I was due to be in Glasgow on Thursday evening, giving a lecture at the University on Roman jokes. A few weeks ago I reaIised that I had messed up. I was also due to be in London at 8.00 am on Friday morning, talking about Pompeii at the Classics Breakfast Club at Godolphin and Latymer School. This Club is a wonderful little institution which brings together sixth-formers, teachers, parents and members of the local community for a weekly dose of the ancient world, every Friday.
I spent a red-faced, guilty few hours thinking that I would probably have to let the Breakfast Club down (the Glasgow gig was a one off,I calculated, the Club a weekly event – there would surely be another time). But then I remembered that there might be a sleeper train. And sure enough there was. You can leave Glasgow at 11.40 in the evening, after a nice dinner, and chug into London Euston before 7.00 am the next morning. That gives plenty of time to get over to Hammersmith for breakfast. Problem solved, minus the red face.
So, on Thursday at 8.00 am I caught the train to Peterborough, to pick up the express to Glasgow. It turned out to be a dream of a journey, with free wi-fi throughout and plenty of table space. A mobile office in other words – where I got on with the industrial quantities of marking I had to do, in an uninterrupted 5 hours. (Though recent reports suggest that the days of being able to get any food and drink on these National Express trains are numbered . . . 5 hours without a bite?!)
My terrible confession is that, in all my 54 years, I have never once been to Glasgow before (in fact much of Scotland has been a no go zone for me – though a series of lectures in Aberdeen in the autumn looks set to fix that). So when I discovered that I had over an hour between getting to the Faculty of Arts and having to start the lecture preliminaries, I decided I had to see something.
Many of Glasgow’s high-spots seemed too far away. But just on the doorstep was the University’s Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery.