The Newly Creosoted Telegraph Pole Time Machine


I discovered a time machine today

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I was sat on the roof of an abandoned air raid shelter

Nestling beneath our Iron Bridge between the main line and Highworth spur.

Summer sun warming the creosoted sleepers

Suddenly the whistling of wires and the clunk of a signal going off.

The rails begin to sing softly

We look to the distant Green Road Bridge

Searching for the first sign of smoke and steam

The image forms through the shimmering haze

The rails sing louder

We begin the competition.

Are the steam pipes straight or curved?

Is it a double chimney?

Is there a front plate on the leading bogey?

Will it be Brunswick green and copper capped?

Then the claims “It’s a King”

“No a Castle”

A Hall, a Manor or a Grange.

Now the magnificent cacophony of steam exhaust, flying pistons and driving wheels

Now being wrapped in a cloud of sulphurous, oil scented steam

Now the scribbling of the number in the rough book

Is it a namer?

Is it a cop, to be carefully underlined in my Ian Allen GWR book later?

Once we stayed late and saw the “Red Dragon” heading for Swansea and Carmarthen,

due Swindon at 7:27

Another time machine taking me back to 1951

Uncle Wilf, “Pull my finger boy” Wilf, who took me trackside

Behind their bungalow where I was lodged during my mother’s confinement

Sleeping with the curtains open to see

The reflected glow from the open fire box pass across the ceiling

The lights from the carriage windows following on

Drifting off to sleep in a magical world

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