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In the Twinkling of an Eye

It was all over in 35 seconds. A motley group of folk shuffled together on Keynsham station on a dull grey Saturday afternoon. Some had cameras and others didn’t. You might have thought they were waiting for a train to Bristol. But a Sprinter growled past unnoticed and all eyes were on the far distance, looking towards Bristol. There was a curious atmosphere of expectation, that something was going to happen.

And then it did. A swirling cloud of steam became noticeable just above the trees, then a sharp headlight could be seen, clearly coming our way. Black smoke mingled with the white steam as the fireman got going with his shovel. Then a short and defiant whistle grew into a cacophony of noise and sensation as 5043 flew under the road bridge with its chocolate and cream train and was gone, like an iridescent kingfisher whose vibrancy of colour you hardly have time to sense before you have lost it again.

That motley crew then shuffled off again, up the steps to their cars, maybe heading for a cup of tea before the football results. It was all so quick, nobody said much but we all knew it was marvellous and special and we loved it. Long may it continue.

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