Gordon’s brother was obsessed with trains. He wasn’t alone. Most of England is obsessed with them, or so it seems. Yet another English eccentricity. Trainspotters actually collect train numbers. They spend hours standing in the wind and rain at a railway crossing waiting for a train to go by. They then check their little notebook to see if they already have it, and if they don’t they gleefully add the number to the ever growing list.
As a pastime it ranks right up there with counting sheep, and has the same effect.
It also encourages a lot of good humoured derision from their fellow Britons, who refer to them politely as “anoraks”, a utilitarian piece of outer clothing that they all seem to wear, while they really want to call them “wankers”, because, well, you can work it out.
Sadly Gordon’s brother died three years ago. Completely unbeknown to me, he has quietly bequeathed this obsession to Gordon. This only came to light with his recent insistence that we visited the National Railway Museum in York. I went along with this assuming it wouldn’t take that long. Wrong!
The approach to the museum is depressingly dull, and perfectly sums up the entire experience. Gordon didn’t seem to notice. I wanted to turn and run. I should have
Gordon insisted we get there promptly at opening time. I wanted to enjoy another cup of tea. He said we wouldn’t be able to see the trains for the people later on. He said it as if it was a bad thing.
Inside, the place is enormous. And it is packed. At 10am.
The Station Hall houses all the famous royal trains. I am surprised to find it fascinating. The trains themselves are impressive
But it is the inside of the royal carriages themselves that really rouse the Fabulosity Meter from its deep sleep
Here is Queen Victoria’s salon where she spent most of the time on board.
When she wasn’t to be found in the salon she could usually be found on her throne
King Edward wanted the same comfort but with a little more masculinity
The current Queen, always with her finger on the pulse of public opinion and her hand tightly clutching her wallet, would have no such frivolities. Early on in her reign, her carriage looked like a display from Ikea
It went downhill fast from there. It now looks like some cheapo hotel room furnished by the local charity shop. This is how poor Charles has to travel
A suitably dull ending to my tour of the museum.
But wait, there’s more
Gordon has just discovered a sign to the “Great Hall”. He was so excited and ran off in the direction of the arrow. I followed on. I should have known better.
The Great Hall was indeed great, in stature anyway. Its contents, not so much. Two concentric circles of trains. Dozens of the bloody things.
This was just one third of the inner circle. The next third looked just the same
If you look carefully you can see Gordon staring at a train turntable as if he had never seen one before.
I wanted to leave, but the way out was through the South Hall. This one not so great, but chock-a-block full of memorabilia piled high as if it were a junk shop. And well, frankly my dear …………….
I had reached the end of my line. Sorry about that, but you had to have known it was coming.
I returned to our comfortable apartment and waited for Gordon. It was a long wait. He was trainspotting.
Ed note: My grandfather drove the London/Manchester express, a peak career assignment. I rest my case.