memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

The Master Cutler

Sheffield, UK

September 1978

There was a rather splendid train in those days called The Master Cutler (the honorific title of the Lord Mayor of Sheffield) which used to leave Sheffield at 7.30 and arrive at London, St. Pancras at 10 o’clock. I thoroughly approved of this service. It was a fast first-class-only Pullman commuter train with a dining car and reserved seats.

As it slid out of Sheffield I would doze for half an hour before making my way down the swaying coaches to the restaurant-car for a good old English breakfast – orange juice then eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato and toast (the whole disaster) washed down with multiple cups of coffee. I can see it now, the rattling silver cutlery, the attentive white-coated waiters bending to replenish one’s coffee cup and the damp grey-green country-side of the English Midlands flashing by.

Why do I remember that train so fondly? Maybe I select it as a metaphor, one of thousands, for an age which, however imperfect and tarnished, compares favourably with this present one with its instant gratification, communication, credit, culture of greed and corporate irresponsibility – and that jittery sense of the Human Race drifting towards some great social, economic or ecological calamity.

It’s no one’s fault by the way.

It’s just the thrust of history accelerating the world towards some inevitable conclusion.

Whatever happens, the planet (the bio-sphere) will survive, but will the Humanity which has been abusing it get away with impunity?

 Who shall inherit the earth?

Will the dominant species in the post-human era be the ant or the rat or (and here’s a thought) that twin pinnacle of evolution which decided to remain in the sea, the dolphin?


Comments on: "The Master Cutler" (3)

  1. This is, inceed, a great metaphor Tom as well as being a very enjoyable nostalgic read. I never travelled on this particular train but on similar and those days, bumping into people as the train swayed its way along the journey definitely beats bumping into people staring into mobile screens while walking through the city, or walking anywhere actually, even sadder, walking through the countryside.

    Its time to stop and smell the flowers along the way.

    And I can see the dolphins doing a great job 🙂



    • Hi Christine, we’re more or less from the same generation so you will know what I meant … Your last poem was rather melancholic. Hope you’re going Ok , Tom.


  2. Same generation, same part of the world 🙂

    I am doing ok thanks, hope you are too



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