Wednesday, 1 August 2012


The woman on the train in front of me has one of those comedy Northern Irish accents. She says “key-ahh” instead of “car”, “hise” instead of “house” and “so she does” as often as she can. There’s a brutal nasality in her voice, which means she can be heard talking on the phone in the next carriage.

I’m somewhere in Lincolnshire, heading back from Newcastle, where we've just had a meeting for my next project. I can’t reveal too much about what we’re doing, but its working title is “100 Faces”, which might offer a few clues. I met Alistair and Helen at the railway station, and we immediately started reminiscing about the Metro project, which was launched 2 years ago now. Having caught up on how everyone was doing, and travelled round the Wrekin to get to the BBC in Newcastle on account of one of the Olympic football matches being played at St James’ Park, we settled down in meeting room 2 with about ten other people, to thrash out some of the finer details of the project. We even had a buffet lunch, which was entirely beige, but absolutely delicious, with more vegetarian food in one place than I’ve seen in all my journeys north of London.
I was back at Newcastle station before I could blink. I adore train travel. Give me a power cable, a cup of tea and no screaming children and I’m as happy as Larry.  

Passing through Lincolnshire is still a distressing experience, however. It’s now almost exactly a year since I was crushed by a somewhat misinformed judge - in a pokey East Midlands courtroom, whilst experiencing the early symptoms of whooping cough - and still the potato-covered fenlands in this part of the world make me feel physically sick. And bitterly angry. And a whole host of emotions that I don’t feel proud to experience. I still occasionally wake up in the night in a cold sweat. I always had such a profound respect for the legal system and genuinely believed that the truth in these situations would always out, and yet on that day, my trust was completely shattered. I stare out across the flat cornfields for answers; and yet in the mile upon mile of farmland which stretch out like a chess board from the window to my left, I find none.
It’s strange, but when the rolling hills of Rutland begin to make their presence felt, I feel the cloud lifting from me. Such a funny thing, life...

Here we are in Land's End by the way

In a daze in a maze

...And here's Meriel wearing the headache strip which I thought was a sanitary towel

It was a roguish Pepys who wrote a diary entry on August 1st, 1662. I feel, really, he says it in his own words best, so here he is...

I was sorry to hear that Sir W. Pen’s maid Betty was gone away yesterday, for I was in hopes to have had a bout with her before she had gone, she being very pretty. I had also a mind to my own wench, but I dare not for fear she should prove honest and refuse and then tell my wife
could this be the scariest ride in the world?

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