“Dad,” Clara interrupted my evening reading from her perch in the nearby bed. “Why is Sir Topham Hatt drunk?”
I closed my Thomas the Train little golden book and looked up, “Um. What? The conductor? What makes you think he is drunk?”
She pointed at me accusingly, and said, “You! The way you are reading it. You are making him sound like he is drunk.”
“Well, I mean… he’s British, right? He has an accent.”
“Yes,” Lydia joined in, “Maybe he’s from Britain, but he doesn’t have to be drunk.”
“He’s not drunk,” I assured them. “That’s just… Isn’t this how he sounds on the show?”
“No,” Lydia said sharply and Clara’s head bobbed up and down in agreement.
“What does he sound like on the show then?”
Lydia stood up in the middle of the room and gave a very brave but ultimately terrible attempt at mimicking a British accent which actually sounded much more like a Norwegian man that had just been hit in the head very hard. “Yorky torky going to trainy wainy towncha, with ma favort Tooomas the Traaaaai-“
Clara’s head stopped bobbing up and down and starting moving back and forth angrily. “No. No no no, Stop,” She closed her eyes and waved her hands in the air. “Both of you. You’re making him sound even worse.”
“Well, what should he sound like?” I asked.
Gideon, who had been listening patiently on my lap, joined in at this point. “He should probably sound like this,” and he dropped his voice to a sort of heavy metal growl. “Get on the train everybody, get on the train, it’s time to board the train called Thomas and go on a ride across the big big bridge.” he leaned his head back and roared up at the ceiling as if he were the rail conductor at the station just prior to the River Styx.
We all stared at him silently in befuddled confusion. “Gideon, that… that just brings up so many different subcontexts about what is happening in this story that I do not want to even think about right now. It’s bad enough we have trains with human faces, I don’t want a rail conductor that is possessed by demons.”
“Yeah…” Clara fell backward onto her stack of pillows. “I guess given the options I would prefer him to just be drunk. You can keep doing that same voice or whatever, Dad.”
I shrugged, “Alright then. If that’s what you want. Are you okay with that now, Gideon and Lydia?”
They all agreed. So, I opened the book to where I had left off and continued reading, purposefully slurring and stammering my way through all of Sir Topham Hatt’s lines just as I had been before this all started.