Tales From The Other Railway



Never trust such an important train to such a pair of unreliable morons...

On smoggy nights when the moon is fat and the air foul, you can hear the sounds of smugglers' ships and drunken laughter. They echo over the towns and through the cities, down shady streets and dark backalleys. Every engine knows that these are the sounds that say the harbour at the Big Fat Station is doing d**n good business.

All kinds of smugglers use the harbour at the Big Fat Station. There are DVD smugglers, alcohol smugglers, and potato smugglers also come here. They dump their potatoes on the quay and sail away before the police can nick them. Some of their swag goes to takeaways in the town and the rest in a special train to other fast food restaurants far away. This is the train the railwaymen call the "Hot Potato".

One night a special load of potatoes was ordered, and the Thin Git decided that extra vans must be added to the "Hot Potato". Since there were no spare vans left, the workmen were forced to use Express coaches instead. The coaches grumbled dreadfully about being stuffed full of vegetables, but the workmen assured them that carrying passengers wasn't any different.

Derek waited patiently by the quayside as Arry and Bert bumped the coaches into place. Derek rarely pulled the "Hot Potato". The Thin Git didn't trust him on smuggling runs in general, in case he caught fire and attracted every policeman in the area. Tonight, however, all the other Big Engines were out celebrating Spamcan's buildday and Derek was the only one uninvited.

"Ah well," he said to himself, "at least the extra load will mean I can have a Banker Buddy up Red Tape Hill."

Engines were often punished for rule-breaking by being sent to Derek's station near the hill, so they could help Derek with his heavy (and light) trains by pushing from behind. Tonight's unlucky Banker Buddy was Diesel. He, Arry and Bert were being made to take turns following their misadventure with the Express.

Diesel sat alone in the sidings. As he glumly awaited the "Hot Potato's" arrival, BoZo wheezed by a tanker of whiskey for the party.

"Oi, young Diesel! Playing Banker Buddy? I'd be careful you don't catch fire if I were you."

Diesel, wanting to go to the party himself, decided to play a little trick.

"Careful, old man?" he said brightly. "Ha! This is the most carefree job in the world!"

"Why?" huffed BoZo, confused.

"Well, for one thing," scoffed Diesel, ignoring his actual experience with the job, "if you get the 'Hot Potato' to the top of the hill in one piece, the Guard gives you all the chips you can eat. For another, smuggled potatoes taste ten times better than normal potatoes, and I know what I'm talking about." He licked his lips hungrily.

"I don't believe it!" said BoZo. "No guard ever gave me freebies in all my years of service! I swear they've got bloody wimps running the place these days!"

"Bloody generous wimps," said Diesel. "Tell you what, since you've been so deprived for all these time, why don't I let you work here tonight and I'll take your place at the party?"

"You're on!" agreed BoZo. "I didn't really want to go anyway. I hate loud noises, unless they're being made by me!"

So it was arranged. BoZo took Diesel's place in the sidings and Diesel ran away with the whiskey tankers, cackling wickedly to himself.

Derek made good progress in spite of his extra load (He only broke down twice along the way). When he reached his station, Derek clattered to a halt beyond the platform. Then, using his horn, he gave a special signal.

"Poop pip poop poop," tooted Derek, "I'd very much like a Banker Buddy please, if that's alright."

"PEEP PEEP!" replied BoZo. "Shut yer trap! I'll be there in a minute!"

BoZo buffered roughly up to Derek's train. He was not coupled on, so that Derek wouldn't drag him down the other side with the rest of the inevitable blazing inferno.

"Alright, get moving, young 'un!" BoZo whistled.

"Pull hard, pull hard!" called Derek.

"Don't talk to yourself! Don't talk to yourself!" grumbled BoZo.

Derek was struggling far more than he thought he would. BoZo felt the weight on his buffers increase.

"AAA!" he cried. "Get that bloody tail-lamp out of my eyes, you stupid wench!"

The coach at the end of the train took great offense at this and gave BoZo a good hard bump.

"OUCH! You mad strumpet! Back in my day, coaches were seen and not heard - and a d**n sight more attractive too!"

The coach bumped him again, accompanied by her friends. The trucks, always eager for a scrap, decided to join in too.

"OW! You young people today - OW - no respect for your elders! OW!"

BoZo whistled for help, but there was no reply from Derek. He was too busy trying not to catch fire again. He did his best to keep moving, but he could not avoid being dragged down by the squabbling at the back end of the train.

Suddenly, from behind him, there came a great commotion and a cloud of steam.

"Bravo, BoZo!" cheered Derek. "That's the spirit! Keep it up! We're almost there now!"

It all seemed so easy now. The vans and coaches felt as light as paper bags. Derek raced to the top of the hill and coasted down the other side, leaving BoZo far behind.

"Hoorah! Hoorah!" he tooted. "Thank you very much, BoZo!"

The "Hot Potato" soon arrived at the end of the line, with not a single further breakdown along the way. Derek was feeling very proud of himself, until the workmen began to unload the train.

"Well, where are they then?" asked the Foreman.

"Where are what?" replied Derek.

"You being funny? The potatoes, you plonker! Where are they?"

Derek jumped. Looking back, he saw that the coaches and trucks were completely empty. A corridor of large holes stretched all the way along the train from the first van to the last carriage.

"Good gracious!" Derek cried. "They must have fallen out back down the line. I wonder where they are."

When daylight came it was all too obvious. Workmen found BoZo at the bottom of Red Tape Hill, lying on his side, bloated to four times his original size. His cheeks were bright red and his boiler was bursting at the seams with potatoes. A strong smell of bubbling chip fat hung in the air.

The Thin Git spoke severely to BoZo. "The incident was entirely your fault! You shouldn't even have been here in the first place, you senile old coot!"

"Sorry, sir," moaned BoZo, burping up a King Edward. "Diesel told me I'd get all I could eat if I did his job for him. He was right there, sir, I'll give him that."


Tales From The Other Railway - Series 4 / Story 10
Based on Fish - Written by Christopher Awdry