Well that’s Christmas day out of the way

Well Christmas day lived up to expectations.

Too much dinner.
Crap programmes on the television.
Nothing but Christmas music on the radio.

If the railway asked for volunteers to run a Christmas day service I would flatten you all in the rush to be the first to put my name down.

However, one story that did make me sit and think was this one on the BBC web site.

I make no apology for reproducing it in full and acknowledge the Copyright of the BBC

A real Good Samaritan

Train guard

One act of kindness that befell British writer Bernard Hare in 1982 changed him profoundly. Then a student living just north of London, he tells the story to inspire troubled young people to help deal with their disrupted lives.

The police called at my student hovel early evening, but I didn’t answer as I thought they’d come to evict me. I hadn’t paid my rent in months.

But then I got to thinking: my mum hadn’t been too good and what if it was something about her?

We had no phone in the hovel and mobiles hadn’t been invented yet, so I had to nip down the phone box.

I rang home to Leeds to find my mother was in hospital and not expected to survive the night. "Get home, son," my dad said.

I got to the railway station to find I’d missed the last train. A train was going as far as Peterborough, but I would miss the connecting Leeds train by twenty minutes.

I bought a ticket home and got on anyway. I was a struggling student and didn’t have the money for a taxi the whole way, but I had a screwdriver in my pocket and my bunch of skeleton keys.

I was so desperate to get home that I planned to nick a car in Peterborough, hitch hike, steal some money, something, anything. I just knew from my dad’s tone of voice that my mother was going to die that night and I intended to get home if it killed me.

"Tickets, please," I heard, as I stared blankly out of the window at the passing darkness. I fumbled for my ticket and gave it to the guard when he approached. He stamped it, but then just stood there looking at me. I’d been crying, had red eyes and must have looked a fright.

"You okay?" he asked.

"Course I’m okay," I said. "Why wouldn’t I be? And what’s it got to do with you in any case?"

"You look awful," he said. "Is there anything I can do?"

"You could get lost and mind your own business," I said. "That’d be a big help." I wasn’t in the mood for talking.

He was only a little bloke and he must have read the danger signals in my body language and tone of voice, but he sat down opposite me anyway and continued to engage me.

"If there’s a problem, I’m here to help. That’s what I’m paid for."

I was a big bloke in my prime, so I thought for a second about physically sending him on his way, but somehow it didn’t seem appropriate. He wasn’t really doing much wrong. I was going through all the stages of grief at once: denial, anger, guilt, withdrawal, everything but acceptance. I was a bubbling cauldron of emotion and he had placed himself in my line of fire.

The only other thing I could think of to get rid of him was to tell him my story.

"Look, my mum’s in hospital, dying, she won’t survive the night, I’m going to miss the connection to Leeds at Peterborough, I’m not sure how I’m going to get home.

"It’s tonight or never, I won’t get another chance, I’m a bit upset, I don’t really feel like talking, I’d be grateful if you’d leave me alone. Okay?"

"Okay," he said, finally getting up. "Sorry to hear that, son. I’ll leave you alone then. Hope you make it home in time." Then he wandered off down the carriage back the way he came.

I continued to look out of the window at the dark. Ten minutes later, he was back at the side of my table. Oh no, I thought, here we go again. This time I really am going to rag him down the train.

He touched my arm. "Listen, when we get to Peterborough, shoot straight over to Platform One as quick as you like. The Leeds train will be there."

I looked at him dumbfounded. It wasn’t really registering. "Come again," I said, stupidly. "What do you mean? Is it late, or something?"

"No, it isn’t late," he said, defensively, as if he really cared whether trains were late or not. "No, I’ve just radioed Peterborough. They’re going to hold the train up for you. As soon as you get on, it goes.

"Everyone will be complaining about how late it is, but let’s not worry about that on this occasion. You’ll get home and that’s the main thing. Good luck and God bless."

Then he was off down the train again. "Tickets, please. Any more tickets now?"

I suddenly realised what a top-class, fully-fledged doilem I was and chased him down the train. I wanted to give him all the money from my wallet, my driver’s licence, my keys, but I knew he would be offended.

I caught him up and grabbed his arm. "Oh, er, I just wanted to…" I was suddenly speechless. "I, erm…"

"It’s okay," he said. "Not a problem." He had a warm smile on his face and true compassion in his eyes. He was a good man for its own sake and required nothing in return.

"I wish I had some way to thank you," I said. "I appreciate what you’ve done."

"Not a problem," he said again. "If you feel the need to thank me, the next time you see someone in trouble, you help them out. That will pay me back amply.

"Tell them to pay you back the same way and soon the world will be a better place."

I was at my mother’s side when she died in the early hours of the morning. Even now, I can’t think of her without remembering the Good Conductor on that late-night train to Peterborough and, to this day, I won’t hear a bad word said about British Rail.

My meeting with the Good Conductor changed me from a selfish, potentially violent hedonist into a decent human being, but it took time.

"I’ve paid him back a thousand times since then," I tell the young people I work with, "and I’ll keep on doing so till the day I die. You don’t owe me nothing. Nothing at all."

"And if you think you do, I’d give you the same advice the Good Conductor gave me. Pass it down the line."

Merry Christmas

100_7825EVERYTHING LOOKS BETTER IN THE SUNSHINE

Well it can’t be often that we have snow on Christmas day and can’t wait for it to go.

It’s been too cold for too long.

Anyway Sue and I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a peaceful 2011. We would also like to thank without exception all those who have helped us with the running of Orton Mere in 2010, we could not have done it without you. Those of the team who due to personal reasons were unable to help this year we look forward to hopefully seeing you back at the station in 2011.

So have a good few days eating, drinking and watching the normal rubbish on the TV.

Orton Mere will, depending on the weather be open on New Years day with the tea and coffee on, you just watch somebody want an ice cream!!!

Robert & Sue
Orton Mere Station
Nene Valley Railway

They will still want to despite the weather

Despite the terrible weather around the country, people will still want to go shopping!!

I can remember many years ago when I worked in Solihull we had really bad snow, I was the key holder for the shop as I was the nearest. I managed to get in on what was the only Midland Red bus on the then 154 route into Solihull.

I put a large notice on the door saying that we would not open until lunch time at the earliest and maybe not then. At that time there was just me in the shop.

Just after 9am I had people banging on the door wanting to come in, not to buy anything but just to browse!! We had over a foot of snow and a blizzard at the time.

Since then I have realised that there will always be idiots who want to go shopping.

Christmas is coming

Well today sees the last weekend Santa trains before Christmas.

Certainly the fields should be white with frost so that will be nice for the visitors to the railway.

We have had it lucky this week so far here in Peterborough, lots of places around the country have snow this morning .

January ROTA lists will be going out this week, so we will be all operational on New Years day.

Have lots of plans this coming year for Orton Mere, so watch this space as they say.

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Orton Mere in the early days of the Nene Valley Railway

A little bit of a sort out

Actually got down the station today, and was pleased to see it is still there!!

Had the help of Jason, Nathan and Stephen for a clearout of accumulated junk.

Day went well and we had the Santa train going passed as well as you can see from these pictures.

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It never ceases to amaze me what junk can be accumulated at the station and it’s now in a nice pile awaiting disposal in the near future.

Nice weather as well today which helped, mind you hot soup came in useful as well.

Of course there is nothing to see at Orton Mere

I had a comment the other day in an email from somebody who said it was not worth getting off at Orton Mere Station as there is nothing to see!! Just to prove them wrong this is what you can see at Orton Mere if you get off the train or drive to the station.

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Oh dear just look at what people miss by staying on the train.

Well I never, fancy it being made there.

Well Monday sees Old Arkwright being connected to BT Infinity unless of course there is a last minute snag.

Anyway despite all the poor weather recently my Infinity hub arrived today and reading the information on the box I was amazed to see where it was made. Now I know your thinking somewhere like Hong Kong, China or Japan. Well you would be wrong it’s made in Tunisia of all places.

I just hope when the engineer opens the box on Monday morning that a pile of sand does not come pouring out!!

Even the box is printed in Tunisia, and it says on it that the device may contain recycled material. Well as long as it all works and the case is not made out of recycled dried camel crap then I will be a happy person.

Of course if I disappear and the blog is never updated then it could mean the upgrade has gone tits-up.com but I have great faith (Honestly I have!!!!!).

Winter Excitement!

Well after the cold miserable weather of the past few weeks a milder weekend is forecast.

So I plan to go down to the station on Saturday and have a tidy up and clearout.

Hopefully at last I will get a couple of pictures of the Santa train as well as a bonus.

I am sitting here in the office at 7am writing this, which is unusual as I am not really a morning person and would much rather work in the late afternoon or evening.

But busy on a few projects at the moment and want to get a few sorted before the festive season begins, you know the festive season it’s when we all eat too much and sit watching the same rubbish as the previous year on the TV. I looked yesterday through the Christmas Radio Times to see what excitement I could expect. It was like a recruitment book for the Samaritans.

Looks like some time will be spent on the computer (How unusual). Perhaps those of us on the railway who are sane would get more enjoyment out of running a Christmas day service! Now there is a thought a mince pie special on Christmas morning. Who knows there may be a market for it as well.

But enough of that I can’t start thinking outside the box as they say that would confuse those who think things should never change and we should keep doing the same things year after year!

Right enough of this I must get some work done. If your passing the station on Saturday and see us there feel free to stop for a natter, might even find you a coffee as well.