Off the rails – the truth about trains

MonkeyBroth interviewed a group of ex-British rail employees about how the trains are really run. If you ride the rails, you NEED to read this!



Cab packed with parakeets and other exotic creatures.

“I was a train driver on the east coast main line for over 150 years, and one of the things that people don’t understand is what my role in the whole thing really was. To most, I was the chap that drove the train, but in reality, once we left the station I was actually in charge of breeding Japanese Fighting Fish in the cab. Back then, British Rail needed the revenue so all drivers were charged with growing or breeding high value items. I know for a fact that the signal master made the company millions by growing rare orchids and training Bonsai trees.”

“I was a British Rail engineer back in the 80’s and you wouldn’t believe the bodges we did to get locomotives up and running after a break down. One particularly memorable day, one of the Intercity 125s cracked a wheel. We had no spares in stock so we used the only thing we had which was a couple of custard pie dishes. We welded two together and slapped them on to the axle with some Cowgum. As far as I know, it was still on there when it was decommissioned. You couldn’t make it up!!”

“One thing people don’t know is that the trains don’t really need the tracks to operate, they are there simply to make sure that the drivers don’t get lost. When things were quiet, we used to borrow the trains to nip off down the ‘offy for a pack of Dunhill and a Razzle mag. I can vividly recall one occasion where a number of the drivers staged an illegal road race around Dorking town centre. Seriously, it was just like one of those Fast and the Furious films! Only with trains.”

“I was a trolley dolly back in my prime. You’d be shocked just how poor the hygiene was for the catering. You know those huge urns of hot water for tea and coffee? Those were never cleaned out. Once we found one wasn’t dispensing water so we removed the lid. Imagine our surprise when we found a nest of genetically altered spider-bats blocking up the bottom! Another was found to contain an entire collection of lost Doctor Who episodes”.

“Not a lot of people know that the voice that says ‘Mind the gap’ on the London underground actually belongs to Leo Sayer.”

“Once when approaching a station, I found that some wag back at the depot had replaced the brakes on my train with Penguin biscuits. I got him back though by blowing up his Cortina while he was still in it. We had a laugh back then!”

“When you see a train just race through a station without stopping, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he wasn’t scheduled to stop. It is most likely that he’s missing a repeat of Cash in the Attic.”

“You can tell if a train coming into a station has been hijacked just by looking at it. If the train driver is being held at knife-point by a man in a balaclava, then that is the universal signal to the station master that the train is in trouble.”

“Those toilets you use can be opened from the outside even if you’ve locked the door. In every train, there is an extra-dimensional portal in the cab that comes out in the toilet stall. And yes, we do peek!”

“The scene in the film “Ghost” with the guy on the train is based on a real life spirit that lived on the 8.15 from Manchester. The real spectre didn’t knock people’s newspapers out of their hands or anything like that, but he seemed to delight in hiding whenever anyone tried to prove he was there.”

“I was a safety officer for British Rail back in the day and my job was to come up with the horns that train drivers sound when approaching a crossing or workers on the line. I’d toyed with a few different sounds from an air-raid warning to La Cucaracha but none of them portrayed the vibe I were going for. In the end, I found inspiration when visiting the Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary during a pleasant summer holiday. We simply reversed a sample of a donkey braying to avoid copyright!”


MonkeyBroth has published the full version of this transcript under the title of ‘Confessions of a British Rail employee’ with foreword by Robin Askwith. Available in all branches of Rumbelows.

Thought for the week with the very Reverend Archbishop Dr Robert Carolgees…

As I sit reclining in my solid oak, high-backed leather chair in my study-cum-nook overlooking the majestic Biffordshire Downs in the distance, which are just lightly tipped with a sprig of early spring cloud, I can’t help but think of the hit ITV show This Morning. Hosted by the evergreen Philip Schofield and the impressively margined Holly Willoughby, This Morning offers Christians across the globe a moment to reflect and meditate on some of the deeper meanings of scripture.

Why, only the other morning on This Morning, they featured a fascinating ‘magazine style’ interview with a poor down-trodden lady who recently lost her husband. He died, tragically, while reaching for a tub of Vaseline which for years had been stacked behind various dental equipment in the couples’ delightfully appointed mock Tudor home.

The lady,  fighting back tears told Philip, now leaning in to his interviewee so that the audience were made fully aware of his almost unnatural concern for the poor woman, that the tragic circumstances of her husband’s death occurred early one morning. And it was at that time when she felt his loss the keenest. In essence, she was mourning during the morning on This Morning. The poignancy of the whole tale was not lost on me, but before I could reach for a man-size tissue from the top of my solid oak cabinet, so graciously provided to me by my parishioners, to dab away the emotions which were swelling within me, I was interrupted by an all mighty crash emanating from the downstairs toilette.

Just a few seconds later, I heard the familiar stomp of slippered feet banging their way up the stairs towards my study-cum-nook. By now the owner of the feet had appeared in my doorway and the apparition which stood before me was bathed in sweat from his shoulders down to his ‘just there’ jogging shorts. I have lived with Gumpert, my lithe South American handy man, for many years and his daily battles with even the simplest of domesticated tasks has become part of my waking routine. Never before, however, have I seen him in such a state of unrest as he stood there grunting various Spanish phrases at me in an almost bestial low growl. It wasn’t his sweaty state; no doubt an over-reaction to a particularly spicy goat curry he had prepared for us the previous evening, or the fact that he had chosen to wear the briefest of his jogging shorts that morning which travailed me however. For in his hand he was holding a dripping and quite threadbare toilet brush.

I realised then and there that morning’s perplexing seven down in The Guardian would have to trouble me for a few hours yet as I followed Gumpert down the stairs to examine the cause of his agitated ire. My path from the last step on the stairs was blocked by general tradesmen’s tools dumped there, no doubt, by the builders who had been patching up the wall of the garden shed after Gumpert had, quite innocently, crashed through it after one of his many late evening ‘boy’s nights’ with some of the chaps from the Lamb and Duvet pub in the village.

The builders had been there for many days, and while, as a Christian, I am always keen to promote local trades, their seeming reluctance to finish the job had begun to sting my patience. Instead they seemed more interested in discussing blueprints and technical aspects of the build with Gumpert in his room often into the very small hours. I can only imagine they were creating architectural models of the plans for the shed, given the banging and groaning which had been emanating from Gumpert’s quarters.

In the spirit of my Christian values, I had given the builders full permission to use the downstairs toilette as they went about their construction duties, and I was wondering whether this may have caused Gumpert the stress he was only too happy to display as he waved the toilet brush in the general direction of the aforementioned convenience. My desire to discover the bone of his contention was set against the ungodly waft of thick pungent air which hit me full in the face as I approached the toilette. Undeterred, I pressed on and peered into the bowl of the toilet which Gumpert had been gesturing towards just seconds before.

All my days as a clergyman, even that time I took a missionary position in a women’s’ enclave in Nigeria could not prepare me for the horrible sight which befell me. The entire rim and seat of the toilette was encased in a foul smelling thick fudge like morass of some other worldly substance, the origin of which escaped me. The stench was enough for me to mutter a Hail Mary under my breath and as I recoiled in the horror of it all, I noticed one edge of the sludge, which to my further horror appeared to have a peanut submerged in its brown embrace, had slopped and glooped off into the murky waters below.  Gumpert’s sweaty exertions with the toilet brush had clearly not disturbed the ungodly toxic goo which was clinging joyfully to the toilette bowl in clear breach of my instructions to the builders not to pass solids into its pristine porcelain delicateness.

As I took a step back to consider our predicament a beam of ethereal light suddenly shone on a lead coming from the lawn near the now decrepit garden shed. I do believe the Lord spoke to me at that very moment. As the light moved along the hose I followed it with my gaze and realised it led to an old power washer which had lain dormant in the back of the shed for many years. My path suddenly became clear. Within minutes I was hosing away the builder’s fudgey sins of the flesh and turning the downstairs toilette back to its beautiful and untouched condition. Begone foul half-chewed Snickers bar!

Verily, the Lord doth move in mysterious ways, as do builders, it would seem!

  • The very Reverend Archbishop Dr Robert Carolgees will be signing copies of his new autobiography The Missionary Positions I have Taken at Unks the Tobacconists on Cleo Lane, Marshwhip, Biffordshire, a fortnight on Saturday. Dogs welcome; but no Guide Dogs please.