I beat 140 applicants to take that job, and spent two exceedingly pleasant years cruising the North Lincolnshire countryside in my little yellow van, supping tea with farmers, killing rats, mice and wasps, and pondering my future – which was to involve four years at Hull University, a year in New Mexico, and a gradual slide, via an abortive academic career, into the role of self-employed writer….
Back home, after several more pints – mostly of a cheeky little brew called Tyneside Blonde – I took the Chainsaw down to the vegetable garden and showed off our produce, paying particular attention to the excellent calabrese, before lopping a head off and cooking it as an accompaniment to the lamb casserole I’d prepared earlier.
Monday, 19 August 2013
The Thirty-Nine Steps (Almost) and a Tyneside Blonde
The Thirty-Nine Steps? Not quite – but still a fair old climb to the now defunct signal-box at Wylam station, on the
to Newcastle Carlisle line. And of course it brought back memories of the time, back in 1982, when I was a signalman at Moortown, on the to Lincoln line. Eight or ten trains a shift, and for each one I had to scamper down the steps, close the crossing gates, run back up, clear the signals, see the train through, then reverse procedure. Very much the job for a gentleman philosopher, and I might have stayed there for many years had I not opened a copy of the Market Rasen Mail one auspicious day and spotted an advertisement for the post of rural rat-catcher. Grimsby
Where was I? Ah, yesterday. Chainsaw Phil was up from
Yorkshire, and we spent a thoroughly idle day drinking beer and listening to folk music. Some enterprising parties had arranged a Folk Train: toting their instruments, they would board the 12.15 train from to Newcastle Carlisle, serenade the paying customers, bale out at Wylam and invade the Boathouse Inn, there to play for several hours before boarding the 3.20 train back to town. Or Toon, if you prefer.
The above beers – White Hot, from Consett and Deuchars, from
we actually drank in the marvellous station bar at Edinburgh - . It’s one of those places which, as soon as you walk in, you want to call a ‘gin palace’, or perhaps an ‘emporium’. Check out the tiled ceiling (below) and you’ll get a flavour of the place. It once served as the First Class Waiting Room, a fact which, as soon as I heard it, reminded me why I sometimes wish had been born many years ago into an extremely rich family…. Newcastle