Monday, 22 February 2010


As this is the 101st post you will be pleased to know that I am going to resist the temptation to make any remarks about dalmations!

I will go back to memories next time but on Saturday I was in Exeter. In one of my favourite books (The Withered Arm by T W Roache) he describes Exeter as a friendly poised place ideal as the capital of the West Country. The Withered Arm by the way describes the former Southern Railway system in Devon and Cornwall most of which has been consigned to history.

The day got of to a bad start as the train I was on came to a halt at Borough Green due to a major points failure at Otford. This resulted in missing the 09.06 train from Paddington and having to wait for the Cornish Riviera at 10.06. The return journey was not much better either as the up Royal Duchy 17.02 from Exeter was running 12 minutes late as a person decided to walk in front of the train at Tiverton!
Anyway Exeter certainly lived up to its promise and is a great shopping centre which gives you scope to increase your overdraft! The city centre suffered from the ravages of the second world war but has been rebuilt and offers everything you could want. In fact I enjoyed a very nice pub lunch which was an absolute bargain at £4.95. The purpose of going though was to look at the medical school there which was very impressive.

Peninsular Medical School Exeter

Outside Exeter Cathedral


Wednesday, 17 February 2010

100 Not Out!

No its not the sound of leather against willow! I was never able to enjoy cricket when I was at school and today I still do not enjoy watching it. Football however is another matter and I am sad that my team Brighton and Hove Albion have slipped in to the relegation zone. Mind you there are a couple of months to go yet so hope springs eternal.

The figure 100 means that i have just noticed that this is my 100th entry since moving over from the AOL blogs. In this time I have made many new friends and at least one has been with me since my first entry on AOL! I feel so honoured that so many of you have given me so much support with my health problems that the simple words thank you do not seem enough but I mean it from the bottom of my heart.

Anyway back to September 1968. I had passed my medical and entrance exams and on my first day I was sent to Swanley station. I lasted exactly a day and a half there! The powers that be realised that I should not have been there at all I should have been at Longfield. It was there that I met a man who through his kindness and generosity taught me more about the railway than any training course ever would. To this day I can still hear George Black's measured tones explaining the difference between OS and IWD items of account.

After a pleasant 6 weeks or so I was sent to the Regional Training School at Beckenham where the training course lasted 13 weeks, now its 12 days! After that it was back to Longfield to get some proper hands on experience. Than at short notice I was told that I was going to work in the parcels office at Beckenham Junction. I have to say that parcels are not that interesting and the highlight of the day was the coal train. In those days most stations had a coal yard with bulk deliveries by rail. Computerised wagon control was light years away and it was part of the job to collect the labels from each vehicle and record it in a register along with the amount of coal received. After that it was a case of writing labels up for the return trip the following day to Totton near Nottingham. However if there was any defect they had to go to Brent in North London. If the coal merchant kept the vehicle for more than 24 hours we had to raise a demurrage charge against them.

6 months of this was more than enough for me and I applied for the job at Sole Street but will tell you more about that in Newspapers, Stamps and Postal Orders next time.

I am off to Exeter this weekend as my daughter has been offered an unconditional place at the medical school there and I am considering moving there.

At the moment I am listening to Judy Collins live with Roger Day on BBC Radio Kent, radio as it should be!


Friday, 12 February 2010

Wait for it, Its.....................

Good News!

On Wednesday I had a PET and CT scan done at the Royal Marsden hospital at Sutton in Surrey. They had the usual problem with me, because I have had so many sessions of chemotherapy and asociated blood tests they struggle to find a vein they can use. Coupled with the two hours travelling each way and that you can not eat anything for a couple of hours before each scan it meant that I had nothing to eat for nearly 20 hours from 10 on Tuesday night onwards.

Today I went to the Marsden in London for the results. The CT scan showed that the mass in my abdomen has remained static but more importantly the PET scan showed that there was no active disease! Now I realise that things may well change in the future but at the moment I feel quite euphoric, indeed if we were in the local pub I would buy you all a drink!


ps Why do local bus routes go on such a roundabout route, as the crow flys Sutton station is just over a mile from the Royal Marsden but the bus goes via Carshalton!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Keep your fingers crossed

Tomorrow Wednesday 10th I go for my scans at the Royal Marsden at Sutton and on Friday I see Professor Cunningham at Fulham Road so keep your fingers crossed.

I wonder if there is any significance in the fact that every time I go to the Marsden it snows. The forecast is for 6 inches by the weekend!


Sunday, 7 February 2010

More memories

I am writing this at 3 in the morning as I can not sleep for various reasons.

As I said in my previous entry my interest in railways was sparked by the major rebuilding works in Kent and this led on to undertaking many trips by train with a very good friend of mine. We ventured far and wide, the longest trip being to Edinburgh and back for the day. Of course by the time I was a teenager the country was in the midst of the Beeching cuts which were the first attempt to run railways profitably and we travelled many miles on soon to be closed lines and on one occasion we were actually on the last train and saw the ritual coffin being loaded on to the train. This was common practice to indicate that the line was being laid to rest.

One other thing that came out of these 'last' journeys was an understanding of the history of the lines and the reason that they were built. The most common reason was for freight traffic especially perrishable food stuffs, until the advent of the railways it was impossible to buy fresh fish in Manchester for example. They also enabled local populations to travel to major towns to visit markets. In a lot of places there was a duplication of lines by competing companies.

A good example of this is the routes to Scotland, the two main routes to Scotland were the East and West Coast routes but ther was another competitor in the form of the Midland railway who fed up with the delays to ther traffic on other companies lines built the Settle and Carlisle railway which became known as The Long Drag due to the fearsome gradients. It was also the last main line railway to be built purely by manual labour. Despite numerous attempts to close this line it is still going strong today. Sadly it was on this line that the accident at Hawes Junction occured on Christmas Eve 1910, the story of which should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in human nature and frailties.

Over the years I have built up a collection of railway history books, the first one I purchased was History of The Southern Railway all 3500 pages as well as lots of historical timetables which give a fascinating insite into live in previous years. I also read accident reports from the RAIB where incidents on the railway are thoroughly investigated and it can take over a year to be published.

I think that now brings us up to 7th september 1968 the day I joined the South Eastern division of British Rails Southern Region.

Sorry if this has been a rather long (and probably boring) entry but I can not sleep probably because I have a nuclear scan and consultants visit next week and its rather playing on my mind.

Sadly over the years I have lost contact with my friend but if by any chance anybody knows Peter Crouch who was last heard of living in the York area, I would love to make contact again.


Thursday, 4 February 2010

My kind of shopping!

I had cause to visit a local supermarket today-you probably know it as the one where every little helps.

Well it certainly helped today, I spotted a packet of flaky pastry mince pies reduced from £1 to 40p and being a sucker for mince pies into the basket they went. When I reached the checkout they went through at the original price of £1 and when I queeried the cashier voided the transaction and gave me a refund of £1.20!

As they say every little helps!


Monday, 1 February 2010

This is rather worrying!

Have just heard that one local authority in Kent has arranged for taxi driver application forms to be printed in braille. Think I will get the bus!