Friday, September 3, 2010

A Journey to Nowhere

No Smoking. Photograph by Tim Irving
My daughter used to say to me, more often than I found comfortable "What's it like to be old?" I should point out that to a child a dad always appears old and at the time I was a young man and couldn't give her a satisfying answer. Now I am older, I can tell you and my daughter, that with age I am becoming increasingly emotional, a good obituary can make my eyes damp. I'm also becoming nostalgic and getting a liking for experiencing 'deja vu'. I'm pleased to say my memory, which has never been wonderful, is still in tact, I don't forget friend's names and cover up by calling them "Darling", yet.

On Monday I gave in to nostalgia and visited a historical railway, running trains from the 1950's and 60's. My excuse was testing a batch of old (mature), film and a few cameras. I boarded the nice red train you see below and spent two hours riding up and down the one mile track. Happy to be alone in a 1960's compartment carriage. The train made the same clickety clack noise, had the same rolling motion and even the same smells as the train I took from Crewe to Inverness in 1968 on my way to the Outer Hebrides. After going back and forth for an hour I walked through the train's corridors to find the buffet car and had warm scones and tea served on a bone china tea set, by a smiling waitress.

Back in my compartment, I even managed a 5 minute doze before my train arrived at the station for the hundredth time that day and I had to leave. The whole experience was a journey to nowhere, but it was good journey. The film needs another year or so to mature but there's no hurry, the cameras performed faultlessly. - Nostalgia is rock and roll.

Signal box. Photograph by Tim Irving

1960's Train. Photograph by Tim Irving

Train compartment. Photograph by Tim Irving

British Railways Logo. Photograph by Tim Irving

Buttered scone. Photograph by Tim Irving


  1. All very good stuff, Tim. Nice post, and a most excellent way to spend a Monday.

    I used to ask my mom when I would feel "grown up." She told me that you never really do feel grown up, you just feel like yourself. As a child I just couldn't understand how that worked because the adults ran everything. I get it now, though. I'm still that kid (and amazingly so), but manage to act like an adult as needed. I learned to do scary things when someone needed me. Their need for my action or power overcame my need to self-protect. That has been adulthood for me. That and sweet freedom.

    Trains run through my life too. As a little girl I used to stack pillows around myself in bed and pretend I was in a couchette being lulled to sleep by that clickity-clack you spoke of.

    p.s. uh, if you're not going to finish that buttered scone, may I?

  2. What a fantastic way to spend a day, an afternoon, an hour or two.

    We have a couple of vintage trains here, one that actually runs through the fruit orchards of the state. I've ridden twice, at a time when it was still inexpensive (it isn't now).

    I'd love to take an Amtrak train ride, one that lasts over the course of a few days. What a great way to relax and see the countryside.

    I love all of your photos, but the very first one calls to me.

    I agree. I don't think that most of us ever do feel totally 'grown up'. Besides, being grown up is highly overrated imo.

  3. The nostalgia is fine Tim, but please don't give in to the getting old thing. the thought of you getting old sends shivers down my spine, as it means that I am too, in my mind I am still 20 something, it's just that sometimes I need to let my body know that, anyway who wants to be grown up, kids have more fun don't they ?



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