I went on a blind date to Scunthorpe yesterday. It was rubbish.
While I'm unemployed, I'm saying "yes" to things that I've never done before. Well, apart from nipple clamps.
Hence popping up to Scunthorpe by train. It didn't work out (he'd been to the Photoshop Gym), so I caught the last train back. After all, I'd be home by midnight.
Karma is cruel. I don't put out – and so the world soul lashes out at GNER. We reach Peterborough and everything stops. A man sits on the platform with his enormous dog. He is playing it music from The Simpsons.
There's a fire on the line in Stevenage. "I think it's terrorists," says a woman. "Who'd want to bomb Stevenage?" I ask. People laugh. I have defused tension with light comedy. Perhaps the hunky German student will have the sex with me.
Midnight. We're waiting for connecting buses that we know will never come. We can't get off the train (health and safety) and we can't use the toilets (we're in a station). So we sit. Some people ask if they can leave the station to smoke. They can't.
1am. Tired, tired train staff come through with compensation forms so complex that they fill them in for us over the intercom, like some weird Alan Turing Bingo ("And on Line Four we have One-Echo-Two-Seven-Niner").
A zombie waitress is wheeling a trolley down the corridor handing out bad tea. A man is screaming at her “Four hours! Four hours of my life!” Her voice is warm and apologetic and offers biscuits.
2am. We're off the train, queuing for taxis to London. There's a scouse woman no-one wants to share with.
Earlier she'd been screaming into her mobile "I told the skinny little bitch - well, I held back but she was fucking asking-". In front of her was a discarded off-licence. She had the complexion of someone who keeps a dog on a string.
She's now lost it. "Aren't you cold, luv?" she says, calmly. She's striking up intimacy with a business woman, who nods politely. "WELL, I'M FREEZING. JUST OUT OF HOSPITAL I AM!"
The rant becomes performance art. It takes in trains, and hospitals and doctors and nurses and scum. She explains how she had to be in London to meet Linda Something as she was staying with her but she'd be in bed now and she didn't know where Linda lived or what her name was but she couldn't meet her now because of the scum. She didn't know why she'd left hospital scum. She'd just had brain surgery she had. Didn't anyone understand? BRAIN SURGERY! Don't you have a go, you don't understand. BRAIN SURGERY. She swept her hair aside and showed us the scars. Then she started to cry and was led away.
It's rare to see a shared look between all the passengers on a train. But this one was a beauty. It meant so many complicated things that you can't put into words. But, if you had to, they would have been "Well, there's always one, isn't there?"
4am. Back home. I love not having a job. It means I can open a bottle of wine, a pack of fags and a book and settle down to watch the sun rise...