Bea and I were entertaining each other with our failed railway journeys down the years. Bea was remembering how she sailed past her stop on an unfamiliar line one snowy winters night in the North, and that reminded me of an experience of my own, also on a cold dark night, but in the South, many years ago.
I was taking a train home for the first time and hadn't realised that it was a splitting train, until it began to dawn on me that we were going through some oddly named stations - insofar as I could see through the snow and the gloom. I then found out that I was in the wrong half of the train, and it had already split. The other half was heading home, the half I was in was going somewhere else altogether.
So I got off at the next stop at a little country station, crossed over the footbridge, and caught the next train going back, intending to get off at the first familiar station, cross over again, wait for my train, and get in the right half this time.
However - and you may have seen this coming (I didn't) - the next train was also a splitting train, and, once again, I was in the wrong half.
I ended up at some even smaller and darker country station - not a soul about - waiting in a waiting room with an old fashioned fire, watching a little harvest mouse whizz round the room and the wastepaper baskets like a mad clockwork toy. It was a darling little thing.
Then, through the silence and gloom the figure of a man loomed up at the door. He was in uniform and was holding something. It was the Stationmaster and he was holding a nice hot cup of tea.
"You're in for a long cold wait, love, so I've brought you some tea."
Well, you can pretty much carbon date that experience from the way it ended- back in the Nicecupofteaocene Era.