I recently travelled from Edinburgh to Glasgow by train – the first time for a while – and was surprised to see so much Gaelic on the station signs. In fact every station name except Croy had its alleged Gaelic equivalent under its name. I say ‘alleged’ because I don’t know any Gaelic, like at least 95 per cent of the population in my part of Scotland. The day we have bilingual road signs as well is the day I carry out my longstanding threat to retire to the Isle of Wight.
Today I write this on a train from Edinburgh to Pitlochry and I’ve looking at the station names to see how far Gaelic has infiltrated. So far Fife seems to be quite ambivalent – Markinch has been translated, but not Kirkcaldy or Ladybank – come on, you Gaelic aficionados, surely that can’t be too difficult.
Whenever I travel on this route, which isn’t very often, I think of journeys years ago in this part of Fife, when there was evidence of the mining industry all around us. We always seemed to have to change at Thornton Junction and very often it was so cold that we were glad of the tiny amount of heat given out by the old-fashioned round stove in the waiting room there.
Perth is also a bulwark against Gaeldom, but of course by the time we reach Pitlochry it begins to have a more authentic air. To make up for this, Pitlochry has one of the prettiest and best-kept stations I know of. It fits right into the pretty and well-kept town.