10th Jun 2020 in Loco Wednesday Gang
Ropley; 10th June. A very strange environment these days though with a lot more life about the place than last week as the railway starts to ready itself for welcoming passengers and volunteers in the not too distant future.
Last week there were just six of us led by the ever cheerful Martin starting an assault of the Ropley staff areas with cleaning kit and paint brushes to rid the place of any bug hidy holes. Well, lessen them anyway. I think we were all amazed by the progress we made, moving lockers from changing areas to create more social distant space and re-arranging our tables in the mess for the same obvious reasons.
This week was essentially the same happy band ready for window cleaning, more painting and even cleaning the blinds (once I'd worked out how to send them crashing to the floor) joined by our MD, Simon who informed us that there was a possibility of a BBC News crew popping in. And our puzzlement at the car-park being nearly full was answered by the presence of our engineering staffers and the Wednesday Gardening gang all with the same brief; lets look as though we are ready for business!
Our staffers (with Dave Pallet) were setting a couple of warming fires and oiling locos, and Thomas was steamed enough to be seen chuffing about the place though I'm not quite sure to what end... But I didn't expect the site that greeted us on a visit to the shed; it was almost empty! Both Bullieds and 75079 which have been in the shed forever are now in the wheeldrop leaving the pit road in the shed accessible for the first time in many moons. This is so that Chris and his band of helpers can start work next week repairing the pit lane in the yard which needs some serious maintenance.
Our management have given a lot of thought about safely carrying passengers when we are finally allowed to and, to that end, a couple of us had a bit of a trial run laying out a convenient coach with the proposed idea. Passengers will have allocated seats which will be theirs and theirs only for the day. Entry will be the central door and they will be directed left or right to their respective seats, where they will be expected to remain. Exit from the coach will be by the end doors thereby creating a one-way system. Only every other table will be populated, again, to enforce social distancing.
The news crew also came at that time to see what we were up to, so face masks adjusted, we "acted" a bit of table polishing and floor washing. If I'd known they were coming, I'd have booked the Winnebago for my make-up and hair check (what hair?) But as they only shot my glove covered hands "cleaning" I think the camera survived...
Now for a bit of Wednesday gang news; (the rest of you, assuming there are any, can get back to the tele)
As we seem to be the biggest daily group of the week, there is obviously going to be a potential problem with social distancing. With our new mess layout, it will be only possible to get 15 people seated for tea-break, lunch and whatever else we find to occupy ourselves between "working" Five of those seats will be needed for the staffers. Which, if my "O" level maths serves me right, means NO MORE THAN 10 of us can be present on any one Wednesday.
We all of us know, and Simon confirmed it today, that we don't all always have enough to do. Or to be managed safely. To that end, Simon has asked if we could consider some of us moving to a different day to even out the number of volunteers available each day of the week. Not a problem for me particularly, though, on the flip-side, I did point out to Simon that many of us have formed social bonds that would be missed if we all changed our regular days. He acknowledged that but, when all said and done, we are all in a new world and need to adapt accordingly. Personally, I have found the last two Wednesdays very satisfying having had plenty to do (helped by Martins good leadership) To the extent I have done full days for the first time in ages!
It's something all of we Wednesday gangers need to sort. Quite how, I'm not sure but most of us have plenty of time to think about it in these strange times..
I'll leave you mulling that one over!
Stay safe and see y'all soon.
Your Ropley Scribe,