There’s nothing wrong with nicknames

The late John Beeson in his armorial badges of the ROAB
The late John Beeson in his armorial badges of the ROAB

THIS WEEK IN 1989: Contract cleaning for warships ‘dangerous’

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Do you remember the time before the phrase ‘politically correct’ came into the English language, a time when many people had nicknames?

In my many years on the railways, I came across loads of people who were never called by their own name.

Those men never took offence and just accepted it. It was all part of the world in which they worked.

One driver was always called Crunch because, when shunting at Guildford, he destroyed a couple of trains. Empty stock I am glad to say.

Another man, a shunter at Frimley, was called Geegee as he had very large front upper teeth making him look like a horse.

Treacle Hewson came from the village of Chobham where treacle was supposed to come up through the ground. It was stored there during the war apparently. Forgotten about, it leaked and anyone from that area became known as Treacle.

Another driver I knew who was as thin as a rake was always called Muscle. Then there was John Scruff Beeson – one of the smartest guards on the railway and always in full uniform.

Stumpy Bannerman was as short as could be and how he reached the controls on a steam engine always amazed other drivers, while Tired Tim Greaveshurd could fall asleep anywhere there was a space.

Of course, these were the days when banter in the mess room was part and parcel of the workplace and was accepted by everyone.

I have been told that I would not last five minutes on the job these days as I was always part and parcel of a skylark when there was time for it.

Mind you, when it came to the job, no-one was more conscientious. There we are, different days and different ways.