Shift work is not everyone’s cup of tea. I, however, quite like variety. Which is fortunate, given the nature of my role. If I were to brainstorm words associated with my job, variety would be the first I’d come out with. There are early shifts, late shifts, a few middle shifts and weekends too. But the variety doesn’t stop there. I’m a relief clerk, so I have no fixed place of work. When other clerks along the stretch of line are on holiday, sick or otherwise indisposed, I step in to fill their shoes. This week, I’ve been to several stations along a stretch in the New Forest.
They are all pretty much identical buildings. Like many of the stations along the line, they are pretty old buildings, from the early days of the railway. They have the dates of construction featured in the brickwork. And it forever amuses me that they deemed it necessary to include ‘AD’. Just in case, I suppose, someone were to mix them up with the BC builds.
The video is just a short snapshot of my working environment. I like most of the stations. They are almost museums in their own right. Over the years, staffing has been reduced, in some cases quite dramatically. Nowadays, some stations have morning and afternoon shifts. Some just a few hours in the morning. There is a feeling that the powers that be would like to shutter a fair number of them. That would be a tragedy, in a number of ways. Besides the person who has lost a job, it would be a terrible shame to abandon the concept of human staffing altogether. A man on duty, even if for only a few hours a day, keeps these places alive.
In the depths of winter, it can be dark when I leave for work, and dark when I return. In summer, the opposite. There is a sweet spot twice a year, when it dark when I awake in the morning and when I retire to bed at night. But light when I depart and return. It’s a short lived sweet spot.