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'Tornado Torment'

A Procol parody • Jeff Vinter

Jeff Vinter (read his poems here, and explore his Railway Gazetteer) contacts BtP (June 2009)
Great picture by Mark Walker

When Keith Reid wrote ...

... he was dead right.  All you need is a line to get started.

So, why I am writing to you?  I am a volunteer at Blue Anchor station on the West Somerset Railway, which (as I write these words) is the home for a fortnight of Tornado, the country's first new steam locomotive since 1960.  To describe the public’s reaction to Tornado's visit as 'enthusiastic' is an understatement, as witnessed by their mantra in the week leading up to the engine’s arrival: ‘When is Tornado coming?’ 

Peter TreharneSubsequent questions were the tricky ones, for some of them verged on sub-atomic detail.  It was an odd experience to supply the same information so many times, and unusual to be able to predict the question, or even answer it before it had been asked.  The week felt almost like a succession of scenes from Groundhog Day, the comedy starring Bill Murray in which an irascible weather reporter is trapped in recurrences of the same day.

Peter Treharne is the station master at Blue Anchor, and he and I were beginning to feel slightly out of our heads by the end of each day's work.  One evening, the alliterative phrase 'Tornado Torment' came to mind, recalling Keith's Typewriter Torment – and that was all I needed to get started. 

I reproduce the result below, which may be of some interest and amusement to Gary Brooker, given his interest in railways.  I hardly need add that the threat to lift the West Somerset Railway is not to be taken seriously.

  Tornado Torment
After Keith Reid – for Peter Treharne

Tornado torment,
a fearsome complaint.
It weakens my knees
and makes me feel faint.
Countless admirers
with homage to pay
question me senseless
and torture each day.

Tornado torment,
the queries cascade.
Sometimes I wish
it had never been made.

Tornado torment:
so where has it been?
Who bought each rivet
and why is it green?
When is it coming
and when will it go?
Where was it yesterday?
Why don’t you know?

Tornado torment,
that engine again!
If only I’d something
to deaden the pain.

Tornado torment:
I’ve had it to here!
I’m through with inquisitors
bending my ear.
I’m closing the station
and lifting the track.
I’ll make sure Tornado
can never come back.

Tornado torment,
there’s nothing to lose.
I’m serving my notice
and taking to booze.

(c) Jeff Vinter, 2009


A page about the Keith Reid version More parodies Become an engine-driver
on the West Somerset Railway

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