A rail operating centre (ROC) is a building that houses all signallers, signalling equipment, ancillaries and operators for a specific region or route on the United Kingdom's main rail network. The ROC supplants the work of several other signal boxes which have thus become redundant. Network Rail announced the creation of fourteen.
One in Kent is at Ashford. Out are rows and rows of signal levers and in are bods at terminals looking at computer screens. They never see the trains!
Thus it was that on Thursday evening the Kent Fire Brigade was called to a conflagration in an electricity sub station near the Ashford signal box.
Something about baskets where all the eggs are stowed?
We Do It Differently Today
Remember fbb wallowing in nostalgia about the Triang Minic Motorway system ...
Is the Network Rail van crew any good at sorting out signalling centres?
And at that price, no, fbb isn't buying! It would never survive outdoors.
So a very pregnant Mary and her devoted hubby (except they ain't wed, yet) are shoved unceremoniously into a smelly cattle shed, a stable or a cave - depending on your personal preference.
We all know the story.
Except that we don't. Here is what Gospel writer Luke actually says.
Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of King David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David. He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant, and while they were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have her baby.
She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger - there was no room for them to stay in the inn.
The Eastern innkeeper would willingly sacrifice his own bed and sleep under the stars rather than see Mary in distress.
But what if it wasn't an inn at all? Modern archaeology reveals what a medium-sized house would look like back in those Biblical days.
Upstairs; living and sleeping areas, downstairs laundry, storage and a pen for the animals. A one storey house would have similar facilities on one level.
The Greek word used here for "inn" does not, apparently, refer to a commercial property, more "a place for guests".
An air B&B?
So Mary was not turfed out; the cow was pushed outside somewhere, and the "cattle shed" turned into a guest room, because the rest of the house was full and Mary would need a little privacy as her confinement came to its satisfactory conclusion.
It fits. It makes sense all round.
Of course, the detail is largely irrelevant; it's the fact of the Nativity that matters. Luke wasn't bothered by what for him would have been very obvious normality.
But, somehow, with this re-working, CHRISTmas then becomes realistic and believable, not ludicrous and fake!