MY train journey to London last week was full of promise.
There was a beautiful dog called Mango sitting two seats up who I made friends with and the lovely old geezer sitting opposite chatted to me about gadgets for thirty minutes, which I liked.
The rest of the time I played on Twitter and flirted in my head with all the things that might happen in the smoke.
It did not disappoint. London Lucie is a fearsomely practised and artful hostess and our Saturday blended effortlessly from eating giant prawn sandwiches and drinking mulled wine to a karaoke bar. I was sceptical about the karaoke ... for thirty seconds.
After that I was hanging onto the microphone so tightly my knuckles went white as I entered a parallel world where I was, in fact, Stevie Nicks. The next day I was full of regret and as I broke into a sweat on the tube I remembered, for the first time in two years, what it feels like to have a hangover.
At Earl’s Court I met another old friend whose hopes that we would walk around Kensington laughing merrily evaporated as soon as he saw the green hue spreading across my face under the fake tan.
Instead he did what any good amigo would do and transported me to the nearest burger bar for an emergency can of coke and a bit of cow covered in cheese and bacon.
I brightened temporarily when he told me an excellent anecdote about catching a friend doing something naughty while watching Barb Wire, but in my heart of hearts I knew the best of my humour had been spent screaming along to Especially For You while London Lucie pressed her face against the glass of the booth and made kissing faces.
On the way back up to Sunderland I had a less fortunate journey than the one taken 48 hours beforehand.
It was a busy train and someone in the seats around me kept letting off silent but deadly gases that made my eyes water.
I also managed to pick the seat in front of two students translating a long, painful and tuneless song into Mandarin – for three hours.
My brain cracked like an angry egg thirty minutes before home and I stomped off to find another seat.
All was calm, all was peace and then – as if in a horror film – I turned around to see three small children staring at me as they filled their lungs with air to fuel a mighty, incessant scream-fest.
The yowling went on till I got off at Sunderland and I was so far gone I forgot social niceties and clamped my hands over my ears in a pointed manner.
Walking home, another group of pre-pubescent children threw a sign they’d pinched from somewhere at my head before kicking my suitcase over and calling me a sl*g.
Welcome Home ...