Short Cuts

A fraught jour­ney is re­deemed by a gor­geous knight in shin­ing ar­mour

The Oldie - - CONTENTS - Anne Robin­son

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.

‘You must agree to our pri­vacy pol­icy and terms of use be­fore we con­tinue’

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