Thursday, May 24, 2007


To Sheffield, then, to chat to young writers in the small-chaired surrounds of the city's children's library. I was told that numbers would be small as they're all up to their necks and hoody hoods in exams. But they numbered 15 and were a very responsive and attentive bunch.

No Champions League final for me - I had to catch my train home at around the same time as the match kicked-off. In the station there was a gent with a limp wandering up and down the platform and pressing the button to open the doors on the train, which wasn't due to set off for about 15 minutes. He checked if it was the Hull train with me on at least three occasions, then went back to his pacing and button pushing. With still five minutes to go he sidled up to me and asked why we couldn't get on the train. I suggested it might have something to do with the lack of a driver. There were more questions about Northern Rail's policies, none of which I was qualified to answer. The driver arrived. I said to the limping man, "You could have walked to Hull by now." "I'm a cripple," he said, "Even a cripple could have walked to Hull by now." And off he limped to get on the train. I liked his unexpected use of the word 'cripple'. Ten minutes later, as we hurtled down the line, this man was told his ticket was invalid and he'd have to get off the train in Doncaster. Six Northern Rail staff and two transport police were waiting for him and he was ejected, last heard telling them that he should be allowed to travel on the train because he was paralysed down one side of his body. It appears that a disability is no substitute for hard cash. Called into the theatre and caught the second act of the play. Surprisingly busy for a sporting drama being performed on the same night that Liverpool came second best to AC Milan. But the punters still turned up. Lovely.

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