What a glorious morning to be walking into Farnham. The sky was blue (obviously last night’s red sky did that for the shepherds everywhere) and the sun was making the autumnal leaves glow. Even the joggers were smiling. Well, some were.
Shopping was pretty painless and, afterwards, I decided to pop into Starbucks, going against everything I’ve said previously. It’s because Jay was serving and I haven’t seen him since the beginning of Lockdown.
Interestingly, he remembered my drink but not the size.
Then, a lovely surprise. Sue and Charlotte were also there. We had a lovely chat while the new guy made my coffee. In fact, our chat was so lovely that a customer, unavoidably eavesdropping, said she was dead jealous.
I had to go into Waterstone’s so I sat on the tree ringed bench at the top of Lion and Lamb Yard for a bit. Actually, I looked at the opening times sign on the door and it appeared to say 9:30. I stood up to go to Smith’s instead but then, as I walked by one of the columns outside the shop, I realised the opening times were 9:00 to 5:30 but the angle I was looking from cut out the ’00 to 5:’. I sat back down given it was 08:55.
As I sat and looked down the Yard, it struck me how beautiful it looked. A photo was unavoidable.
The walk home was equally as lovely.
Most of the rest of the day was spent in the usual, humdrum, normal world housework and laundry. Though, I was rather pleased with the lunch I made.
I used Lily and Louis’s tomato chilli jam as a relish. It was very, very good.
I also went a bit mad and cleaned my office. A bit.
Today, this happened
On October 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. He was the first person to travel that fast.
After I read that, it occurred to me that it was a far cry from the Victorians who were concerned about what would happen if they went on a train that reached speeds in excess of 40mph. This concern was gradually eased when people started catching trains everywhere and, basically, enjoyed the fact that they could get somewhere quicker than a horse on a rutted road.
Mind you, this all exploded again when confronted by the instant insanity which could grip a Victorian train passenger mid-journey.
So called ‘Railway Madmen’ would be activated by the sound and motion of the trains. For the safety of other passengers, they had to be confined in solitary compartments. This makes me think it would be quite a good idea to claim to be a Railway Madman in order to get a comfortable ride.
The Victorian newspapers printed all sorts of mad stories about the Railway Madmen. One in particular had a chap in his compartment suddenly start brandishing a pistol while screaming and yelling at the passengers outside his glass windows.
Then, as the train came to a stop at the next station, he suddenly became calm and returned to reading his newspaper. As the train pulled away from the station, he once more went into a murderous rage. Perhaps the newspaper annoyed him. I don’t know.
A lot of ‘experts’ claimed these bouts of insanity were brought on by the sudden jarring action of the trains causing the brain to be unhinged and sloshed about. Oddly enough, it mostly affected men. Women and children were apparently unsusceptible to the evil locomotion.
There is a wonderful post on the Railway Madmen by Joseph Hayes. It’s well worth reading, proving that the Media has always been more than happy to ruin the world by instilling ridiculous fear in people. Something, I guess, which will never change.
Incidentally, Chuck is currently still alive and a very healthy 97 even though he has flown faster than the speed of sound, which is a good deal faster than any Victorian train.
Of course, we’ll never know whether Chuck went a bit insane in his cockpit given he was alone but, at least he didn’t injure any innocent fellow passengers.