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Thursday, 13 September 2012

As I mentioned in my last posting, this is a short working week: I fly to Exeter this morning. I write in haste.

I've managed to bang out a few more thousand words, mostly about my days as a British Rail shunter and freight train guard; but it's proving very difficult to shape them into any kind of story. I suspect that one problem lies in there being too much to tell. I was four years as a railwayman, and met a huge number of characters in a range of situations. There's a further difficulty: railway working has its very own culture, language and procedures, but as an author and story-teller one has to avoid explaining everything; otherwise it'll turn into a flat, expository piece. There is, to take one example, a dramatic passage wherein I am dragged by my own train - on my back, along the ground, towards a tunnel, in the dark on a December evening. At the time I genuinely thought I was about to die, and the memory still makes me shiver; but trying to tell that story without confounding the reader with a deluge of railway terminology is some challenge.

In between long sessions at the desk I've been tidying up at the allotment. The sad little onion crop is now drying out on the garage floor; a thin gathering of broccoli heads have been blanched and frozen, and we're munching our way through some rather gritty lettuces - having removed the usual harvest of young slugs. Let's just hope that next year gives us the kind of weather patten we used to get.

Back on Monday, hopefully with a report on a visit to Dartmoor, and to St James Park, where I plan to see Exeter City (The Grecians) take on York City.