One morning, Percy arrived at Knapford
Station with the Mail Train. There were
lots of letters and parcels to be unloaded, and a special sack which was to be
taken to the Fat Controller’s office. The
Fat Controller received lots of letters about the railway, and quite often, the
passengers would give him their thoughts on how they felt things could be
been receiving an awful lot of letters about Duck,” he told the Station Master.
“Maybe it’s time to take a bit of weight off
the other engines’ buffers and let him help out more around the railway again.”
idea Sir,” agreed the Station Master.
In no time at all, Duck was helping out
across the railway again. The response
was so popular that the Fat Controller had Harvey, Bill, Ben and Oliver working
additional services as well.
great to be working on the Main Line again,” Duck gushed proudly to the other
engines, “makes me feel really useful, and it means we can get things running
in the old Great Western way again!”
lot’s changed around here though,” chuckled Oliver when he looked at the yard.
over the worst of it,” puffed Thomas, “thankfully.”
Fat Controller was very pleased.
Everything was going well, the engines were all very happy and worked
well together as they had done before.
But one morning, Percy puffed into
Knapford Station with the Mail Train again looking anxious. “What’s
the matter, Percy?” asked Thomas.
Post Master said that there’s a special bag of letters for the Fat Controller,
and it’s very heavy.”
looked in dismay as the Porters hauled the bag out of Percy’s Mail Truck. The
bag was bulging fit to burst and marked ‘Complaints’. “But
why would there be so many complaints? It’s not as if we’ve lost
any livestock, endangered
the lives of workmen or acknowledged the existence of Misty Island recently.”
don’t know, Thomas. I thought the Fat
Controller had made a lot of improvements, he’s been listening to the feedback
from the passengers.”
Fat Controller goggled at the letters in the sack. “Duck...
“Great Western way”... pompous... arrogant... “maybe you should relegate him for
a few years and see if improvements occur when he next returns...” Oliver...
“shorter than I remember him”...
“we see more of his brake van than we do of him”... Marion... “doesn’t
shut up”... well, we all knew that one didn’t we?”
and Thomas looked sad, “You wouldn’t send Duck away again, would you Sir?”
Fat Controller was fuming, “Duck’s workload is scheduled well in advance – I’ve
got two years worth of jobs for him to be getting on with! And to boot, I’ve
even had Donald, Douglas
and Daisy overhauled to help out as well!
And even there, there’s people who don’t want any more old faces popping
He reached in and pulled out another
letter. “Dear Sir Topham, do you really
need to operate this Island’s Railway network like a real railway again? I
miss seeing Thomas going past with some
weird object on a single flatbed...” He buried his head in the letter, sobbed a
little, sucked air in through his teeth, looked at the station roof and
returned to reading the letter again.
someone explained to me that you have something called Signalmen who work the
points on your railway? I thought it was
done by magic. Can you bring back the
magic so the engines can go wherever they like again...?”
Thomas and Percy looked at one
another. Then they looked at the Fat
Controller again. He looked as if he was
about to burst. “Surely they knew
that...” but Thomas was sharply interrupted as the Fat Controller reached into
the bag again and pulled out another letter.
took a deep breath and read again. “Dear
Sir Topham, can you settle an argument?
I could have sworn I saw Ferdinand heading out from Knapford a few weeks
back, but some of the lads down the pub say it was Porter...”
was curious, “I thought Ferdinand couldn’t come round here anymore?”
Fat Controller and Thomas were a bit flustered, “Erm... yes, well, we didn’t
think he could either, didn’t we Thomas?”
erm...” Thomas chuckled nervously, as if he was hiding something. “But we can’t
talk about it, you know? There’s a good
reason why Ferdinand shouldn’t be able to come around here anymore, Percy...”
Fat Controller rocked on his feet, trying to be sheepish, “We’d tell you why,
but someone might lose his job if we did... it’s all very hush hush!”
the tunnel’s still there, and I’m sure that he could...”
apparently, this ended in a big fight, apparently the Blue Bird bar is a
you said people fight in there all the time, Sir?”
do, Thomas, it's getting almost as bad as the Red Square Cinema, and you know what they're like up there!”
Thomas was concerned. “What are you going
to do, Sir?”
Fat Controller sighed heavily, “Tell Duck, and the others, to go and do the
boring mundane work on the branch lines again.
Then I’ll get on the phone to Mr Bubbles and see if he wants a bouncy
castle delivered from the Docks – you can pick whatever route you want to take,
Thomas... I’ll remind him to order three, and make up some kind of rhyme - something like 'This bouncy castle won't
give me any hassle' or such.”
Fat Controller began to walk sadly back to his office. “Sir, you’re
Fat Controller turned around and looked at Percy. He was surprised. Percy looked stern. “What did you say, Percy?”
wrong, Sir. Do you remember when Diesel
came to work here again? And never left?”
Fat Controller mopped his brow, “You know I do, I was inundated with complaints
on that one.”
you remember when I regressed quite a bit between 1998 and 2002?”
don’t even get me started on that one, Percy...”
you recall what happened when Emily came in and Duck disappeared?”
had to get an extra truck for all those
letters, didn’t we?”
do you remember what happened when you had everything rebuilt from the ground
up a few years back?”
blocked a lot of it out, but yes. Yes,
people went out of their minds when we first made the announcement, but then...
when they saw it... they really liked what we’d done.”
Percy looked at him again, and in a
softer voice, he asked, “Do you still get complaints about those things?”
Fat Controller pondered. He was silent
for what seemed like forever. “No... no,
we don’t... people have grown to love Emily, she’s even got her own little fan
club! And you’re right, no-one cares that
Diesel’s still here! Maybe you’re not as
daft as we all thought, Percy!
Thomas! Go and collect some empty
trucks – we’ve got a special delivery for Whiff’s Waste Dump!”
done, Percy!” whistled Thomas, “You might have saved us from reverting back
was very proud. “And
I have a very important job for you, Percy,” said the Fat Controller, “Go to Farmer McColl's farm and collect
some straw to take to the people writing these complaint letters. They'll need something to clutch!”
Everyone laughed. Percy knew that some
people would always find a reason to complain, but eventually, things would settle down and they'd find something new to whinge