Stuck on Darlington Station Again, and Still No Sign of Pete's Mum's Scarf. (Northside)
Martin, Andrew, New Statesman (1996)
In 1977, my friend Pete was refurbishing an old motorbike, and one freezing afternoon in York he asked if I'd like to take a spin with him. I agreed, even though it meant sitting in the coffin-like sidecar. He disappeared into his house, and came out a minute later togged up like Biggles, and offering me the loan of one of his mother's scarves.
After an hour or so, we came to a stop alongside a field near Malton. "You all right?" asked Pete. I told him I was extremely cold -- it was now snowing heavily -- and asked why we'd stopped. "Run out of petrol," he said phlegmatically. We flagged down a police car and the copper said he'd run us to a filling station. Pete gave me a petrol can, which had been rattling around with me in the sidecar, saying he would stay with the bike. When I'd filled the can, the policeman took me back to Pete, and began inspecting the bike. I hoped -- and assumed -- he would find some aspect of it that was illegal, but instead he complimented Pete on the machine.
When we set off again, I assumed we were heading back to York, but the next time we stopped we were on the edge of Darlington, and in the middle of a blizzard. Pete thought the front tyre was probably going down, at which point I walked to a pub, where I got a minicab to Darlington station.
At Darlington the trains were disrupted by snow. After two hours, a York train came in, but I couldn't board it because, somewhere between the buffet, and various frosty benches on deserted platforms, I had lost Pete's mum's scarf. …