The GWR morning hooter


What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?

6:45 The factory hooter sounds (17 seconds)

Heard for miles.
Viscount Bolingbroke at Lydiard Millicent
Once complained that it disturbed nesting pheasants,
Not caring that it was a call for workers
In surrounding villages to earn their daily bread.


Time to snuggle under blankets.
Dreamily listening to the day begin.
Time to spare.
Boilermakers, carpenters, smiths,
fitters and turners get ready.
While wives brew tea, make toast and sandwiches.
Time to hurry.
Time for my weather forecast.
Was the hooter loud? – rain.
Was the hooter ragged? – windy.
Can I hear shunting,
Express train whistles doppler through the station?
Streams of bikes become rivers.
Pedestrians, Woodbine dangling,
All make their way.
Hurrying to keep the wolf from the door.


What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?


7:20 The factory hooter sounds (12 seconds)

Time to rise.
Frost on the window.
“Have you washed behind your ears?”
Bicker with my sister by the kitchen stove.
Toast and dripping a Monday breakfast.
Time to hurry.
From North, South, East and West.
From Highworth and Wootton Basset,
By workers' train.
Stratton, Old Town, Rodbourne, Gorse Hill,
By bike and foot.
Torment my sister -,
“Old Town for money,
New Town for wit,
Gorse Hill for swearing,
Rodbourne for s**t”


What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?

7:25 The factory hooter sounds (7 seconds)

Mum tells of Hooty.
Who could imitate the Hooter,
Ironically, fired for lateness.
Became a rag and bone man,
Exchanging paper windmills for jam jars.
Celebrated in postcards.
Through the gate, down the tunnel, head for the shops.
A, B, C, D, E …
Erectors, Boilermakers, Painters, Machine and Wheel, Tenders, Concentration Yard, Carpenters, Masons, Electrical.
F, G, H, J, K …
Smiths, Chainmakers, Millwrights, Pattern makers, Foundries, Coppersmiths.
On through the alphabet to
X Points and crossings, Z Transport.
To get your pay check on the hook.
Don’t get on the wrong side of the foreman!


What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?

7:30 The factory hooter sounds (12 seconds)

Relax in the warmth of the kitchen,
An hour before school.
Late by a minute – lose a quarter.
Late by 15 – lose a half.


What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?

Railway time!

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