(July 8th to 14th)

Format: Triple

Two men in sackcloth aprons were considering an untrimmed hedge that ran down the hillside and disappeared into mist beside those roarings. They stood back and took stock of the neglected growth, tapped an elbow of hedge-oak here, a mossed beech-stub there, swayed a stooled ash back and forth, and looked at each other.

‘I reckon she’s about two rod thick,’ said Jabez the younger, ‘an’ she hasn’t felt iron since—when has she, Jesse?’

‘Call it twenty-five year, Jabez, an’ you won’t be far out.’


This is from the opening of “Friendly Brook” in A Diversity of Creatures.

The two hedgers are reminded of a strange tale of the brook that rushes through the field in wet weather. It had drowned a blackmailer many years ago, saving a farmer from a fearful burden. Forever after he would let no-one interfere with the brook, even when it threatened his hayrick

Fenwick checked the first few revolutions carefully; he opened the engine’s feed-pipe a trifle, looked at the racing governor, and again at the indicator, and said: ‘She’ll do for the next few hours. We’ve just sent our regular engine to London, and this spare one’s not by any manner so accurate.’

‘And what would happen if the compressed air gave out? ‘ I asked.

‘We’d have to turn the flash by hand, keeping an eye on the indicator. There’s a regular crank for that. But it hasn’t happened yet. We’ll need all our compressed air to-night.’


This is from the opening of “The Disturber of Traffic” in Many Inventions.

The narrator spends a foggy night with a light-house keeper above the English Channel.
He tells the story of a man on a lonely light in a narrow strait in Eastern waters, who was driven crazy by the streakiness of the water as it rushed up and down below him with the tides. He thought the streaks were caused by passing ships, and could not bear it, so he blocked the strait to shipping.

A purple-faced truckman shouldered his way to the yard-master, and shook his fist under his nose.

The yard-master never looked up from his bundle of freight-receipts. He crooked his forefinger slightly, and a tall young man in a red shirt, lounging carelessly beside him, hit the truckman under the left ear, so that he dropped, quivering and clucking, on a hay-bale.

‘Eleven, seven, ninety-seven, L.Y.S.; fourteen ought ought three; nineteen thirteen; one one four; seventeen ought twenty-one M. B.; and the ten west-bound. All straight except the two last. Cut ’em off at the junction. An’ that’s all right. Pull that string.’ The yard-master, with mild blue eyes, looked out over the howling truckmen at the waters in the moonlight beyond, and hummed:


This is from “.007” in The Day’s Work.

.007, a new locomotive and very much a ‘new boy’ coming to school, has been taken out of the engine sheds for a rescue mission one dark night. Here, for the first time, he is seeing what a crowded marshalling yard is like.