Richard, one of our guards at Didcot Railway Centre, has some interesting tales to tell.

One day when he was waiting to return from Didcot and had a while to wait for his train so spent the time people-watching on the station.

As Richard was walking along one platform he saw from a distance what seemed to be the bottom half of a body sat on a seat.

When he got nearer he realised that it was actually a soft bag left on a seat (the thighs), with a pair of high boots (the legs) set down in front of it so that it looked like a single organism.

It gave him quite a turn!

On another occasion, the main line trains were disrupted, so Richard jumped on to a suburban train to Reading.

At Reading there was a huge crowd of people waiting to get on to the up escalators, so some healthy folks starting running up the down escalator.

A feature of the new escalators at Reading is that they move slowly when nobody is on them, but when somebody steps on to the top of a down escalator or the bottom of an up one, it speeds up.

This meant that as the healthy types got to the top of the down escalator, having already (in effect) run up more than one flight of steps because the escalator was moving slowly downwards, the escalator sped up so that they had to run even harder to get up the last few steps.

Their efforts got a hearty cheer from the laughing crowd waiting patiently to go up the up escalator!

Strange things happen at the railway centre too.

One day when Richard was guarding, he bought a cup of tea which he set down temporarily on a large trolley that happened to be standing nearby, while he went and did something else.

It didn’t occur to him until he came back that in the meantime the trolley might have moved, leaving him tea-less and with no idea where the mobile cup of tea tea might have gone.

I think he found it before it got cold.

On another day we had a photographer who was disappointed at the lack of visible steam from the engine, so our driver said that if she waited for our last run before lunchtime, he would make sure there was plenty of smoke and steam for her pictures.

The driver stopped the train just out of sight of the platform, then started it again with the cylinder cocks open (to provide plenty of low-level steam) and some energetic chuffs to get the smoke and steam coming out of the chimney.

We always try and oblige.