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Signalman's Morning Kindle Edition
|Length: 221 pages|
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There is no plot here, no drama, no suspense. Just the day to day joys - and occasionally misery - of a young lad joining the railway when it was still largely a steam service and the trains were regulated by a man pulling levers, and the local station was a bustling centre of local trade. Adrian Vaughan was amongst the last generation to experience this older way of railway working, and also the one to witness its demise.
As the young junior porter Adrian converses with experienced railwaymen who sometimes had more than 50 years service on the line, we come to sense their great pride in the railway as well as the sense of duty that saw men battle sometimes in appalling conditions to keep the railway going. Vaughan himself refers often to the railway of 1960 being recognisable to a man working 100 years before, and we know of course that this was all about to change, as the next book in the trilogy will illustrate.
I particularly enjoyed the portrait of the porter Harry, who took the green Adrian under his wing and showed him and us the role of railway porter. Harry is a proud, quiet, diligent man whose reserve has held him back from the advancement that all his colleagues knew he deserved, yet perhaps never had the ambition to pursue. Now he is probably too old, yet he still wears his uniform with pride, and performs ally his duties to the best of his ability, and is the very embodiment of quiet dignity. He observes Adrian's progress, with pride and not a touch of envy. There were perhaps millions like Harry in 1960, now there are almost none. The sense of what we have lost after reading this book is almost palpable. Highly recommended.
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