Sideline: Nick Hornby Made Me Do It..

In Sideline, people give an alternative view of conference attendance. Here, Sarah Ashton has fun with public transport as she tries to reach Cranfield with increasing desperation...

Nick Hornby made me do it! This is my defence...Unaware of the distractions that lurked in the suburbs of Milton Keynes, I rose at 5.30 a.m. Jogged between bus-stops, in that hesitant 'does the 52 run at this hour?' kind of way. Caught my train and two connections. Bored of pondering life's mysteries (do you stir your coffee with the square or triangular end of the plastic thingie?), serenaded by the Mobile Phone Chorus, I retreated into my book, High Fidelity [1].

I was on a mission for ARIADNE: The Web Version. If you are in the midst of that publication as you read this, it should be a mere couple of clicks away [2]. But if you are reading this in print (on the train perhaps?), there may be a slight delay before you can discover what it was.

It happened on page 80. "Write down the worst four things that you have done to your partner, even if - especially if - your partner doesn't know about them." So I did. Now, I'm basically a good girl. Desperate to catalogue more than my one item, I rummaged in the annals of past loves, dredging for cruelty and venom. At the fleecy edges of my wool-gathering, was Milton Keynes. I neglected to get off. Alarm bells rang as Watford Junction flashed by. Hello London Euston. Before you say "Silly concrete cow!", list your own four worst things. Think about it. Distracting isn't it?

London friends beckoned, but I dutifully returned to Milton Keynes. No shuttle bus to Cranfield. No money for a taxi (my bank balance had forced me to borrow a tenner). Waited an hour for a local bus. Arrived at Cranfield in time for a hasty sandwich from the demolished buffet. On with the afternoon speakers. Met a friend afterwards for restorative cider, and armed with my bus fare, an apple, and some Dairy Milk (my tea), I headed home. Collapsed on the sofa, famished and fatigued, at 11 p.m. The lesson of this sorry tale is probably this. Don't send a newly-employed ex-student to cover an event on the 30th of the month. If you do, make sure she's reading something morally uplifting!


[1] Book previews, Pure Fiction Web Site, 

[2] Ashton, S.J., Conference Review: Access v Holdings, 30th October, 1996, Cranfield, UK, 

Author Details

Sarah Ashton is the Research Associate of the NetLinkS eLib project.
Personal Web Page:

Date published: 
Sunday, 19 January 1997
Copyright statement: 

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