It has always been a British tradition not just to talk about “the weather” (“Britain has no climate, only Weather. Discuss” was an exam question that my old geography master used to trot out about once a week) but to mock the efforts of those whose job it is to forecast it. Meteorology (which surely ought to be the study of meteors, not weather) in the UK probably reached its nadir when Mr Fish declared that there would be no hurricane, but over the last few years I have come to the conclusion that they doing it pretty well.
As regular readers will know, the weekly title for this blog – other than it always begins with “Of ..” is often a complete blank right up until I finish the closing paragraph. This week however, the title became obvious by Friday night, and I will leave you to decide which of us resembles Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.
I picked the title this week and wondered whether to start off with a “hell fire and brimstone” sermon. You know the sort of thing, you can find it on obscure satellite and cable channels, with some smartly-suited guy sat behind a desk, pronouncing how Man has lost his way and only by following the word of the Lord (or his interpretation of it) in the 'good book' (pick title of yours or his choices) can we redeem ourselves and gain ever-lasting salvation. (And there's a thought, we all know what is meant by the “good book”, but what would we understand to be meant by a “bad book”?) But then sermons aren't really my style. Meandering reminiscences, technical dissertations, maybe, but sermonising on Weekend Rails? Hardly.
Some months ago I talked about an old photograph I had acquired at a table-top sale at the school nearby, which showed a Hudswell,Clarke 3ft gauge 0-4-0ST on the contract that laid a water main through Chatsworth, and resolved once and (I hope) for all the identity of the loco, for the authority on such waterworks lines, the late Harold Bowtell, had concluded it was something else.
First thing Tuesday I had visitors to attend to at the 'shed. This was fine but there was also something Andrew had spotted on e-bay and as he'd be out at work, counted on me to try and secure it. So I put a bid on it just before I set off for the shed, and once down there had a phone call from my visitors to say they were stuck in traffic and so would be late, and I contented myself with drilling a few fixing holes through the marked up purlins until I broke a pilot drill in the hole saw.
Golly, Sunday again already. It hardly seems a week since I was sat here writing this. The grandson was returned to his mother's on Tuesday, restoring tranquility to the Briddon Country Pile for another couple of weeks, and you'd think from that all manner of things could progress once again, and you'd be right, and then again wrong.
On Tuesday this week I donned a suit, not something I do that much nowadays, partly because the rules of “required dress” have changed (I used to agonise when going out on a call for Hills, or my own company later – should I put on a good suit to make a favourable impression, or something less sartorially sanguine lest I had to climb under a mud-covered, oil-dripping loco?) and partly because at my age, I don't think I need to make such an effort to fool people into thinking that I know what I'm talking about.
After a slight hiccup in communication, which resulted in me sitting around most of Monday afternoon, I set off for Langwith to collect the newly-ebayed cement mixer. It was though waiting for me on arrival, swiftly loaded into the van, and I set off back for Darley Dale with it in the back and I thought, unlikely to 'go anywhere'. It is a cross-country trip up hill and down dale, and all was well until, braking steadily on a downhill with a sharp bend at the bottom, a car coming the other way came wide around the bend and onto my side of the road. I braked hard. There was no collision, but the mixer set off down the van, toppled over and sculpted a new dent in the toolbox.
My faith in human nature is being brought into question. I mean, three brake vans full of camera-toting enthusiasts, and doesn't common-sense tell you that at least one would have posted up a picture on Flickr or a video clip on you-tube? There must be thirty or forty on Flickr from visitors who did a tour on the 7th February, yet the lot we took round last Saturday, when 03 901 and I were in command – is there one single picture showing the loco or even my smiling/scowling face at the cab window? Despite a whole week of checking all the usual tags – not a sausage.