Friday, 28 May 2010

Police Cyclists in York

The fastest way across town is by bicycle as the ambulance service already know. The police too have realised this and there are a number of rugged all terrain bikes (ATBs) to be seen in York decked out in police livery. I must say I'd prefer a z-cars type mark 2 Jaguar but these look pretty cool.

A day in the life of George, a railway engine driver

Another piece of creative writing.

Four thirty in the morning, dark, cold, it’s November. George’s alarm has just jolted him from slumber. He shuffles to the kitchen; tea, a slice of toast.

‘Where’s that new marmalade? I like that.”
No paper yet, he’ll get one in Birmingham. The 5.37 to New Street awaits George. A second cup of tea while constructing the sarnies.
Into the car, streets deserted, an uneventful drive to the depot to pick up his train, Cherry red, two doors, 3,800 horse power, 50,000 pounds plus of tractive effort;16 years old but well maintained.

5.24, he pulls the train up to platform 8. Just enough time for a quick smoke before the off. He has a green, the guard has belled him, ease off, gently does it, public on board now. George is thinking about his allotment, some flowers but mostly vegetables; leeks, cabbages, carrots.
“Potatoes will need lifting this weekend”, he thought. “I’ll do it Sunday, I’m on cover but Pete is fit as a fiddle, never off sick.”
Kings Junction, check the clock, bang on time. Kingsbridge in 3 minutes.
“I’ll have pie and peas for lunch, at the Shipwrights Arms, a glass of lemon and lime too.” He decided, “I’ll have the sarnies on the flip run.”

A shrill whistle from the dapper looking stationmaster at Kingsbridge and another green. Smoothly off, and George pulls away for the long straight towards the summit, not much of a summit but enough to slow the old girl down a bit.

“Bugger! I can’t go to the allotment Sunday” he realized, “Promised Elsie I’d paper the living room.”
Garret’s Green in 4 minutes, past the pretty signal box.
“I wish my allotment looked like the garden around it”, thought George, more than a little jealously.

Half an hour later he was snugging up the loco to the buffers on platform 6 at New Street; an hour and forty minutes before the reverse leg of his day. Pie and peas, read the paper, back to the station.

George was pulling on the car handbrake in his drive at 3.28 in the afternoon. He realized he had not spoken a word to another soul all day, other than to order his lunch; and that only by chance. He could have eaten the sarnies in the drivers den, never a body in there weekdays.

“Never mind, Elsie always says I’m an anti-social, old git anyway.” He chuckled to himself and made up his mind to lift the potatoes that afternoon.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Of tea mugs, steam engines and VW microbuses

I recently bought a new mug for my cups of tea at work. It featured that work horse of surfers, the Kiwi's home from home, the 60s icon that is the VW microbus. I popped a teabag in and poured in boiling water. A loud 'crack' emanated from the vessel and brown liquid began to ooze onto the work surface. Disaster, the mug had cracked almost severing itself into two pieces. I took it back to the shop; the parsimonious Scots half of me I guess; well it had cost nearly four whole English pounds! The lady in the shop, so demure and helpful while I was a purchaser turned harridan when confronted with a complaint. Result: no refund, no replacement and a warning about using ornamental display pieces with handles for real tea.

Still mugless, I left York for the North York Moors Railway with a party of Thai students who had managed to find a window in between Bangkok violence and Icelandic ash clouds. At the souvenir shop on Grosmont station platform I found the answer to my needs. A dishwasher and microwave approved tea drinking crock complete with aforementioned railway company logo and witty comment: 'Return to footplate for washout and refill'. A whisper under 5 pounds and it was mine. I've been using it for a week now and can firmly recommend the British railway carriage over a cramped German self-propelled caravan.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Writing for fifteen minutes

Hello: welcome to my latest jigsaw piece for the blogosphere. According to Boswell Dr Johnson is reputed to have said no one should write anything unless it be paid for. "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." I guess the Internet shows that his dictat has been well and truly blown out of the water.

I have no figures but I get the feeling that a greater part of the web is unpaid writing. Andy Warhol predicted that everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes. I suppose it depends on how many people it takes to be following you in some way that warrants the fame tag, but the Internet may well be the showcase that some have been craving.

I don't write for others, only myself. If others then want to read a little of what I clumsily type on my ageing laptop then I have no objections, indeed I cannot have any, because I have unzipped my flies, as it were, by choosing to 'publish' in a publicly accessible place.

A livewire on a creative writing course in 2008 said everyone has a book inside them - unfortunately, they are for the greater part deadly dull and should remain in dusty lofts or damp cellars forever. I have no pretentions towards creative writing as a means to support myself, but a textbook or two to pay the heating or air-conditioning bills, the nature of the electronic comfort dependant on wherever I end up grumbling away my final years, might be acceptable. So, perhaps I'll buck the trend and follow Dr Johnson's sagacity, incidentally fulfilling Warhol's oft-quoted maxim into the bargain.