On my walk this morning, I met Martin Wimbush, the actor and frequent performer. I had taken the path from Winchelsea Road sluice by the River Tillingham to Gibbets Marsh and there was this figure in the distance standing by the level crossing. I waited for him either to come or go, as social distancing requires, but he just stood there, with his little dog. So I approached and was recognised (in military parlance).
“What are you doing,” I asked. “I’m waving to the trains,” he replied, “the first one has gone and I’m waiting for the second”. This seemed mildly eccentric, but I resisted the temptation to ask whether he came there often.
He then explained: “I enjoy my little walk twice a day with our dog; I come at 11.45am and 6.45pm and I wave to the engine drivers because I feel they need encouragement as they drive their ghost trains up and down the line. They’ve got used to me now, so they always wave back. I was inspired by the story I read of an old lady who stands on a road bridge over a motorway and waves at the lorry drivers as they pass underneath.”
We watched the train together, and the driver did wave back. Then he walked first across the track and I left him on the green grass with Daisy the poodle as I continued on my way round the fields to West Undercliff.
It was a beautiful day, the air was fresh and clean and the birds were singing. I saw a cock pheasant in splendid spring plumage duck under a gate. I was less than a mile from the centre of town. Several other walkers I recognised and greeted before arriving home in time for lunch. I’m getting used to this routine, but very conscious that all is a bit fragile and vulnerable.
Image Credits: Kenneth Bird .