Holidays, part 4 – Bluebell Railway

100 years ago, England was criss crossed with railway lines.  Small towns and villages were all connected with quaint single track upon which steam trains chuffed their merry way about, ferrying passengers in their wooden well appointed carriages.  Sadly, the second world war meant that the upkeep of a lot of the track and rolling stock fell far behind, and budget cuts meant that a lot of the smaller branch lines were uneconomic to operate.

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Day trippin’

When I first started work, I spent my time behind computers, ferreting about with wires and cables and generally fixing them.  Then I was allowed to program them, losing myself in lines and lines of code and logic. This sometimes meant I didn’t see daylight, especially when it came to building the semi-supercomputing style systems, sometimes ending up almost inside them before they were ready to run my carefully crafted code.

Nowadays, I spend my working life in front of a computer, designing the systems that some other poor bugger has to ferret around building whilst some other poor bugger has to code from my designs.

I know, I’m almost drunk with power.

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I was talking to Charlene about sleep, more specifically the narcoleptic napping kind.

I’m good at it.

A seasoned pro in fact.  Especially on a train.

I used to work in London and always managed fall asleep on the one hour train journey home.  Mostly, I’d set an alarm so I would be woken up before my stop, which, being towards the end of the line (for most of the trains I caught) meant the train was almost deserted by that point.

I only missed my stop once at the end of a regular day, which meant a wasted 20 mins or so turning around on the next train back – a small price to pay for being an idiot.

The trouble came at the end of an irregular day.

Once that involved a little imbibing.

Those kinds of sleeps were somewhat more instant and lasted longer.

Once, I found myself at a place called Mitcheldever (you can google it – its miles from anywhere, 3 stops from my station) on the last train of the night.  There’s no phone signal there, I had no change for a phone and there’s about 3 houses and thats it for about 10 miles in each direction.

Luckily, a freight train pulled in on the other platform waiting for a signal, so I shot over and begged the driver to get me back to civilisation, which he duly did.  I had to catch a cab back to my stop, but hey, at least I was home.

Then I stuffed up badly.  I overshot my stop by one, ending up in the next town (where I previously caught the taxi from) on the last train.  And there were no taxis anywhere.  I phoned lots of cab companies, but it was way past midnight.  Bugger.  I would have called my (now ex) wife, but my daughter would have been sleeping too and that would have meant getting them up to get me – not clever.

So I thought I’d walk.

9 miles.

In the pitch black.

In a suit and posh shoes.

Along unlit roads with no footpaths.

I stopped a few times before that to try to hitch a lift, but it was way dark and nobody was stopping.  Funny that.

So I walked back.

Took me hours and by the time I was back to the station my feet were killing me.  In fact, the skin on the balls of my feet had rubbed off and my shoes were full of blood.  Bugger.  I rolled in in the middle of the night, stone cold sober, knackered, bleeding and exhausted.

Now I’m a little more careful with trains, but recently, in my new job, working hard, learning, using my brain every day, the journey is a little tiring.

And every day, I’m falling asleep again.

Its only a matter of time before I find myself at the end of the line in Mandurah, 2 stops and 15 minutes past where I need to be.  I just hope it’s not on the last train when that happens – its a looong walk from Mandurah to where I live!!