Friday, 25 May 2012

The day that Mr Parker had a rail encounter.

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Before I start, it is worth noting that I am writing about this many years after is occurred, merely to tell an individual (Chris Lake) about the event. If you are not Lakey and you do not want to know then nobody will judge you for leaving now, you snivelling little quitter.

It all started with a Land Rover which I was given as a wedding present. That sounds like an extravagant wedding gift, but it really was not, it was a rusted out 1975 Series Three with 3 engines, none of which, it eventually transpired, was ever likely to work again.

The result of this is that I spent 3 months and several thousand pounds rebuilding her and putting a transit engine in, during which time I stayed with my parents. Staying with parents does not have the same connotations when you have your own home and a wife and *quick maths* a child (I guess the second one was on the way, but we did not know that yet), but it can, none-the-less, become a little tiring after prolonged exposure. With this in mind we called upon the visiting whirlwind that was Matthew Parker. These days he is just plain old 'Matt Vahiboglu', but back then he had panache!

Anyway, long story short, he visited, it was fun, he went home again and, and let's not mess about, this is where it gets interesting, he went home . . . BY TRAIN!

My guess is that most of you have left by now, but if you haven't then you should know that this is not going to get a great deal more interesting any time soon. In fact, just to make sure, I am going to toddle off to a train-spotting forum and find out some mindbogglingly uninteresting and unnecessary detail for you.

Eggesford station with a 142 Pacer.

We drove Matt to Eggesford railway station and waited for the train to arrive. When it finally rolled in it turned out to be a British Rail class 142 Pacer diesel with multiple units. It also was almost entirely empty. I mean to say, it probably had its full compliment of:
  • 1 driver
  • 1 train manager (or conductor as we called them back then)
The train rolled past us down the platform towards the unmanned hut where the token exchange is now carried out by the driver, since Kate Low took the signal box away back when I was a mere teenager in 1989 and it is now at Wembworthy Outward Bound Centre. The box design was the BR Western Region standard prefabricated box (SRS code Type 37a) irreverently known in some quarters as a 'plywood wonder'. The conductor/guard is also required to operate the level crossing at the station as well as this is not automatic.

It was clear to those of us on the platform that the entire train contained only one passenger, a slim, blonde. beautiful young woman, sitting alone at a table. Matt was the only person boarding the train at this point. As this was a post-'90s 142, the existing 2+3 bench style bus seats had been updated to Chapman bespoke high backed seats in the 2+2 layout on the Tarka line, standard class throughout with seats arranged in twos either side of a centre aisle. In each carriage there are 10 bays with seats around a table, with the remaining seats arranged face-to-back.

The young lady in question was sitting in seat 52, against the window on the platform side of the southbound train, this being a table seat. We jested to the effect that Mat was 'well in there', what with having her to himself and a whole train to play with and, Matt being Matt, he bid us adieu, climbed aboard the carriage and approached the young lady, asking 'Is this seat taken?' before seating himself between her and the aisle.

This caused much amusement on the platform, although not nearly as much as when, with the train just beginning to pull out of the station, the young lady's beau returned from the toilet and, finding his place filled, was forced to take up a station opposite Mr P (as was).

That is the end of my story, but, as best man for Matt and Ayse, I did promise to those who were listening to my dreary speech that I would recount the tale, should they ever ask. Now I need only point them here.

I maintain that he could have found a better best man,

Next week: something less dull (although it was incredibly amusing at the time) and here is a picture of the little mermaid: