Wednesday, August 19, 2009

E Is For Engine

You Could Say It's A Decent Track Record

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


Thomas the Tank Engine was a major part of our home when the Authorbloglets were growing up. When one of them was two years old and we set off on a long overseas trip, several Thomas engines made the trip as well – in a backpack, under a special deal that ensured they would be carried through every airport (and there were several) that we visited on the trip.

When we moved into a home that we built, there were several metres of track and several dozen engines that were permanently laid out on the carpeted expanse of one of the play rooms.

No, I’m serious. The track was carefully put down and the engines installed – and they were only put away four or five years later. So yes, Thomas and the other Really Useful Engines played a fairly significant part in our lives.

At one stage, the collection had built up to the point where one of the Authorbloglets had only one engine remaining – Boco, the diesel. But we could not find Boco anywhere. Not even at the ABC shop, where we ventured in an attempt to try and order Boco from overseas. Eventually, a childhood friend visited us from England and before she flew out she asked if there was anything special that we needed.


Yes, there was. Could she possibly duck into a toy shop and buy a miniature Boco? Because she lived in the UK, this was not a problem and when she arrived and handed over the gift to the little Authorbloglet, it was as if the Promised Day had arrived.

Maybe a couple of years later, we struck a similar problem. The twin coaches known as The Old Coaches could not be found in Australia, or any other country we tried to scour. After all, this was in pre-eBay days. Eventually, I phoned someone I had interviewed once, about five years earlier.

Would he perhaps be able to buy the coaches and mail them to me if I paid him the costs? Absolutely, he said, assuring me he would be delighted to do so.


About ten days later the Old Coaches arrived in the mail and it was – as you would expect – akin to the Second Coming. I kept in touch with this person whom I had once interviewed and a few months later he told me he and his wife would be in Australia on a very brief visit, on a very tight schedule.

We asked if they would possibly be able to have dinner with us and they said yes, they would possibly be able to squeeze us into their hectic schedule.

And that was the evening the Authorbloglets finally got to meet Christopher Awdry, the man for whom the Thomas stories were first told before they were printed in book form – and the man who took over the stories after his father, the Reverend Wilbert Awdry, died.

Yes, he signed every Thomas book under our roof. And yes, it took him a long time!


For the home of ABC Wednesday, go to Mrs Nesbitt's Place.

40 comments:

Comedy Goddess said...

Such a wonderful story!

Chapati said...

Haha that takes me back! Thomas was my brother's absoulte favourite. He had the models, the bed-spread, the curtains, and even the wallpaper! Oh, and the birthday cake one year, which was very impressively made at and decorated at home :D

Maddy said...

You mean Reverend W. Awdry's son. Good grief! It's back to that 3 degrees of separation.....again. Quite and thoroughly delightful, thank you.

Brian Miller said...

too cool. we went through the Thomas stage...the boys still love to drop by the play table at the bookstore and play while we browse.

Kim said...

How exciting for your kids to have met the Rev's son. We just set up our Train table (a mixture of Thomas and Imaginarium - the cheaper counterpart). I've had to literally drag our boy to bed and force him to eat his meals. It's like a spell has been cast since Thomas came into our home. And he's only 19 months!

Willow said...

David, this post deserves to be POTD. You had me entranced to the very end of the story and gave us all a perfect ending.

Jenn Jilks said...

Always intriguing! Thanks for visiting My Muskoka.

The Girl From Cherry Blossom Street said...

I was smiling the whole time I was reading this!

erin said...

I enjoyed the story!

http://unicyclemomm.blogspot.com

Mimi said...

What a wonderful, true story.

imac said...

Memories flooding back David.

Thumbelina said...

Oh my goodness you made goosebumps come up on my arms! What a terrific privilege!
My eldest was Thomas the Tank Engine mad. His favourite at the time was James. He is almost 20 now. I remember it so well and what a fantastic tale to tell. I knew these stories were told to his son first. Wow, what a privilege. Inspiring. Living in England I watched this phenomenon grow so I know just how much your children will have wanted those engines!

I am sorry I haven't been around much but I'm lurking and sometimes commenting. I have just put another post up and I think that will be the last. I am struggling to find time to blog and so it is time to call it a day. Thank you for all the help you have given not only with blogging, but in my camera hunt too! I will still visit, but I think that's it for the posting for now.

Keep up the fabulous blog. Your blog put me in touch with so many and brought so many readers to me too. I cannot thank you enough for that. Take care of you and yours.

Tiffany Norris said...

Fascinating story! My niece and nephew were both big Thomas fans as well when they were small.

Betsy said...

Annie and Clarabell ~ yes, Thomas has to have his beloved coaches! Our triplets (autistic) have loved Thomas since they were born and I can completely relate to the track-laden floors! Our boys don't give up favorite childhood toys just because they get older, and the trains and videos are still very much a part of our lives even in their teen years.

aims said...

Wow - that's fabulous!

Pat said...

That is so special that you all got to meet Christopher Awdry and that he signed all of your Thomas books. Your bloglets have never forgotten that, I'm sure.

Mushy said...

Again...very creative, and I love the colors you capture.

Artist Unplugged said...

What a wonderful story. I am so happy you could 'track' down all the pieces and having the books signed.....awesome! It was the Power Rangers around here.

Corey~living and loving said...

This totally just gave me chills. :) great story.

I've been away. wanted to pop over and say hello. :) hope you are well.

lakeviewer said...

What a delightful toy/book you and your blogettes enjoyed. The book has been a favorite of ours as well.

Epijunky said...

As the Mom to two little ones who both adored Thomas the Tank Engine, I can't thank you enough for sharing this wonderful story and the pictures.

My 4-year-old daughter has adopted my Son's long abandoned Thomas blanket in fact. She drags it around the house constantly. She's wrapped it in right now, in fact.

Thanks again, David :)

Sandi McBride said...

I don't know which is preferable, to have the Author at my dining room table or on my playroom floor. I think perhaps on the playroom floor. A few Thomas's sits prominently atop Arianna' doll case...they are as much her friends as her dolls...wonderful post full of such strong feeling, David. I award you Post of the Day!
Sandi

Mara said...

I would like to nominate this post as a 'post of the day'. What a lovely story and a great build-up!
Thank you

Helena said...

Great photo!
I never got into those stories when I was little. Dad read me Brer Rabbit.

Leslie: said...

Oh my gosh! Thomas is SO popular here in Canada, too, and you told your story so well, surprising us at the ending! Gave me goosebumps!

Linda Jacobs said...

Such a cute story!

jay said...

That's a great story - and he did something truly special for the Authorbloglets, didn't he?

I did read Thomas the Tank Engine to our boys when they were young, and they quite enjoyed them, but they were never spellbound. They loved Noggin the Nog, and Ivor the Engine, and Paddington Bear - the Mr Men stories, too. We dont' all like the same things, even as very young people!

secret agent woman said...

I gotta tell you, I never could tolerate watching Thomas.

Hilary said...

What a great story. And what a wonderful privilege to interview and be host to such an icon. Thomas was rather popular here too when my sons were little. Those memories are keepers.

Lew said...

What a great story your authorbloglets will have to tell their kids when the time comes! And a great family heirloom to pass on to future generations.

Kathleen said...

The lengths we will go to for our children! What a charming story.

Tumblewords: said...

How exciting that was! A wonderfully warming story!

Shadow said...

you have just taken me back many years, of reading and reading these stories to my bean...

Roger Owen Green said...

my five-year-old girl hasn't taken to Thomas, at least not yet.

Shrinky said...

Oh so close to my heart, this tale! As you know, the trains which inspired his stories still run today over Snaefell mountain. My family and I continue to enjoy riding them to this day!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

How wonderful and amazing to meet the famous Reverend. We are in thrall to Thomas too. Loved the story, David. I agree with Sandi: Post of the Day!

Gaston Studio said...

OMG, he signed all your books! How lucky for you all!

I lived thru the whole Thomas the Engine thingie with my now 7 year old grandson; adorable.

Wonderful story David.

Mojo said...

That has to be the coolest story ever. What a thrill for the younguns!

mitt vattenhål said...

Love the story and the expression of the train-parts
Thanks for showing

Christina, Sweden
http://christinas365foton2009.blogspot.com/search/label/ABC%20Wednesday

~JarieLyn~ said...

What a fabulous and interesting story. I remember reading this book many times when I was a young girl. This is a wonderful post. I'm glad I stumbled upon it.