They were not the railway children to begin with. Indeed, they wouldn’t have seen the railway at all had it not been for one dreadful evening when several men from the Ministry of Defence came to speak with father.
Father did not seem to be able to get rid of the gentlemen at all quickly. And indeed, when they did leave – with father in tow – the children saw them attach a perfectly horrid pair of handcuffs around his wrists, after which they pressed his head into the back of a rather sombre-looking vehicle and drove away.
Apparently, father stood accused of posting some important information about the rather poor azimuth resolution of a military side-looking airborne radar system on a social networking site. It was most likely, mother explained quietly, that he would be gone for some considerable time.
With no money coming in, mother and the children were forced to leave their semi-detached London villa for a dear little white cottage in the countryside, where mother eked a small living by illustrating books, while the children spent their days playing down by the railway.
After several months, the eldest of the children came up with a grand idea. She would enlist the help of an elderly gentleman that she and the children had spotted travelling on the London train to see if he might help clear father’s name. As the train stopped at the local station one morning, she pressed a note into his hands explaining their predicament and asking for help.
Sadly, however, a woman’s needs are manifold, and it was not long before mother struck an extremely close acquaintance with a rather wealthy individual who lived in a palatial dwelling nearby. By all accounts, he had made his fortune creating social networking websites for the military. In fact, he was the very same person that had developed the site that father stood accused of misusing. Despite this, mother was smitten by his advances and spent hours in his company.
Fortunately for the children, however, the elderly gentleman was a journalist of some repute and quickly set to work to turn the tide of justice and set father free.
After a great deal of work, he discovered – to his astonishment – that father had actually posted the radar-related information on what he had been led to believe by the system’s developer was a secure company intranet, rather than an internet, site. As such, the responsibility for the entire disclosure of secrets lay firmly on the shoulders of mother’s new love interest – not with father.
Dear reader, I’m sure you can imagine what a day of extraordinarily mixed emotions it was as father stepped from the train and was escorted home by his children. Even more so for the system developer who was carried off to answer for his malpractice by the very same gentlemen that had visited father all those months before.
Unfortunately, one look at mother’s face told father that he was not wanted anymore, and so he went quickly and quietly away – after, of course, taking one last look at the small white cottage from where he could quite clearly hear mother’s voice cursing the day that she had ever heard of the internet.
Dave’s comments form part of the weekly Engineeringtalk newsletter, which also includes a round-up of the latest engineering products and services. To subscribe click here