IThis was written very much as a follow up to ERS #217, which was the first look at the VRM for
some time in the series. Some of the hints dropped in that volume came into play here, and it was nice to have plenty of characters
to work with.
AT THE SHARPE END
We wanted a story showing
Sharpe has completed his restoration and is now in traffic, and a trip out to old haunts on the Norramby line seemed a god
idea. Given his age there would of course be various limitations and despite his initial showing off he soon finds himself
struggling when he takes a photographic charter out on to the branch. Confused by modern signals and stalling on hills, Sharpe
doesn’t have quite as glamourous a time as he expected and upon returning home announces he might be better off sticking
around at the museum after all!
MARK OF DISTINCTION
The VRM was populated
very quickly when first set up, and one glaring omission was any rolling stock. Stephanie was recently introduced as Eric
the Mountain Engines carriage to address this and now Penelope and Mark enter the museum too. Penelope was mentioned in passing
during ERSN #1, although there had been plans to introduce her years earlier; Mark was originally to debut here but during
the writing process of #216 ‘Mixed Traffic Engines’, the chance arose to include him there. Penelope the
classy Inspection Saloon is soon centre of attention and Mark, a humble Mk1 Buffet/First of 1960’s vintage, feels somewhat
overshadowed. Penelope soon puts things right.
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM
ERS #217, the final chapter was devoted to Robert and his suggestion of ‘rescuing’ Mary the brake van from the
scrapyards. Here Mary, fully restored, makes her arrival and quickly causes upset by blagging her way into the exhibition
hall, taking centre stage and making various comments about the residents! A plan to scare her with a ghost story falls flat,
but as luck would have it Mary finds herself scared witless in the night by a passing train and a mysterious being walking
around her cab…
A PLAY FOR TODAY
As mentioned in the volume,
this was heavily based on an idea Simon Martin had originally conceived for his own VRM volume, which sadly was never penned
before he left the series. I modified it a fair bit to include my own ideas but the inspiration definitely came from him.
It allows for a chance to redeem Mary, something I toyed with for a long time before making the decision. I didn’t see
her staying her usual nasty self if welcomed into the VRM – for the most part they are a close knit family unit and
family and friendship is really the key thing poor Mary had always missed out on. Give her that, and she might finally calm
down to become a really useful brake van. Time will tell.