The Primrose Line – Episode 50

Illustration by Ged Fay

At first, Nicola thought it was sunshine that woke her. Then she realised the phone was ringing.

She reached for the receiver by her bed, glancing at the time as she did so. Quarter to six!

Alarm seized her. No-one rang at such an hour unless there was trouble.

“Hello?” Her voice betrayed her trepidation.

“Nicola, it’s Billy. We’ve a problem with the snow.”

So that was why it was so bright . . . Nicola jumped out of bed and went to the window.

What she saw took her breath away. The wind and the snow had given way to a light fog, through which the sun was trying to penetrate. A frost had developed with the dawn and frozen the clinging snow to the buildings of the station, creating a winter wonderland.

Crystals of ice danced and shimmered across from every nook and cranny and the pots of daffodils on the platform lay flattened, with just their yellow trumpets resting on their unseasonal bed.

“Billy, it’s beautiful!”

“That’s as it may be but our Breakfast Special train leaves at eight o’ clock and at the moment, it’s not going anywhere. The snow has drifted two or three feet deep across Corton Wood incline. We need a team of volunteers to help clear the track, and we need them quickly!”

Nicola, still half-asleep, tried to assimilate the news.

“Are you sure? How do you know – have you been camping out all night?”

Billy snorted.

“In this weather? No, that young bloke who’s tryin’ to make it right with the railway shop walked all the way down from Corton Wood earlier. Good job he did, or we’d be looking silly trying to run a railway with a blocked track.

“He’s gone back up there already and took a shovel with him. Looks like you did the right thing in giving him a second chance!”

Nicola felt a warmth in her heart that defied the weather.

“OK, Billy, I’ll start making some phone calls.”

“And that internet thing, Nicola, where we put the news out about the Primrose Line and all that’s happening? We could make more money today than we did with our Christmas specials if we push that early train. We can tell ’em it’ll be like travelling through Santa’s grotto – until the sun comes through, anyway.”

Nicola smiled.

“We’ll see what we can do. First, let’s make sure the railway’s up and running!”

“Leave that to me; Harrow is already in full steam and raring to go. We’ll run a coach of volunteers up to the snowdrift and ’ave it sorted, don’t you worry. You get on that computer and let ’em all know. Wouldn’t surprise me if we ’ave to put an extra coach on the Breakfast Special!”

Nicola dressed as fast as she could and had soon organised a posse of volunteers. She was dealing with the website when a knock came on her door.

Wondering what new crisis might be awaiting, she opened it to find Charles Dodson, the accountant, standing there.

“Charles, you must be the third thing!”


“Well, I’ve had one piece of bad news and one piece of good news, and they say things run in threes!”

“I don’t follow. Can I come in?”

“Of course. I take it you’re here about the snowdrift?”


“So it’s not that.”

“Unusual weather, I agree, but I have bigger news. I’ve just had an e-mail from Mr Cosgrove.”

Nicola looked at him.

“Mr Cosgrove is the man directing the consortium,” he explained solemnly.


“They’re pulling out! No offer will be made.

“An official letter will follow, giving the full reasons for the decision but I think one reason has been the recent spate of burglaries. It made them realise how costly implementing proper security might be.

“Of course, there will be other factors, but it seems that hooligan you’ve been trying to reform may have done us a favour, in a roundabout way!”

“Charles, are you doing anything?”

“I have my morning planned, why?”

“I’m volunteering you to help clear the snowdrift. Come on, we can catch the train they’re organising. It’ll be the perfect way to celebrate this news!”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.