The engines on the Other Railway hate
feeling responsible, reliable and Really Useful. They work hard to avoid their
jobs all the time. They like causing Confusion and Delay and delight in causing
mischief, and their mischief causes trouble, as poor BoZo found out when Diesel
and Spamcan replaced his oil with sticky toffee pudding for a laugh.
"BoZo is buggered and has been
sent for repairs," said the Thin Git that evening. "The nice folk at
the pudding plant say he won't be de-stickified for weeks and there are no
other engines available, so Steamie will help until BoZo returns."
"BUT SIR...!" protested the
engines. They weren't happy at all. The engines didn't like Steamie; he was
always being psychotic and always scheming to melt them down into playground
swings or - even worse - model train sets!
"Now, don't you start moaning
now!" snarled the Thin Git. "It's your own fault for screwing that
big green pillock up in the first place"
"You promised!" snapped
Diesel. "You promised you wouldn't let that sinister Steamie back on this
line for at least three years!"
"You're right," said the Thin
Git, "and I promised you that three years and two hours ago. Now shut up,
put up and GO TO BED!"
"I hope BoZo's mended soon,"
said Derek, as the Thin Git stormed away. "That sticky toffee pudding
looked lovely and I'm feeling peckish."
"Steamie's more annoying than
three billion BoZos put together!" agreed Diesel, "and that's saying
"They're both as bad as each other
if you ask me!" huffed Old Stuck-Up. "Full-blown or hybrid, steamies
are no-one's friends!"
"No-one is your friend,"
muttered Diesel and settled into an uneasy sleep.
The next day Steamie was already
working in the Yard when Diesel arrived. His fluorescent green paint blinded
six workmen and a pack of stray cats as he puffed and chuffed and
clickety-clacked along the track with his trucks.
"Hello, my good friend,
Diesel!" whistled Steamie. "You look splendiferous today!"
"Yes," said Diesel - he was
in no mood for Steamie's false sincerities - "because you know everything
about fashion, don't you, Mr Lime Green Prozac Machine? Glow-in-the-dark gunge
is the only colour for a stinky steamie like you! That way, we can at least see
"Oh, I know. I don't like my green
paint either," said Steamie. "I've always liked black, personally,
but the workmen won't let me change. I don't think I'd want to be any other
Diesel was stunned.
"Well, uh, well, anyway!" he
huffed importantly. "Black is the only colour for a Really Windswept and
Interesting Engine - everybody knows that!"
Steamie said no more. He just smiled at
the uneasy shunter, and set back to work.
Each day, Diesel brings tankers full of
diesel fuel from the Yard to the greedy gas company near the Big Fat Station,
so they can create shortages at all the petrol stations and jack up their
prices. Steamie was resting when Diesel trundled along with the tankers.
"Careful, Diesel," warned
Steamie. "Watch out for those silly trucks. I hear they can be quite
"Noooo! Really!?" snapped
Diesel, as he pushed the tankers along the line beside him. "Back off,
Steamie! This job is mine, so don't try anythi-"
He got no further. Before Diesel could
finish his insults, he suddenly surged forward.
"GO ON! GO ON!" giggled the
trucks. "This'll teach you to leave us in the sewage plant sidings all
night! ON! ON! ON!"
"HELP!" cried Diesel,
"I'M BEING HI-JACKED! GET ME OUT!"
As the first of the tankers was about
to pass him, Steamie hopped onto Diesel's line and put every ounce of steam he
had against the runaway train. With a rumble and a screech, the cavalcade of
tankers slowed down and ground to a halt, just before the brick wall at the end
of the siding.
Diesel looked queasy. Then, as the dust
settled, he looked at Steamie and began to laugh. Steamie's garish green paint
was black from smokebox to bunker.
"Ha, ha, ha!" cackled Diesel.
"I'm alive! I'm still alive, and you, Steamie, you wonderful life-saver -
maybe it's all the oil rushing to my head, but you don't look Really Useless
now! You look Really F***ing Cool!"
"I am not cool!" chuckled
Steamie, bashfully. "You're saying that as a joke! Now stop your delirious
giggling and let's get out of here."
Poor Steamie was filthy, but he didn't
mind. In fact, he wanted to keep his new look, but the workmen wouldn't let
"You're not fit to be seen,"
they said. "Diesel here's ugly enough as it is."
It took so long to clean Steamie that
he wasn't ready in time for his next train. Diesel had to arrange Spamcan's
trucks of rotting fish heads for him, but he didn't mind that. In fact, he felt
strangely cheerful about the whole thing.
"Bloody Steamie," he chuckled
as he growled home, reeking of dead haddock. He was most impressed.
Diesel was happy in the shed that
night. Spamcan thought it a real buzzkill (having already had his good cheer
shoved down his throat earlier on), but the others were concerned about Diesel
for thinking that Steamie had saved his life on purpose.
"Oo'd 'ave thought it?" said
Arry. "No, really, oo'd 'ave thought it? You lot are all fick as
"Fancy," remarked Bowler,
"a Really Useless steam engine like Steamie becoming a credit to the Thin
Git's Railway? Or any engine for that matter!"
"You wait, Bowler," replied
Diesel thoughtfully. "One day you'll laugh on the other side of your
fenders when it happens to you. Stranger things have, I suppose."
"Pooh!" snorted Stuck-Up.
"I wouldn't bet anything on that - and I have a lot of things to bet on!
Why, just this year, I lost two drivers and a fitter through underground games
of Uno behind the sheds! Stupid, cheating station guard!"
The friendship blossomed as time went
on. Diesel thought Steamie had saved his life on deliberately, and the other
engines were baffled with Diesel for thinking so. I know my head is hurting
just thinking about it.
A few days later, Diesel was at the fuelling
depot when Steamie brought fresh tankers of super-concentrated Glaswegian oil
for Arry and Bert. The trucks were heavy and Steamie was tired.
"Have a drink, Steamie" said
Diesel, as the tank engine was uncoupled from his load. "Then you'll feel
Of course, there are no water-towers or
coal bunkers on the Other Railway. The only steamie-approved supplies in the
whole Yard were a single sprinkler that had been nicked from the signalman's
garden. The sprinkler stood at the end of the siding round the back of the
depot, where all the faulty fuel barrels were kept. The Yard Manager had a
saying: "If I can't see it, it's not illegal!"
As Diesel tried to enjoy his Esso
Espresso, he heard a cracking sound. Diesel peered around the other side of the
depot and, to his horror, found Steamie puffing towards the faulty barrels at
an alarming rate!
"Ooooer!" wailed Steamie.
Diesel had no idea what came over him
in that moment. Maybe it was the last spark of decency in his oil-black soul
being rekindled; perhaps it was just the sugar rush from the Esso Espresso.
Either way, before he knew what he was doing he found himself careering across
the yard right on Steamie's tail. Catching up and aiming carefully, Diesel
rammed the tank engine at full speed and toppled him off the rails, out of
"Ooooer!" wailed Diesel.
"Now I can't stop! Help!"
The buffers broke and Diesel ran into
the faulty barrels with a clatter. Fuel flew everywhere, and when the dust had
settled Diesel was half-drowning in a thick puddle of lighter fluid.
Though not for very long.
Diesel the Diesel Engine was
The workmen had tried to make Diesel
better, but it was no-use. They couldn't put a three-piece jigsaw back
together, never mind a whopping great diesel shunter.
"Derek must take you to the works
as well," groaned the Thin Git, over the wheezing chunk of Diesel that was
still in one piece. "First BoZo, now you. I swear you lot'll do anything
to get out of work!"
Diesel felt very miserable, though not
half as much as when Derek caught fire as they left the Yard.
Then the Thin Git spoke to Steamie.
"I'll need you to help Arry and
Bert while Diesel and BoZo are away," he said. "Personally, I thought
you'd fall flat on your arse first day back, but Diesel spoke very highly of
you before he was carted off in those bin bags. So, yeah, you're Head of the Yard
now. Yippee or whatever."
Steamie was delighted.
TO BE CONTINUED...