My Dad was a barber and always had Wednesday afternoons off. He was born in a place called Droylesden, out to the east of Manchester, close to something I never really got to see much - countryside.
On one such afternoon, we went on an adventure. We went to Pendleton train station. Now, anyone that remembers that place (opposite Pendleton Church) will remember an old wooden ticket desk area, that sounded hollow as you walked on the wooden floor. That was because it was built as part of the bridge, beneath which were the train tracks. You’ll also remember some very steep steps that took you down to the grey and smokey platforms.
There I was, stood on the platform that had once taken me to London and then to Dover and eventually, several days later, to Vienna. A place of great memories for me. Every time I was in there, it was smoke, whistles, steam and tremendous (sometimes frightening) noise. But here we were, off to the country. My Dad wanted to take me somewhere new. As the train travelled the short distance, which to me felt like the beginning of a boys own story, I saw fields, sheep and cows – they were massive.
We went through lots of stations, I was learning to read all the names and eventually we arrived at one of the funniest names a five year old boy could ever try and say to a grown up without getting the giggles.
It was the same word I’d heard used to call your private parts. My Dad was a terrible wheezy giggler and he could see I was wide eyed and struggling to stifle a child like loss of control. He was already in tucks as I had to spell out and say the word. It was a tiny village with the name ‘Diggle’.
Years later, after my Dad had died, when we were selling our healthcare services in the north west, one of the places that used our coronary care systems was a little village with a name I hadn’t heard since I was a child. I decided to drive out there. As I sat on the platform of the then disused station I fondly remembered steam and whistles, return trips to Diggle and laughter tears because of my old man’s infectious giggle.
And the morale of this story is: ‘Hold your loved one’s and memories close’