Sunday, 31 January 2010

Back to the past

To explain my interest in railways I must go back many years.

In 1956 I was living very close to the Kent Coast main line which was in the process of being electrified as part of the 1955 modernisation scheme. What made a lasting impression on me was the section of line between Bickley and Swanley was being quadrupled. This involved massive earthworks and major bridge rebuilding including a five arch viaduct. This was akin to building a motorway on top of an existing road which was still open to traffic.

Not for me was there any interest in collecting engine numbers which I think must be a pretty boring pastime. Instead I developed an interest in the reason why railway lines were built where they were and the impact on the community and also the politics behind them. For instance in Kent there were two major railway companies the South Eastern and the London, Chatham and Dover who were in fierce competition with each other and led to many duplicated routes, even to this day there are 12 routes between London and Dover but try and get from Faversham to Tonbridge is a complicated journey to say the least!

I hope this makes sense and I hope it will help you understand future memories.


Monday, 18 January 2010

The Royal Marsden


I went to the Royal Marsden Hospital in London on Friday. When I left I was in quite a euphoric mood as they said that depending on the results of a CT and PET scans they could offer me some treatment. On the way home I sent text messages to various friends saying that it was good news.

However what I did not expect was the feelings and emotions I was going to go through over the weekend. For whatever reason I woke up about 1 on Saturday morning convinced that I was going to die soon a feeling that stayed with me the whole weekend. Even this morning I was awake about 3.30 and had a pain in my right side that did not want to go away. Fortunately by the time I got up at 5.30 it had gone and has not come back.

Over the last year I have never had feelings like this and I was struggling to cope with them. I have always tried to stay positive but I can truthfully say it was the worst couple of days I have ever known.

I will continue with some more memories next time but at the moment I am listening to Beth Nielsen Chapman being interviewed by Roger Day on BBC Radio Kent.


Tuesday, 12 January 2010


Now that the big freeze seems to be relenting if only for a short while it seems to be as good a time as any to start reminiscing.

To understand my memories and attitudes I suppose you really ought to know something about me!

Well I was unleashed on an unsuspecting world at the unearthly time of 5.11 on the morning of 29November 1951. Like a lot of people I can not say that I remember anything of my childhood before starting school. I can even remember my first teachers name-Miss Williams. Life at home was I suppose fairly ordinary with one major exception. My father ran his own cycle repair shop and even in those days small traders were struggling and my parents spent a long time deciding to sell the shop and take a paid position as a manager therefore ensuring a regular income. In the end they decided to sell. My Mother even delayed buying the Sunday joint until after 4 on Saturday afternoon when the local butcher reduced the cost by a shilling.

Money might not have been plentiful but two things were, love and respect. These two things have stayed with me all my life and they are still very important to me. Love is a strange thing to describe, I never use the word with anything but the utmost sincerity.

Sadly my Father died in 1961 and in the last year of his life he could not manage to climb the stairs and he slept downstairs and many mornings I would wake early and go downstairs just to talk to him. Despite his illness he was adamant that life should go on and not stop just for him, an attitude that I have followed during my illness. Probably every body says this but my Father was a great man and in those conversations he taught me a lot of life skills especially on an interpersonal basis.

After my Father died we spent every Christmas with my Grandmother and I well remember Boxing Day 1962 and when it started snowing in the evening one of my Uncles said 'it will turn to rain by the morning'! Well as history records it did not and it snowed every day until March.

In those days the benefits that are available now simply did not exist and my Mother must have struggled to bring us two boys up. This was something that I was aware of at the time but only realised the enormity of it in later years. Again I have learnt another lesson here- people are more important than any possession. Even to this day my philosophy has been to try and help people be happy and content.

I hope this explains something of my attitude to life and even though my life is fragile due to cancer With all sincerity I hope that part of my legacy will be that I spread just a little love and care.

On the subject of health my appointment at The Royal Marsden is this Friday.


Friday, 8 January 2010

Hi Ho and a very Happy Birthday


First of all a very Happy Birthday to the King. Elvis would of been 75 today!

Went back to work full time today since February last year, and it has left me in a rather contented mood. It has had some good moments when I have been at home and feeling well but I think it has been good for me to get back to some routine and meet up with colleagues at work with all there news and gossip. I must admit that all I really did today was chat and catch up with some e mails, I had 173 messages about train running in the snow alone! That delete button got hit several times!

In fact I feel so positive at the moment I am thinking about making someother changes in my life which I had thought about last year but were put on hold when my life was put on hold!

The forecast for South East England is for more heavy snow and sub zero temperatures over the weekend but as I went shopping this afternoon for two large boxes of tea bags and 4 pints of milk I think I can withstand the pressure. As a typical 'Brit' and a railwayman as well I have a prodigeous capacity for drinking tea! A few years ago when I was working at Canterbury on the old South East Divisional Relief there were three of us on duty one Saturday morning, two tea drinkers and one not so keen. Merv and myself left poor Barbara agog with the amount of tea we got through, the kettle never got cold!

One of these days I will have to start writing down some of my memories of working on South Eastern. Some of it would make interesting reading especially the time (also at Canterbury) when I was propositioned by two women.....but will tell you about that another time.

As for the title-- Hi Ho of to work we go!


Tuesday, 5 January 2010


Thanks is such a small word but has great meaning. So I would like to say a very big THANKS to all of you who have commented on my blog, I can not tell you how much your kind thoughts meant to me.

Went to Maidstone hospital today for the scan result and I am pleased to say that the result showed that the tumor had marginally reduced. What made this result so special was that it was an agressive tumor. I fully realise that this may only be a temporary respite but after the agony of thinking about the result over Christmas and New Year I feel so relieved.

Hope you are all coping with this ice and snow.

Again my heartfelt thanks to you all.

Andy xxx