1] Up to 15 adults an hour suffer narcolepsy while reading Thomas the Tank Engine books to their offspring, warns a senior psychology lecturer. “We have heard disturbing reports of mothers and fathers drifting off mid-sentence and waking up to find that their child has grown-up and left home,” says the report. A wide-reaching conclusion suggests that to prevent sudden attacks of TTEN (Thomas Tank Engine narcolepsy) parents should stretch their legs every three to four minutes. Likewise, Thomas should never be read aloud during long car journeys, or while attempting sustained tightrope walks.
2] After a ten-year study conducted under laboratory conditions, a report from the Department of Contextual Analysis at Lochboisdale University reveals that 90% of Thomas the Tank Engine stories involve a train or trains leaving the line before, three pages later, being put back on. “It is a sad reflection on the nation’s children that this fact has remained undetected for so long,” concludes the report. However, a little known early Thomas story, Gordon Goes Off The Rails (1956), finds the normally reliable Gordon in a dramatic break from the norm. Gordon, generally considered the fastest and most reliable of all the trains, throws it all in to hang around coffee bars in Brighton, mixing with unsavoury types such as Serena the Topless Engine and Arthur the Angry Young Diesel.
3] In a follow-up, Gordon Kicks Up a Racket, Gordon sings rebellious skiffle songs until the early hours of the morning before beating up Mods on Brighton beach. Both volumes have since been withdrawn by the Thomas estate, though a film by Michael Winner based on the second volume, This One’s For the Sir Topham Hatt is believed to be in pre-production, with Vinnie Jones tipped to star as Gordon, and Jordan as Serena.
4] The only other Thomas story to have been withdrawn from circulation is the 1967 cult classic Thomas and the Pigs, in which Thomas becomes involved in an anti-Vietnam demonstration and ends up in the magistrates’ court facing a £25 fine for damage to public property. The volume is rarely mentioned in studies of the Thomas oeuvre, owing to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.
5] In a little-known Thomas book, Johnson the Diesel Gets Tough, the present Home Secretary makes a youthful appearance, successfully clearing beggars from railway sidings and placing them in the Isle of Sodor Penitentiary, thereby earning the eternal gratitude of the Fat Controller.
6] Mavis, the feisty black diesel engine who works with Toby and is known for her high-spirits, was born Michael, but never felt easy in her gender. Mavis’s first public appearance in her new identity was on the Kilroy show in June 1991. “It feels like a terrible weight has been lifted from my shoulders,” she confessed, tearfully. “Take a deep breath,” said Kilroy, “We’ve got all the time in the world.”
7] The creator of the Thomas the Tank Engine books, the Rev A W Awdry, is thought to have come up with the idea in a moment of boredom. “It was my heart’s desire to re-create that moment in prose and pictures,” he later explained. And he obviously succeeded: during a live reading of the Thomas stories by veteran actor Robert Hardy at Wembley Stadium in 1978, it was estimated that over two thirds of the audience found their minds wandering after the first two sentences.
8] Daisy, the attractive but highly strung engine who once refused to pull a container car, believing it beneath her, was married to Po, the leading Teletubby, in March, 1999. Sadly, the pair found the strain of living in the celebrity spotlight too much, and parted in November 2007, citing “irreconcilable differences”. Insiders suggest that Daisy had been conducting an on-off romance with Thomas, while Po has been seen screened by hidden cameras holding hands with Laa-Laa.
9] Sir Topham Hatt was born Reginald Perkins in Chilton Foliat in 1934, but changed his name by deed poll upon deciding to enter local politics in 1957. In the late 1960s, Sir Topham became a flamboyant Liberal MP, narrowly escaping prosecution for his role in the Scott affair after one witness claimed to have overheard him suggesting they should tie the former male model to Percy’s undercarriage to scare him off. His career never recovered. At present, Sir Topham is ranked the 17-1 outsider in the race to be the next Chancellor of Oxford University.
10] After a bout of adverse publicity earlier this year concerning his struggles with his weight, the Fat Controller contacted top PR guru Max Clifford. Two weeks later, a front-page exclusive in the Sunday Mirror was headed “Medium-sized controller dates Geri Halliwell”. It pictured the railway moghul frolicking on a beach with the scantily-clad former Spice Girl. Media experts suggested that the following weekend’s scoop – “Thomas the Spank Engine” – may have been placed there by Clifford as part of a tit-for-tat agreement with the newspaper.