…on is way to his new job in Scotland…Tony accepts the old lady’s challenge to jump train to get her a drink…the continuing story of Tony Blair in the wilderness…
I hurdled a luggage trolley, the winged god of running or something, and rammed the coins in the slot, but bloody hell, the price of a Pepsi didn’t register. She hadn’t given me enough money. Pressing the refund button fired the coins out of the slot, across the platform and under the train. Cash was made to roll away. I knew cash rolled faster than a pizza delivery scooter. If it didn’t roll away, millions would stay in the hands of ordinary people like me, no work would be done, stocks would plummet, and that would be it, game up for everyone, including moi. In my new order, money would be square.
I could have struck the drinks machine with a mighty freedom blow, but the guard whistled and I abandoned the drinks idea altogether—being stranded in a place called Carstairs was a fate worse than death. It might even come to that in rain-drenched Carstairs. My teeth rattled in my head and I shivered. Diving for the door didn’t work—some kind of uniformed guy was in the way being pretty darned old school.
“Oy! What’s your game, sunshine? Who do you think you are, the Prime Minister?”
But the train was moving, and I was in no mood to explain policy U-turn. I had to reach Mr Nixon and my Dictaphone Walkabout with a thousand great tunes for revitalising a discordant Britain left dispirited and downtrodden by the way I’d been treated by my friends in the media.
“Well in actual fact—”
I dropped a shoulder, and with a move the rugger coach would have been proud of, I passed the guard like he was the leader of the opposition.
“Hasta la vista some time, baby.”
I had the train door open and jumped on, but the train was picking up speed and the door was swinging open. That was the problem with train doors in Scotland—shut when I wanted them open—open when I wanted them shut. Closing the door took the kind of superhuman strength that came from having spent the last eight years peering out of a window in Westminster, and freedom felt real good.
The guard was on his feet running, his arms gyrating like a wind farm. The train was sucked into the kind of tunnel that never seemed to end, and I was warm and safe, and I was never going to see that stupid man ever again. Narrow escapes weren’t good for ex-PMs. The movement of the train sent me back to my seat. I leaned back, took a deep breath and pressed “record”.
“Station guards. Train doors. See to them.”
I was a tad angry. The woman looked up.
“That’ll be twenty pence you owe me.”