A fraught journey is redeemed by a gorgeous knight in shining armour
It is so easy to go by train to Sheffield, any number of television executives insisted. I should have noted their age. I should have remembered that young media people carry their entire life in the space of a modest backpack. I should have listened to myself.
I half-did. I was driven to Sheffield from the Cotswolds on the Sunday afternoon to take part in a panel discussion at the annual television festival in the city the following morning. Alas, I agreed to return – to London – by train.
After the event, one of the organisers kindly accompanied me to the station, carried my heavy suitcase and then suggested that, as the earlier train to London hadn’t yet left, I would save time catching it.
Oh, woe is me. Half an hour later, we were still stationary when an announcement advised of long delays at Chesterfield and would we please move to a branch line and change at Doncaster for London.
Now, of course, there is no obliging bigwig media person to help me and my heavy suitcase up steps and down steps to board the jam-packed, two-carriage local job at the other end of the station.
Thank goodness for Anita Land, world-famous TV agent, who is already on board and jumps up and waves to a seat she has bagged. She’s with her client Trevor Mcdonald. Fellow travellers can’t believe their luck. There is huge excitement as we sit cheek by jowl, jogging along for nearly an hour, as various fellow passengers line up to chat and ask to have a selfie with him. (And very occasionally with both of us.)
Then, as we draw into Doncaster, a reminder one must never get carried away with fame and self-importance. An elderly Yorkshire man approaches.
‘I can’t remember who you two are,’ he says, ‘but I’ll have a picture anyway.’
Never mind – even branch lines have a silver lining. Strap-hanging next to us on the local train was another refugee from the television festival. Quite the most jaw-droppingly gorgeous American fortysomething.
He tells us he is a former US TV foreign correspondent. And naturally he exudes all the charm, wit and exquisite manners those Peter Pan types invariably possess. (Believe me – I have been married to one.)
His name is Diego Buñuel. He is based in Paris but is shortly to move to London to head the London office of Netflix. He is indeed the man all the TV production company CEOS at the festival have been desperate to meet.
He insists I am no longer to fret about my heavy suitcase. He, Diego, will be in charge of it until he puts it in a cab for me at Paddington.
Anita and I are mesmerised not so much by his Netflix credentials, but rather by his astounding beauty and charisma. Immediately the two of us insist that henceforth he must look upon us as his adopted Jewish mothers in London. (Anita is Jewish, and I might just as well be.)
We promise Diego that, between us, should he need a doctor, an accountant, a lawyer, a table at the Wolseley or a place at an impossible-to-get-into London day school for his children, we are on hand.
We swap emails and Anita for good measure begins suggesting the best area of London for him to find a flat.
Diego is thrilled to accept our help. And, true to his word, he also sees my suitcase on its final bit of the journey home.
A few days later, Netflix announces its ‘five seconds’ edict for employees. This being the optimum length of time you can stare at another person.
‘We could definitely be done for harassment on that ruling,’ said Anita in an email.
‘Well worth it,’ I replied.
Why is it still so hard to be a Brexiteer? Just after the referendum, almost any gathering of my friends had them weeping and wailing as if their dog had just died or their cleaning lady had walked out.
At the time, I kept quiet about my vote, not out of cowardice but out of compassion.
But a year on, Remainers need to get over it. They particularly have to stop conducting conversations on the assumption that everyone in their company voted like they did.
A television group I dined with at Sheffield started discussing Europe and the ‘tragedy’ that had occurred.
‘My son believes Brexiteers have taken away his future,’ said one of them, supposing – on no evidence – she was addressing a sympathetic listener.
‘We haven’t,’ I said firmly.
‘Do you work here?’ asked a woman at my local Waitrose in Kensington.
Should I be insulted to be taken for a supermarket assistant?
Or should I just be flattered that I look young enough to have a proper job?
I decided on the latter.