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peter.howden Posted Y'day, 07:20am
  I DIG DUNBAR;(part two)

Acting like four goons, stopping off along the road for a pint in a cosy pub at Musselburgh, rewarded with liquid gold, which sank smoothly down, quenching the thirst of traveling. Certainly not ‘Penny-wabbles’, as some English establishments play on travellers. However, Alan had to make do with a ginger…as the designated driver, anyway, he would not let any of us behind the wheel of his cherished chariot…. mates or no mate.

We asked how, how no. Alan turned his head, avoiding replying, but spotted a board advert for a dance, in a Ballroom, per chance it was that very evening, in Dunbar. A warning underneath stated …(Casual wear will be declined entrance). Underneath the message on the board clearly marked, ‘trousers and a tie were a must, no jeans or rubber soles allowed’.

We presumed it was to keep out the rift raft or Teddy boy element. Since we had nether teddy or a raft we were dancing. We were not worried as we brought some gallus clobber with us, just in case.

It was now raining by the time we left the inn, that slightly smirr stuff, the kind which seeps right into your clothing, no matter what you are wearing.

We reached White Sands set up, two tents. then checked our belongings. Unfortunately, our stylish trousers were not displaying their best…creased, but all in the wrong places. The problem was, in haste stuffing things in the kitbags. Our wrinkled gear would make us look like Caterans who had slept in the slacks.

There was a few hours before the dance started as we gathered all the wrinkly wear, pointed the trusty ‘Singer Gazelle’ in the direction of the seaside town of some historical note. Arriving in Dunbar’s main street, marched into local very busy café, and since I was holding the precious attires, straight up the first table where five girls were sitting, then inquired beseechingly, “We are strangers here, but can you press four pair of trews for tonight?”.

Luck was on our side, for the first girl called Helen, a bonny lass, for not only did she take them home, so her mum would do the honours, but she and her chums were the best of company the next few days. When leaving Dunbar, like most holiday friendships or romances, we promised we would write.

Weeks later I receive a battered letter addressed to; Howden, Marywood Place, Glasgow. Inside was a short note, and one small brownie photo of Helen, and I still have it, displayed on the wall just above me as I type. The photo was taken when she was four years old…and the note said… ‘at first, I thought you were all ‘Rummlieguts…but now I know you are not!’… ?
peter.howden Posted 17th May 2018, 11:57am
  Home Spun Stories

I DIG DUNBAR;(part one)

There is a Glasgow saying “bite someone’s ear” meaning to speak inquire relentlessly to someone to gain information or in another sense there is “he bite my ear aft” relating to someone who has suffered someone’s temperament or over excitement. These wee cute expressions, along with gem words like, Cateran…Bluntie…Strumrel…Kemp…Gaberlunzie, and many others are being lost, to a common mode of communication throughout the British isle if not the whole English-speaking population. The biggest corruption against local vernacular is ‘Text’ and Twitter’

We Scots, stick out our chest at the mere mention of Scotland, demanding to be recognized as a race with customs and education of a pearl status, brave and compassionate, strong but open hearted, and by far the most important above all else, true to our word, and oath.

In foreign lands we are extremely loud about our traditions, with the whirl of both the bagpipes and the kilt, though in our own country we are slowly letting go the one thing to set us apart from all other nation, that is “The Gaelic” the true language of the poets. A couple of words before drinking the ‘Water of life’ will not keep it burning.

In my amateurish blundering way, I will include a few forgotten brammer’s …no Gaelic though.

As a youngish laddie, my residence was “digs” in a house situated at Murray Place. It was a large house, owned by a highland family MacNeacail, were they housed ten other boarders, not exactly like me, for they were highland gentlemen who spoke “the Gaelic” and were much older than I. The big Victorian rooms were detached, with plywood, into three separate bed abodes. Quite thrifty the thought, (stingy) I thought. The common room where we dined was advertised as central heated, in fact, a single ‘Calor gas stove’ stood in the middle of the room, sort of a Scottish notion of stretching a point. No heating in the partitioned so-called bedrooms upstairs.

There is no easy way of putting the next point, but the lady Agnes of the house, was certainly of fiddle fyke personality, but alas more disastrous, a rotten cook. She made, then baked pie every Tuesday and Thursday, each time none of the paying guest came home on these days.

The dog was given the sacrifice in his dish laying unmoved until the family were forced to toss it in the bin. The other men were kind to me, maybe I reminded them of themselves when naive of city ways, they arrived in the big toon, meeting their isles comrades under the” Highlandman's Umbrella”.

One evening’s dinner, we were served up haggis, neeps and champit tatties(mashed), celebrating “Robert Burns Night”, when I happened to remark I thought the meal was exceptionally good... I put this down to youthful innocence, but I fear my companions did no, giving the impression of taking me as a Strumrel (a twit). For the next six nights in a row, we were served the very same, even on pie nights, we knew this because of the hound’s bowl.

As I do not speak “the Gaelic” I could not fully understand just what the other men were saying when I would enter the room long after the affair, but I would safely bet it was not praises galore.

Not to long after this period, I moved just around the corner in Marywood Place, renting a semi large flat, along with, one of the good guys, my old china, Ross Grant. We tried to live up to the reputation all teenagers were saddled with during the swinging 60s…and to a great degree we managed it…though we were asked if we were ‘with it’…but never worked out what ‘it’ was.

Four would be Kemps, Jim Hamilton, Bruce Curry, Alan Ramsay, and myself, decided to travel afar by using Alan’s car, ‘Singer Gazelle’ no less, camping along the east coast. We were very good friends, enjoying each other, in a mate’s mate way, just bumming around as the mood took us.

We landed up outside Dunbar, the home town of Black Agnes the wife of the earl of March and a game bird by all accounts even the English invaders left saying something of the same… ‘Come I early, come I late, I found Black Agnes at the ruddy Gate’.

Now, I had experience the historic seaside town when in the Boys Brigade summer camp at White sands in 1960. It may sound impossible a spotty teenager could feel sentimental about anything, place, or person, but I was gyte at the time, all because of Alice, my first true love, but that’s another event…and I’m no clype.

Last episode to follow
peter.howden Posted 13th May 2018, 06:43am
  My Chronicles 13/05/2018


Because I mention the near monthly excursion, you may believe it is by habit which takes me, by train, to Ayr, simply to keep company with my China Jim Hendry… It may now have developed into some sort of psychological stimulant I depend on to keep me sane, though judging by our conversations, this particular theory probably well misses the mark. The habit may well be just sipping our refreshments in Weatherspoon’s, rather than accomplishing our origin intention for strolling towards the heads of Ayr.

It is said marathon runners, professional and amateur, gain some sort of hormone testosterone intoxication, by contentiously practicing each day, pushing themselves to an unseen limit. When for some reason or other can not run, they suffer withdrawal symptom. If indeed Jim and I come under some kind of similar condition, it must be a test to see who can be more ridiculous, laughingly behaving as if in a state of adolescence, I enjoy the journey down and I enjoy the company…what more could I ask for?

She who must be obeyed’ and I were down in Eyemouth, staying in a comfortable pleasant guesthouse. A very enjoyable time with Rebecca, touring along country roads, in my old jalopy, visiting new as well as well kent places However, one thing I did miss... my habit of using a small window squeegee, called ‘Heineken’, while doing my ablutions of a morning.

The expiation is simple, not having the ability or being not allowed either having a bath or shower, by doctors’ orders, due to being diagnosed having very dry skin, appearing in my legs no less… perhaps all these years working in Turkish suites., I have to use a cloth ... but the dare devil within allowed me to shower my feet…for a glorious minute or so, sprinkled water all over my feet… sheer heaven. At home we have a shower situated in a custom made wet room, so as an old delinquent, I can splash around to my hearts delight

I manage amazingly well washing at the sink, with a trusty flannel, as normal as I can be…however stretching to some parts of my back is just impossible. Hitting on the idea of using the small window squeegee, wrapped in a flannel, I achieve a wet rub down of all my back. I call the apparatus ‘Heineken’ …because it refreshingly reaches parts of my anatomy… that others can’t.

One thing I have lost a enjoyable habit of …looking after the garden. Sadly missed, for at least 5 years due to time consuming things I had little control over. I now have plans to relinquish all my ties and promises with Housing and council committees in the next month or so, which hopefully will allow enthusiasm to the house needs and return a gardening routine, to knock it into some kind of pleasurable landscape.

The housing experiences for some 26 years has been something else however my memory and needed keenness is slipping…time to move on…collect a few new habits
peter.howden Posted 8th May 2018, 05:12pm

On a summer break I was strolling along the left bank of the Seine, after frequenting a selection of Paris’s hostelries, purely for research reasons. I stopped and sat to observe the famous river’s obvious grand bridge, ‘Pont Neuf, while taking a sip a slight refreshment, the ‘water of life’ from my trusty flask. This historic banking of the Seine was where Napoleon wished to be buried. Taking in the full ambiance of the scene, a familiar Glasga voice, drifting loosely in the early night air…It was Peewee.

Strangely… Peewee always turned up while I was on holiday in Saltcoats, or Stevenson, usually when I was walking home alone, after visiting local taverns, the quaffing the golden nectar as I stumbled along. Again…I was the only the one person who saw him, I was the solitary one he talked too.

Pee-Wee is no ordinary pigeon, nor is he a myth or daydream, he is a magical talking pigeon, who’s feudal duty has been looking after the Lord Provost of Glasgow, under another title, due to the prosperous Bishops of the town. This took place as the dark and mysterious middle ages dragged to a close, under the guise of Baillie Richard De Dunidovis; though the actual title of ‘Lord Provost’ was not scrolled until John Stewart “First Provost that was in the cite of Glasgow”, (The tongue and speech was different in these early days) was proclaimed a few centuries later.

Where Peewee came from is in the unwritten scrolls where legends come from and how long he’s been there and the power within having been cast through the centuries. The only hint was the very first Lord Provost was only on nodding acquaintance, however because of “the incident” became a total admirer from then on. The mere suggestion the present Lord Provost would take advice from a pigeon, would raise more than political eyebrows, may stretch the art of belief.

Under the political banner of the Auld Alliance, Pee-Wee had gone over in the early years a few times, as an adviser in both war and in peace. The original alliance granted dual citizenship in both countries. As a result, in 1419, 15,000 Scots left from the River Clyde to fight the ‘Battle of Bauge’, in France. The travelling Scots crushed the English, killing the Duke of Clarence.

Peewee once popped over to Paris, in those terrible times in Madame Guillotine bloody rule, in company with the old hags who’s sharp needles of knitting revolution, which made him glad he refused the Royal title, offered by the Sun King many years back from those chilling years. He can recall a visit travelling late fifteen century, with a valiant mercenary soldier from Glasgow, who saved France in the Italian Campaign, becoming a nation’s hero to this date.

Some may wonder, certainly question why such a distinguished figure as Peewee, would converse with a commoner as I, and that I cannot tell except that he had a soft spot for Saltcoats, where we first met. It is easy reached town, to holiday away from the grind of patrolling George Square. He enjoyed the solitude while strolling along the beach late of a evening, deep in contemplation, while I would be airing my head after an enjoyable dram or two of the “Water of Life”.

Peewee assured me this trip, to the French capital was strictly pleasure, as he was accompanied with his light plumage lady friend. Please do not refer to her as ‘His Bird’, for this upset them both, reminding them how the French will put sauce over anything. Whatever the young dove had, made Peewee act like a spring chicken, cooing and cooing, in the act of love for his dove.

Peewee gave me the hint of wishing private moments with his lady friend, yet… as usual when departing, gave me a wee gem of advice, truly sincere …. ‘The French are always make something special of their river Seine…. we should do the same for the river Clyde, as we have so much history from it!’.

Leaving for Paris later this month…I wonder if I will have the good fortune to come across Peewee…I’m taking my flask…in hope
peter.howden Posted 6th May 2018, 11:17am
  Lost Point

A long era ago…far…far…far away, where time was not important but still in memory, in a wee hamlet, between other toty hamlets, surrounded by a town, there lived a hub of cheerful ladies, whose magic hands were legends with a needle.

One bright morning they started a local ‘Sawing Bee’, trying a small way to conserve the sense of community, in such brutal feudal times. In the beginning just a few neighbours took part, rotating meetings in each other’s spick and span home’s.

Leisurely, many other ladies joined, taking their stitching seriously, not only to be sociable, but to enter competitions, throughout the land, for prizes, perhaps pin money. The quality of the embroidery was so wizardly sewn, actual coinage, more than prizes, began to be the keen rewarded. This fact alone convinced the ladies to form a small group, responsible to allocate some of the extra coins to assist the needs of the older people who resided within their settlements.

The dedicated needlecraft was now increasing in demand, which planted the seed to invest becoming a home-grown business. No ordinary commercial undertaking, one with share and share alike principles, profits returning to improve the wider community.

It was vital to continue to take advice from anyone, possessing keen knowledge of enterprise, to give advice and analyses the crags of legalisation and documents involved with the powers in fortified keep.
The decision was unanimous, to ask a needlepoint expert, who… not only assisted the skills of other ‘Sewing Bees’, dotted around the township, but had close connections with gaining grants, plus the ability to screen unwanted legalisation.

The chosen one was more accomplished in reading the reels of parchments and rules, pot holes and loopholes continuously changing, being issued by the sorcery assembly of slippery unpredictable political whims of ambitious Barons and Squires.

Realizing to thrive, it was imperative to join others to evoke the powers to be to act favourably for community ethos roots.

Shortly after the selection, unfortunately there was no magic wand available to prevent one common fault to rankle…whispering gossip, murmurs of discontent used as currency to decide how the adviser was presumed to be looking after other interests before this ‘Sewing Bee’… this ‘Sewing Bee’… wished and demanded their dance would call the tune…regardless of the needs of all.

If you look for fault, you will assuredly find it in anything… the core where seeps envy… uncompromisingly eternal.

When individual peoples strained beliefs, convert more important than the original shared cause…it’s a lost point why it all started in the first place. Was it wise to surrender the advice-giver not to return? Was it a case of cutting your nose to spite your face?

With a belief in thrifty stiches… one thing should have been kept in mind…a stich in time…saves nine
peter.howden Posted 29th Apr 2018, 11:18am
  My Chronicles 29/04/2018

While collecting wee Aunt Becky, Sunday past, from Rannoch House where as a resident with Alzheimer’s, she was more mentally adrift than usual. Becky’s normal gambit, when meeting people, is to say to anyone, including me, “I haven’t seen you for ages’. In past collections when we get into the car, with the Scottish songs marching out of the speakers in the old jalopy, she responds by knowing the routine, roughly recalling who I am, but mainly it’s the music she connects with.

Becky give the impression to be contracting, both physically, and with bewildered delusion, occasionally feisty, even with the dedicated helpful staff. Once we leave Maryhill and the city boundary, heading for Strathblane Becky picks up the tempo, singing the old favourites, and taping her feet. Now and then odd comments are made about the landscape with the walking lamb chops(sheep) and how farming is hard bloody work.

Conceivably this is misapprehension of my memories, cherry-picking what occurred in the past, which dilutes the reality of today. Becky does enjoy the Kilpatrick Hills, as I do. Next Friday I plan to bring her home for tea with Rebecca.

Mucking about in one of the cupboards in the house, I came across the collection of yellow plastic ducks in a container. They are of various sizes, mainly yellow with a few fancy ones given to me by my grandkids. Being apprehensive about their confinement, since losing the occasional outing in the bath, for a much-needed wet room for the humans, I was perplexed what or where I could put them.

Having a large wooden framed mirror in the shower area, I decided to place on the top, about a dozen of the smaller yellow ducklings, include the original duck named Daffy, given to me by a Dundee hotel many moons age. The actual mirror underneath, gives the impression of a pond, and perhaps they may be only made of plastic… but they are entitled to their private illusions.

‘She who must be obeyed’ and I, drove down to Eyemouth, for a few days, staying in a very comfortable guest house, very close to a working harbour. It was a grand break, with one small hiccup when the fleet came in on the second night.

The next morning the car was covered with seagulls’ droppings which during the early morning loads of seagulls flew above, fighting ferociously for scrapes of fresh fish. Had to drive to North Berwick to use a Tesco car wash. While walking along the main street of the picturesque town, I could hear waves of ghostly music of 1963, when Jim Hamilton and I camped there.

Back in Eyemouth, the room we booked entertained an attractive huge four poster bed, to enhance a magical romantic break, coupled with all the mod cons, shower, and bidet as well. We did not act as true swingers with such a prize because the only excess use for the four posters came while holding on to one of the wooden pillars helping me to balance while putting on my socks… as for the bidet…I used it to wash my feet…. what a bum?

Touring around the wee country roads to place like the cosy St Abbs, an anchor of scuba diving around the coastline, then heading for old haunts in ‘Berwick on tweed’, stacked with young memories walking up Castlegate, late of a night, eating fish & chips after the pictures, some 65 years ago. Nothing stays the same except old reminiscences which fade when looking through older eyes.

I have found no matter how fantastic and enjoyable the holiday is the older I become, the expectation of sleeping in my own bed, is so powerful on the last day or so…it is a joy to be going home…deluded or not?
peter.howden Posted 22nd Apr 2018, 06:42pm
  Anecdotes from the auld Steamie

Bath Bank; ( Alterative Scribble)

As mentioned a few times in some scribbles, around the late Victorian age, throughout Scotland many purpose built establishments around various heavy engineer’s districts, in most cities or towns, to suit the dire needs of the working class. This planned essential service was due to overcrowding in tenements, having few amenities within their room and kitchens, or single-ends. In the interior of the granite walls of such local institutions, much appreciated facilities were the now renowned ‘Steamie, Swimming pool, Turkish suite and huge hot baths were standard.

There were some exceptions to the rule as in one individual metropolitan, in a certain posh district, a building housing only a washhouse and baths conveniences. The population of this district never referred to this founding as a ‘Steamie’, as the management changed the laundry area into automatic washing machines and electric driers. This was achieved by the new university graduate manager reputed to be forward thinking. The whole personnel were screened to deliver better criteria of employees, to blend in with the area and population.

Boiler men were usually picked from merchant ship stockers, or railway firemen, renowned for the talents, and for consuming liquor during working hours. For this prestige appointment, applicants had to be teetotal and the winner was from a selective cruise ship …third engineer (presumed to be a better class of seaman) claiming to be abstemious

This theory ex-student also suggested the enormous porcelain enamelled was rather common, urging to replace them with the new expensive stainless-steel tub, taking less room and a modern look to encourage patronage deal was set with a warehouse, baths delivered on a Wednesday, for the plumbers to work on them during the next weekend. The old now obsolete baths were ripped out and stored as spares in case needed by other areas. At the weekend all the staff, excluding the manager, given double time to assist in the mayhem of clearing up, ready for business on Monday morning.

Nothing is known what really happened during the weekend but when the manager entered the wash-house, there was no boiler man to preheat the building. There was no sign of the 34 steel baths, just a empty shell with dripping water from bent pipes. Several of the staff did not turn up either as the shocked manager phoned the police and just waited bewildered. The police finally came and investigated what the said was a clean job. The leading C.I.D. officer added “I believe this was an inside job”.

The apprentice manager is now rumoured to be a Accountant...Somewhere

peter.howden Posted 22nd Apr 2018, 09:59am
  Cutting edge

‘Take care of the knives and they will take care of you, surpassing all endeavours of work.’ Was thee quote from the master-butcher who trained a certain apprentice all these years ago. The expert also jeered at the idea that one good knife would fit any job done in the kitchen. Poppycock, he would insist as this was an invention, a myth set up by these T/V chiefs, the likes of galloping gourmet Graham Kerr who knew very little about slicing up meats.

The now former trainee kept his ‘Set of Brothers’ (a special family term for his working knives) were always well clean after each job. You had to be careful about contamination he would say while carefully washing them individually in look-warm water, plus a minute drop of washing up liquid, followed by a dash of lemon.

They have never let the work or the former pupil down, by professionally completing anything placed before them.

One evening the he need to put his skates on, as guests were due soon, and no coca cola. Never mind, in the drinks cabinet a bottle or two of ‘Chateauneuf du *banned word*’ is being accustomed to room temperature and if all else fails, a bottle of the original Eldorado (yester-years Buckfast), a cheeky little fortified wine, loved in West Scotland, which novice had been saving for years for just such a unique occasion. Now with second thoughts about the visitors coming ,how they would not tell the difference between class grace or average….anyway…they were his wife’s crummy friends…he phoned them all.

The ‘Set of Brothers’ did a fabulous job today under difficult and stressful conditions, but they won the day. Brother clever was for the heavy stuff, boning carving and utility palette, filleting poultry shears and of course, my mezzalunas curved blade…. Slicing through the herbs. They all pulled their weight, having stood the test of time you can’t beat quality, mind you costing a lot… plus a few bob minds you but they will carve and cut anything. Best buy for me I reckon.

He decided to phone everybody expecting to come and cancel. Make this just an intimate cosy dinner for two. These philistine tragedies will not appreciate the pure effort slaving over such a sumptuous elite meal. I think everything is ready though just the washing up to attend to. The novice master’s table must be decorated just so; to be laid out in utter splendour, before bringing the wife to the table.

When you must carve and cook, all the best cordon bleu will leave a mess and the professionals have armies of slaves to do the cleaning up but for some strange reason, this feels part of whole ritual. With such a variety of cuts there was bound to be blood, not for the squeamish but still a fundamental part of the procedure.

Having such ‘Set of Brothers’ he could command any position, throughout the capitals cities of the world, anywhere and who knows with the right introductions, he could be top cordon bleu of any gastronome restaurant. Feeling privileged tonight for his wife will adorn the table, possessing etiquette of serving properly being observed always.

He planned to invite some of the owners of prestige eateries, permitting them to sample the able-bodied preserved leftovers. All this he owed to the ‘Set of Brothers’, for without their vital part of the bistro opera, it would have proved impossible.

All is prepared along with the ice from our gigantic freezer, is the last compliment to the table, bar one. will now bring in the little woman of the house, his captivating spouse.

She did serve up well… thanks to the brothers, keeping it in the family, together cut through her body as if it were mere butter. The large serving plate has a piece of every part of her minute body.

Now awaiting to be hung… still in a tizzy as to what wine would have enhanced the table?
peter.howden Posted 20th Apr 2018, 01:24pm

Is it an subconscious allusion in disturbed sleep, is it a dream or awaken reality as she touched me, her essence really touched me, brushed against my eager cheek without realizing as she slowly faded away. This brief enchanted tad, charged every captured nerve in my body, compelling my very blood to boiling point, releasing every hidden desire to hold her so close, we inhale the same single breath. Each particle within my body, aches with captivated hunger, all cells rebellious ...yet…I cannot say a word, nor display a gesture of desire, hiding any spark of affection.

It is not just sex but such a feeling right from my core as I watch her moving those stimulating lips, which I wish to caringly caress, then let loose with such passion…. the world has yet to witness. Petite built with curves where curves should be on a true lady, so delightful deserving the silver screen, yet I would be embarrassed if in a moment of weakness, showed my true feelings. Her elegant elfin fingers stretch out, however not for my trembling hand. Each majestic movement is grace embodied, flowing as a free butterfly on the wind. Her alluring eyes gleam with timeless angel’s innocence, shy of my existence

Do I love my illusive apparitional goddess? I would say no…but worship every expression, each soft utterance leaving her mouth, reverberating golden sounds which echo through my mind for days on end, cherishing every word, syllable by syllable. Gazing upon the wonder of her presence, eager wishes, and cravings beyond imagination.

One single touch of her velvet skin would gratify me forever, but… until now, in my heart, I know this not to be true. For this would create a thrust beyond the emotions… never touch the grounds again. Am I lost at the gates of paradise with only a glimpse of the beauty which leads me there.

There are worse places than hell.
peter.howden Posted 15th Apr 2018, 07:17pm
  Unseen consequences

Jim stepped down from the train, tired and awkwardly annoyed, as it had made a mid-day unscheduled stop at a small homestead, seldom seen on any map and of no consequences for his journey. While tired eyes squinted around his new surroundings, he pulled shag tobacco from a crumpled packet, made, then lit a roll-up, with his first steps on solid ground in quite a time, he spotted a few shanty cabins around his side of the tracks of this god forsaken place. In either direction almost beyond the horizon there was nothing other than the rail track and dust.

Subbing out his cigarette as he ambled closer to the massive engine, the constant clatter of metal plates, plus the noise of the steam engine cooling down, was a mixture of weird and mysterious echoes. On his approach, it was only then Jim saw the two monstrous locomotives, coupled together hauling this long load of endless coaches.

One engineer came to meet him , shouting out how one of the spare tanks had been leaking since beginning this journey, but now desperately needed an emergency welding job The head engineer had phoned the controllers up the line, assuring this water stop, though far from anywhere really important, having loads of water to supply all the needs of the two trains, big as they were. They had no idea how long it would take to fix the leek temporary. Also, it would take two wheeltapper checking axleboxs aren’t overheating, as well as tapping along all the coaches the trains were hauling

Jim walked over the front, crossing over the tracks as the engineer shuttled backwards very slowly, for the tube from the water tank right next to the leading locomotive. It was obvious to Jim, that few trains passed, or stopped here, as grass was sprouting out of the nuts holding down the track, and rust took over most of the two steel tracks from way back. One thing for sure, it was really scorching day and the unwarranted clamour all around him, was not helping Jim’s mood.

On the other side of the tracks there were no houses, only rough and tumble shacks. No tiles on the roofs of these so-called dwellings, only lose fitting lengths of corrugated iron, plus plastic sheeting blowing in the wind. Some windows had glass in them, most only a rag. Right beside wealth and affluence on this train… was the ticket stub to poverty.

Unknown to anyone on the ground, two young boys from shanty town, had earlier gone swimming in the tank. Now hardly any train stopped at this location, and even when they did they were small shunters, or puffers. The boys were used to climbing the steel ladder, dropping into the cool water which was always almost over flowing. It was something for nothing and one over the railway company who still remained oblivious of this. When this unscheduled hullabaloo arrived, both youngsters kept a low profile as the clung on to the edge of the metal tank.

As the gigantic InterCitys took their fill, the level of the water tank fell dramatically, and the boys began to realize the predicament they were in. Simply for the lack of use, some sort of algae had formed and grown all the way down the sides of the tank. Their bodies were fully stretched as the water went down but they could not get a footing. Each time they attempted to pull themselves up to the ridge, they slid uncontrollably down. In a short time, they could not reach the top at all.

Panic set in as they shouted, screamed, and repeatedly try to kick the oily sides, but no one heard them above the hammer banging and welding engineering equipment below. They could not hold onto the sides as the creeping lichen had formed a slippery shied. Tiredness was now their biggest enemy. Frantically one boy tried repeatedly to dive under and assault the release valve at the core but each dive failed and each one became more difficult than the last...

The boys reasoned the train must be ready to leave soon the noise outside was bound to cease, allowing someone to hear their frantic calls of help. Keeping above the water was imperative for survival.

The train whistle blew all on board as the train’s engineers finally finished, allowing the train it to edge away from the old water trough. Jim, cosy in his Pullman apartment, looked at his watch, the hand showed 9 of an evening, chilly outside… but not a sound.
You could hear a pin drop…thought Jim
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