Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Annoying Case of Annie and Clarabel [2]

Watson Returns from his shopping expedition.
Well, Holmes; in the limited time afforded to me, I have been able to purchase several versions of the Annie and Clarabel railway carriages. I have listed the features that you considered to be of utmost importance and, using a pot of fish glue from my medical bag, I have collected available illustrations.

Well done, Watson. Pray adumbrate.

Take and Play: four wheels, four compartments
Fisher Price:  four wheels, four compartments

Trackmaster:  four wheels, four compartments

Unknown manufcturer:  four wheels, four compartments

Tomix "N":  four wheels, four compartments

Bachmann "G":  four wheels, four compartments

And the designation "N" and "G" Watson; do you have an explanation of these mysterious one-letter epithets?

I understand from the salesmen concerned, Holmes, that these refer to the size of the reroductions; "N" being minuscule, "G" being huge. But there is more, Holmes. I have persuaded an acquaintance well versed in the photographic arts to repoduce a new sort of daguerrotype from a moving picture! We have an example of the kinematographic versions of Annie and Clarabel.

Kinematographic: four wheels, four compartments

You have done well; an excellent effort my good friend. Now join me for some of Mrs Hudsn's tasty hot muffins and an infusion of tea and I will reveal the results of my humble investigations.
It is now crystal clear that the Annie and Clarabel purchased by our client, fbb, to entertain his young friend Archie (see yesterday's article - read again) are heinously ill-conceived impostors. Whilst they have the usual four wheels, they only have three compartments!
Good grief, Holmes, what an appalling act of mischievous misdirection.

The models which, quite rightly, shock your sense of moral rectitude, are simply standard carriages ...
... painted orange in a pathetic attempt to deceive.

I confess that I am shocked to the quick by this deceit.

Prepare to be shocked again old chum! I have discovered in my files a recent copy of one of  The Good Rector's stories ...
... which does appear to confirm the four wheel four compartment structure of these ferro-equinological females.

So the case is solved?

Not so fast, impetuous friend. Take my glass and examine this illustration.
Ye gods, Holmes; eight wheels and six compartments!

And two further pieces of this fiendishly complex jigsaw of crime. Firstly, an older edition of a "Thomas" story ...
... clearly showing eight wheels on two bogies with an indeterminate number of compartments, but possibly five.

Curiouser and curiouser, Holmes?

An unfortunate and near illiterate phrase, Watson, doubtless innocently quoted from the Reverend Dodgson's "curious" writings. But we need to look further. As you are aware, I have published a detailed monograph on the subject of "The Criminal and Model Making", the contents of which enabled LeStrade to apprehend the Terrifying Teddy Bear Thief of Theobalds Grove.

Pray continue; my dander is, as they say, up!

An illustration therein included from the December 1959 "Railway Modeller" periodical shows the original Annie and Clarabel as created on the revered ecclesiastical Wilbert's own model railway.
I must confess that you are perfectly correct, yet again, Holmes. From the gas light ventilators on the roof, I infer that these vehicles are of eight wheel construction and with five compartments.
So one big question remains, my friend.
This simple pictorial and monochrome representation proves, beyond the slightest doubt, that, at some stage in the recent past, the real Annie and Clarabel with five compartments and eight wheels have been abducted, spirited away to a location unknown and two four wheeled four compartment impostors have been substituted.

So what next, Holmes; the trail is cold, surely?

We must persevere, Watson. This dastardly deed has all the hallmarks of the arch-evil railway modeller Moriarty. Tomorrow we must pursue our inevitable enemy and release the true ladies of the track back into the shining light of their carriage shed. 

In the meantime fbb would be well advised to prepare for "tears before bedtime" when young Archie Fearnley realises the extent of the deception.
The carriages so recently acquired are indubitably doubly deceptive. Never, in their tortuous literary history have Annie and Clarabel had three compartments!

A sad day, to be sure ...
But here's an idea:

This tale will conclude on Wednesday 31st June.

 Tomorrow 24th May, a sorrowful wartime centenary 


  1. Do we really have to wait till beyond the end of the next month to discover the mysteries as to where Clarabel has concealed her guard, and why Annie won't reveal which compartments are for first class passengers?

  2. I think we should hear the story of the "Terrifying Teddy Bear Thief of Theobalds Grove"!!

  3. To complete your captions, the unknown manufacturer is a company called Ertl, who produced the whole range and cost me a small fortune when my kids were growing up.

  4. Reply transmitted via fbb : My gratitude is substatial kind sir; I refer, you may be assured,to Mr A Nonnynous the Third. I will add the facts you have gleaned to the good doctor's meticulous but hitherto incomplete documentation. Further evidence of the dastardly misdemeanors of Mister Modelling Meddling Moriarty.