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Guard at Work

Discussion in 'Bullhead Memories' started by olly5764, Jul 10, 2019.

  1. olly5764

    olly5764 Member

    Joined:
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    Gender:
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    Occupation:
    Engineer
    Location:
    Normally in a brake van somewhere
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
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    For Dawn.

    Having taken a year to post last years story, I thought I'd get this one out in just over a week. Those who read "Guard at play" will be aware that someone took exception to the Travelling Lemon, and referred to me as Unprofessional, Well, Julian will be pleased to know that his words had a profound effect on us.........

    ......and encouraged us to do it even more!

    "Caught you red handed" came a voice from behind me.
    It was Dave Brattan, who had just caught me trying to get a Lemon to stay in place on the radiator in the guards van.
    I quickly legged it up the train stuffing things into odd corners as I went, much to Dave's annoyance.
    In a change from last year, Dave was on train S1 with Tom and John, while I took the School kids on S2 with Driver Richard (Splash) Sharp and fireman Lawrence Mortimer. Lawrence had been Toms fireman a couple of years back when John was unwell.
    I finally hid all the Lemons, told Dave I had hidden ten for him to find (I hadn't, I'd hidden nine, but in this game, it never hurts to cheat, a lot!) and handed one to Tom to put on the engine, before retiring to AJ's Cafe for breakfast.
    I returned in good time to check the train over, which, owing to some coaches being in the works, was a mixed bag of Gresleys and BR standards, weighing in at 268 tons.
    Returning to the van, there were 8 lemons on my desk, and a porter with a message saying that Dave had found all ten, he lies methinks!
    The day started well, the kids were on the train in good time and at 11.20 we were away, and the week had begun, however this smooth running lasted exactly eleven minutes, until we arrived in Bewdley. Not only was the up train not already there, but there was no sign of it. In some ways I was grateful as it afforded me time to nip to the Buffet and get an ice lolly, as it was a warm day, but it left us with a nine minute delay.
    As well as picking up an Ice Lolly, I also got handed a bag of tea towels to go to Highley apparently for washing. When I became a guard, I certainly had no idea it would involve ferrying dirty laundry from station to station. It's a rock and Roll life isn't it.
    The 40's gang were on form today, and the kids and all of their equipment was off with no further delay to the train (Something which you would think a miracle if you saw what was required)
    At Bridgnorth, we got an explanation for our earlier delay, All was not well with 75069 the loco on the Bridgnorth set, and the D95xx may be replacing her on the next trip.
    By the time we got to Hampton Loade, where we were expecting to cross the poorly 75069, we were told their train had been cancelled and we wouldn't cross anything before Bewdley, with the Teddy Bear (Which was supposed to be tripping 3 coaches to Kidderminster) working the next up train with those three toplight coaches.
    Time wise, all was well until Highley, when my two TTI's went to get a wheelchair out of the disabled coach. It was definately taking longer than I would have expected, however, the lads seemed to have matters in hand, so I left them to it. Only when we left Highley did they come and tell me that the occupant of the wheelchair, which was of the powered variety, had gotten the thing stuck how, I would only become clear later, when we picked them back up again.
    When we got back to Kidderminster in the evening, I had one more drama to consider that day, I couldn't get the lights to go off on the buffet car, the through control seemed to have no effect, and using the switches in the coach would cause them to go out, no matter which way you turned it, then coming back on as soon as you released the key. The coach was on half light (Alternate lights on) and those lamps which were lit were very weak, suggesting low battery. A phone call to the C&W saw someone underneath the coach to press the emergency nipple, and connect up a charger, hopefully to rectify the issue.

    Tuesday, I returned the Lemons to Dave's train, along with a number of limes, then retreated to a safe distance.
    I felt sorry for our loco crew, as today we had Taw Valley as our motive power, a notoriously hot engine on what was a very warm day.The loco has had the fireman's side window modified to allow it to open, but it would still be very warm on there.
    There wasn't much really happened of note on Tuesday other than the heat, until we picked the school kids back up at Arley. As we ran into the station, they were still sat down behind the station building showing no signs of being ready. Given that we were more or less on time arriving, I wasn't too pleased about this. The group seemed to be the kind of children who getting them in order was as simple as herding cat as as soon as you got one to do what it was told, another one would wonder off. By the time we left, we were seven minutes adrift, which while we are a tourist railway not the main line, it is nice to at least ensure people who had connections to make at Kidderminster had a fighting chance of making them. In defence of the people getting the kids on the train, they were lacking the usual pair of sensible steady hands who had the ability to light a fire under the kids and teachers to get them on the train, but it was pointed out to those concerned that we do have a time table to keep.
    Wednesday, and given the heat, I'm sure the loco crew were glad to have 4144 back. Dave's train had grown a little by having the Gin Palace (LNER kitchen / diner 7960) added to the rear for (I think) cream teas. The train was now also populated by a small number of Camouflaged Ninja Lemons, or as some people prefer to call them, Kiwi fruit.
    Dave also had a trainee with him, as he passed me on the platform, I hear him say "Oh yes, beware of guards baring fruit!"
    After the customary trip to AJ's, I returned to find my set had been out for a wash, with all checks we were completed, we were just getting ready to leave, when it became apparent that a passenger was having somewhat of a problem. It didn't take long for me to establish that her shoe was down on the track whilst her foot was still firmly on the platform.
    Turning to one of the porters, "Tom," I said, "Could you go fetch the litter picker for me please."
    Those of you wondering why I sent someone else to do the job, when I should be quite capable of fetching a litter picker myself, should understand, he knows where it's kept, I do not.
    As Tom headed off to sort the problem, I was approached by one of our office staff.
    "Do we have a procedure for retrieving shoes from the track?" He asked.
    "Indeed we do sir," I replied, "If you watch young Thomas there, he is key to the whole operation, he is a skilled operator of the shoe retrieval device."
    In fairness, he was quick, he reappeared, and before I realised what was happening, and it must not have been much more than a couple of seconds, and the lady was putting her shoe back on and I was getting the ok from the platform staff.
    The morning trip was pretty uneventful, aside from an extra party of 81 kids to collect from Highley, we got all the kids on in good time, not bad considering between the Highley and Arley parties consisted of over 200 people between them, most of whom were under ten!
    The afternoon on the other hand, started off with a chuckle, as I was handed a large parcel to deliver to the engine house at Highley, with a label on it, saying "Deliver to High Leigh" I wasn't sure whether to laugh or groan at that!
    Thursday morning and I greeted Dave with "There's a Mango somewhere on your train."
    "If I find it," he said, "Can I eat it?"
    "Feel free!" I replied, "Nice to know I'm helping you get your five a day."
    "Not as much as when you put a stew in my detonator safe last year," he replied.
    "It wasn't really a stew," I replied, "It was carrots potatoes and turnips."
    "And a flipping lemon!" he replied.
    "Oh yeah true."
    The day itself was one of those days where the story writes itself, and all I have to do is observe.
    The amusing moment of the day came courtesy of the lady in charge of the school parties, who had taken to addressing the children via the station tannoy system, which, if you get the little talk right, is fine, however, if you get it wrong, it can provide your colleagues with a good laugh. She had been faultless all week, but this morning she lost her thread a little bit.
    "Ok," she said, "Good morning, before we get you on the train I need to tell you I have a few issues....."
    The length of the pause while she stopped and thought about her next comment was perfect, by the time she had worked out what word she needed next, I had pointed the error out to my two TTI's and was in fits of laughter. I felt somewhat for her as she had done a good job all week, but funny is funny, and this appealed to my sense of humour.
    Our loco, Taw Valley once more, was having a few dramas,
    "You might be getting a different loco later," said Richard, our driver, "There's a broken spring on this, it's down in the pack but we'll see what Bridgnorth say."
    Broken springs are a failure if it is the top couple of leaves or if the broken bit is missing, but you can run with it if the broken leaf is in the pack and not likely to come out. Rich didn't seem hopeful, as we were discussing what options were available to us, and I was hoping not to be towed back by a diesel.
    Despite my constant mickey taking and winding people up, when its needed, I'd like to think I can be a decent human being, or at least present the facade of one. As I was returning from my lunch break at Kidder, Elise, our catering manager came up to me.
    "I've had a couple of ladies miss the cream tea train," she said, "I've put them on yours, they are going to cross over at Hampton Loade and pick up the cream teas there, they were having trouble parking apparently, not sure if that's the railway's fault."
    "Ok," I said, thinking quickly,"Any idea where they are?"
    "I'm afraid not," she replied, "They are well dressed though so I'm sure you'll know them when you see them, how come you never found my Lemons by the way?"
    My jaw dropped at this question, "Your lemons?"
    "Yes," she replied, "Yesterday, we pinched a couple that you had hidden them from Dave and put them in the Kitchen on 7960, you never found them."
    "In your kitchen?" I asked, "We're not brave enough Elise."
    I found the two ladies, and by then I had decided what I was going to do.
    On one hand, the problem they had parking was down to the railway allowing passengers for the main line to use our car park, meaning it was full, but on the other, you could argue they really should have arrived early, but then to lay the blame with them could have left a bad taste, where as to accept blame could earn us some brownie points, and as first class was empty, and it wouldn't really cost us anything, and it was in 2701, the Great Northern coach, a vehicle in which the first class is of a superb standard, and has often being described as being 'too nice' as people would sit in it, get comfortable, not want to leave, and spend the day in there spending more on first class up grades than they had intended. Putting these two ladies in there could turn a little disappointment into a very memorable trip, plus it was right at the front of the train nearest to where the crossing was at Hampton Loade meaning that it gave me the best chance of getting them off, across and onto Dave's train with the least possible fuss and delay. I also had chance to phone Dave and put him in the picture, to make sure he didn't go without them.
    Friday, and the week was nearly over. I was extra early, largely because I had half a green grocers in a bag, I was definately up to mischief. The travelling Lemon had certainly polarised the carriage cleaners, who were in two camps, one who thought it was very silly and pointless and kept throwing the fruit away, while the other half thought it was brilliant, and kept re-hiding the fruit, so not only did the person who's train it was on not know where it was, but neither did the person who origionally hit it!
    As I was hiding various pieces of fruit on Dave's trian, I could see two cleaners out of the corner of my eye, who had spotted what I was doing.
    I must admit, it's the first time I have ever heard the sentence "Oh my God, he's got sellotape."
    Naturally enough, I was sellotaping a coconut to Dave's train.
    "I've got Gaffer tape in my bag if I need it," I replied.
    Those of you familiar with my ramblings will be familiar with just how often I do quick fixes with Gaffer tape, so there was a genuine reason for it being there, the fact that I have used it to play tricks on people too, is neither here nor there.
    Dave eventually turned up and I asked if he'd enjoyed his mango.
    "Mango?" He asked.
    "Yes, I did tell you there was a mango in play, because you asked could you keep it."
    "You did," said Kenny, one of the cleaners, who had been Dave's trainee earlier in the week, "I re-hid it for you Ian."
    "Oh, Ok," I said, "Fair enough."
    A few minutes later, I was in my van, waiting for Tom and Johns loco to turn up, to hand them the traditional grapefruit to put on their engine (A tradition which started on Toms driving exam two years earlier.) and Dave was standing there chatting, when he said, "Ooh, I've found the mango, can I still keep it?"
    "Yes," I said, "Where was it?"
    "There," he said, pointing at the top of my cupboard.
    "Dave," I said, "That's a grapefruit."
    "Oh."
    By the time I returned from AJ's Dave had gone, and his train had been replaced by the stock for a special to mark the relaunch of the converted BG wheelchair coach, 80776. I felt obliged to take a look and some photos, the gentleman who had converted the coach originally, Charlie Greenacre, had been a friend of the family, before he had passed away in the early 90s, and I wanted to see the latest incarnation of the coach he had converted. I was suitably impressed.
    The special was doubling as a positioning move to get the toplights back to Bridgnorth where they were needed for the following day.
    When we arrived at Bridgnorth, they were still shunting the toplights off of the special, so we got held at the Down home while we waited for them to finish, however the real highlights happened on the up trip.
    As 1.10 p.m rolled around, I gave the right away, as the train started to move, someone came hurtling out of the shop, dashing across the platform, pushed me out of the way and dived in through my guards van door.
    Steve, the porter on the platform threw his hands in the air and blew his whistle to stop the train.
    Richard brought the train to a stand.
    The guilty party had been one of our own staff.
    "Whats going on?" he asked, "You're early."
    "No I'm not," I replied, "we were on time."
    "Twenty past you are supposed to leave!"
    "Ten past," I replied, "Or at least I hope so, that's the time I've been going all week."
    "I only made it because Sara in the shop suggested I ought to make a move so I didn't miss the train." he repied.
    "Well that tells you summat."
    Unusually at Arley, we picked up the school kids, and all of the 40s staff complete with their kit, and made up time.
    In the van with me were the 1940s fire service with half a dozen buckets and a couple of styrup pumps and a length of hose. One of the buckets had a small leak and was making a puddle on the floor. What perplexed me at the time was when thy realised this, they, rather than tipping the contents out of the window, they transferred it to another bucket. Then all became clear.
    "With your permission Mr Guard," can we continue our soaking of Taw Valley's crew when we pass them at Bewdley?"
    "In this heat," I said, "I'm sure they'd appreciate it, yes, feel free."
    Then after a minutes thought, I dived into my bag and produced my camera and a Lemon.
    "But first," I said, "One of hold this Lemon, the rest of you face me and look devious."
    A look of realiseation appeared over their faces as the leader of their group said,"We wondered where these had been appearing from."
    So I briefly explained about the radio 4 series, "Cabin pressure" and the travelling Lemon, to a chorus of laughter, with them saying it was "Brilliant"
    As we approached Bewdley, I checked North Box's inner home signal, and saw that the distant for south box, beneath it, was showing green.
    "Looks like's the down's in boys," I said.
    As we rolled round the corner I could see one of their lads, who had been taken for a footplate ride climbing onto the front of the loco to pose as his mates went past. The relaxed look on his face slowly changed to horror as he realised he was about to get very wet as they scored a direct hit!
    The afternoon trip passed without a hitch and another week of my annual holiday slipped into the past.
    If you would like to learn how to play the traveling Lemon to annoy your mates, I advise looking up Radio 4's Cabin Pressure, and the episode Qikiqtarjuaq.
    If you'd like to play the traveling lemon with us (Or to be more accurate, be harassed by me with fruit) or perhaps have a go at creating your own stories, the SVR is always after people to become Guards, TTI's, Station staff, Signalmen, restorers, buffet staff, and many other jobs, why not give the VLO a call on 01299 401776, or if the SVR is to far away, why not give your local line a try?
    Happy Lemoning
    Ian
     

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