The recent surge of Twitchers or birding enthusiasts toweards an ordinary garden in Chipping Norton should not surprise us, nor should it cause an involuntary shake of heads in sympathy. These men have their passion, their search for the great unknown, whether it is birds, or balloons, or even civil airliners.
A few years ago, I was working on contract for Welsh Water north of Cardiff, and travelled back by train to home in Durham. It was a long, and sometimes very dreary journey, but I met some nice folk, and made some good friends.
I used to catch the train at Newport, and as usual was trundling slowly up the platform, not taking notice of anything in particular. I did notice a goods train coming up and past me on the outside line; perfectly ordinary train, old ‘Deltic’ loco, a mixture of flatbeds, open and covered wagons; you have probably seen hundreds of similar trains yourselves.
But I was suddenly confronted by a raving lunatic, jumping and shouting right in front of me; he was hysterical with anger; shouting and gibbering about how I had ‘spoiled his shot’, and he was going to ‘kill me’. all of course in a high-pitched Welsh accent. Now ordinarily I would have been on the back-foot, but the guy who was doing all the shouting was about five foot one tall, and, shall we say, a ‘bit weedy’! So I dropped my holdall and prepared to defend myself, but then three other men took hold of the raving idiot, and ushered him away. The leader of the rescuing three came back, and said, “You must forgive Dylan, he has been waiting for that engine and truck combination for seven years; and you walked right in front of his camera, just as the set moved past!”.
I then scanned the platform in front of me, and saw five video-cameras, all on tripods. My assailant was a train-spotter, but of course really up-to-date, with the early video cameras recording directly on to VHS format tapes being a god-send to the breed. I was given stony stares by the assembled spotting crew, but walked past, and I will admit, shaking my head slowly as I passed the assembled technology.
I often wonder if he ever saw the funny side of things, or did he buy a waxen doll and some needles?