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Today’s been a weird day for several different reasons. It started badly when I logged on to Twitter this morning and found a message from a mutal FBPE (Follow Back Pro Europe) follower where they announced their intention to commit suicide on Valentine’s day. Alarm bells ringing I did a bit of checking and found that it’s almost certain that they went through with it. I’m still trying to process the awful news, especially in light of the information that they left behind. I’m not going to blog about it now as I need time to think about it – because I think their utterly tragic story is worth telling, but I don’t want to cause more harm than good by relating it. My only hope is that this poor tortured soul is finally at peace.

Meanwhile, we seem to have found ourselves menaced by the latest storm. This one, named ‘Dennis’ – arrives just a week after the floods in the Calder Valley that affected Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd and Sowerby Bridge. We seem to be back here again in a chain of events that used to be described as ‘once in a lifetime’.

The latest warning is that the River Calder will reach its height at 4am Sunday morning. People have been advised to get their flood defenses ready today, and hope…

The weather’s been pretty crap all day with a combination of high winds and torrential rain that’s running straight off already sodden ground. The pair of us had planned to get out for an hour despite the conditions but in the end circumstances and the climate beat us. I finally ventured as far as the local supermarket a couple of hours ago and got battered by the winds and near horizontal rain. At least on the way back the shopping provided a bit of ballast! Mind you, I also popped in to our ‘local’ for a swift pint and a change of scenery, which also helped. Now I’m back at home, determined to salvage something positive from a pretty negative day.

I’m currently keeping myself occupied by scanning an album of old rail pictures from the summer of 1990. Looking back through them it seems like a different age in so many ways. Not just because how much has changed on the railways, but also because of what I was doing that that stage in my life. In those days I was young, free and single – and in the process of saving up to travel the world. Just over a year later I would pack in my job, pay the rent on my shared flat in London for 12 months and book a single ticket to India. The railways, the UK and my life would look very different when I got back…

Here’s a couple of samples of the pictures I’ve been scanning today, just to show you how much things have changed in 30 years.

Where do I start on this picture? This was taken on the 20th July 1990, from the rear of a train heading South from Stirling in Scotland. You wouldn’t recognise this scene now. For a start, the days of being able to stick your head out of a train window to take a picture like this are gone. So are the old semaphore signals. The goods yard to the right of the picture’s been a car part for years and the view of the station is now dominated by a massive footbridge which crosses the picture from left to right. Oh, and the place has now disappeared under electrified wires as the Scottish Government has rolled out railway electrification North as far as Dunblane.

Here’s another Scottish shot that you wouldn’t recognise now…

On the same day in 1990 a ‘push-pull’ fitted Class 47 backs on to its train at Glasgow Queen Street before working a service to the North of Scotland. Nowadays the skyline beyond is dominated by a massive shopping centre, the Buchanan galleries, and the car-park which was built across the top of the railway to close in a lot of the approaches to the station. This engine (47706) soldiered on for several more years. In November 1990 it was transferred South of the border to Crewe where it became a parcels train locomotive. It lasted in that role until May 1995 when it was stored. A few months later, in August, it was cut up for scrap at Crewe works.

Whilst I’ve been scribbling this the rain has stopped and the wind’s abated. A sign of a positive change – or literally just a lull in the storm? Tomorrow could be interesting…