Monday, 3 May 2010

I think I missed my destiny

Torture. Pure torture. There's just no other word for it.

I'd left my flat, all hot and bothered, as is my tradition when I have a cross-Channel train to catch, and so irritated with my editor for massacring my article on the Good Guys that I wasn't thinking straight and left my West Wing DVDs behind. Not that I could really have watched them anyway, despite my desperate need for some cheering up by the sight of some beautiful men: I've arrived at the end of series one, which, as aficionados will know, means there is no option but to watch three episodes in a row, without pausing for so much as a tweet. And the disadvantage of the Eurostar journey having been shortened by 30 minutes since November 2007 is that it no longer leaves you enough time to watch Josh get shot and Donna fall in love with him just in time for his recovery. An oversight on the part of Eurotunnel if ever there was one.

You have books and magazines, I told myself. Not to mention more sulking to do about how misunderstood and under-appreciated you are as a writer. You do not need the West Wing. Just go and get yourself a cup of tea, take a deep breath, and enjoy the fact that you are not on a Ryanair flight and can therefore feel your legs.

But on the way back from the cup of tea purchase, I saw something on a screen. Or rather, someone. I'm not even sure that my brain registered it on a conscious level: I just knew I couldn't walk straight past the guy with the laptop. Yes. Yes, it looked suspiciously like Martin Sheen. That's okay, though, I mean Martin Sheen is in lots of things. It could be - oh. Now there are people waving placards that say "four more years". And "Bartlet for America".

No, I almost said to the attractive man. (Was he attractive? Or was I engaging in misdirection?) You can't do this to me. This is not even "just" the West Wing. This is 2o Hours In America, which may be my favourite episode ever (discounting everything from The Cold onwards because I like to think there is more to my devotion to the West Wing than the romance side of things). Do you have any idea how painful this is for me? Do you realise how hard it is not to tap you on the shoulder and ask if I can sit in that empty seat right there?

In one of my novels, of course, the character (let's call her Claire) would do just that, and the nice man would turn out to be her soulmate, and she would forget all thoughts of Bradley Whitford, if such a thing were possible. Or perhaps she's slip him a note, Donna-style: "this is a good one". He'd look up, she'd flick her hair in that blonde way that seems to elude me, be transfixed by the sparkle in her eyes, so that when she pulled out her earphones from her pocket and said, "do you mind?" he'd shuffle over and make room for her. And then she'd notice that actually he wasn't bad looking, more Sam Seaborn than Josh Lyman, but those blue eyes make up for a lot.

He would not look at her strangely, or pretend not to hear, in an effort to remind her that they are British and that kind of thing just isn't done. And she certainly wouldn't walk past him over and over again in a desperate attempt to catch his eye. She definitely would not just go back to her seat, put on her West Wing soundtrack and draft a blogpost about the whole thing.

Not if she had any sense of adventure whatsoever.

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