Flying the Scotsman up the Waverley line TODAY....my poem about its opening last year.
Bright windows lit my early life when Auntie took me on the train.
Faded pictures in compartments promised exotic places –
I had never been. Aunt dressed in tweeds clad laced-up shoes
and smelt “Lily of the Valley”!
Engine puffed and heaved up Whitrope- our quest to see Tattoo.
Meanwhile: stirring up his brew, and preparing further up the line
to close the level crossing gates and lock by lever
which he clutched in hand, another yet to change the points.
For Billy Macleod the signal man did it almost every day.
People used to say he had a home from home!
His signal box had carpet strips and family lived close by.
When not at his small cottage he tended Lavatera, Lavender
Pansies and Chrysanths in borders at the station – such a fine display!
“Oh what a pretty station,” passengers passing - could not help but say!
When Billy was not at work his mind was never far away.
If out with his two children often he would murmur
“It’s the ten past four, as Barking Bill the engine rounded corner
up the hill with roar and children jumping up and down
sang loudly in top voice “There she blows, Billy - there she blows!”
In Edinburgh Aunt was disappointed with tickets she was sold.
So far away our draughty turret: the drummers and the pipers
appeared as tartan dots: but not marred by disappointment
she took me later to a shop to choose a Scottish tartan to have a kilt made up!
Bright window needed on my childhood mind made possible
only from Carlisle by the Waverley Line!
Made shut we know in 69 but Billy tended station borders-
though no train ever passed. His demise was in 1982.
Four generations in his wake and still some living close at hand.
Right now we know soon Macleods will be singing
and loudly on 6th September 2015 - when line re-opens
with a new beginning – as they chant and with singing –
“There she blows, Billy, there she blows!”