Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Cautionary Tale No. 4472 [Part I]

For some reason a number of my earliest memories are of being ill at Christmas. This tale (which will unfold over a number of blog posts) starts at Christmas 1982 when my childhood asthma (which thankfully no longer plagues me to the extent it used to) left me feeling pretty terrible. This was unfortunate as my Christmas present was every small boys dream -- a train set! Well I think it was every small boys dream, it was certainly mine anyway.

I was too ill to really appreciate the train set. All I remember is being sat wrapped up in a blanket in the lounge on Boxing Day watching my cousin Andrew showing me how it worked. He ran the steam train round and round the oval track setup on the lounge floor. Andrew already knew all about train sets as his father had a fantastic set permanently laid out in his loft, something of which I've always been jealous.

When I eventually got to play with the train set myself, I found that it consisted of a simple oval of track, some passenger carriages and steam engine No 4472, or as it's more commonly known The Flying Scotsman. Having hunted around Hornby's website I'm assuming I got the equivalent of this starter pack. All my trains are currently packed away in my parents loft but to give you an idea here is a photo of The Flying Scotsman from Hornby's website which, as far as I can tell, shows that the model hasn't changed in appearance since I got mine.

I can't remember if my interest in steam trains started before I got the train set or was started by the train set, all I do know is that I have been fascinated by the power and elegance of steam trains for as long as I can remember. Over the years my brother, father and I collected many more model trains but The Flying Scotsman is still my most prized. I think this is because not only was it the first one I owned, but with such a well known history it was always more then just a simple model.

As we shall see, in later parts of this tale, my fascination with 4472 has brought me both pain and happiness over the years but it all started with a train set I was too ill to initially enjoy.

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