"Pearls before..." -- non-enthusiasts' not appreciating rail delights

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Calthrop

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I suppose this goes more appropriately under “Railway History & Nostalgia”, than anywhere else. Am wondering whether anyone has any anecdote about an attempt (not thinking “conversion”, just “something that they might like”) at taking a non-railway-enthusiast loved one / relative / friend on a visit to a rail-related venue: which attempt to please – did not work.

An instance, of mine: my brother and I love each other dearly; but he finds my interest in railways – and anything about railways, “end-of” -- a thing to him, anaesthetically boring. To some extent, we make a game of it: if I start bending his ear about railway topics, he retaliates by bending mine about football – of which he is an impassioned devotee, but which is for me the most boring subject on earth, bar none. A few years ago he and I took a brief trip to South Wales, based at Swansea. To my amazement, he expressed unprompted, an interest in taking a ride on the Central Wales line (whose attractions I had previously mentioned to him). He and I duly did a day-trip Swansea – Llanelli – Shrewsbury; an hour in Shrewsbury, then back on the next Central Wales working. This was in summer: my brother gave vent to much griping about how very much there was along the line, in the way of trees and woodland – thus blocking the much-vaunted views from the route, of the Welsh mountains. Normally, brother is a highly environmentally-conscious type, very much pro-trees-and-woodland – I had to feel that with him, all other priorities yield to that of “rubbishing” railways, on whatever pretext. I was moved to suggest to him that a ride over the Central Wales line in midwinter, might be more to his taste; but I suspect that he’d find something to hate about that, too...
 
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steevp

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A couple of years ago I went on a tourist steam railway from Ottawa in Canada. When we arrived at the other end of the line, the large engine was turned on a hand-pushed turntable (no gears just brute strength) and after much huffing and puffing by the crew to get it turning and even more effort it seemed to stop the thing, they received a well-earned round of applause from the gathered crowd. A woman in front of me, turned to her companion and said in a southern USA drawl "What was the point of all that!"
 

HMS Ark Royal

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Well not a person i know that well, but when the Queen last came up to Hull (delayed visit due to a bye-election) everybody stood where the booking office is now to catch a glimpse. I, on the other hand, had managed to get onto the platforms by buying a ticket - hence my completely valid purpose of being there. I got talking to one of the BTP chapettes, who remarked that she hated seeing these big trains day in and day out - this was when we had a six month period of nothing but Sprinters. Few minutes later, a 142 came in to which she said:

"Oh, what a beautiful train - must be a new sort, I suppose"

Hadn't the heart to tell her the unit was older then she was!
 

Welshman

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Not strictly "rail delghts" but delights in general:-

I remember a good few years ago going from Crewe to Carlisle on a Voyager, which was diverted from Preston via the Settle & Carlisle line.

I had no business in Carlisle - I went purely for the magnificent views afforded by the S&C.

On the outward journey, the conductor apologised for the extended journey time, and seemed quite taken aback when I assured her no apology was necessary - I wouldn't have made the journey otherwise.

On the return, having secured a forward window seat in Coach D, the other folks at the table wanted the blind pulling down, as the sunlight was spoiling their enjoyment of the video games on their tablets!
 
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yorksrob

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I have a friend with whom I travel to different places to watch various sporting events, some of which are in Cumbria.

On one occasion I persuaded him to travel back with me by train from Whitehaven to discover the wonders of the Cumbrian coast. Needless to say, he wasn't impressed when the train was cancelled and he ended up travelling back on the team bus.
 

Busaholic

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Of course, just because somebody works on the railway does not mean they are automatically an 'enthusiast', even if they have made a career out of it and have risen to meteoric heights. Some of them may actively hate trains!
 

Calthrop

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Not strictly "rail delghts" but delights in general:-

I remember a good few years ago going from Crewe to Carlisle on a Voyager, which was diverted from Preston via the Settle & Carlisle line.

I had no business in Carlisle - I went purely for the magnificent views afforded by the S&C.

On the outward journey, the conductor apologised for the extended journey time, and seemed quite taken aback when I assured her no apology was necessary - I wouldn't have made the journey otherwise.

On the return, having secured a forward window seat in Coach D, the other folks at the table wanted the blind pulling down, as the sunlight was spoiling their enjoyment of the video games on their tablets!

Ah, yes -- the dorks who want the blind pulled down, obliterating the scenery for those who want to enjoy same ! I recall from George Behrend's Railway Holiday in France, his 1963 run on the superbly-scenic Cevennes line between Nimes and Clermont-Ferrand, in a DMU set with splendid viewing potential: one of his fellow-passengers was a highly-stylish woman who insisted on lowering the blind, to keep the sun off her. Mercifully, the daft biddy left the train at a spa town en route, where she was "taking a cure"; after which Behrend was able to have the blind back up, and to properly "value" the journey.
 

Phil.

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Of course, just because somebody works on the railway does not mean they are automatically an 'enthusiast', even if they have made a career out of it and have risen to meteoric heights. Some of them may actively hate trains!

I made a 41 year career out of railways rising from a Railman to something reasonably senior. When it came to trains I didn't care what colour they were painted, what depot they were allocated to or what number was on the side. All I was interested in was if they were fit for service.
I'm enthusiastic about railways but I'm not a railway enthusiast.
 
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306024

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Of course, just because somebody works on the railway does not mean they are automatically an 'enthusiast', even if they have made a career out of it and have risen to meteoric heights. Some of them may actively hate trains!

I was an enthusiast as a kid which helped getting a job on the railway, but the more responsibility I got in my professional railway career, the less interested I became outside of my immediate job.

One of the best moments was very early in my career, when I was sent to York one day. I decided I couldn't be bothered to walk to the front of the train at Kings Cross to see what the front power car was, and from that day on I didn't care about numbers, it was a great release.
 

Calthrop

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One of the best moments was very early in my career, when I was sent to York one day. I decided I couldn't be bothered to walk to the front of the train at Kings Cross to see what the front power car was, and from that day on I didn't care about numbers, it was a great release.

I've been almost from infancy a railway enthusiast, of the "DAA" rather than the technically-minded sort (have never worked for the railways); but have been weird in basically never caring about numbers -- even though I was a kid at the peak of the "number-snatching" craze in the 1950s. Essentially I'm to the max, not-numerically-minded: on a good day, I can add 2 and 2 and come up with 4.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Roughly on the general theme – the following is anyway, to do with dealings between those bitten by the railway bug, and those definitely not. A tale which I recall from an enthusiast whom I knew decades ago (we’ve long lost touch). He had relatives in a remote and delightful part of the South-West – somewhere in north Cornwall IIRC – nice enough people, whom he genuinely enjoyed visiting: but they totally did not “get” railway enthusiasm, and particularly line-bashing.

It wasn’t even a matter of them taking the position of “we think this stuff of yours is bat-poo crazy; but for some unfathomable reason, it seems to make you happy: so – it’s your life”. To all intents and purposes, they outright forbade him from engaging in complicated journeys involving delectable and threatened minor rail lines, to travel to or from staying with them. It amounted effectively, to “forbidding” – the grief he’d have got from them for insisting on doing as he wished in this, was more than he felt able or willing to put up with. They totally and implacably insisted that on visits to them, he do things "more simply and easily” – I forget whether this involved their collecting / delivering him by car vis-a-vis the main-line railhead, or commanding him to travel in their area by bus. (His going off for a day during his sojourn to “do his own thing”, was also not acceptable.) In order to cover his desired lines, he had to tell his relatives elaborate lies about his beginning-and-end-of-holiday travel plans to and from their place, and intricately feign to be thus coming and going by means of which they approved -- and then double back to make his desired rail journeys after all.

Non-gricer associates holding the opinion that one is ”funny in the head” for indulging in the railway hobby, is a situation that pretty well all of us meet with; but – outside the context of parents or guardians dealing with a minor in their care – this is the only instance I’ve heard of people who took this view, going to the extreme of, effectively, coercion to try to protect a gricer from his folly.
 

sprinterguy

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My other half loves the extensive free, and comprehensive discounted, travel benefits that come with my job on the railway, but she can't understand the affection that I hold for "those old-fashioned trains" that I know as HSTs which my company operates a handful of.

Although, she wasn't complaining when she was being well fed and attended to on board essentially the same type of train, after it went out of it's way to pick us up despite a major points failure in the West Midlands one snowy December afternoon, back in Wrexham and Shropshire days. ;)
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Non-gricer associates holding the opinion that one is ”funny in the head” for indulging in the railway hobby, is a situation that pretty well all of us meet with; but – outside the context of parents or guardians dealing with a minor in their care – this is the only instance I’ve heard of people who took this view, going to the extreme of, effectively, coercion to try to protect a gricer from his folly.
That is indeed a strangely puritanical view of the hobby, which I am glad to have never encountered.
 
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Calthrop

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That is indeed a strangely puritanical view of the hobby, which I am glad to have never encountered.

I feel that re this one, my acquaintance was indeed unusually unlucky. In Eastern Europe, people at least had the excuse of suspecting gricers of being enemy spies...
 

EveningStar

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In Eastern Europe, people at least had the excuse of suspecting gricers of being enemy spies...

Whereas in the UK now there is every chance some jobsworth assumes somebody with a camera on the station is a potential terrorist :roll:.

Lived away from the tourist track in Russia during the 'Wild East' days of the early noughties and the explanation, "I am British", was sufficient to satisfy most officials who asked what I was doing taking photos of the trains. And those insufficiently clued in as to British eccentricities would be convinced by a rustling handshake.
 

Calthrop

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Whereas in the UK now there is every chance some jobsworth assumes somebody with a camera on the station is a potential terrorist :roll:. Lived away from the tourist track in Russia during the 'Wild East' days of the early noughties and the explanation, "I am British", was sufficient to satisfy most officials who asked what I was doing taking photos of the trains. And those insufficiently clued in as to British eccentricities would be convinced by a rustling handshake.

Well, yes -- this nonsense surfaces in various situations and places -- by no means totally peculiar to one-time Communist Europe (China, repressive in many ways, seems never since its "rediscovery" to have had much of a case of this particular obsession).

In France in steam days, there was occasionally a touch of this kind of paranoia on the part of the authorities; but as with you in Russia, informing that one was British, usually worked the magic -- "Ah, les Anglais" [Gallic shrug -- "they're insane, but harmless"] -- it seems that the French, like most folk on the Continent, don't get the business of "The United Kingdom Of..." -- we're all just English, "end-of".
 

Calthrop

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Prompted by the “ ‘Cloak and dagger’...” thread in this sub-forum, and brought to mind in the first place by World War II espionage matters, and the tale of the couple of German agents landed in summer 1940 by submarine, near Dingle. They planned an unobtrusive fact-finding mission in the then Irish Free State, neutral in the ongoing world war – hoping to find ways of advancing the German cause, in said Free State. They came unstuck by going to Dingle railway station and trying to buy tickets to Dublin. They – and those who had briefed them in Germany – were unaware that passenger services on the Tralee & Dingle 3ft. gauge line had been withdrawn early in 1939. Railway staff at Dingle, there to deal with the continuing freight traffic, smelt a rat and alerted the police, who quickly apprehended the Germans – properly observing here, the convention that “neutrality in war means saying ‘no’ to both sides”.

Two uncles of mine – brothers, and now deceased – took in summer 1938, they being then in their early twenties; a cycling holiday round the southern half of the island of Ireland. They weren’t railway enthusiasts; but like many British folk in that era, they harboured a certain affection for funny little local railways. In the west of County Cork, they encountered – having had no previous idea of its existence – the Schull & Skibbereen Light Railway in full-blown action. As per a memoir written by one of them: “...the wild west smokestack and cowcatcher of the narrow-gauge Skibbereen express – we raced it fifteen miles to the terminus, cheered on by passengers, engine-driver and fireman”. And I’ve seen the photograph which they took of the S & S train.

A while later in their cycle tour, they rode down to the far end of the Dingle peninsula and back again. One would reckon that in doing so, they must have seen a good deal of the Tralee & Dingle line: largely roadside, and at that date – though not for much longer – still with a passenger service. In their reminiscences of the holiday, though, they mentioned nothing about activity on the T & D: if I ever asked directly, they must have told of no memory of same. Non-enthusisats, of course, don’t have the same focus or attention-paying compulsion, that gricers do. I’d guess that my uncles witnessed the T & D in action. Whereas the Schull & Skibbereen would have had for them, the attraction of novelty; meeting the Dingle line some days later, I envisage their response being, “seemingly Ireland is chock-full of these daft little railways – when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all”.

I’ve long felt: how I would have loved the time-travel-type chance to do as they did, and spend a fortnight in Ireland in summer 1938. Given that chance – unlike them, I’d travel by rail, not bicycle; and would promptly head north from Dublin – out of the realm of the drab, unenterprising, defeatist Great Southern Railway, and into the lands of the “Six Counties” and the cross-border rail undertakings, where the “pre-Grouping” scene still obtained in a wondrous time-warp.
 
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