Sunday, 18 November 2012

Made with the finest ingredients

It's considered to be very poor form indeed to drop dead whilst at the controls of a steam locomotive, in fact to do so would be a definite blot on your copy book.  Suffice it to say that you would probably never be allowed back on the footplate again, except perhaps if you were intending to leave it via the firebox.  It's fairly hard work shoveling coal into the firebox, never mind shoveling in deceased crew as well and to do so whilst still sticking to the timetable is nigh on impossible.  In recognition of these facts and in order to ensure that all trains keep to time, the GWSR expects all footplate crew (or those aspiring thereto) to pass a medical examination on a regular basis. It won't actually prevent you from dropping dead, but it will ensure that whoever else is left one the footplate would be fit enough to shovel you into the firebox. Never having had a medical before, I didn't really know what to expect and so it was with a measure of trepidation that I arrived at the bored board room at Toddington which for a few days each year doubles up as a doctor's surgery.  I had fetched with me a copy of the questionnaire regarding my health, neatly filled in and.... well, to put it kindly a sample.  Now I am something of a stranger to my GP,  (I had to ring the surgery to find out who he or she was) and have never been required to provide such a thing before.  No receptacle had been provided, it was a case of find one of your own.  When I discovered at the back of one of my cupboards an empty marmalade jar bearing the legend "Made with the finest ingredients", I knew that I had found exactly what I was looking for.
Various 'friends' had wound me up with lurid tales involving latex gloves and blood tests (I have a phobia about needles, I've not had an injection since I was 15..... all of 6 years ago now).  As it turned out my fears in both of those directions were unfounded however there was something that I hadn't expected.  It seems that an ECG was required, which means attaching electrodes to various parts of the body and capturing whatever your heart is doing on a computer.  A hairy chest means that the electrodes won't stick, so I had to undergo the ordeal of the doctor shaving off several patches of my chest hair in order to attach the electrodes.  Let's just say that emptying out the fullest of ashpans or the most befouled of smoke boxes is as a walk in the park compared to having your chest hairs shaved off with a blunt razor! 

After what had seemed like an eternity, but which was I am assured only 20 minutes of poking, prodding, shaving & coughing, I beat a hasty retreat over to the mess coach for a nice cup of tea and to help out with the refurbishment programme that has been taking place over the last few months.  In truth, the mess coach lived up to its name when we had started, but was now starting to look almost homely.  Here are a selection of recent pictures, mostly provided by Tina Sutton of things that have been done.

The corridor of the mess coach had been in a dreadful state, water ingress via the window surrounds had caused much of the inside paneling to rot away.  Sealant applied to the outside of the windows and replacing the panels followed by an application of chocolate & cream paint transformed it into as new condition.
Chocolate & cream corridor
Each of the changing rooms & the washroom have been treated to a fresh coat of paint throughout, seats fixed up and a new boiler for hot water installed.
Freshly painted changing room
Some of the kitchen units were new, others were treated to a fresh coat of paint.
Repainted sink unit, new lower cupboards
And today, we went over to the old mess coach at Winchcombe to liberate some cupboards for the one at Toddington:
George routing various electrical cables underneath where the new cupboards will go
Tina cleans the new cupboards whilst George replaces the clock
 Of course, it wasn't quite all serious hard work today, Ben was keen to demonstrate that he could fabricate an entertaining toy from just a handful of screw drivers.
The Facilities Manager wishes to thank the many people who have helped out with the mess coach refurbishment project over the last few months.  She would also like it to be known that there are still just a few more tasks left outstanding & will shortly be sending out an email requesting assistance with them.  The railway's doctor and her blunt razor blade await anybody who fails to turn up!

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