Steam Trains, Filming and getting a bit Philosophical

As I said in my last blog I was going on a steam train driving experience, which turned out to be a great day, and I had some filming to do in Liverpool, for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, which was also another great day. Cancer likes to take away these sort of days from you, but it’s losing it’s grip on me, as I seem to have loads of great days now.

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The Steam Train experince was at Elsecar Heritage Railway, near Barnsley, and what a great time we all had, there was four of us doing a two hour experience each, so it did get a bit boring for those not having a go. The train would go out with someone on, then back, then another, we had three or four goes each, the last with two on the plate, that’s technical talk for the bit where the driver and fireman stand. The train they normally use had broken down so they got one in from another steam train centre, but was smaller than the one they normally use, this one looked like Percy from Thomas the Tank Engine, engine number 1310, for those that are interested.

Heres Percy (Engine 1310) at the button to cross the level crossing, with the trainee workman making sure they stay clear.

You would blow the whistle to start to warn everyone, then go to the button to cross the crossing, wait for the white light, proceed when safe, then blow the whistle again for the trainee workman working on the line, they were training for going on the main lines, practicing getting out of the way of the trains, they go alot slower here than the intercity trains they’ll be up against on the main lines. You’d push the regulater up as you go up hill, then bring it back a little, then all the way back and the steam break on then off, then on and off, as you come to the end of the line, it’s only a mile or so long, but it’s a great experience driving a steam train, I can’t wait to have another go, even though it’s so hot with the fire raging away at your feet. Maybe not so good when it’s chucking it down with rain, but I’d do it again whatever the weather. So a huge thanks to my Mum for organising this for us, and to my brothers Morien and Gwyn, and his wife Jan, my wife Sonia and son Leo, and also to Timmy, Morien’s son, for filming it and putting together this little film of a great day :- hope you enjoy watching it, and if your ever in the Barnsley area, I can’t recommend it highly enough, Elsecar Heritage Railway.

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Top right – My Mum and my wife Sonia with me. Me standing on the front of engine 1310. The four of us on the front of the train, after our driving experience. Sonia and me. The mighty ‘Mardy Monster’ the biggest of its kind, in for repairs.

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On Friday the 2nd August, I had my chance to tell my story on film at the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation at their headquarters in Liverpool, this was for a campaign they are doing in November, so they pick the best bits and put out a minute or two of everybodies story, there where about five of us here today and they had more on Tuesday. The campaign will be nationwide, but my story will be aimed at where I live, Basildon Essex, and other peoples where they live, I doubt I’ll be on celebrity this that or the other at any time after doing this, but I’m proud to be doing this, in the hope that it will help someone, and inspire them to kick cancers butt. The day went really well, we had some nibbles and met a few of the others telling their stories, one guy had his diagnosis nineteen years ago, and was still here, that’s inspiring and he was so dignified with it too, then there was Eileen, who was on the cover of their annual magazine ‘Inspire’, a lady who was more worried about missing out on her trip to Nepal than her cancer, and Eileen did go on her trip, a very strong lady, and very friendly, I wasn’t going to argue with her when she told me to come and sit next to her and tell her my story, a lovely person, and a pleasure to meet Eileen and the others that were there to tell their stories.

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We were also having a photo shoot, which we knew nothing about, but was fun, we also did a bit of filming outside, but there were a lot of people having lunch, sod it we did it anyway, even though that did feel weird, my wife Sonia and me were filmed just looking into the distance, and to have ours hands coming together, this was to fill the gaps when they edited the filming of my story. As we filmed while others watched while they ate lunch, it was a bit off putting that no one recognised me, but I’m not a star yet, maybe in November they’ll say “I saw them filming that bit”, but then maybe not. After the photo shoot, it was time for the story, the bit I was worried about, I’ve never been much of a talker, let alone on camera, but it seemed to go well, we were given a list of questions to know what to expect on the day, which I did look at and prepared myself for, but it turned more into a chat, and when Rachel, the interviewer asked me about our daughters wedding, that was when I started to get emotional, it took a little while to compose myself, I was so proud that day taking my daughter down the aisle, one that cancer wanted to deprive me of, but with all the love and support I’ve had, cancer didn’t stand a chance. A very great and very proud day for all.

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Soooooo Proud!!!!!

I had prepared for all the questions, but when I was asked what was something inspirational that had happened, my mind went blank, I knew I had an answer for that but I just couldn’t think of it, looking back now I’m sure it was the fact that I was at our daughters wedding, but as we’d already talked about that, it threw me and my mind was blank. One of the others had a note book with her, I had it all written down but in my mind, not on paper, note to self, write it down next time. I think it went well and will put out a link to it when it comes out in November, and we get a copy of the photo’s which will be good, proper photo’s of my wife Sonia and me, looking forward to those. I would like to thank Rachel for seeking me out on Facebook, and making me feel totally relaxed about it all. All the people we met were really kind and would like to thank them all for their hospitallity, see you all again next year. After we had finished there with the photo’s and filming, we had a little walk around Liverpool, around Albert dock which is really nice, and then strolled into the city, and had to see ‘The Cavern’ where it all started for ‘The Beatles’, then strolled around Liverpool 1 shopping centre, Liverpool is a great city, so much history and so many characters, if you know a scouser you’ll be having a good laugh in no time.

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Clockwise from top right – Me in front of the Liver building. Looking out on the Mersey. Sonia and me outside the Cavern, we were told we’d never make it too! This is Leo, one of my Dads dogs, he has recovered from cancer too. The cottage we stayed in, at Bamford in the Peak District. The Cotton Exchange where the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is based. Two cancer beaters. This is Timmy, my brother Morien’s son, Timmy went vegan who told Morien about it, who told me about going vegan when I first got diagnosed with cancer, and my cancer is now dormant, this is Timmy, who saved my life! And this is the Derwent Dam, where the dam busters practised before bombing the Möhne, Eder, and Sorpe dams in Germany, very close to the cottage we stayed in, we had a lovely walk around here.

As you flick through the internet and you sign up to weekly news letters, looking through one of them from ‘Highexistence’, it was almost a revelation. The Stoics from around 2000 thousand years ago, were writing about things that are so apt for todays life, the one that reeled me in was from Marcus Aurelius (121AD-180AD) and he wrote “Death smiles at us all, but all a man can do is smile back.” And that’s exactly what I did to my Oncologist when he told us “you have an average of a year.” I think it threw him to have someone smiling back at him when telling them they only had so long left to live, it seemed he had become almost immune to human emotions, whether doctors end up in oncology through choice or circumstance I don’t know, but I don’t think his heart was in it any more. At my June appointment he had left suddenly and left the department without an oncologist, with a few filling in for him, but struggling with the computer system at this hospital. As my scan results were so straight forward the lung specialist nurse dealt with me that day, just to say that all was exactly the same as last time, it’s all stable and still dormant. Lots of smiles and thumbs up, a great result.

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Death is a reality, when it happens is beyond most people’s control, so live your life to the full,be thoughtful and be kind, because you never know when your times up. “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” More from Marcus Aurelius. Make do with what you’ve got, when you look at what you’ve got, and where you’ve been, it makes you feel greedy to expect any more, as you have so much already. That’s from me, I can be quite philosophical at times, I’ve always seen myself as a log floating down the river of life, and I’ll go where ever it takes me, and when ever I go over the waterfall to end my journey, the last thought I’ll have is what a great time that was. Not panicing about what I’ll miss out on in the future, that’s beyond my control. ‘Have the courage to change the things you can, the serenity to accept the things you can’t change, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ That’s another great saying. Now a word from Diogenes of Sinope (412 BC-323 BC) “It is the privilege of the gods to want nothing, and of godlike men to want little.” We’ll bring Epictetus (50AD-135AD) in now “It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” So many of these sayings is how I’ve got through my cancer journey without the benefit of knowing of these Stoic philosophers, but meeting some of them, quite by accident has been great, you can find them too at . This week they’re sending out daily emails for Stoic week, and if you put less thought for possessions and more for your loved ones and yourself, you can have a happier and more relaxed life. “Don’t seek to have events happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do happen, and all will be well with you.” – Epictetus. Take care, be strong and ‘Don’t be afraid of lung cancer’.

2 thoughts on “Steam Trains, Filming and getting a bit Philosophical”

  1. Dear David,

    I’m replying to ‘don’t be afraid of lung cancer’. Presumably that’s you under another address. Hope so.

    The blog was extremely interesting: very readable (because of the good writing); most of the paragraphs nicely divided up with super photos; and in the end bits on the Stoics, very wise – both what they said and what you say about what they said. In fact it’s always struck me throughout your cancer that you were very stoical about it. I hope I could manage something like that – but I think you do it better than I would.

    Thanks for the information about donating. We’ll soon get around to that.

    Out to see Lorna’s sisters and cousin this evening. Have a ticket for Port Vale tomorrow (hoping for no thunderstorms). And have to miss the England v Wales rugby match on Sunday as it’s only on Sky. But I’ll be using the computer to get up to date.

    Much love from us both to both of you,

    Dad xx


    Liked by 1 person

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