It was Christmas on the Other Railway. All the engines were working hard.
Oh, don't look so shocked. I meant harder than usual. Nothing gets the wheels turning like the threat of frostbite. Anyway,
the Thin Git's fleet was busy carrying people and parcels up and down the lines. Everyone was complaining. Only the express
units, Pip and Emma, were happy.
"It's always the same before Christmas," they chirped. "We feel so full! We feel so
"Oh, come on!" snapped Diesel. "Where're your yuletide blues? Christmas Day is almost here!"
what is so bad about Christmas Day?" Pip asked indignantly. Her answer could be found by the side of the track at a grotty
little mansion, where a frail but fierce figure stood shouting whenever something passed.
"It's Mrs Cruelly!" Diesel
would groan. "Toot toot! Crappy Christmas, you old bat!"
Mrs Cruelly was cruelty personified. Millionnaire founder
of a razorblade company, she hated everyone and everything - and nothing gave her greater joy than tormenting the inhabitants
of the Other Railway. Diesel always felt worse for seeing her. Christmas just wasn't Christmas with Mrs Cruelly around.
One day, when work was over, Diesel went to see the other engines. All their coats had been polished with unhealthy cocktails
of Mr Sheen and Cillit Bang.
"Huh!" said Old Stuck-Up."Just look at us! Your driver will have to work fast to get you
as smart as us!" Diesel noted several blinded workmen writhing around his friends.
"Never mind such trivalities!" he
replied. "I've something important to say! Do you realise it's a whole year since Mrs Cruelly caused that nasty accident?
You remember, she was ill in bed and..."
"Yes, of course!" interrupted Bowler. "You told us how she blamed it on our
fumes and played her Simply Red records full-blast to create a landslide on the track!"
"And you and Spamcan caused
the biggest pile-up in railway history," Derek joined in, "and the Thin Git sent her to Bournmouth for rehabilitation. Right
waste of money, that was.
"But," said Spamcan and Stuck-Up together, "the rest of us never properly got revenge on
"Exactly!" said Diesel. "So, I think we should all give her the worst Christmas ever!"
Everyone was getting
very excited and the drivers felt sure that the Thin Git would agree - as indeed he did. ("No-one donates my clothes
to the blind and gets away with it!") The engines were all busy plotting and devising traps when silence fell. The Thin Git
had bad news.
"The weather's changed badly. Everywhere is snowed up - except somehow for Mrs Cruelly's. Spamcan says
he'll help to investigate. You must help too, Diesel. There's no payback unless you do."
Diesel hated helping people,
but he said bravely. "I'll try, sir. We must pay her out, we must!"
"There's a good engine! You and Spamcan will manage
splendidly - or I'll break you down into spare parts for my nephew's train set!"
Diesel led the way to Mrs Cruelly's mansion, closely followed by Spamcan and a long line of snow-filled trucks. He charged
the snowdrifts fiercely with his snowplough (actually, half an old industrial gas pipe). Sometimes, he swept them aside; sometimes,
they stuck fast and the workmen had to blow them to kingdome come. But at the cutting near the mansion, they couldn't believe
"Look at that!" exclaimed Diesel's driver.
A sunlamp as tall as a harbour crane stood shining down
over Mrs Cruelly's house.
"No wonder she wasn't snowed in!" snarled Spamcan. "That bloody thing could melt an ice cap
in a minute!
"Toot toot toot! Out here, you great prune!" tooted Diesel. An answering raspberry came from an downstairs
sunbed. Then they heard a familiar sound.
"Oi! Over 'ere, Mr Spamcan, sir!"
"It's Scrappy!" exclaimed
Spamcan. "He's come to 'elp too!"
Sure enough, it was Scrappy. After his encounter with the goods diesel, the truck
had been rebuilt into a tractor and was working hard to pull the sunlamp to the ground.
"Alright, gentlemen - go!"
ordered Diesel. The cavalcade moved forward and Spamcan left his trucks of snow in front of the mansion. Workmen quickly fitted
charges to each as the sunlamp toppled over with an almighty crash.
"Don't screw with diesels!" barked Spamcan and
he and Diesel trundled to safety.
The entire Cruelly estate was buried from chimney to soil in
a mountain of snow.
At long last, their gloating was complete. Derek took the tired workmen home without overheating once ("I love winter!").
Scrappy said 'bugger off' to Mrs Cruelly and promised to 'take care' of her razorblade factory while she was away as they
all set off.
The sabateurs made good time. No more snow had fallen but the yard was dark. Diesel's black heart sank.
It seemed the Thin Git hadn't paid the meter again.
Suddenly, lights all the colours of the rainbow burst on. What
a marvellous sight awaited the team! All the engines were there, cheering them and wearing oversized novelty Santa hats. Even
the Brakefather looked slightly more festive than usual. Workmen were dancing drunkenly all over the yard and a large banner
hung over them reading "CONGLATURATION!" It was cheaper hiring Japanese immigrants to do the decorations.
w-well done!" said the Thin Git, wearing a green paper crown. "I'm really...really all of proud you! *hic* An' you'll...y-you'll
never guess who's on-on pheakerspone!"
He help a speakerphone on high for all to see and hear. It was Mrs Cruelly,
ranting like a sailor.
"-you all! Each and every one of you! Those diesels of yours are all b*****ds and that
tractor, he's a b*****d too! This is the worst bloody Christmas of my life! I-"
"Three swears for Mrs Cruelly!"
" ****! ****! ****!" they all tooted and began to sing:
"We wish you a scary Christmas!
We wish you a scary Christmas!
We wish you a scary Christmas
And a crappy
Diesel the rank engine and his associates thought it was the best Christmas ever and Mrs Cruelly could
think of nothing more infuriating than living here with them on the Other Railway.