Many years ago, when I was committed to n.g., I brought home a 3ton Orenstein & Koppel RL1b (4w Diesel mechanical) back to Briddon Towers with the expectation that having it immediately to hand would mean I'd be happily outside in all weathers getting it restored. Alas, I did not realise that (a) the thrill of lying on your back on a concrete patio awash with rainwater paled quite quickly, (b) I didn't have the tools at home to succeed in freeing seized bolts, etc., and (c) the commitments to a young family and full-time jobs in railway engineering left spare time at a premium. Night work in the open with regard to (a) and (b) did not appeal.
I'll start off with an apology to anyone and everyone who was unable to get on to Weekend Rails (or for that matter www.andrewbriddonlocos.co.uk and www.petebriddon.co.uk) on Wednesday afternoon and evening. At about 2pm the servers where our websites are held had to be shutdown unexpectedly and were off for several hours while checks were made and the systems re-booted. By mid evening one or two of the websites were up and by the early hours of Thursday all was back to normal.
They say that all human life goes through courtrooms. As we sat in the waiting area outside Court 7 of the Chesterfield County Court building on Monday, 1st February, Andrew and I had no reason to question it. A few yards away, a gentleman, dressed in trainers, jogging bottoms and wearing a baseball cap, and who from his demeanour was clearly influenced by what I assumed was excessive alcohol, asked Peak Rail's Jackie Statham if she'd like a coffee. Was he trying to chat her up? A few minutes later we looked over to see that he was now sat, fast asleep face down on a table. Some time passed and there was a crash. Perhaps a restless sleeper, he had slid off the chair and now rested on the floor with the waste bin that had been in the way as his pillow.. Andrew went and informed Irene, the Court Usher, who came over and got on her phone. Two security guards arrived: roused him, raised him and aided him off into the fresh air outside. The man's legal representative now had a problem – in Court the Judge was calling for his attendance, but the security staff wouldn't let him back in.
OK, I think we've had winter for this year. Looking back at my diary, over the years it has always been the second, or sometimes 3rd week in January that snow used to descend on Briddon Towers and Sheffield would become paralysed. Now we're at the Briddon Country Pile in Derbyshire I don't suppose it is really much different, and the one day of snow we've seen this week is probably it for this winter. Not that I particularly relish cold weather or anything - it saves on the gas bill - but if we're going to have mild wet winters henceforward I think we may have to evolve by growing flippers.
And welcome to a new year, and our best wishes to all of you for it. The gap between Christmas and New Year I always find a bit frustrating – due to years of being either self-employed or running my own business. All your suppliers and customers are shut down and you can't get anything progressed. Those customers who faithfully promised you a cheque – 'must be stuck in the Christmas mail' – are sitting back with their wine and turkey and I cannot tell them what I think of their latest little fib. But on the positive side, we have had the pleasure of having grandson up for the week, culminating in his third birthday last Saturday.
I am writing this having just returned from Christmas spent at our daughter's house in Darlington, and as we went there on Christmas Eve, there has in truth been not all that much put in to the collection during the week.
Welcome once again to this, the last entry in Weekend Rails before Christmas. I see even last year I was muttering about the Humbug of Christmas so I had better be all light-hearted and looking forward to the festive fracas. So imagine yourself stood outside the door of the Geoffrey Briddon building, a holly-wreath welded to the middle, whereupon it opens to reveal a cherubic father and son, smiling sweetly and wishing you all a Merry Christmas.
If you notice, I try to start off each week's piece with something sightly philosophical, a perceptive observation or maybe an insightful commentary on something topical. And guess what? I can't think of anything that fits into any of those categories this week. Ah well.
December is upon us, and all around houses are lit up with garish lights, a large Christmas tree has appeared at the crossroads by Station Road, and tinsel and twee models of Santa and reindeer will shortly be taking over shop windows. It's not just that at my age Christmas has lost its freshness – I just have to tell myself it's for the kiddiewinkles anyway – but heavens, on our Freesat service there's been a channel broadcasting 100% Christmas tosh since... well it seems like forever now but it was probably about the beginning of November.
You don't hear much about the Pipeline Industries Guild. Well I certainly hadn't, and still wonder why they stick with the name when its initials cannot be seen as being entirely complementary. But I got to hear a bit about it this week as Steph and I ventured north to Edinburgh.