Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Hazardous Flight with Capt Brown; VIEW OF THE NORTH

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Hazardous Flight with Capt Brown; VIEW OF THE NORTH

Article excerpt


IN the days when the BBC broadcast programmes with titles as patronising as Children's Favourites, I particularly enjoyed my regular Saturday morning singalong with that most unlikely crooner, Tommy Cooper.

His song was called Don't Jump Off the Roof, Dad and concluded with the appeal: "If you must end it all, Dad, please give us a break. Just take a walk to the park, Dad, and there you can jump in the lake."

Desperation and suicide no longer seem to be considered fit subjects for kiddie-friendly comedy in 2009, even by such exponents of edginess as Jonathan Ross. Yet when I found myself caught up in the aftermath of some poor soul taking the easy way out on Friday evening, the only possible reactions were to laugh or cry. In which case, I always feel a strong preference for the former.

To be honest, my own involvement was completely tangential. My fiancee was travelling from Chester to London to meet me for an evening at the theatre. And, having dashed to the station from work and caught her train with about five seconds to spare, she was naturally delayed for more than three hours by a death on the line.

This at least made a change from the long string of problems on the West Coast main line immediately after they had finished spending pounds 9bn of our money on an upgrade.

Believe me, if you ever feel aggrieved with the service between Newcastle and King's Cross, you do not know how lucky you are.

If you are stuck on one of Sir Richard Branson's trains on the other side of the country, you cannot even relieve your feelings by firing off abusive emails.

He may aspire to take passengers into space, but it has apparently never occurred to his minions that those on the ground might quite like wi-fi.

Every year some 200 people decide to end it all under a train and in my experience quite a few of them do so just as the Friday evening rush hour is getting under way. …

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