Sunday, September 02, 2007

In the interim, serendipity and not a negligable amount of nostalgia

We arrived at Leeds station to find, a little way down the platform, this:

SV101109 (2)

One of those little gifts from the universe, no?

I would have liked more shots, but after taking just the one, it moved off with those never-forgotten sounds and smells, and, even greater joy, it wasn't just the engine, but there was real rolling stock, too. As I stood there with a very goofy grin on my face, another woman of a certain age gave me a beaming smile "Isn't it wonderful" she said. "A real train!"

If the noise of the head of steam hadn't been as loud as it was, I would have told her that for several years during my senior school career, I had travelled daily on one exactly like it. Eventually, steam engine gave way to diesel engine and then at the very end to a diesel unit, but I have forever in my memory - whilst I have memory at all - the magic of steam.

Cue for nostalgic verse.

Edward Thomas

Yes. I remember Adlestrop
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed.

Some one cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop — only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and around him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

And then, of course, there is always this from Flanders and Swann of blessed memory:

Miller's Dale for Tideswell ...
Kirby Muxloe ...
Mow Cop and Scholar Green ...

No more will I go to Blandford Forum and Mortehoe
On the slow train from Midsomer Norton and Mumby Road.
No churns, no porter, no cat on a seat
At Chorlton-cum-Hardy or Chester-le-Street.
We won't be meeting again
On the Slow Train.

I'll travel no more from Littleton Badsey to Openshaw.
At Long Stanton I'll stand well clear of the doors no more.
No whitewashed pebbles, no Up and no
Down From Formby Four Crosses to Dunstable Town.
I won't be going again
On the Slow Train.

On the Main Line and the Goods Siding
The grass grows high
At Dog Dyke, Tumby Woodside And Trouble House Halt.

The Sleepers sleep at Audlem and Ambergate.
No passenger waits on Chittening platform or Cheslyn Hay.
No one departs, no one arrives
From Selby to Goole, from St Erth to St Ives.
They've all passed out of our lives
On the Slow Train, on the Slow Train.

Cockermouth for Buttermere ... on the Slow Train, Armley Moor Arram ... Pye Hill and Somercotes ... on the Slow Train,
Windmill End.

That's what a rainy September afternoon will do to you.........

1 comment:

ra said...

Ah, Adelstrop. I always used to think of that poem when the train pulled in to Bolden Colliery on the Sunderland to Newcastle line on which I commuted to work. No one ever got on or off and I'd sit and watch the Rosebay Willowherb until the train pulled out again.