, and elect to turn left. The housing fades away, and you end up at a roundabout on a dual carriageway. The planners of East Kilbride, mindful of the dilemmas facing a night-time pedestrian, thoughtfully installed underpasses for this very occasion. You leave the road and the street-lighting behind, and descend.
By this point, you know exactly how you're going to get to the bus station. As you carry on, the end is in sight. Emboldened by your navigational successes, you think only twice about following the unlit path beside the wood, separated from the road and civilisation by a substantial grassy mound. Something primal within you causes you shoot a glance behind you.
Towards you cycles a ned on a child's bicycle. You have a split second in which to make a decision: you decide to engage him, and hope he's not the stabby type. He too is on a mission, but his is to find the bottle of wine that he earlier stashed in a local bush. Aiding him in his task are only the psychotropic drugs that he took earlier that evening, and his bike with two flat tyres.
"What kind of wine is it?" you ask, hoping that it'll be a cheeky little white number in which you could share.
"Why, it's Buckfast of course, dear chap," replies the ned.
Of course, you realise, you are no longer in the metropolitan land of wine bars and ambiguous sexualities. He accompanies you through the last two underpasses, abandoning his chariot along the way. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out could not be further from reality.
You have reached your destination. You avoid the throngs outside the chip shop, and cross to your stand. The wait is a mere fifteen minutes, and you accept it with good grace.
Boarding the bus, you hand over your two pounds and resolve to stay awake for the whole journey. Although you have often suspected that Mountblow is nothing more than a schoolboy's joke, you don't want to wake up there tonight.