Originally the title for what became Oliver the Western Engine, the name alone inspired me all
the same to add some new adventures on Duck and Oliver's Branch, including a “catch-up” on how Blandford is getting
THE STRANGE SIGHTING
talks and sightings of strange objects in the sky brought forth this tale where Oliver's crew report of seeing what looks
like a UFO hovering near the coast. Duck thinks it nonsense until the “UFO” crash lands onto his line...realising
up close that it's just a large balloon pig, a display which escaped from the Crosby shopping centre.
balloon” event was based on a very unusual incident when a giant Ronald McDonald balloon landed on a Main Line in October
2002. The chances of anything similar happening again would, I think, be the day when pigs really do fly!
During a late-night goods run, Blandford avoids
a narrow escape when he checks suddenly for sheep on the line. But the next morning, they discover that he somehow lost a
truck. Blandford can't remember leaving it behind; no one can work out where it's gone. Until Toad and Douglas discover it
at the bottom of an embankment near the line – the sudden stop caused the truck in the middle of the train to derail
and overbalance out of sight, leaving a large gap. Thinking the coupling just came undone, Blandford's crew simply rejoined
the train and they carried on to home unbeknownst.
Several similar occurrences happened of unbalanced trucks breaking away
within trains, but the incident I used here happened sometime in 1946.
It was one of those coincidental moments when two story ideas come together as one –
one from a real-life incident and another from a friend. Duck is suffering from poor steaming, and is coughing up dirty smoke
as a result. While shunting at Wellsworth, a truck rolls away onto the Main Line and, caught by a strong wind, hurtles back
and knocks into the rest, derailing them. Fortunately, Duck's “smoke signal” warns Gordon and the Express just
in time to prevent an accident.
The truck mishap happened at Chelford in 1895, while Duck's smokeflare warning was courtesy
Since becoming a henhouse for telling “whoppers”,
and his unfortunate accident with a low bridge, Bulgy the Bus receives no end of teasing from Oliver. Duck decides that they
should put the past behind them, reminding Oliver how he wouldn't like becoming a home for “a bunch of silly birds.”
And Oliver does learn his lesson eventually when escaped chickens from the Small Railway run amock at Arlesburgh Station!