MAKING a new friend is always a precious event, but forming 10 new ones on the one day makes for a very special occasion.
But such was my luck last Saturday when, on my way home from a trip to Edinburgh courtesy of Scot Rail.
My wending days are of course a thing of the past. I am now more than happy to let one of my favourite means of transport take the strain, as long as I can get a seat.
Now comes the rub, for having boarded the busy train I was delighted to find a vacant seat. Bliss - or it seemed - until a party of fellow travellers pointed out that my newly acquired seat had in fact been booked.
Ah me, the despair of a long stand to at least Dundee was clearly obvious, as I made for another coach in the faint hope of finding a seat, only to be halted by Sheffield John who insisted I have his.
I was initially,reluctan, to take up the offer, largely on the basis that I didn’t really fancy being piggy in the middle of a party of rugby supporters and their carry out, but my new chum persisted to the point that it would have been churlish to refuse.
So there I was, uneasily located in the midst of the Moray Ten as they shall be called, though gradually warming to their honest, straight forward banter, most of which was free of the swearing normally associated with such trips.
Even when the odd word did slip out, there was always a self regulating influence to keep the Moray Ten in check, leaving me just a little embarrassed at being so quick to judge them earlier in the journey.
Gradually I thawed out, relaxing in fine, if sometimes strange banter, including Poland’s part in winning every war in Europe to the work they were employed in at a well known shortbread company in deepest Moray - and proud of the product to boot.
The trip had in fact been organised by Alan the natural leader in the group, not because they were rugby supporters, but because it was different.
There appreciation of the surrounds at Scottish rugby’s HQ was good, revelling in the fact that you could talk and mix with supporters of both teams, an experience they had not enjoyed when attending games involving the round ball. There was no anti attitude to either persuasion. Refreshing.
In truth they were lovely lads, though all clearly curious about an old boy who was still going about in the dark, even at his age.
In truth I was enchanted by their fair minded attitudes, not always on offer on my many train journeys. My new friends, born of good country stock, had the manners which come with such a background.
By the time we reached our destination I was an adopted son of the Moray Ten who produced their flag for the day and one by one solemnly signed it for me, shaking my hand as they boarded their train to Keith.
I shall probably never see my new found friends again, but whenever I have a piece of shortbread of their company’s making I shall think fondly of them, chastising myself for ever thinking this is going to be a long journey, when in fact it turned out to be nothing of the kind.
Life is like that - just one journey into the unknown. But with friend, it’s never a lonely one.