tatjna (tatjna) wrote,

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A colourful life well lived

My Dad was a storyteller of the highest order, and lived a life worthy of the telling. About four years ago he finally decided to write some of it down. When he died, it fell to me as the family historian to type up the hundreds of pages of handwritten notes.

I thought I'd heard all of Dad's stories. Turns out I was wrong. This morning I came across this little gem:

"I had noted that the train wheel axles were quite high above ground level and that the railway lines were about 6 inches high, so that left quite a large space between the ground and any part of the engine. A space that maybe a body could fit into. To test my theory I filled a small sack with hay to about the size of my body, added a couple of bricks to keep it weighted down and placed it between the rails. I watched from a hiding place behind bushes that bordered the track, and noticed that there was at least 10 inches clearance, so the stunt was on. Bets were laid and I stood to earn 12/6 for my bravado*.

On the appointed day the train was much later than usual so I had extra darkness in my favour against being observed. My only worry was that the fireman might open the firebox door and rake the coals. If he did, I could get showered with hot ash, so I took a wet sack with me and when I saw the train approaching I knew that I had about 8 minutes to prepare. When the engine’s headlamp appeared round the bend I laid face down between the rails and my friends covered me with the wet sack. It seemed an eternity as the train rumbled nearer, and then it was passing over me. The noise was not at all as loud as I expected, but the ground did shake a lot. He only had 15 trucks behind him, so it didn’t take very long and I was soon being hauled to my feet, inspected for damage and being congratulated by my admirers. I went home happy and 12/6 better off. Two weeks later I was 8 years old."

*12 shillings and sixpence, a princely sum in 1930, when threepence would buy a pint of beer.

Extreme sports as an inherited genetic trait, maybe?

Funny, it's almost as if I can feel him looking over my shoulder as I type out his story, making sure I do it justice..
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