Monday, May 14, 2007

Chuff chuff chuff

We journeyed far to the lands of barren wastes in the north. In the lands of barren wastes we encountered a strange tribe of people who called themselves "Yorkshiremen" and spoke in a peculiar tongue as if they'd just walked off the set of "Last of the Summer Wine."

This hardy race of men formed a sect of priests at a place called "Grosmont," not far from "Pickering." They kept their sacred machinery in a temple called "engine shed" where they worshipped at the shrine of "firebox" and then oiled lots of brass nipples before enticing the Great Steam Gods to emit smoke and vapour whilst moving down an iron trackway to be worshipped from afar by middle-aged and balding men carrying photographic equipment on large tripods. These men were often accompanied by grumpy looking women-folk in layer upon layer of warm clothing carrying thermos flasks of communion soup.

Dong was to be initiated into this sect which is why we journeyed so far, braving Eddie Stobart lorries and motorway service stations on the way as a form of pre-initiation trial-by-sore-bum.

At the waystation called "The White Swan Inn" we received a friendly reception involving much St Emillion wine (at £9.50 a glass) and other libations. We dined on the first night at The Black Swan a short distance down Pickering High St which served ale and food at much less eye-watering prices.

On Thursday morning, we waved a solemn farewell to Dong at Grosmont as the high-priest Nigel gave the first instructions of the holy creed: "Thou shalt not pass a signal that is horizontal."

We lesser pilgrims then returned to Pickering to explore the town and then to take one of the Great Steam Gods back to Grosmont to meet up with Dong at the end of his day's ordeal-by-coal and, we hoped, his successful initiation as "acolyte" to the Great Steam Gods.

We were delighted to find that Dong had been accepted as an acolyte and would now be permitted to carry photographic equipment to the trackside and be accompanied by Sharon provided she wraps up warm and carries the special communion soup for him.

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