Trainspotting by Bill Storie


Trainspotting by Bill Storie

I’m told there’s a new movie out about people doing drug stuff in Edinburgh, Scotland (where I went to University by the way). It’s called “Trainspotting.” Quite what trains have to do with drugs is beyond me I’m afraid, but there we are. I’ve never done drugs but I’ve done trains all my life.

Over this past few weeks I seem to have become obsessed with watching train videos. Thanks to YouTube I’ve been to some remarkable places on earth, in some fantastic trains.

From The Ghan – starting in Adelaide, Australia north to Darwin ; The Orient Express of course ; from Zermatt to Geneva ; from Genoa to the Black Sea. And of course, my favorites – the Indian Railways.

It’s amazing how the train brings out the best in many of us – and the zaniest.

I watched one episode about a steam train in England being out on the track again after many years of being in mothballs. There was one guy in the carriage with the windows open, and he has a microphone stuck out of the window. When asked what he was doing, he said that he was recording the sounds of the engine going down-hills and pulling up-hills, and so forth. Asked what he does with the recordings he said that every weekend he and his wife play them on their home stereo system and go about their weekend chores to the background of steam and whistles and engines. I kid you not. Brilliant huh?

I watched a video of The Flying Scotsman. It was one of the icons of trains anywhere in the world. It used to go from London up to Edinburgh. It was superseded by diesel, but train enthusiasts collected a lot of money to rebuild it and run it. When they did the run, there were hundreds of people at London’s Kings Cross to see it off. Many people had paid to be on the train as well of course. And there were thousands of train-spotters (the real ones) lined along the tracks all the way north. In fact, they had to stop the train in many places to clear people off the line.

I was always amazed by people who spend their lives spotting trains. To be more precise they look for train numbers – each engine in the world has a unique identification number and there are books of those numbers in every country. So, people buy the book then go out across their country to see if they can catch sight of each engine (“Spotting”).

By now you’re wondering what this has to do with getting older. Well, watching old train journeys brings back flashes of places seen, or places where I wanted to see but never did. I’ve visited Shimla in India, Sydney, Australia, gone through the Rockies, meandered through northern Italy – all from my living room.

The great thing about train journey videos is that they tell you about the history of the place, the fabulous train stations, why the railway was built in the first place and so forth.

So, this retirement gig really does allow us to spend more time enjoying the things we somehow missed while working. Maybe you like to golf, or crochet, or garden, or watch movies. Maybe those were pastimes which were difficult to find the time to do adequately, but now you can catch up. Part of this retirement phase of life is to do stuff you like.

Going on a train to watch a football match – it doesn’t get any better than that.

By Bill Storie


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