A recent train journey from Palma to Soller in Mallorca got me thinking about all sorts of trains that have run along the main line and sidings of my life.
The train from Palma to Soller has been running since 1912 http://www.northsouthguides.com/mallorca_train_soller.html and is wonderfully old-fashioned. It is wooden; the windows open right up and there’s that feeling that it is from another time. To add to the delight, the sights along the way are spectacular – high mountains, deep valleys, tunnels that seem to go on forever and then open up to the vista of oranges and lemons dripping from trees. You could reach out and pick a lemon if you were so inclined.
Suddenly I’m back with Thomas the Tank Engine, the creation of the Reverend W. Awdry, and all those hours of reading to my young son. Henry, Edward and Gordon, Annie and Claribel, the Fat Controller – I’m sure he’s politically incorrect now – but he was a really decent sort. And, of course, the trucks! On , on, on, screamed the trucks remains a cry in our house where there’s a need for a bit of a brostaigh (or a hurry-up.)
The Tramore-Waterford train that played such a part in the lives of generations up to the early 1960s. My father used to talk about the five-minute bell which was sounded five minutes before the off and had him sprinting from Tig Mor to Tramore Railway Station to catch the train to work every day. On warm summer days, the call at the Waterford end would be: All aboard that’s goin’ aboard? Anymore for Tramore?
Father also had memories of the West Clare Railway which he used to take from his home town of Kilrush to the seaside town of Kilkee. It has long been immortalised in Percy French’s song Are you right there Michael, are you right? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7w7eH6JuL50.
Thoughts, too, of a train trip in France in 1981 where I was having a tennis-playing summer with a friend. We alighted from a super-duper train, pulling and dragging our tennis gear, and in the rush, heat and excitement, I left my handbag with passport, money … on board. I realised the awfulness just as the train was whizzing out of the station at about a million miles and hour. In the split second before it shot out of view, I had visions of phonecalls to embassies, frantic calls home for money, hours queuing to try and replace my precious Inter-Rail ticket. Half in tears, in spluttering half-french, we found a ‘Fat Controller and Oui someone, some kind soul had thrown my bag out onto the platform.
Now, if I was a Percy French, I would have written a song of thanks but alas…! So, Dear Bag-Thrower, I hope you read this blog and remember your fine shot with my brown suede bag on that scorching hot day in August, 1981, somewhere near Nice. I wish you could have seen my tear-stained smiling face; I suspect you did in your empathetic mind’s eye.