Thursday, 9 April 2009

Night Train to Goldfish Lodge



Of the two alternative routes to Goldfish Lodge, suggested by the A.B.C.Complete Guide to Homeward, the bullet train journey sounded a great deal more comfortable and a good deal faster. Two hours rather than a week!

My followers and I prepared for the journey - as usual the One-Armed Badger insisted on taking all manner of articles that he felt might be needed. "Everything it seems bar the kitchen sink!" I declared on seeing the pile of baggage about his person.

"Oh yes, Sir, I have one of those - I have a folding variety. You can never be too sure what we may find available in such a far off place" he replied. Somewhat smugly I felt.

This afternoon we set off.

We opened the red velvet door in the library and were greeted by a magnificent sight - a grand railway terminus with an enormous vaulted roof, bustling with activity.

I must say I was not at all surprised to discover Noddy Ninety running the ticket office. When it comes to anything to do with railways you can guarantee that Noddy will have a hand in it.

"We would like tickets to Goldfish Lodge, please, young man!" I said, knowing that this would give the old man a great deal of pleasure. He loves to dress up as a schoolboy - "Ninety years young!" being his motto.

"Certainly, Sir, and I presume you will be wanting the 12 course meal in the dining car?" he replied.

"Most certainly - if we can manage it on the two hour journey!" I affirmed.

"Ah, yes, one small problem there, Sir, I am afraid. Being a Bank Holiday tomorrow, there are a number of engineering works. This requires a detour around the whole outskirts of your fair home, Sir." said Noddy sheepishly.

"So, how long will the journey take then?" I inquired in an exasperated voice.

"Er, well that would be the 12 hour rather than the 2 hour journey, I'm afraid, Sir." he said in a quiet voice. "It will require that you book a sleeping car, unfortunately." he added.

"I demand to speak to the owner at once! fancy scheduling works on a Bank Holiday when every one wants to get away!" I insisted.

"Ah, well - er, that would be you, Sir." responded Noddy.

"I own this railway?" I said increduously.

"Yes, you do, Sir." affirmed Noddy.

Well, I learn more about my vast domain everyday. Now I know I own it I will make sure that it is run a lot more efficiently.

The train ride was very smooth, I must admit, but I found it somewhat disconcerting that the whole journey seemed to take place beneath the ground.

The Old Monkey, however, was very excited about the idea of sleeping on a train. So I let him have the top bunk. I cannot say that I found my sleeping berth very comfortable - it was clearly not designed for a large boned personage such as myself.

Noddy came in and asked if I would like a large bucket of cocoa to aid me sleep.

I said that would certainly help, but now that I was aware of my ownership of the railway I would make sure that special sleeping cars would be made available for the larger passenger.

"An excellent idea, Sir" he responded "Could I also suggest that more staff would be much appreciated, its hard being porter, guard, ticket collector and driver."

"If you are here - who is driving the train!" I declared - somewhat fearful of the thought that we were aboard a runaway train.

"Do not worry, Sir, I am training up young Eddie Eighty - he can be relied on!" Noddy reassured me.

I asked Noddy why the journey had to be all underground. It seems that this is the only fast way to travel around my domain.

"Otherwise, Sir, it is all up and down and around your many towers." he explained.

"But, I am sure I can see the odd light and silhouettes of buildings out there in the gloaming?" I asked.

"Oh, yes," said Noddy "That's the underground dwarfs - they work on the railway and in the mines. They love living in the tunnel - much prefer it to being above ground."

Well, one learns something new all the time about the customs and affectations of ones tenants.

I did eventually get off to sleep - but it was somewhat fitful. I tossed and turned worrying about why the rents had ceased to arrive in my treasury and what misfortune might have befallen Goldfish Lodge.




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