Back in the mists of ancient time, when British Rail was the single entity running the railways in Britain, and Rail Blue/Grey was the only livery of the day, we spent our leisure time travelling the country seeking out rare locomotives working passenger trains between far-flung outposts of the railway network.
We were "Haulage Bashers" (often shortened to just "Bashers"), often evolved from the anorak'ed and bespectacled spotty youths that could be found adorning the platform ends of Britain's largest railway stations. Bashers soon worked out that Trainspotting was not much fun (especially given Britain's weather) and was certainly not "cool" (it had nothing to do with the eponymously titled film directed by Danny Boyle, which is probably about the coolest movie you can find. If you haven't seen it - you really have to check it out).
We were not the first of our kind. Something almost all bashers have in common is the wish that they were born about five years before their actual birth date. At any point in time (OK - so maybe any time since the mid 1800's) there was an overwhelming feeling that the railways were better (i.e. in locomotive haulage terms) in the "good old days". Older bashers would taunt us with stories of the end of steam, early diesel locomotives, and long closed lines or trains that have passed into memory.
Maybe I had a bit of foresight back in the early 1980's, which was my bashing period. I used to take a tape recorder on my travels, and loved recording the locos I travelled behind. Sure - I did get a fair share of strange looks, but looking back I'm glad I managed to save a sonic sample of the times. Now my tapes have either been lost or have perished due to age, but I do have several recordings digitized so they should now last for ever.
To be continued....