Yesterday was the centenary of the Northern Line. To me, this is no big deal. I never intentionally use the Northern Line and prefer to maintain my loathing at a distance. It’s not that I am suckered in by spurious tales of ‘misery line chaos’ or what have you. I don’t think the Northern has any more problems than any other line. It’s more that I object to a line that has four different destinations. Surely that’s two lines? It ought to be anyway. And what’s all this nonsense about two routes? That’s just plain sneaky. You get to a station and work out if you are going North or South and roam through the maze of crosstunnels to find the platform and just when you have collapsed in a thankful heap on the train you realise that somehow you got the wrong South and are now on the far side of London.

Strange as it may seem, I don’t actually like train stations. I think my IQ drops about 50 points as soon as I get into one and I wander around lost with a petrified look on my face. There’s all these signs and people and different directions and lines to choose from and long echoey corridors to navigate through. And if I’m in uniform it’s worse because there’s always the risk that people will ask me for directions when really I only wandered in out of the rain and somehow got lost. You might think this at odds with being a train driver but in my head, being on the track doesn’t count as station territory and I’m ok with it. It’s just the platform side that’s terrible. My greatest fear is doing something really stupid and being dipped down to station assistant and only allowed to work rush hour on the Northern Line.

So anyway, a magic chuff chuff was set to travel up and down yesterday for three special trips (nonstopping all the other stations natch). I found myself being dragged along, mostly in penance for having sneezedropped the computer the other day (it’s fine now). The train was um….vaguely interesting. What was more interesting was being on a train where everybody was smiling as they travelled. Rather like being among a group of enthusiastic 12 year old boys disguised as middle aged men. Cute really. And blitzing through the platforms was fun. There were three types of passenger on the platforms. Traingeeks who knew it was coming and had their cameras at the ready. Mindless cattle who actually tried to board the train as it paused for station starters and the third kind (my favourite) those who stood there with their jaws on the floor.

I can see why they did. Magic chuff chuffs were last run in 1988 which was well before dot matrices were installed to tell punters when the next train would arrive (see? I did pay attention to the traingeek bits). This meant that passengers standing on the platform had no warning that a train was approaching, just a longer than usual wait until the next train and then all of a sudden the Underground equivalent of the Hogwart’s Express comes racing out of the tunnel. Very amusing to watch the expressions on passengers’ faces.

In other news I nearly drowned. After the trip myself and friend went to take photos from various places. In the pouring rain. It was more like a monsoon actually. Which made it very difficult to keep droplets off the camera lens and even more difficult to dry off the cameras as our clothes were drenched through. To illustrate I present evidence of how to hold a camera, umbrella and shoot film properly while in the pouring rain – as modelled by my partner in crime.

I was designated sensible person and wouldn’t be caught dead wearing an umbrella. I made my camera wear my hat to keep the rain off. Resulting in some ok albeit slightly wobbly footage of the chuff chuff. There’s tons more taken by Umbrella Guy at this linky if you are at all interested.

Now I’m not a traingeek though I have no objection to those who are. And I’ve been told by several parties that 38s are far and away the best thing since sliced bread and were classier and drove better to boot. They’ve gone on at great length about it, even when I’ve looked at them funny. And while I am definitely not going to geek out about it I do have to agree. The magic chuff chuff was a smoother ride and definitely braked much more smoothly than the stuff I drive. I don’t think it motored quite as well but I’m prepared to put that down to age and lack of use and maintenance. Oh and the emergency brake application was funky. But other than that I don’t have a whole lot to say about the train. I did thoroughly enjoy impressing the cattle on board by nonchalantly rattling off explanations of some of the abbreviations on the cant rail. It’s almost as though they thought I wasn’t a real traindriver until I did that! Just because I’m not a traingeek doesn’t mean I don’t know more than cattle. ;o) The train certainly looked pretty though. Watching it zoom past modern stock made me realise how ugly a lot of the modern stock is. Why can’t we have pretty trains? Is it too much to ask that they be pretty?

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