I really ought to take a trip to see one of the historic railways in Wales. They remind me so much of my childhood as John! I got a bit misty-eyed when I saw the train rolling through the valley and heard its whistle in this clip:
I actually came across it about 24 hours ago… since then I’ve been thinking a lot about my childhood as John. A surprising amount of that world- at least the machines, the buildings, and the artifacts- is still there in Wales and the West Country of England.
My life as an adult in those days was depressing and short, but I was a child once, a child with a family and a home and some sense of who I was and where I belonged, and more than anything, I had a sense of wonder. This was an age when the world was first beginning to open up, and even lower-middle/upper-working class families like ours could afford exciting sights, sounds, and flavors that our grandparents never imagined. But the greatest sights of all, perhaps, were the ones we never had to pay for. You cannot fathom the excitement of a child in those days seeing a massive machine that moved by itself.
I can still feel that sense of wonder just a bit tonight. I can still remember some essence of the heady excitement and optimism of what it meant to be British in the 1880s. It’s still there in me, and it needs only hear the whistle of an old locomotive to awaken.