Look At It This Way - 9 September 2011

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It’s taken years to ‘out’ me ... but the goggles are a giveaway for others who share my guilty pleasure. I’m an anorak. Not in the comfy all-purpose sturdy shoes style of, say, Hayley Cropper, on Coronation Street, with that horrible red hooded thing she wears, which always reminds me of the cult horror film Don’t Look Now – where a murderous red-clad person of vertically challenged proportions knifes Donald Sutherland for inflicting son Kiefer upon us. But more in the Roy Cropper style.

I’d like to think I’m not double parked the other side of obsessive compulsive disorder, but I have a furtive affection for steam engines and even found myself cooing in delight over steam engines, scaled down to model railway proportions the other night – meeting some chaps who could have remade Last of the Summer Wine and made it funny again. They were great. They even have a coffin tucked in the basement containing a mini-layout with skulls for tunnels. A skeleton service as the mainline operators might call it – and if they insist on closing perfectly good ticket offices at local stations that’s what they could end up with.

The spirit of Dr Beeching, the Crippen of cutbacks to our once glorious rail network of old, is alive and well, it seems.

I’m old enough to remember travelling from Lime Street to Central Station as a child, and being in utter awe of the workaday engines which used to bring us to Blackpool. The other day I gazed upon an almost perfect reconstruction of a 1968 inland Lancashire scene – which marked the death of steam and the arrival of dreary diesel.

I’ve never quite got trams in the same way. I love the Wild West tram, and other illuminated trams, and some of the more outstanding heritage examples, such as the Bolton Tram, and open air trams, but the more run of the mill models (sorry, enthusiasts) tend to leave me cold. As a local, I’m far more interested in preserving a vehicular crossing point at Lauderdale Avenue, near Cleveleys, than marvel at the actual trams that will eventually cross there, which is why I’m delighted public opinion (a 3,200-strong petition and several spirited protests) has forced the issue before full council, rather than left it to the executive to decide.

However, yesterday I missed out on one of the jobs of the decade ... the chance to be among the first riding the new Bombardier tram here for testing. My ticket to ride was to hand, but timed out by other considerations, which kept me deskbound.

And my disappointment was palpable as I passed the tram depot and saw strobe lights playing upon the outline of a tram, in a ‘dress’ rehearsal, and found myself craning for a closer look. So now it’s official. I’m not only an anorak but a tramorak. No goggles needed (they keep soot, out of your eyes when leaning out of a railway carriage), but bring a brolly...