Atmos the God of Steam Enthusiasts can be recognised by his distinctive copper rimmed top hat which conceals a shiny dome beneath, and by the jets of steam gushing from each side of his head (these are the exhausts from his engine ears). Unlike the more wrathful deities, Atmos has a safety valve. When angered he is more likely to harmlessly blow off steam than to explode with vengeful rage. You will know if you have received a visitation from Atmos by the scent of coal dust and traces axle grease left behind. His consort, Forbearine the goddess of long-suffering spouses, always makes him sit on a sheet of old newspaper when he comes into their celestial house. Atmos’ sacred animal is a supernaturally fast flying Mallard.
One would be forgiven for mistakenly assuming that Atmos is a deity of the Industrial Revolution. In fact, he had a small sect of worshippers in 1st Century Alexandria, who wore boiler togas and steel toe capped sandals. In his mythological tales he is the son of Aeolus and a heron. Modern historians believe this may be a misinterpretation of the philosopher Heron demonstrating the first Aeolipile engine. Actually, he’s Stephen’s son. Atmos is said to have two sons, Mamod and Hornby, who are minor gods of junior steam enthusiasts and railway modelers. (Hornby is an especially n-gauging young deity).
Atmos may have some of the most fanatical and dedicated worshippers around. If they are unable to practice their faith as much as they would like, they develop a serious medical condition known as “wet steams”. This disorder can be both prevented and cured by draining your cocks regularly. (Please remember to do this discretely, as draining your cocks may frighten small children and animals.) This can be an extremely costly faith to be a member of, especially if one embarks on a holy restoration quest. Being able to afford to get your boiler re-tubed seems like a distant pipe dream to many. Most members would prefer the sect of Atmos to be open and inclusive. Unfortunately, some fundamentalists tend to deride anyone they perceive as being insufficiently knowledgeable about engineering history. This effect is known as “The Great Train Snobbery”.
The most popular holy drink enjoyed by worshippers of Atmos is strong tea with sweetened condensed milk, brewed on the little ledge above the firebox door. This is sometimes fortified with juniper flavoured spirits, a tipple known as Gin Tea.
Generally speaking, Atmosians like their romantic relationships to be more than a brief encounter. When an Atmosian wedding takes place the bride and groom are coupled by joining hands, vacuum brake pipe, power cable, signal cable, and steam heating pipe. It is vital that both bride and groom belong to the same subsect of Atmos. For example, if one party is a Buckeye and the object of their affections is a Linkanpin it is very difficult to get hitched. If you attend an Atmosian wedding reception, I advise avoiding the punch at all costs. It often gets railroad spiked.
In order to become a Priest of Atmos, one must undergo a complex and gruelling initiation ritual of fire and water. First the neophyte is anointed with Hallett Oil and has their nipples thoroughly greased to prepare them. Then they are deluged with the holy water tower. Finally they must undergo the baptism of firing. For this they must fuel a large locomotive up a long, steep incline. (Not everyone survives this ordeal, weaker candidates have met a Lickey End this way). When they have successfully completed this ritual they are given a ceremonial coal dust tattoo to mark them as a priest of Atmos.
Most of the priesthood can be recognised by their distinctive blue boiler suits, but there are some specialised priests who dress differently for their roles. For example, the Station Master Priests wear incredibly thick soled shoes. (Unlike you and I, who might have “Left” and “Right” written on our shoes, on a Station Master Priest’s shoes it will say “Platform One” and “Platform Two”). There are female members of the priesthood, although they are usually fewer in number. They carry a wheel tapper’s hammer at all times to discourage misogynistic comments and behaviour. The sacred text of Atmos is “The British Railways Rules for Observance for Employees 1950”. Every priest keeps an oil stained copy tucked into the breast pocket of their boiler suit.
Atmos has a fleet of mobile temples. Each one comprises of a rake of specially designed Pullman coaches drawn by a handsome heritage locomotive. The worshippers will use these temple trains for religious day excursions. Each worshipper must bring an offering of a sack of high-quality steam coal, which is placed upon the locomotive’s sacred fire. During the tour, most religious offices will take place in the Observation Car. At each stop on the trip, the congregation will disembark to admire and photograph the locomotive. It is notoriously difficult to include yourself in any shots of these sacred trains as the lens of your camera will become fogged. However, if you are affected by selfie steam issues, you may be entitled to condensation. When not in use, these temple trains are housed one of the master “Round Temples”. Round Temples have a unique revolving high altar on a turntable at their centre. There will also be a delightful a miniature railway which runs around the temple grounds. This is for the welfare of the priesthood, who after a hard day working with trains, like to relax by playing with trains. Just outside the main temple building stands a white box-like outbuilding which houses the temple bell, this is also where distance signals from the universe are received. Should the temple bell ring once, it is the Great Atmos alerting you that a divine message is imminent. It is important to ring back once to let him know you’re listening. Religious tokens are also kept in and distributed from this box. You must hold a religious token in order to pray when under single line worshipping conditions. The Round Temples of Atmos were built by Navis (not the famous Irish and BAME labourers of the nineteenth century, those blue folk from Avatar).
This deity is dedicated to my chuffer-nutter Dad, Mike Lee, who will always be the OG Fat Controller to me. Happy Fathers Day with all my love.
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