It All Started With A Small Tank Engine – Happy 70th Anniversary, Thomas and Friends

“There was no doubt in my mind that steam engines all had definite personalities. I would hear them snorting up the grade and little imagination was needed to hear in the puffings and pantings of the two engines the conversation they were having with one another: ‘I can’t do it! I can’t do it! I can’t do it!’ ‘Yes, you can! Yes, you can! Yes, you can!'”

Those were the words of the late Reverend Wilbert Awdry, whose memory of hearing trains, travelling past his house in the night (while listening in his bed) later became the inspiration for Edward and Gordon, one of the first stories in the Railway Series books. Now, seventy years later, it’s hard to imagine children not seeing their favourite number one tank engine. But today, Thomas and Friends haven’t just won the hearts of children.

It seems that Thomas’ fans are children and adults on the autism spectrum. So why is Thomas so popular? For so many, Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends play an important role for helping their social and creative skills, such as human emotions, imagination and communication. Through these experiences, both children and adults begin to have strong relationships with Thomas, when they have a few or no friends of their own. Thomas can also give comfort, and make children and vulnerable adults safe in their world, when they are frightened and/or upset. Because of this, Thomas’ relationships with the children and adults last longer than their siblings.

As a child with autism, I used to love Thomas; I would watch my old videos of every early episodes (between 1984 and 2000) and Thomas and the Magic Railroad. Watching them made me feel safe and secure whenever I had a bad day. I loved Thomas, as much I loved watching my other favourite children’s shows including Fireman Sam and Postman Pat. Like so many children with autism, I was fascinated with the scenery, background, colours, the stories, storylines and the imaginative play. Looking back on certain episodes as an adult, nothing has changed. I guess I can say I’m young at heart.

I wonder what Awdry will think of Thomas and the small blue engine changed the world? All it took was pure imagination, and amazing creativity to make Thomas and his friends a reality. It’s hard to believe that seven generations of children and adult alike still remember Thomas the Tank Engine. Along with eighteen series’, two hundred and forty-one episodes and eleven films, I can see that Thomas and his friends will continue to live on forever and possibility the next seventy years.

And with that, I leave you with this final sentence:

Thank you, Thomas

For making our childhood,

And for being there when we needed you.

So, Happy Birthday Thomas

And many happy returns to you,

On the year of your seventy birthday.   

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Witch’s Hat on Good Friday

Note: This is just a short story I’ve made up. I gotten into a bad habit of waking up late this morning (not good!) and found in my room, my old witch’s hat while I was waking up. Hope you enjoy. 🙂

It was Good Friday and little Amelia was excited. Two days left till Easter, she thought, then I can eat all the chocolate Easter eggs Mummy bought for me. But to an excited, little girl Easter was ages away. So, she couldn’t wait any longer. If only there were a way to magically change time…

There was. Amelia was in the bathroom, brushing her teeth when suddenly, she noticed a strange-looking hat. It was all black and had a top, which pointed to the sky. “What is this?” Amelia questioned. “A witches hat? It’s not Halloween yet”. Despite her puzzlement, Amelia had a strange feeling in her guit. What were her instincts trying to tell her? Should she try the hat on? This gave Amelia an idea. “What if I try the hat on and magically change time? Then I can have all the chocolate to myself!”

And that’s just what she did. When she put the hat on, Amelia started to notice swirls, twirls, magical stars and magic wands; the magic was working! After a brief moment, it stopped. Amelia turned around and cheered happily. She ended up in her family kitchen and noticed that the calendar had a red circle on the date – Easter Sunday

In no time, Amelia rushed to the table and ate all the eggs she could find. However, it take long for her to feel sick. “Maybe, eating all of those eggs wasn’t such a good idea after all”, she said. Amelia was right; not she was under the weather, but she got into trouble with her parents too.

“Oh, Amelia”, said her mother. 

“What are we going to do with you?” asked her father.

From that day on, Amelia never ate Easter eggs again. But remember, you don’t always to end up like Amelia. She said to me that good, nice children like yourself should save your eggs for another day or share them with your siblings, cousins or friends. “Easter is a time of sharing and caring about others is the most important thing to do”, she reminds us. I believe Amelia makes a very good point; don’t you? 

Happy Good Friday everybody. 🙂

Thoughts from A Rambling Psyche

To start off week 2 of my interactive poetry the lovely writer over at Acting My Life gave me her three words – (Money, Greed, and Power) giving me a theme that I have used many times in the past. So I tried to approach it from a different route this time, so let me know how I did!

The Road to Power

Its hard not to see
That our world runs on money
And that it determines who we will be
That sweet green honey
Drives us all to greed
Because money gives us power
And we all want to succeed
Money can make us feel empowered
We will go to such extraordinary lengths
To acquire it that we begin to forget
Our individual talents and strengths
Becoming heartless husks only seeking to get
What we want with no regard
For those who we are stepping on
Because the…

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Midge’s Tails: Midge At The Dog Show

One afternoon, Midge was downstairs and grooming herself after she spent the morning sleeping in Colin’s bed. When she had finished, Midge thought about what she should do. Why not take a walk around the neighbourhood?

So, Midge went through her cat flap and walked around Queen Elizabeth Street. It was quiet and peaceful; Midge couldn’t hear anything but the chorus of the birds and the silent, cold breeze of the wind.

Suddenly, she heard dogs barking in the distance.

“Where’s that noise coming from?” she said. “ I’m going to investigate”.

After crossing the road, Midge arrived on the bright, green cricket pitch and couldn’t believe her eyes. Everywhere around her, there were dogs. Boxers, Labradors, Poodles and Jack Russell’s. Midge also found Colin, Freddy and Izzy who were taking part in the show too.

“I wonder what’s going on?” she thought.

Midge walked up to greet Freddy and asked him what was happening.

“It’s a dog show”, replied Freddy.

“A dog show, Freddy?” Midge asked. “What’s a ‘dog show’?”

“It’s a special event where dogs and their owners participate in contests and win prizes”, answered Freddy.

“Sounds like fun”, said Midge. “Which categories are you entering?”

“I’m entering the ‘Don’t Eat the Sausage’, ‘Best Dog’, ‘Best Trick’, ‘Waggiest Tail’ and ‘The Dog That the Judge Would Like to Take Home’”.

“Good luck, Freddy”.

Midge left Freddy and continued walking around the arena. Then, she bumped into Izzy. She was talking to Charlie, Sue and Minnie; they were taking part in the show too. Midge asked which contests they were entering.

“I’m entering for “The Most Appealing Eyes”, said Minnie.

“The Dog Who Is Most Like Its Owner”, said Izzy.

“Best Condition”, said Charlie.

That’s because you are hopeless”, snapped Izzy. “No one wants to a loser like you”.

All the dogs, expect Sue howled with laughter. Then, they left her and Midge to find their owners.

“I don’t know Midge”, replied Sue. “Maybe Izzy, Minnie and Charlie are right. What am I good at besides looking after my owner?”

Midge said nothing.

“Exactly: nothing”. Sue walked away in floods of tears.

Poor Sue, thought Midge; she knew how desperately Sue wanted to participate like the other dogs.

The dog show was about to start and Midge went to find a spot to sit. She found one near the ring while, one-by-one, she watched the dogs, their owners and the judges come and go.

Freddy won 1st prize for “The Dog That the Judge would Like to Take Home”, Izzy won 6th place for “The Dog Who Is Most Like Its Owner”, dressing up as a fairy, Minnie came 2nd for “The Most Appealing Eyes” and Charlie received 3rd place for Agility, when his owner put him at the last minute.

Then to Midge’s surprise, Sue entered the ring with her owner, Jim May. She was delighted, “Looks like Sue has found a contest to enter in”, she said.

However, Midge was wrong; standing next to Sue and Jim was a judge, who was dressed very smartly. He was tapping on the microphone to get the audience’s attention. “Ladies and gentleman, May I have your attention please”, he said.

“I normally don’t give out prizes to non-competitors, but I am here to represent a special rosette to Jim May and his dog Sue. While I was judging, I noticed this inspirational pair”.

Then, the judge told the audience the story of Jim, who was blind from birth and diagnosed with autism at a young age. Jim and his family then adopted Sue and it changed his life.

“Their stories have touched my heart”, the judge concluded, “So I hereby give this rosette to Jim and Sue May”. The audience clapped and cheered as Sue and Jim were presented with their special rosette.

“Now I understand”, said Midge. “Sue showed the judge and the audience that winning isn’t everything, but everyone is special”.

But there was one who didn’t agree with the judge’s decision. “That’s not fair”, snapped Izzy. “Sue doesn’t deserve that prize!”

Midge was angry; “You shouldn’t be jealous, Izzy”.

“I don’t care, Midge; I’m better at competing than Sue!”

Suddenly, Midge began to lose her temper. She hissed, and then chased Izzy around the pitch. “That’ll teach you to blow your own trumpet!” she said.

After chasing Izzy, Midge left the dog show. When she arrived back home, Midge walked through the cat flap, climbed up the stairs and jumped back into Colin’s bed.

Midge was about to sleep when she was disturbed by Colin. He picked Midge up and cuddled her in his arms. “Hello, Midge”, said Colin. “I’ve missed you”.

And I missed you, Midge thought cheekily.

Midge snuggled into her owner’s arms, and purred and purred until she fell fast asleep.

© 2015

Midge’s Tails: Midge Goes To School

At 16 Elizabeth Crescent, lived a cat called Midge. She lived with the Latimer family; there was Dad, Mum and their son, Colin.

Midge is a young cat, with a heart of gold and a friendly personality.

She is also a curious cat, who loves adventure. Sometimes, her curiosity gets her into serious trouble!

But most of all, Midge likes to sleep. Every evening till morning, she would jump up on Colin’s bed and sleep on top of his patchwork quilt, where she dreams of chasing rats and mice. However, sleepy Midge doesn’t like waking up in the mornings. Instead, she prefers to snuggle down on the quilt.

One morning, Midge was rudely woken by the sound of Colin searching his room. She got up, stretched, yawning and sat upright. Midge saw that Colin was in a hurry.

“I’m going to be late for school”. He cried. “Where did I put these conkers?”

Midge couldn’t stand the noise! “I need to find somewhere else to sleep”, she said.

She found Colin’s book bag on the floor. “This will do, purr-fectly”, Midge said happily.

She leapt from the bed, walked towards the bag and crawled inside.

There wasn’t much room for Midge to curl up and sleep. Inside, she was squashed between Colin’s pencil case, homework diary and school books. “It’s better than nothing”, Midge said, before she went back to sleep.

Colin found his conkers and placed them in his trouser pocket. Then, he collected his bag and headed off to school.

However, he didn’t notice Midge’s tail which was sticking out of the bag.

Colin arrived at school and begun to settle in. He sat at a desk with Elizabeth Harris, Toby Times, Maggie Johnson and Jane McPherson. Their teacher, Miss Chiltern started the day with Literacy.

“Now children”, said Miss Chiltern, “I presume you have learned your words for your spelling test today”.

The children said nothing.

Underneath Colin’s desk, Midge woke up from her sleep. She poked her head out of the bag and realised she wasn’t in Colin’s bedroom. She started to panic and began to meow very loudly.

Hearing Midge’s meow, Miss Chiltern’s class turned to the back of the room to see where the noise was coming from.

“Who made that noise?” Miss Chiltern said angrily.

Again, the children said nothing.

“Oh, dear”, Midge said nervously. “If they see me, I will be in trouble”. So, Midge quietly sneaked out of the bag, out of the classroom and explored the building.

Later, Midge returned to the classroom. However, she noticed there was no one in the room. “Where did they go?” she said.

Then, she heard the door opening; Miss Chiltern and the children were returning from their P.E lesson.

In a panic, Midge hid underneath Miss Chiltern’s desk.

“Now, children”, Miss Chiltern said, “We have thirty minutes until lunch time. So, it’s time for ‘Show and Tell’. I want everyone to take out the—their—” Miss Chiltern sneezed and sneezed and sneezed.

“I do apologise”, she said but in the middle of her sneezing, she stood on Midge’s tail.

The tabby cat shrieked, causing the entire class to jump.

“Who made that dreadful noise?” Miss Chiltern asked. She turned to face Colin.

“No, Miss. I didn’t do it, I swear”, he replied.

“I hope you’re not lying. If you are, I’ll have to report you to the headmaster”.

“Look!” cried Elizabeth Harris. The whole class turned to look at Miss Chiltern’s desk.

There sat Midge; she was happy to see Colin. Colin wasn’t happy to see Midge.

“Whose cat is this?” Miss Chiltern asked. “Tell me now; I’m allergic to cats”.

“She’s mine, Miss”, replied Colin. “ I’m really sorry; I don’t know how she got here”.

“You know the school doesn’t allow pets”, Miss Chiltern said. “Since you have brought her to school, I would like you to give a class talk about your cat for our show and tell lesson”.

Colin stood in front of the class and began to speak, with Midge in his arms. “This is my cat, Midge”, said Colin. “ I’ve had her for three years now. She used to be my Nan’s cat but when my Nan died; Midge came to live with us. I love Midge; she’s my best friend.

“Midge is friendly with children and loves an adventure as I discovered today.

“I wouldn’t trade Midge for anything, not even for a set of cards. I hope she will live forever and ever. Thank you”.

Colin’s classmates clapped their hands but Miss Chiltern wasn’t so pleased.

“Well, Colin”, she said, “Your classmates loved your presentation. I think you deserve a gold star”. Miss Chiltern placed the star on Colin’s school jumper.

“What about me?” Midge thought. “Don’t I get a sticky thing too?”

Miss Chiltern ignored the tabby cat.

“I guess not”, thought Midge.

But Miss Chiltern secretly smiled at Colin as he stroked his cat, who purred, and purred, and purred.

When they got home, Colin told his parents about his day and what happened at ‘Show and Tell’.

“Well, well”, said Dad. “I think we have to keep an eye on Midge from now on. “You were lucky not to be reported to the headmaster; otherwise you would have been in real trouble”.

“Yes”, Colin said, “but Midge did make Miss Chiltern sneeze. You showed her, didn’t you, Midge?”

But Midge had drifted off to drunk the bowl of milk Mum had put down for her. “This is delicious”, she thought.

Then, Midge went upstairs and fell fast asleep on Colin’s bed.

Midge Sleeping

© 2015