The definitive account of the only case of its kind in Northern Ireland, the ongoing campaign for justice and a labour-of-love in memory of the victim of a murder mystery still officially unsolved after 31 years
By Keeley Moss
PART 26 - CONTENTS Chapter 71: Glasgow Queen Street Chapter 72: Glasgow Central Revisited Acknowledgements for Part 26
Chapter 71: Glasgow Queen Street
She never thought about the future, she just did what she would
Oh, but she really cared about her music
And on the road
Where all but a few fall by the wayside on the grassier verge
She battled through
Against the others in her world, and the sleep, and the odds
Genesis – ‘Duchess’
Climbing aboard the packed ScotRail train just in time, I sink my limbs into the only seat not taken as we start to move and Inverness begins to recede into the distance. Scanning the windows from left to right, the lush Scottish countryside drips with mildew on either side as the high tides of the Highlands slither through the rivers. A stunning evening sun begins to blaze through gaping gaps in the clouds above. I’m wondering all the time, is this what she saw? Did it look like this when she sat here on that day in 1988? Even now all around there are fields, so she must have been watching the same scenery, the same scenes.
One by one the train passes through a succession of sleepy Scottish stations, first Aviemore then Perth and then Stirling before arriving at the last stop, Glasgow Queen Street, some three and a half hours after leaving Inverness. That sounds like a long time but somehow it feels like time has both flown and stood still simultaneously. I watch for the sign to appear, to be able to see the words of this latest place name that had like all the other ones long since burned its way into the background of my brain. Glasgow Queen Street. Inga arrived at this very station on the afternoon of the last day of her life, and while I had previously visited Glasgow Central station I had never been to Glasgow Queen Street before, where a fresh blitz of emotions would hit me in the heart upon arrival. Following the other passengers I clamber off the train and take my first steps along the platform, taking time to soak up the surroundings, seeking to be at one with the flow of the moment. All around me other passengers are rushing to be somewhere else, but I had come here only to be here.
And now here it was. Glasgow Queen Street. It was so much bigger and blanker than I had anticipated. I had seen a photo taken in April 1988 of the outside part of the platform and so I had been expecting it to look a bit, well, quaint. But quaint it is not. Instead it looked like the interior of a giant aircraft hangar. It was very spacious, dark and dank. The transitory ambience it possessed was unlike any of the other train stations I had been in in Scotland. It looked like the sort of place people are herded through only en route to somewhere else, anywhere else. But as one of the places where Inga had actually been, and what’s more as one of the places where she had been on the last day of her life, leaving it off the itinerary was simply not an option. Nondescript or not, it was every bit as valid to visit as Inverness, Ayr, Stranraer or Larne.
By this point I had been on so many trains over the previous days that it was becoming a clockwork-like ritual. And yet there was not one moment at any stage when I felt bored, or tired, not even after having only scavenged on scant scraps of sleep over several nights when sleep just couldn’t be sourced. On the contrary it felt a strange mixture of exciting, humbling and haunting. I knew why I was here. Her. She couldn’t be here; she hadn’t been here since then. She would never be here, there or anywhere else again. And yet, in another way it felt like she was everywhere. Every corner I turned, on every street that felt my feet I thought I could sense the faintest echo of her presence. But that could have been just wishful thinking.
Here was no different though. Loitering in the airy, echoey concourse of Glasgow Queen Street station surrounded by the massed blur of the other commuters’ rushing and jostling in every direction, their frantic action a jarring contrast to my stillness in the same building. But which of us is travelling faster? Perhaps they are, or perhaps not. In this moment I feel like I’m travelling without moving, transfixed by images of an ancient age, a custodian of Inga’s flickering flame stumbling blindly towards the dim light of dawn.
Stood in this hulk of nothingness, a sedentary oddity at odds with the busy bodies that swarm around me, I try to picture her here all those years before. This was another transitional point on her journey towards what should have been the first of two or three nights on the island of Ireland, instead of what would turn out to be her last night anywhere.
Chapter 72: Glasgow Central Revisited
Past and present
They converge on every side
The wires all get tangled
When now and then collide
Bittersweet taste of a time and another place before
Sleepwalking, see you talking
Feel the city inside you
Feel this city define you
Leave this city behind you
The Sundays – ‘Leave This City’
Eventually I begin to make a move towards the doors. Leaving the din within, swapping one hotbed of humanity for another it’s time to go back on the ‘Waterfront Beat’. Glasgow. The sounds, the sins, the streets. A city’s heartbeat. She had walked the same way all those years ago, from Queen Street Station to Central Station. On foot it’s a journey that takes ten minutes. 861 metres. That’s all Inga ever saw of Glasgow, and all Glasgow ever saw of her.
It’s raining. Again. I have no umbrella. No matter. I’ll be there in a few minutes.
And then suddenly there it is, its ancient architecture an arresting presence amidst all the modern gloss.
A huge, cavernous building replete with a large archway through which traffic passes, Glasgow Central is the principal mainline rail terminus in the city and is protected as a category ‘A’ listed building. For a while I stand around outside. Raindrops trickle their rivulets through to the ends of my hair. I’m soaking up the moment. I’m soaking.
Moving inside the building, I try to get my bearings. I’m at ground level. There’s the ticket office. The ticket machines. The escalators. Everything seems to be where it should be. But is it really? Where is Inga? In a grave. Where is justice? Still tantalisingly just beyond reach. For all the developments elsewhere in the wider world in the intervening years, suddenly 2018 didn’t seem all that far removed from 1988. Also, standing here in this station from the appearance of several things it could’ve still been 1988. The same orange colour scheme on the ground floor tiles for one thing. I close my eyes and hear the same sounds – of movement, of people and trains, of whirring escalators, of scurrying footsteps – that no doubt entered Inga’s ears during the minutes she was here.
I walk towards the escalators on the other side of the ticket office. Unlike the ones on the far side, these ones will take me to the upper level. I place my feet onto the escalator and think of her standing in this very same spot three decades earlier. She had definitely stood here, as the only way to enter the station from ground level is by coming in the same way I had and the only way to get to the train she needed to catch was to go to the main concourse on the upper level, and to do that she would have had to take this same escalator.
Arriving on the next level I stand in the vast main concourse and picture Inga in the same place, her blue rucksack, her sleeping bag on top in the green cover with ‘USAF’ emblazoned on it and with the canvas bag on her right shoulder, walking amongst the other passengers, who may have snatched a brief glimpse of this brave young explorer and one or two of who may have spared her a thought at the time, perhaps wondering where she had come from and to where she might be heading. All the while never knowing the thousand miles that had passed beneath her feet in the seven days since she had had left Haidhausen for this inaugural trip abroad on her own. Like Inga herself, at this time her fellow passengers couldn’t have known just how little time she had left on Earth. By the time she entered Glasgow Central that day, she had only hours to live.
It was at one of these platforms where she caught the train to Ayr on the afternoon of April 6th 1988. She walked right through here on her way not just towards Ayr, Stranraer and Larne but on to the strangest and cruellest of fates. Perhaps it’s a matter of my being so wrapped up in her case, but as I cast one last look around the main concourse of Glasgow Central, I sense a lingering sadness, a silence without solace, pain where there should be peace.
I learn that there’s a train to Ayr in 20 minutes’ time. I will have to go there to catch the connecting train to Stranraer, just as Inga did. However, where she only got to spend a mere two minutes in Ayr between train connections, thirty years on and at a different time of day the schedule is slightly different so I will have to wait 90 minutes there.
Just before boarding the train to Ayr for a journey that will take an hour, I walk around the concourse and see several trains on their respective platforms. Poised to depart any minute, adhering to an orderly schedule. The trains are on time. But justice for one of their former passengers is running late.
Thirty-one years late.
TO BE CONTINUED
May 28th 1969-April 6th 1988. Never forgotten.
Copyright: Keeley Moss ℗&©2019. All rights reserved.
Acknowledgements for Part 26
Duchess written by Banks/Collins/Rutherford. Published by Hit & Run Music Ltd. ©1980
Leave This City written by Gavurin/Wheeler. Published by Universal Music Publishing Group ©1997