I’d love to play the glam woman with a dark past, running down the train platform in heels with a little dog under one arm and a round tiny suitcase in the other, just like in an old black and white film. As I step up to enter the train, I’d fling the dog in, hold the tiny round suitcase to my heaving chest and glance up under my black hat, the one with the feathers on, searching the platform with my mascara-heavy eyes to ensure I’ve not been followed. I’d take my seat in the carriage, sit the dog – let’s call him Rocco - at my feet as the train chuffed out of the station, smoke billowing, guards yelling. As the train slowly pulls away from the station, a Wolseley police car screams to a halt at the station entrance and five cops run down the platform peering into the windows of each train, each carriage, searching for the woman who’s already hidden behind her newspaper, on her way to another town, on another secret mission.
If only GNER could oblige me in my fantasy then I really wouldn’t mind paying the price of a month’s mortgage on a train ticket north. The reality of the three hours there and three hours back GNER trip I make every couple of months is expensive, noisy and they sell awful sarnies. I book my ticket weeks in advance to get a seat in the quiet coach to read, to think, only to end up with headphones on and music cranked up to blank out the noise when the shoosh-bang-shoosh starts from Ipods-a-go-go in the seat ahead and “I’m on the train” on the mobile phone from the one behind. If I feel another secret mission coming on sometime soon, me and Rocco might just have to take the bus.