Kate Livingstone: We’re all happy to step back in time

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Were you one of the those who turned up at one of our stations on Sunday to catch a fleeting glimpse of the Flying Scotsman?

I was there with my grandchildren at Falkirk Grahamston and, while it isn’t as fast as modern-day trains, it still seemed to whizz through the station.

It all came about because I’d spotted it was coming through and happened to mention it in front of my mother. Before I knew what was going on, she was busy regaling Jack and Sophie with tales of travel on a steam train.

“You had to be careful when the window was open or if you were sitting in one of the front carriages then a spark from the coal-fired engine could come flying in,” she told them.

“But it used to be great to see the steam trains coming and when I was a little girl we always used to try to get the engine driver to wave to us.”

Of course, the kids were fascinated by this and wanted to know if they could see a steam train.

So that’s how I ended up at the station on Sunday lunchtime – and there must have been a lot of grandparents who had told the same tale given the number of youngsters who were there.

Of course, it made me wonder why we are so fascinated by the past.

Things are supposed to have progressed but we still seem to see the past through our rose-tinted spectacles.

When I was a youngster we could never have imagined how quickly trains, planes and cars would be able to transport us – or indeed how much more luxurious they would be.

But it seems many of us are happy to turn our back on these faster modes of transport and step back in time.

It’s the same with things we have in our homes.

I remember my mother being delighted to get rid of the pulley in the kitchen which always used to be laden with damp, newly washed clothes.

The arrival of a tumble dryer saw my father given instructions to remove it from the ceiling.

But when I met my friend Susan the other week, I was asking about her daughter’s new home.

“It’s lovely,” she said, “but can you believe what she’s had installed in the kitchen?”

I had to admit that I couldn’t begin to guess.

“A washing pulley! I thought it was old fashioned but she said it was a feature and she would hang things from it.”

So that’s progress!