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Story No. 41 A Day in the Life of Albert Copperwaite, Railway Guard

Guard Tales are stories set in the Guard's world, but not necessarily featuring the Guard.

****Please note that I am using a standard thumbnail image for all the full size pictures on this page. This is purely being done to save myself some time.****

© Adrian Banfield
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Story Notes

I thought it was about time we found out what Albert does when he isn’t being the Guard. After all the City and Country Railway doesn’t pay him to run around in a mask all day!

All of the events mentioned in the story happened to me, except for the ten people coming out of the toilet. That happened to another conductor, who mentioned it to me. The most people I ever caught hiding in the toilet trying to avoid paying their fares was two or three people. Being a conductor was great fun for the fourteen months that I was one. There was always something happening. No two days were the same. Sometimes it was interesting events, other times just a pain in the back side.

My fellow work colleagues today would be astonished to learn that in my early days on the railway as a conductor I was never late for a turn of duty. These days I adopt a more relaxed attitude as regards my daily start time at work. My manager would uncharitably probably describe my start time as ‘late’. I though, prefer the phrase, ‘flexi-time’.

Travelling on an empty coaching stock was great fun. I would set myself up in a First Class compartment with a cuppa and various newspapers left behind or just have forty winks (sleeping), for the journey. Some conductors sat in the cab with the driver for these journeys (not me of course), but this sort of behaviour was frowned upon by the powers that be. So those conductors who did this (not me of course), had to be careful about doing so.

Saturday’s tale is true. Passengers were complaining about the cold train compartments. It was a cold day, during a cold winter. (Back in the early 1990’s British Rail as it still was then, was still running passenger coaches that had compartments. These were coaches I rather enjoyed working). The locomotive wasn’t providing any heating. By the time we reached Reading (a station between London and Oxford), I had had enough of the passengers moaning about the absence of heating.

I got hold of the Platform Supervisor and told him grandly that I wasn’t taking this train any further until a fitter had fixed the heating. Unfortunately, I didn’t take into account the fact that Reading Station only has one main down platform. (Down lines on British Railways refers to trains travelling from a major city, in this case London. Up lines travel towards a major city).

There was though something nagging me about my train occupying the down platform for a such a long period of time. And it slowly dawned on me via the station announcer’s messages what it was. I was delaying other trains booked to use the down platform. Thus delaying hundreds of passengers and mucking up the timetable. I was wondering how to get out of this situation, when Sir VIP leaned out of his carriage compartment window (and yes he was the then British Ambassador to the United Nations), to complain loudly about why wasn't the train departing on time! (I don’t blame him really).

I was suddenly miraculously happy to continue with a cold train and quickly told the fitter and platform supervisor accordingly. And we left, me red faced and having learnt a lesson.

I finished this story by having Albert resting on the Sunday. In real life though I would have probably been working Sunday’s as working a shift on this day was time and ¾. Almost double time pay. Interestingly, it was never a problem in getting Sunday shifts covered. Strange that.

Green Lion Comics, story and characters © Adrian Banfield, 2017.