Relief. The ticket vendor was a woman. She would understand. I approached her glass box with my rarely seen ‘meek and apologetic’ face in place. “I’m so glad you’re not a man,” I said. She looked puzzled. When folk are buying a day return from Meadowhall, it’s the cost, not the gender of the person asking for it they’re bothered about.
“I need to buy a train ticket to somewhere,” I told her. “Only, I don’t know where.” Should have seen her face. So very swiftly, I added: “When I got out of the car in the railway station car park, I knew. But somewhere between the steps and the door to your ticket office, it utterly escaped me.”
She broke out into a hearty laugh that spoke volumes about her knowing where I was coming from. And I don’t mean Kimberworth. “Can you give me any clues,” she said, in the understanding and tolerant tones of a woman who accepts with resignation the cold, hard fact (or should that be hot and sweaty one) that one day, ticket or no, her post-menopausal train will come in.
“Clues I can do,” I said, to this paragon of British Rail’s customer service academy (bet she passed, with flying colours, Page 52: Subsection D. ‘How to deal with hormonally challenged women of a certain age’.
“It’s the other side of Leeds. East, possibly. It begins with a C and it leaves Meadowhall tomorrow afternoon at 3.12pm.”
“Castleford!” cried the uniformed supersleuth, with some joy. Bet she watches Midsomer Murders.
That’s it. Castleford. A name not tricky in the slightest. Yet for the last two days, having discovered it was the ideal place to meet a friend driving from Hull to H... It’s gone; not Huddersfield. Neither Hell nor Halifax... Where was I? Oh, yes - I hadn’t been able to commit the West Yorkshire town to memory.
I’d said it over and over in my head all the way to the station, like you do when you’re little and your mum sends you to the shop. Now as then, the fear of forgetting had become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It’s all in the rich but fraying-around-the-edges tapestry of life when you hit the menopause, I’m afraid. Still, there’s an upside. I haven’t had to buy things with wings since, oh crikey, let me see, now. Nope, I’ve forgotten.
Hang on, it’s coming back to me... Harrogate, that’s it. Now, where did I put my ticket?