It is 8.30am on a frosty Monday morning, and I am shivering into my coat at King's Cross station. The platform for the Edinburgh train is not yet up. Instead I am instructed to join "queue C". Ten thousand people have joined queue C before me. God, I hate stations.
Rather than join the great British queue, I drag my bag into WH Smith and leaf through the women's magazines. What to buy?: "Can you judge a man by his bedroom?" (Personally, I find it's his bathroom that counts); "Nude Skiing" or "How to spot a man who wants to bed you". I buy all three. By this time obedient queue C are shuffling like some M&S-clad chain gang towards the platform.
Sitting next to me on the train is an arrogant 13-year-old public school boy. He eats all his sandwiches, Smarties and Jelly Babies from his tuck- box before we even reach Finsbury Park. He is a fat boy and, to add insult to injury, he pays a visit to the buffet car for an exceptionally smelly burger as we approach Peterborough. The PC Games magazine which he ripped open to release the free CD is now boring him, so he is peering over my shoulder, trying to read my Marie Claire. I turn to "My Life in a London Brothel"; this works, he becomes visibly embarrassed, and goes off to the buffet car again.
The fact that this annoying boy is sitting next to me is rather putting pay to my notion of romantic train journeys. I read in a magazine, like Tatler or Harpers & Queen, that one of the best places to meet eligible men was on the London to Edinburgh train. Well, matey with his tuck-box to my left, and grandma with her vacuum flask opposite don't really fit the bill. Where is Angus Macleod of Macleod? On the shuttle no doubt. I squeeze past boy and journey to the buffet car in search of ruddy-cheeked Macleods in big Arran sweaters. No joy. Just lots of pale-faced striped shirts on laptops. Is this a particularly boring train I have chosen? Maybe Friday nights or sleepers are better.
Trains can be exciting - there's the Yard High Club - but you generally need to do it in the eight-seater compartments, and unscrew the light bulb if you're travelling after dark. I know someone who was so badly behaved on the Eurostar that he has a green "ET" stamped in his passport, which means he can never travel on it again. Beat that.
Anyway, just as I am coming to the conclusion that there is no hope on my particular train, I see a sign. The sign says "Welcome to York, where the chocolate's chunky and the men are hunky."
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