I've had my first train crash!
There I was stretching over my model railway layout to check the points were correct, and I accidentally flicked the knob on my controller. My lovely little train - a GWR City of Bath steam loco, came thundering far too fast around the bend, and then shot through the air landing face down on the floor. Wheels everywhere, bits and pieces flying off in all directions.
Aaagh! What do you do with a little train that can't? (As opposed to the little train that could, geddit?)
So thanks, thanks, thanks to two lovely gentlemen, Tony Giles and Robert Denton, from the Reading Society of Model Engineers, who have come to my rescue. They promise me it can all be fixed.
It SO helps to have friends in high places. Plus, they tell me I'm not weird to be a lady of a certain age getting into this new obsession. So that's a relief!
They're the youngsters, mere children, who were the criminals of yesteryear - right here in Berkshire.
In fact, the youngest person ever hanged was in Berkshire in 1629. He was John Dean, aged just eight and he'd set fire to two buildings in Windsor which got him convicted of arson at the Abingdon Assizes on the 23rd of February. Back then, Abingdon was Berkshire's county town and that's where the young lad was tried and hanged for his sins.
Sadly for young John, the criminal age of responsibility at the time was seven and the judge, Mr. Justice Whitelock, found evidence of 'malice, revenge and cunning' and therefore did not recommend a reprieve for the boy.
That was a fate more commonly spared for the young rogues like those pictured. On the left, was 11 year old William Downes, from Eton, sentenced to one month in prison and another four years in the Reformatory for stealing books. His profession is listed as "shoemaker". School, I guess was a luxury he could never afford. On the right, ten year old Frederick Isaacs, a plasterer's labourer from Slough, also nicked for stealing books and put in the slammer for seven days.
Innocent (looking) faces from hard times. I wonder what happened to them?
She's the one in front - Hollie Cranmer, from Twyford, who came into the radio studio today to tell me all about her Starlight Foundation dream come true - swimming with dolphins.
Hollie has cystic fibrosis and has been fighting the condition since her first birthday. A rotten condition for a lovely little girl whose personality shines right through the radio. Keep healthy, Hollie, until clever doctors and scientists perfect the gene therapy that promises to improve the lives of the nine thousand CF sufferers in the UK. We all wish you well.
And thanks to the wonderful people at Starlight and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust who, I suspect, need the support of us all so they in turn can support people like Hollie's family.
If I didn't tell you, it probably wouldn't take you very long to get it.
It's a tiny manicure set. Like something we'd keep at the bottom of our handbags nowadays. But remarkably this is from the dig currently going on at Silchester. It's made of bronze and dates back to the first century AD. There's an unmistakable pair of tweezers in the middle, a prong of some sort on one side and sadly, the implement on the other side is broken. But isn't it fantastic? I am holding it now, yet it was last used so many centuries ago by whom, I wonder?
Thought I'd give you an update on the model railway. I've now fixed the track permanently in place, with its "foam ballast" glued down and all of the bends sorted out and the gradients manageable by my lovely "City of Bath" locomotive with at least one carriage. I am sure model railway purists would get a little sniffy about the tightness of my loops (the downward spiral is radius 1 - very dodgy, according to my local model shop but my engine manages it really well) and the steepness of my hills, but I just have to have a viaduct, so I have to have hills on either side.
The spare bedroom is fast becoming too small. I think my sons worry that, as they each grow up and go off to college, they'll return from uni to find their bedroom has been added onto the railway network.
But this is such fun! Got to start adding scenery, and at least one railway station pronto.
...and couldn't help noticing how many Polish shops there are! So no wonder, perhaps, that today's census results show that, while there's been a seven per cent rise
in the population generally, there's been a 16 per cent rise in Slough. So Slough have been correct all along. For ages, they've been saying there were more people living in Slough than the official figures suggested - and that, of course, means they should get more government funding. Now, with the new figures, perhaps they'll get a larger slice of the financial handouts available.
Meanwhile, my son has started work experience at 02, whose headquarters is in Slough. Very, very impressive building!