Sir Handel had had a bad day. Heh, 'had had' looks funny. The old coaches, Agnes,
Ruth, Lucy, Jemima, Beatrice, the Professor and Mary Ann, had been 'awkward'. You know
what I mean, right guys? Right? They'd made him slip to a standstill twice. He was furious
with rage and anger.
"Those cattle-trucks should be scrapped," he fumed. "And I'm also
dissatisfied with the coaches."
Skarloey was so shocked that his mouth formed a consumate v. You can't see it
in the pic, but it's there. "I won't have it," he protested.
"Come on Skarloey, you need to take this medicine for your
memory," said his driver.
"I'm not having any of it, so there. The only thing I dislike more than that medicine is Sir
Handel's name callery."
Callery is now a word.
"Absolutely right," said Rheneas. He winked at Skarloey. Skarloey did
not wink back. Rheneas' feelings were hurt, but he didn't let it show. You be thankful, Sir Handel, that we're not a mountain
"What's a mountain railway?" asked foolish Sir Handel. Many readers breathed a sigh of relief that an old joke
had not been used.
"Oh well gee, let me think, could it possibly be, oh I don't know, a railway which climbs mountains?"
it can't," said Sir Handel. "Its engines' wheels would slip! And then it would fall down the mountain. Just like that time
when I was Falcon and Duke and I..."
"But it can," said Rheneas firmly, preventing us from learning about Duke for 7 or
so more years. "We've heard of one quite near here."
"We have?" asked Skarloey, who was beginning to regret not taking
his memory medicine.
A noisy argument started and ended just as Donald shunted a flat truck
to the siding nearby. If you can't guess what this is then you don't know how the RWS works.
On the truck was a queer-looking
engine. He had six small wheels and a stove-pipe chimney, like Abraham Lincoln's hat, except it was tilted, like drunken Abraham
Lincoln's hat. Actually it was the boiler that was tilted, and his cylinders were, relatively speaking of course, 'back to
front'. He also had a face...on his behind!
"Wheesht!" whispered Donald hoarsely. You're the one using exclamation
marks, Donald, why don't you wheesht? "Dinna wake the wee engine. It's tired he is. He's away back from England after
being mended. Ye ken how it is. I'm Scottish, you know."
"We understand, barely; but what manner of two faced freak is
"Well he may be any number o' people. As it turns oot, he's called Culdee, after the moonten his rayalway cliyambs."
write Scottish accents better than Awdry.
"Oh well, I never, did you ever, see such a cat as magic as Mr. Mestopheles?"
exclaimed the two old and apparently musical engines. They laughed at Sir Handel's ignorance.
"I categorically deny that!"
said a pouting Sir Handel.
Donald didn't even dignify that with a response. Well he did, but I can't be bothered to type
out any more Scots today. Then he left in a huff. The huff broke down so he left in a taxi. Groucho's got nowt on me.
woke up to find the engines gazing at him.
"Why don't you take a picture? It'll last longer."
A railway enthusiast did
"Just where in Jamaica am I?" Culdee asked.
They told him. "Oh good," he replied. "Nearly home."
"Do you really
climb mountains?" asked Skarloey.
"Nah mate, that's just what we tell the tourists. Truth is I actually just float up there
on my magic carpet."
"No, not really. 'Course I climb mountains! Wouldn't be much use as a mountain engine
if I couldn't climb mountains, would I?"
"How do you do it?" asked an amazed Rheneas.
"Oh it's very technical mate.
You wouldn't understand."
"Doesn't it get dangerous though? I mean, sometimes on our railway our coaches do silly things
like push us downhill. Some engines certainly can't handle them very well. *Cough* Sir Handel*cough*!"
Handel suspected that Rheneas could be referring to him.
"Our coaches are smarter than your coaches," said Culdee smugly.
"And they know that they shouldn't risk people's lives. I've never had that sort of accident. But there was one time when
I was very frightened indeed."
"Tell us!" said the engines.
"Oh alright then."
Before we turn
over, I'd like to point out the illustration on page 13. See that handsome engine in the
foreground? That's Alaric, which means he appears in two pages! Eat it, Ryan and
(R&ER meeting in-joke. You wouldn't understand. You're not 'in the know'.)
day, long ago when the Earth was young...younger, anyway...before our line was even opened,
our drivers made all 5 of us engines stand ready outside our shed."
"5?" asked Skarloey. "Who are the other 4?"
up, this is storytime, not question and answer time. Anyway, it turned out the Inspector
was coming to test one of us. Of course he chose the most handsome engine there, me, and
made me push two coaches to the summit.
"'Yes yes, exceptional so far. But then again,
I expected nothing less of such a magnificent engine as this one. Why, he's an example to all who
The little engines suspected embellishment.
"So he rolled me onto the steepest part of the line,
where the mountain sharply fell, and a nasty curve stood at the end overlooking a precipice.
off, Driver. Let him roll.'
"'Are you daft, man?! We'll die if we do that!'
it! Do it, or so help me, I'll see thee hanged!'
"The coaches nudged me. We gathered
speed. Of course I wasn't scared at all. Nosiree. Even if I did oil myself.
"My driver went for the brake.
The Inspector punched him in the chin.
"Fortunately, I stayed strong in the face of the crisis,
and managed to stop the train all by myself."
"Rubbish!" claimed Sir Handel. "Without
anyone pulling your brakes? We've got proof that can't be done! See 'Branch Line Engines',
at your local bookshops across the nation!"
"Ah, but you see, we mountain engines have
automatic brakes," said Culdee.
"Automatic brakes, eh?" said a passing Sir Topham Hatt. "I must look into those."
of course I saved the day with my quick thinking. Everyone was all, 'Oh Culdee, you're
so great!', and I was all, 'Yeah, I know it', and then all the ladies were like, 'I want
your babies!', and I was all like, 'Sweet!'"
"Showoff," said the little engines to themselves.
Next morning, Skarloey, Rheneas and Culdee were having a right old natter when
Duncan stormed up, followed by Sir Handel who lightly drizzled up.
"Uh oh, here comes
trouble," chuckled Rheneas, who obviously secretly (oxymoronically) revels in other people's
"I nearly came &^%*$£ off!" fumed a foul-mouthed Duncan. "Those @$!%& coaches
*^&$£* pushed me! And that *%^$&£& Thin Controller says it's my fault! Even when I showed him
the CCTV footage clearly showing it was those coaches who pushed me. Thin &£^$*£*!
He says I kept a Bad Look-out, the *£^"&"^£$%! Thet've no money to mend me, he says,
and he's threatening to stick in the back of the *£^£&($£) shed! I swear sometimes
that man is out to get me!"
Skarloey, shocked at the crass words and Dolly Parton lyrics, went into a coma, neatly explaining
his lack of activity in this story. But before he did, he winked at Rheneas like this:
That was the closest thing I could get, sorry. What's with these engines and winking, anyway? First it's Rheneas, now
it's Skarloey. Is there a lot of dust in the air or something?
"As you were saying,
Culdee," remarked Rheneas. "You had two coaches on your trial trip. Do you ever take more?"
up, Rheneas. We stopped talking about that yesterday. But in answer to your question, we
only usually take one with the line being so steep."
"Now hold on a &*$&£^ minute!"
cried Duncan. "Who is this freaky fellow anyway?"
Once Duncan was brought up to speed, Culdee continued.
of us have our own coaches on my line. Mine's called Catherine. She's great."
know her well. That's most important."
"Why?" asked Sir Handel. "They're only coaches.
They don't have feelings. They exist only for our pleasure."
"I shall ignore your misogynist
comments. Our coaches have to watch the line for us because we push them from behind, which believe me is a lot
easier than pushing them from the side. Obviously the Guard watches too, but when he's had a few
too many I have to rely on Caroline alone."
"That must take a load off your mind," said
a comatose Skarloey.
"But not off my buffers! Ah ha ha, I'm so funny! But it is hard
climbing up those steep mountains. Not like going downhill. Then we can just roll and, hopefully,
stop rolling at some point."
Sir Handel sighed. "Some engines get all the luck. With your automatic brakes,
that must be easy peesy lemon squeezy."
"That's just the mistake that Godred made,"
said Culdee mysteriously.
"Godred? Who the blazes is Godred?"
"Ooh, congrats on not
swearing Duncan," said Rheneas. Duncan beamed as Culdee began his story.
was our number one, and named after a king, which might explain his ego problem. And coming from me, that's saying
something. He was so conceited..."
"How conceited was he?"
"He was so conceited,
that he'd never keep a good look-out. He'd just roll down the track looking everywhere
but the rails."
"I don't get it," said Sir Handel.
"I tried to warn him, but he wouldn't
listen to me.
"'Pith and pithlewick!' he would say, because he was that sort of engine. 'Is it not
the case that I have automatic brakes? And has my driver not also got his air brake? What more couldst I possibly
"'More brains for a start, thicko,' I would reply. 'No engine can stop at
once if his head's not in the game.'"
Skarloey would have made a remark about young
engines at this point, but he was now deeper in his coma and so could not.
learnt sense," Culdee continued. "Everyone tried to tell him, but he'd never listen. They even took him to pieces for
some reason, I think to see if anyone was wrong with him, but it might have been to rescue
a sandwich a workman had dropped in his tank. But no matter what they did, he would still
act like a plonker.
"One day I was waiting at a station for Godred to pass me."
you going up or down?" Rheneas asked.
"Who cares? Anyway, as I waited, so it happened. One moment
he was on the track; the next, his Driver and Fireman jumped clear as he rolled over."
"What, that's it?"
asked Duncan. "He just fell?"
"Yep. His coach stayed on the track, and the Guard braked
her to a stop, but Godred just fell down the mountain."
"That's a *£^£*% story!" said
"Ah, but I'm not finished. You see, they couldn't afford to mend him, so they
stuck him at the back of the shed."
"Hey, that's just like what the Thin Controller said to Duncan!" said Sir Handel.
I hadn't noticed. Anyway, as time went on, poor Godred just kinda...vanished. Do you want
to know why?"
"Not really," said Duncan.
"I thought you might. You see...our drivers
used Godred's parts to mend us," said Culdee in a spooky voice.
"...You're a *£%£&&@!@
maniac!" exclaimed Duncan.
He and Sir Handel were unusually loud for long after Culdee had gone home,
shouting about the psychotic engines of the mountain.
Neither Skarloey (who by that point had got out
of his coma) nor Rheneas ever mentioned that Culdee had made the story up. Because he hadn't.
Or maybe he had. Or maybe he only made up the beginning. Or the ending. Or bits of both.
Or maybe he stuck together bits out of context.
That one sentence has been murder for
the fandom to explain.
London, home of the Underground, the London Eye, and the
baguette. Don't believe those French liars. It is here in a post box in Baker Street that...
'Danger Mouse'. Sorry.
Donald brought Culdee up the valley to the exchange-siding,
where he exchanged him for £200. No, of course he didn't. Actually, Culdee was off-loaded
by a crane. The crane had those sticky-out rods like on the ERTL Breakdown Train, which
for years I thought was to stop other engines from passing along the tracks either side of the crane. Now I realise
it was just to steady the crane. Ahh, to be young...
Everyone thankded Donald, who went on
his merry way, and as they waited for Culdee to steam, they looked him over carefully.
engine, shame about the face," they said.
Culdee ignored them and trundled to his shed.
Trundled. That's a funny word.
Catherine was pleased to see him...Catherine. Funny,
that's just one letter off Katherine. The girl who broke my heart. The girl who made me finally experience happiness,
only to have it dashed on the rocks of despair. Why, cruel woman?! Why did you torture
me so?! And why, oh why can't I get over you?! More importantly, why did they not inlude
the interrobang on my keyboard when I could really use it right now?!
was pleased to see him. "I've had to go out with Lord Harry," she said as they took a short run. "He takes risks
and frightens me. When I warn him, he laughs."
"Wait wait wait," Culdee interrupted.
"You've been seeing other engines?"
"Oh Culdee, I didn't want to do it, but the manager,
he made me do it!"
"The manager, eh? Don't worry, baby. I'll see he gets his!"
he met two old friends, Ernest (No. 2, and not the engine car, before you even get started) and Wilfred (No.
3, and coincidentally, the name of my favourite Bash Street Kid). After some happy gossip and settling
of debts, Culdee asked, "Who is Lord Harry?"
"He's one of the new engines," they said,
"who came while you were away. He's No. 6."
"I thought Patrick McGoohan was No. 6."
up, that programme hasn't even been created yet. There's two others as well. There's Alaric,
No. 7, who's a funny, charming, handsome engine who makes all the coaches hearts flutter, and there's Eric, the coolest
engine in the entire fleet. What a guy that Eric is. Much better than old Harry."
afternoon, Lord Harry rolled by with a reluctant coach, on his way to the platform.
say, by George, these coaches are most ridiculous," he grumbled poshly. "Why, they're all
a' frightened of coming with me."
"That's because you're ugly," said Culdee, and according to
the picture, he was telling the truth.
"Stuff and nonsense! I'm highly sprung and right up to date, by thunder!
I could easily exceed speeds double that of yours and stay in perfect safety."
I'm repeating a gag here, but come on, it's worth it, right? Right?
"We don't take kindly
to risktakers in these here parts," said Culdee in his best South States accent.
What 'risks'? Why my dear fellow, with my super-heat..."
"Oh, super-heat? I thought it was conceit!"
studio audience laughed and laughed. Lord Harry snorted furiously away.
the coach as her wheels ground on the curves. "This is no way to treat a coach!"
snorted Lord Harry. "I like things to be exciting, eh wot?!"
Every wise mountain engine
knows...in fact, everyone in their right mind knows not to act like a plonker on a steep
mountain. But Lord Harry was being a right twollop.
"And now it merely remains to storm that final slope, and I shall
show everyone in the world, especially that salamander Culdee, that I, Lord Harry, am the
greatest engine of all!"
The telephone rang in the Shed, and Culdee's crew were
joined by the Manager. "Lord Harry's 'off' at Summit, and you'll have to go rescue him"
he said. Somewhere, a trombone made a 'wah, wah, waaaaaaaaaah' sound.
Culdee collected some workmen (including an
ultra rare 'shiny' workman) and the tool-van, and set out at once. Culdee's back face was most
When they reached Lord Harry, they could see that he had fallen at the points,
blocking both roads of the station, preventing Wilfred and his passengers from going down
the mountain (when she comes, yeehaw!). The passengers buzzed around Lord Harry like busy little
bees, cute, fuzzy, stingy bees. He was feeling very harassed! He was tempted to sue, but being an engine he was
not entitled to such rights.
The Manager used alliteration to pacify the passengers,
while Culdee and the workmen did some stuff that you don't care about.
"Oi, Wilf," said
Culdee. "Who's this wreck?"
"It's Lord Harry; didn't you know?"
The rest of this
page is pretty much the same as that joke Toby makes about James in 'Dirty Objects', which is pretty lazy writing
on Rev. Awdry's part, but it gets bonus points for calling Lord Harry fat.
(Did you know:
Culdee Fell is the highest station on Sodor? It's true, just look at page 41)
pushed Lord Harry out of the way and took the passengers on an all-expenses paid trip to
the Bahamas. Then Culdee helped him back to the shed.
"It was that rotten old coach, Sir,"
blustered Lord Harry. "She never..."
"No tales," said the Manager sharply, cutting Lord Harry on the cheek. "It
was your fault, and you know it. You upset the passengers and damaged yourself. And worst
of all, you made me have to pay for 120 people to go on a holiday in the Bahamas! We cannot
have that on our Mountain Railway."
Have you grasped that this is a mountain railway
"This is a rotten swiz, Sir!"
"Stop talking in that ridiculous accent! You will stay in this shed
until I can trust you again!"
He turned, and walked sternly away. The effect was lost somewhat
when he walked straight into the side of Ernest.
As a punishment, they took Lord Harry's name away and
put him away at the back of the shed. "I am not a number, I'm a free man!" he exclaimed. But no one listened to
He soon heard Culdee's story about Godred, which once again may or may not be made
"Pooh!" he said. "That couldn't happen to me. I can fly!"
"Oh no you can't,"
"Oh yes I can!" No. 6 argued.
"Oh no you can't!"
"Oh yes I can!"
this pantomime behaviour!" said the Manager, entering the shed.
"Please, Sir, I'm ever so sorry," No. 6
grovelled. "I'll try to be different."
"The passengers don't trust you," said the Manager. "You shouldn't
have tried to get them involved in that pyramid scam."
"It wasn't a pyramid!" No. 6
protested. "I mean, it wasn't a..."
"Silencio, por favor," said the bi-lingual Manager.
"You will take the 'Truck' instead."
So No. 6 took supplies to Summit Hotel, and he
took gangsters...sorry, gangers to work in the morning. Although it would be a lot more exciting if it were
gangsters. As it was, he found it very dull.
"It's important work," protested Wilfred,
"and tough too."
"Tough! That little lot?"
"Yes, tough," said Culdee. "Have you ever
been across Devil's Back in a gale?"
No. 6 was bemused. "That sounds like a great metaphor
for something," he snickered.
A mile below Summit, the line runs along a rocky ridge.
Always there is wind. Gentle, it sometimes is; fierce and dangerous it is at others. Yoda, this story has written. *Ahem*
Then all passenger trains stop at Devil's Back station, officially the coolest-sounding
station on Sodor, but whatever the weather, stores and rescue trains must get through.
And the post. Think of the post.
A few days later, No. 6 reached Devil's Back at
5.15. This time has no importance whatsoever. He was on his way back to fetch railway staff from Summit.
Summit fierce. Heh, 'cos it sounds like...never mind.
"All clear now," said the Stationmaster, as the
last 'down' train left the loop. "Don't waste time. The wind's rising. We'll have a gale
in half an hour."
"Blimey, that's quite specific," said No. 6's driver. "You can tell
you used to work at the Met Office."
The Stationmaster went inside to set the points,
but the telephone rang, and he came back looking worried. "There's trouble," he told the crew.
"I should hope so," said
one of them. "We're nearly halfway through the story and nothing's happened yet."
filled the Truck's big tank with water, and sandbags ballasted the Van. Wait a minute,
who's this Van? He's not been mentioned 'til now. Oh well, who cares?
all about?" asked No. 6.
"Well lad, there's been an climbing accident," his driver explained. "Culdee
and Catherine are bringing up a Doctor and a Rescue Team, but she'll never make it through this gale. Our
mission, and we've no choice but to accept it, is to get that team through. We've the best
chance of anyone. Think you can do it?"
"I'll have a jolly good try, by Josephine!"
No. 6 beamed, briefly allowing himself to go back to his 'Lord Harry' persona.
Culdee arrived, the Doctor and the Rescue Team changed trains. There was a brief bit of kerfuffle when they started heading
back down the mountain (They'd taken the wrong train), but it was soon sorted out. The
Manager was there too.
"Splendid!" he said, when he saw the preparations. "I always
do like seeing people getting prepared. My wife may find it strange, but the Devil with
her. Now No. 6, it's up to you."
"A real job at last!" crowed No. 6 exultantly. If anyone could explain
to me how someone 'crows', I would be very grateful. "Come on chaps, let's save those mountaineers!"
the shelter of the Station, the full force of the gale struck him like a blow. "Blooming
hell," he shouted, "is it too late to turn back?"
"Sorry," said his driver, as they
battled on up the track.
The vicious stinging wind seemed to come at No. 6 from all directions.
The Truck lurched and swayed as the wind tore at it, her groans and whimpers echoing in the engine's ears.
But was he scared?
"You bet your bunker I am. But I can't go back now. I must save those
mountaineers. Otherwise this volume will end on a very depressing note."
he struggled on, til in shelter, again on the other side, they climbed the final steep ascent,
and rolled triumphantly into Summit Station. And there was much rejoicing by all.
They bought the climbers
safely down (the details of which shall not be told to you), and an ambulance whisked them
to hospital. They certainly felt battered after that. Boom boom. Next morning, their leader
came to say 'Thank you'.
"My friend Patrick," he said, "hurt himself helping me, but
he's mending now, thanks to you and your brave engine, and also the fine paramedics at the hospital. We'd all be proud
if you'd call the engine Patrick, too."
The Manager frowned. "What, Patrick 2? As in Patrick
"No no, I mean Patrick...too. As well."
"Oh, I see. Well then No. 6,
would you like that?"
"Oh, Sir! Yes, sir! It seems...appropriate somehow."
and the others are all good friends. Look at them all, smiling away in that last picture. Although it
looks like Culdee could do with a bit of work. Patrick is still brave, still ready to take risks when needed,
but he knows now that it is stupid to take them just for the sake of showing off!
you work on a show like Jackass. Then it's OK.