I have a theory about railway engines being bad tempered. Well, when
I say bad tempered, that's putting it mildly! They're actually livid,
furious beasts and they loathe humanity. So different from a ship,
which is a sad, proud, graceful creature.
You know, I can never understand why an engine driver isn't afraid of
the monster he's in charge of, but he isn't! And when the train's
about to leave, he pulls down a lever and this livid beast is
unleashed. Like this: Huhhh...huh...huh...huh...huhhh... huh...huh...
huh...huh...huh...huh...... and so forth, on it's journey.
Well, now we've unleashed this livid beast, we find it's still
equally furious and it has this colossal argument with the rails it's
running on. Like this: Biddlah-da, giddlah-da, diddley-dee, diddley-
dah, diddley-dee, giddley-dah, giddley-duh...... and that goes on the
entire journey. And, not only does it have a colossal argument with
the rails it's running on, but also all the other rails when they
dare to cross it's own. Like this: Biddlah-duh, giddlah-duh, diddley-
dee, diddley-dah, biddley-diddley-biddley-dee..... and so on.
Well, then we get out into the country and we come to a little rustic
bridge spanning the railway. It's quite inoffensive, this dear little
bridge, but the engine can't bear anything within it's reach at all,
so it shouts at the little bridge as it goes underneath. Like this:
Biddlah-dah, giddlah-dah, diddley-dee, diddley-dah, diddley-dee,
Haahhh, buddlah-dah, biddlah-dee, guddlah-dah.
Incidently, talking about this argument with the rails, this diddlah-
duh business, I'm not a much travelled man, but I'm told this goes on
all over the world, on all the different railways. For instance, in
France exactly the same thing takes place, only the language is
different, you know: Suddley-da, suddley na, suddley-da, suck-it-
yourself, suddley-da, suddlah-dah...... it's all much the same thing!
Speaking of France. The first time I ever went there, I arrived at
Calais and very close to the quayside I came across my first glimpse
of a French engine. I was vastly impressed, because it seemed to be
four times as big and eight times as livid as any engine I'd ever
seen before! To begin with, it had eight of everything, cow catchers
and bells and everything but the kitchen stove hanging all over it.
Added to which, it had a very bad tempered word written across the
front. It just said 'Nord', which I know is horrid to start with!
And it was a great pleasure to find I was allowed to do something in
France that I'm not allowed to do in my own country. Namely that I
could walk across the line to get to the platform on the other side,
instead of going over by that maddening bridge!
So I picked up my little bag and walked in front of this monster,
cowering away from it. And suddenly to my amazement, it let out an
extraordinarily efffeminate voice. It seemed to me to be so
enormously masculine and yet, as it started on it's journey for
Paris, all it managed to summon up was: 'Fah'. Of course, I may be
wrong about that, but it really does seem to me to be a little
Proceeding on our journey we find, from time to time, that we tear
through certain wayside stations where no train has ever deigned to
stop. People have been standing, waiting on these stations for
centuries, but the engine ignores them, shouting as it rushes past.
Like this: Diddley-dah, diddley-dah, raahh, romm, waahh, diddley-da,
diddley-da, diddley-da, diddley-da.
Then, of course, in time we get to a manufacturing town. Now when you
get to these big towns, if you look out of the window, you'll notice
some things called sidings, on which a quite inexplicable thing
called shunting takes place. This, of course, is just an excuse on
the part of the railway company to provide homes for old engines!
You see, there comes a time with an engine when it ceases to be
virile and hearty and it just becomes long funnelled and tiresome. So
it's put on one of these sidings and given a lot of trucks to play
with. And, if you happen to have a bedroom anywhere near a siding,
you'll find that you're woken up very early in the morning by trucks
taking umbridge. And it goes like this: Huh... huh... huh... p-dink-
dink, p-dank-donk, p-donk-dank, p-tink-donk-donk-donk-donk...... to
the far end. And, of course, there's another old gentleman at the
other end who decides to do the same thing and biffs them all back
again. And in this way, the railway company is carried on.
Now there's one thing I must know before I die, and that's something
that takes place in the tunnel outside Snowhill Station, Birmingham.
You dash into the tunnel very fast and the brakes go on and you look
out of the window and all down the tunnel at intervals are a lot of
flare lights. And in between these flare lights are men, standing!
They're leaning on shovels and pick-axes and golf clubs, or anything
they can get hold of. And these men, they live there... definitely!
And as you go slowly through the tunnel, an extraordinary noise
starts at the far end and slowly crashes past the window. I've no
idea what it is, but it goes something like this: Brom-brom-brom-
brom, durrum-durrum-durrum, aling-aling-aling-aling-aling. I think
it's a piece of tin which has been nailed to the side of the tunnel
with some number on it or something that doesn't seem to mean
anything to anybody. And it's too big! And it strikes the side of the
train as it goes through. And, presumably, the men are merely there
to bend the tin back, ready for the next train to hit it as it goes
through the tunnel.
Now, lastly, I'm going to tell you the one thing that an engine
loathes more than anything else. And that is another engine coming in
the opposite direction. That it cannot bear! And by this time, you'll
have settled down having got quite used to the diddley-dum, diddley-
dum nonsense and all other maddening noises, when suddenly, to your
horror, this new thing bursts upon you and nearly knocks you on the
carriage floor. It's the most frightening thing in the world and it
goes something like this: Biddley-da, diddley-dum, diddley-dum,
shaahhhhh, huddley-da, huddley-da, huddley-da!
Well folks, that's all... back to the asylum! Good night.
(Transcribed by Mel Priddle - January 2006)