“It all started when I tried to buy a rail ticket to Glasgow”, recalls London-based Brian Singleton. “The price was astronomical! I bought my first car for less than it was going to cost me to get to Glasgow and back. I asked the guy at the ticket counter if there was a cheaper way. He just wrote something on a piece of paper, folded it in half and slid it under the glass, before tapping the side of his nose and gesturing me to leave.
“I went onto the internet to check out better deals; cheaprailtickets.com looked promising till I was asked for a password. WTF! I tried all the most obvious ones - ‘password’, ‘123456’ and ‘t$/Y(z&_%pV?’ - before remembering the scrap of paper in my pocket. On a hunch I typed the single word and clicked the button marked ‘Enter’, which immediately transported me, through a schism in the space/time continuum - oh, and the back of a wardrobe - to a magical land far, far away, inhabited by fairies and unicorns and small men with pointy ears.
“I rescued a beautiful princess from the clutches of a dragon. When she granted me three wishes, I thought Christmas had come early. I asked her if I could have just the one wish and do it three times. Before I could get too excited, she said that first I had to go on a quest to find a three-legged giant, called ‘tripod’, who lived in a cave, or a castle or a pond somewhere. To be honest, I wasn’t really concentrating any more. I heard her say that 'no suitor had ever made it back alive', before she pushed me through the ‘doors of perception’ and into the ‘corridor of uncertainty’, where I was attacked by a three-dimensional hologram of Geoffrey Boycott wielding an outsized cricket bat.
“I heard something about 'uncovered pitches', before I lapsed into unconsciousness. When I awoke I was in a house made out of marzipan and barley sugar, right next to a trade warehouse selling all manner of fantasy building materials. I didn’t know what to expect next. An old crone? Three bears? A white rabbit? A mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a borough surveyor? You could have knocked me down with a feather when the bloke from the ticket office walked in, winked and gave me a cheap weekend return ticket to Glasgow at a bargain basement price.
"Of course, ticket sellers could just sell you the cheapest available ticket for your chosen destination... but, hell, that would take all the fun out of it. Before I left I said 'There’s just one more thing I need to know', but he put a finger to his lips and whispered: 'Rosebud'"...