What’s one present you’ve always wanted?
This one is easy to answer – a train set. Not just any train set but a Hornby one with the train engine being a miniature of the glorious Flying Scotsman.
I am not old enough to remember the age of steam trains but they fascinate and intrigue me even now. It is not just that steam trains are a symbol of masculinity that I used to hold on to the inner boy, but I admit that I did do that.
In no small degree there is the romance of trains like the Orient Express travelling across Europe, or the trains in the Himalayas pushing their way through the old colonial age some of which still run.
These days it is not always about trains but the age of steam and the industrial revolution that changed the world – not always for the better it has to be said. However it is the beautiful steam trains that hold my imagination.
I am fortunate to live in Swindon within a stone’s throw of the old Great Western Railway works and the wonderful STEAM museum. I walk round the outlet village to look at the trains not the shops – the retail therapy goes on around me as I am lost in my imagination.
It saddens me to think these once mighty engines stand so silent in the middle of commerce, but it is that commerce the age of steam created so they are, in a sense, victims of their own revolution. Industry has evolved through coal and diesel to nuclear, now we are re-exploring wind and water as forms of power.
I have a love-hate relationship with the industrial revolution as I can see the amazing benefits it brought about to humanity but as an ecologist I see damage it has created and still creates to the Mother Earth.
To this day I love traveling by train and do so as often as I can. Electric and diesel trains really do not hold the magic that steam trains have so how much greater would that pleasure be. Maybe I am simply an old romantic after all.
© JG Farmer 2015