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Steam Stories - Breakfast - GEA #4023 - Richard Niven

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Talking of #4023 reminds me of a trip from Mossel Bay to Oudtshoorn one late night in 1996. It is not the best of tales but I still laugh about it today. I still see the inspectors face to this day. It could tell a thousand words. We had worked a late running Union Limited up the pass that evening to Oudtshoorn. We took coal and water then prepaired the loco for the return back to Mossel Bay.


We leave Oudtshoorn with a very short load of about 6 wagons and a inspector from Nouport. He seemed really full of himself and knew everything (or so he thought). The driver was getting really fed up with him and told him to shut-up and mind his own business. He then started on me telling me how to fire the engine etc. By the time we got to Camfer the driver had put him in his place and he never said another word.


We continue south down the pass and as usual I let the fire die off a bit because now it is breakfast time. I clean off the shovel using the spray pipe and start the fry-up. Bacon, eggs, sausages the whole tootie. Yum yum what more can one want at this hour in the morning. With all cooked up and a pot of tea to go with driver asks inspector "would you like some breakfast mate?". With all the food sitting on the table above the fire door no one would refuse. "oh yes I will have some of that" says the inspector. What a difference in attitude now. With breakfast over I give the fire a few shovels of coal just to liven the loco up again.

We get stopped by red signals at Power station when the inspector decides he wants the loo and a big one at that. "Are there no toilets around here" he asks. "No" replies the driver "you'll just have to use the mobile toilet". "Mobile toilet, what's that?" asks inspector. With him only being use to diesels I could see where this was leading to. Driver says "take the shovel into the coal bunker and use that then gooi (throw) it on the fire. "WHAT" he replies, "is that normal?" "OH yes, all the time" replies the driver. If a face could tell a thousand words it was now.


"But, but, but" replies the inspector he was lost for words. "You, yooouu, just cooked our breakfast on that shovel". "Yes" replies the driver "it all adds to the flavour". The inspectors head was out the window like lightning and was just about ready to throw up. I was laughing so much I climbed into the coal bunker and made out that I was trimming coal. Whole way back to George he never said another word. Driver and I just kept trying not to laugh until he got off at George. Then we laughed all the way home to Mossel Bay. And for those who are now asking the question "did you really do that?" the answer is NO. At least I never done it perhaps some others did but not me.

Remember to always clean your shovel before eating, ha ha.


Richard Niven