ALAN WRIGHT: Distance no barrier for April in a shower

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People often talk about “the clerk of the weather”, referring to some power up there which controls our daily conditions.

An old friend always thought that there must be something of the sadist in his clerical activities, given the number of times that things can take a cruel turn.

A good example is when you are organising an outdoor summer event for the coming Saturday and every weekday preceding is full of sunshine and unbroken blue skies.

Come the weekend, of course, and your barbecue or summer fair is ruined by torrents of rain and howling winds.

I’m coming to believe that there is a “clerk of travel arrangements” around too, and he or she most definitely has that sadism, accompanied by an evil sense of humour.

Let me tell you what happened last Monday evening and I’ll seek help from Wordsworth, adventure films, and Simon and Garfunkel.

I was due in London for meetings on the Monday and had gone down on the train on the Sunday evening.

I usually take the direct Grand Central service from Hartlepool, but my last meeting was likely to run on a bit, so I opted for the Virgin East Coast train from Darlington as it has a later evening train from King’s Cross.

And so, picture me on the eight’o’clock train home with a bit of trepidation.

I was comfy with a coffee, getting some work done in a peaceful carriage, only slightly nagged by a feeling of trepidation.

If you are a regular column reader, you will know that my last few months of travelling from the deep south have not been without their problems.

“Highlights” have included being dumped off a homebound train at York and enduring a log-jammed A1.

When the train drew into Darlington, spot on time, I felt like kissing the platform.

This is where William Wordsworth comes in as he once described good writing as “emotion recollected in tranquillity” which sums up these words pretty well.

All that was left to do was to pop my carefully retained car parking ticket into the machine, pay for the parking by card, and cross the footbridge to re-join my car for the drive back to Hartlepool.

I’ve done this dozens of times before, but, for the first time ever, the machine didn’t like my bit of cardboard.

I tried each and every way of insertion, and the other machine, but no luck.

It was now after 10.30 and there were nil staff around.

I headed off to my car anyway, thinking that the barrier might be up if the machines weren’t working.

They weren’t – and then the rain started – the two clerks having a joint laugh.

I even contemplated the adventure film bit of crashing through the barrier – but that wouldn’t have ended well.

Bless the mobile phone as I tried to contact British Transport Police, who weren’t around, but the operator passed me to Durham Police, who look after Darlington.

Then, in the words of the Simon and Garfunkel song, “April Come She Will”.

A lovely lady of that name was brilliant, professional, and, above all, sympathetic to this despondent traveller.

I still don’t know how, but, from their HQ in Aykley Heads near Durham City, April raised the barrier.

A little gift is on the way to a lady who went way beyond the call of duty.

I drove home with almost a smile, despite the A66 being closed near Stockton, and a sign on the A19 telling me that it was closed after the Hart exit.

I don’t want to go to London for a while.