Susan Morrison: Embracing the Sleeper beauty

The romance of the railways is alive. Picture: TSPL
The romance of the railways is alive. Picture: TSPL
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The Sleeper train has always sounded fantastically romantic to me. It may have something to do with the film The 39 Steps, where skulduggery struck as the train rushed across the Forth Bridge. Or perhaps that Poirot film where everybody killed Richard Widmark. Or possibly that scene in From Russia With Love where Sean Connery and Robert Shaw batter nine bells out of each other and, in the process, reduce the entire berth to matchwood.

So you can imagine how excited I was to be going to that there London on the Caledonian Sleeper.

Well, actually, it’s not that romantic, but practical it certainly is. You waft from the middle of one city, right bang into the middle of another, with none of the faffing to get to and from airports that you get with flying.

And, of course, you travel without being regarded as a potential terrorist first and a paying customer second. Why, you don’t have to check your belt isn’t metal, your fluids are no more than 100ml and you don’t get pawed by an overenthusiastic security guard who bears more than a passing resemblance to Rosa Klebb.

And, let’s not forget, the Sleeper has bunk beds, and if you get the cabin to yourself, you get to choose! Oh yes! Who among us has not turned into a nine-year-old the minute you get bunk beds to choose from? I wussed out and went for the bottom bunk. Well, I’m not as limber as I used to be.

Well, the décor might be a bit 1980s and there weren’t agents of a foreign power flitting about, but the bunk was cosy and comfy, and I was off before I knew it.

In the morning, I couldn’t get the blind raised. I went off in search of Kirsty, the Train Manager Customer Facilitating Person. With 
commendable skill, and a flick of her wrist, she flooded the berth with daylight. I mentioned it was a bit difficult to open.

“Oh yes,” said the lovely Kirsty. “We’d hate for you to be getting changed into your nightie and the blind just pinged open and some pervy bloke got to spy on you.”

Whilst this is commendable, a couple of things. One, the top speed of the Caledonian Sleeper is 80 miles an hour. Indeed, if delayed, it’s allowed to open up the throttles and hit the ton.

So, just how fit would a Peeping Tom have to be to sprint alongside the rails, binoculars in hand, to catch more than a fleeting glimpse of my winceyette PJs?

Secondly, on the off chance that the Usain Bolt of the steamy windows is out there, I imagine one glimpse of my cellulite would cure him of the habit for good.