NO-HEADLINE

On 27 December, after the big movie at 10.50pm on BBC1, my film Sorry About Last Night is being transmitted. This is a hilarious romantic comedy starring myself and the wonderful Siobhan Redmond, and I have been travelling round the country publicising it on local TV and radio. Mostly I travel on these excursions by train because travelling first class on the train is, or at least used to be, a lot more relaxing than travelling by car. Even five years ago first class on the InterCity used to have the contemplative calm of the British Museum Reading Room - occasionally, servants would glide in offering coffee and mints, but apart from that the studious atmosphere meant you could read or catch up on some writing, but not no mo' homeboy! As I sit here on the four o'clock going up to Manchester, there is an appalling cacophony going on around me. There are two men muttering business stuff into little micro tape recorders, there is the clack-clack of keyboards of three laptop computers and, of course, worst of all, there is the constant chirrup of mobile phones ringing. In order to blot out all these distracting noises I've been forced to take up the jazz trombone, on which I practise my scales as we whizz through the countryside. If I don't have my trombone with me and I don't want to be left out in the noise-making stakes, then I just shout into an old biscuit tin at my imaginary friend Geoffrey. "Hello, Geoffrey," I yell at the top of my voice, "It's me, Alexei. I just wanted to tell you we've just passed through Nuneaton - should be in Stafford in a bit. Yeah, I'm going to ... hello? ... hello? ... sorry, we got cut off for a minute there, Geoff. We went into a tunnel ... hello? ... hello? You still there? Hello?"

Mind you, an even worse phenomenon than mere noise pollution occurred to some friends of mine recently. They travelled first class to Manchester and back to see United play Chelsea at Old Trafford and both ways they had the misfortune to be seated next to what they said was the most appalling Eighties-style, upper-class yuppie, who brayed all the way up on his mobile phone about stocks and shares and skiing holidays and all the way back on the return trip he shouted into his phone various racist remarks about some of the black players.

I've been unable to forget about this incident since I heard the story - and I've never ever regretted not being somewhere more than I've regretted not being there. And I can tell you I've missed out on some big stuff in my time: I turned down an invite to an epoch-making early Sex Pistols gig on the grounds that I was going to stay in and wash my hair, and once, and I swear this is true, I was making a film in the South of France and the female lead (the Flashdance star Jennifer Beales, one of the most beautiful women in the world) invited me to dine with her at Paul Bocuse's restaurant just outside Lyon - probably the best restaurant in the entire world and I turned her down! Because I was fed up with French food and I wanted to go home and at the exact time when I could have been dining on wild strawberries with this gorgeous intelligent woman I was eating a Ginsters Cornish Pasty on Dover station, so don't tell me about missed opportunities.

But I wish more than anything that I'd been on that train with that horrible bloke because, after all, how often do you see a yuppie these days, much less beat one up? And the great thing would be that while you were smacking this bastard you'd be advancing the cause of anti-racism at the same time.

However, I wasn't there. We get so few chances to test ourselves these days - it's got to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do the right thing, to make a principled stand, and I missed it. So now I fantasise endlessly about what I'd do in that situation - whether I'd just quietly lean over and say: "Mate, how about keeping your filthy racist remarks to yourself?" and then when he inevitably gave me some lip I'd pop him one in the mouth, smack, just like that. Yes, I'm almost definitely certain that if I was in that situation I'd probably absolutely definitely do what was the right thing, almost no doubt about it. But I wasn't there, so I dream on. I think that maybe I'd just ask to have a look at his phone, then, when he proudly showed it to me, I'd stamp on it and smash it into a thousand pieces and then I'd fight with him - even if he was much bigger than me. Also in some of my fantasies about this evil git I'm wearing a strapless black cocktail frock and high heels - but we won't go into that.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Maths Teacher

    £110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

    Maths Teacher

    £90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

    Maths Teacher

    £110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

    Maths Teacher

    £22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week