OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver the years I’ve written, and written about, several short stories based around railways, both real and modelled. This thread, or should I call it track, of stories began with Train, and Last Chorus in Burton On Trent, both published in the 2006 collection Second Time Around. Both too, featured in the Vimeo-ed stories (search for BHDandMe on Vimeo and you’ll find ’em), along with the later The Right Words. There have been others, published and unpublished, from the micro-fiction The Scale of the Disaster to the novella A Penny Spitfire.

This latter, and larger work was in parts, a homage to my home town, expanding some of the ideas and images in the earlier Last Chorus. The railway, real or imagined, with its points (turnouts to the American) and sidings, its twists and turns, signals and so on, can be a metaphor for many aspects of life, for decision making, and equally for the inability to decide, the metaphor of being shunted into the sidings!

My home town was riddled with railways, gridded with them. They crossed the street and vanished into unseen, unknown places out of sight behind buildings or high brick walls. At night time the cries of shunters, and the dull, not quite resonant, clunk of the heavy coupling chains being lifted and dropped into place, echoed over the landscape.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Not surprisingly perhaps, I was aware and interested. I have a friend, whose US practice model railway provided the images for the story Train, on Vimeo, and he and I have visited many model railway shows over the years. Eventually, of course, I thought I ought to have a go at this hobby too! It is, when all is said and done, another form of creative narrative.

Having done so, I soon learned that the one thing that drives a model railway, literally and metaphorically, is the locomotives. You can’t get enough of them! What struck me then, was the extent to which they are like the verbs that drive language.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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