“Forth with the grinding of couplings, the hissing and snorting of steam!” The Ambers Drama Group is bringing you a nostalgic entertainment of verse, recorded music, videos and pictures about the heydays of rail travel in South Africa. It comes in the tradition that the Drama Group has established over the years of unusual programmes of readings and music, such as the ones on World War One and World War Two, the Women’s Day programme, and “Easter Voices”.
Now you can hear powerful and moving poetry about the Garrett C25 “Grinding round the Cramond bend / with wheel flange sparks aglow”; the British officer in the Boer War armoured train and his boerenooi; the stationmaster’s wife in her cottage with its oval portraits and crocheted doilies; the “varnished teak / and the white clad waiter”; the child calling “Penny baas” from the shade of a peppercorn tree. In “Stimela”, Hugh Masekela sings and plays his plaintive trumpet about men on their way to the mines. Let Nico Carstens’s hit “Ek ry met die trein”, Jeremy Taylor’s song about “an ou called van der Merwe”, Sonja Herholdt on the “Trein na Matjiesfontein”, and Christo & Kobus with their Brylcreamed hair singing “Trein na Margate” take you back to days gone by. A smattering of Afrikaans captures the culture of the time, but will not spoil things for those unfamiliar with the language.