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19 Oct 2009

Essential Listening: The Runaway Train

trainPopped the radio on on Sunday afternoon, and heard an amazing 15 minute programme called ‘The Runaway Train’.  It tells the storyof an event in northern Canada in 1987, when railwayman Wesley MacDonald loaded up a train of 50 cars of iron ore, but the brakes failed and before he knew it, he was the only person aboard a runaway train.  The discussions between himself and the rail traffic controller about whether to stay on the train or to jump were recorded on tape.  The programme is made up of interviews with many of those involved and you can listen to it here for the next 6 days.  In some ways it has no relation to usual Transition Culture-related issues, but there is something about how people come together in times of adversity, and the depth of emotion this programme captures, that suggests that as we inhabit our own collective runaway train, the notion that it will inevitably bring out the worst in each of us is at least debatable.

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5 Comments

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Frantisek Marcik
19 Oct 2:08pm

Thanks for the article, Rob. You’ll find the Czech translation here: http://www.energybulletin.cz/?q=clanek/zasadni-poslech-neovladatelny-vlak

Frantisek Marcik
19 Oct 3:29pm

And more add to this. The analogy you make here between the railwayman trapped in the runaway train and our situation when we face the peak oil and other problems has something in common with the phenomenon called ‘sympathetic induction’.

Mike Grenville
21 Oct 9:32am

Can’t believe you havn’t mentioned the song that those of us of an older generation grew up with. It was played regularly on the ‘Children’s Choice’ radio programme that went out on the old BBC Light Programme.

Michael Holliday
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7_IMEvr9ek

Vernon Dalhart
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFJ3KayeUTc

Twas in the year of ’89, on that old Chicago line,
When the winter wind was blowing shrill,
The rails were froze, the wheels were cold,
And then the air brakes wouldn’t hold,
And number nine came roaring down the hill.

Oh, the runaway train came down the track and she blew,
The runaway train came down the track and she blew,
The runaway train came down the track,
The whistle wide and the throttle back
And she blewewwwwwwwwwwwwew

Oh, the engineer said the train must halt and she blew,
The engineer said the train must halt and she blew,
The engineer said the train must halt,
He said it was all the fireman’s fault
And she blewew blew, blew, blew

Oh, the fireman said he rang the bell and she blew,
The fireman said he rang the bell and she blew,
The fireman said he rang the bell,
The engineer said ya did like —–
And she blewwwwwwwwwwwwwwew

Oh, the porter got an awful fright and she blew,
The porter got an awful fright and she blew,
The porter got an awful fright,
He got so scared that he turned white,
And she blewwwwwwwwwwwwwwew

Oh, a drummer sat in the parlour car and she blew,
A drummer sat in the parlour car and she blew,
A drummer sat in the parlour car,
And he nearly swallered a fat cigar,
And she blewew blew, blew, blew,

Oh, the runaway train went over the hill and she blew,
The runaway train went over the hill and she blew,
The runaway train went over the hill,
And the last we heard, she was goin’ still
And she blewew blew, blew, blew….