Posted by: travelrat | August 15, 2017

Travel Theme: Numerals

This week’s Travel Theme … Numerals … ties in nicely with a visit I made to North Wales a couple of months ago. We found ourselves on the narrow-gauge railway station at Porthmadog, which is the main base of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. The gradients on the recently- restored Welsh Highland Railway call for more powerful locomotives to be used, and they sourced ‘Garratt’ locomotives from South Africa.

Garrat 143

Most narrow-gauge locomotives have names, but the Garratts are probably unique, in that they’re identified only by their numbers; this is simply ‘143’

(And, as an aside, I thought of the sailor who, many years ago, taught me the difference between a ship and a boat … ‘A ship has a name; a boat only has a number’)

Across the estuary from Porthmadog lies the quirky Italianate village of Portmeirion. This, they’ll tell you is where they filmed the TV series The Prisoner half a century ago. Now, the plot was, the inhabitants of ‘The Village’, as they called it weren’t known by names, just numbers, which they wore on a badge bearing the image of a penny-farthing bicycle. The hero was known simply as ‘Number Six’, and opened each episode by yelling:

‘I am not a number, I am a free man!’


I particularly identified with this, for, at that time, I was known as ‘246 Kellett’.

For some, this phrase should have gone down in history like ‘Frankly, my dear. I don’t give a damn’ or ‘You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!’ … but, try repeating it to a crew member of a cruise ship, when they hand out those little numbered stickers to passengers going on shore excursions. Unless he, or she looks like they might qualify for a bus pass, they probably won’t get the joke.

In fact, these days, crew members don’t look old enough to remember ‘We don’ need no steenkin’ badges!’ either.

No 6


This week’s contribution to the Travel Theme. More at

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