“Last Station Before The Bridge”

My father was Scottish. I have a slightly distant relationship with the land of my ancestors however, born in England and brought up abroad. Yet now and then, when time is slow and the mist clears, some memories float to the surface, little bursts of tartan emotion, cultural connections of storytelling and imagination, stretched taut like the gossamer of a spider’s web.  Recently on a visit to my mother in Edinburgh, I took myself for a long coastal walk. I had a recurring memory, a memory of long ago when my father read me bedtime stories, in the glow of my bedside lamp, at the top of a huge Art Deco house in a Luxembourgish village. Little tales of Scotland, deliciously dark for boyish ears, tales of wars and glory, adventure and swashbuckling. As I closed my eyes in dozzy bliss, I could hear the melancholy sound of bagpipes and smell the succulent heather. My favourite tale was Kidnapped, with its location at South Queensferry, at the famous Hawes Inn whose name made adults giggle and where we used to eat, when on trips back from Luxembourg. I was amazed by the soaring red bridge, girders of Victorian iron, that carried trains over the roof of the hotel. The rumble was portentous thunder, an Olympian drum roll, rendering the sky, lights flashing and sleepers and tracks rattling alarmingly. I worried the trains might fall through, crashing into the deep green water of the Forth Estuary, they seemed so high and precarious. I asked my father about it. He told me that Dalmeny was the last stop before the bridge, that there, at the little station seemingly in the midst of nowhere, passengers could be warned to detrain. It occurred to me, as I sat alone on the very same platform at Dalmeny 40 years later, that perhaps my father might have been spinning a yarn.

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12 comments on ““Last Station Before The Bridge”

  1. Great memories Andrew and well related. I can relate to your stories to a point. Being in the Royal Navy I often had to pass over the bridge getting on and off at Inverkeithing (“hilariously” renamed Inverqueerthing by world weary matelots aged 16 to 27 and beyond!) and remembering Dalmeny station. I also passed a rather important exam at South Queensferry and loved the place, positioned under the railway bridge.

  2. Very engaging style! The “yarn spun” stories of my parents were the best as I enjoyed listening to them become more interesting with each telling.

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