I'M ON THE TRAIN. Time travelling. With a time traveller. Although he didn't do any time travelling this time.
Surprisingly lengthy mailing list discussion about whether to arrive at Bristol Temple Meads or Bristol Parkway. (Those Metropolitan types are so provincial sometimes.) Based on ultimate destination, Temple Meads favoured by everyone but that overlooked one of the other obvious differences between them. Temple Meads is an attractive place to end your journey, while Parkway is a soulless wind tunnel. Anyone arriving in Bristol for the first time will have their whole impression of the place enhanced by entering through Temple Meads. Disembark at Parkway and any warmth you might develop for Bristol would be strangled in the cradle.
As a youngster my gateway to London was Liverpool Street or, occasionally, Victoria coach station. Neither are places that say “welcome”. For the last 20-something years, I’ve arrived at Euston, London’s most depressingly utilitarian mainline station. I’m have no doubt that had I been delivered into Paddington, St Pancras, or even little Marylebone, my attitude towards London might now be very different. I might even be fond of the place.
In the spring of 1987, I got off the train at Hull Paragon and knew immediately I’d been wasting my time looking at those other universities. I could have turned around and gone straight back home without even visiting the campus, secure in my decision to go to Hull University. As it was, I walked the length of the Beverley Road, had a slightly fumbling interview with Dr Tony Hall (probably caused, I later released, because I was naturally a mumbler and he was (and still is, I hope, if you see what I mean) partially deaf), walked back again, sat next to a staggeringly beautiful girl (didn't dare look at her until Brough) as far as Doncaster where I changed trains (and bought her a sandwich), and eventually arrived back in Norwich to find some fucking toerag had stolen the quick release spindles out of my bike wheels. Big day. Changed my life.
A colleague, who I like and respect a great deal, used to work for the Mail Online. While we can perhaps regard it as a youthful indiscretion, we now know the Mail itself would never countenance such namby pamby relativism. Consequently, it is a burden, a horrible, horrible burden that he will carry for the rest of his career.