Are you sitting comfortably, Children? Then I shall begin.
Gordon was a great big engine who lived in a station with a highly polished black door. Gordon was grumpy and let off steam - toot! toot! - when he got cross which was often. (Allegedly.) Sometimes Gordon used naughty words and the Fat Controller (of BBC1) had to bleep them out. And sometimes, when Gordon got very cross, he crashed into the back of other engines and tried to knock them off the rails. This made Christopher, another smaller, grey and not so important engine, get all huffy and puffy because he didn't like anything running into the back of him. Actually, Christopher only got huffy because he said he'd be buggered if he'd get puffy.
"I'll be buggered if I get puffy," said Christopher.
Percy Posh, a smart engine that only pulled First Class carriages (called Samantha) lived in a well-appointed shed in a nice part of town. But Percy wanted to live in Gordon's station with the shiny front door.
"I want to be the Most Important Engine in the country," said Percy Posh. "I want to live in the station with the shiny front door."
Gordon growled. "Push off, Percy Posh!" Toot! Toot!
Gordon put on his brakes on and became very difficult to budge. All of Gordon's carriages (called David and Edward and Harriet) queued up behind Gordon and got in the way quite a bit too. Sometimes it was difficult to tell whether David and Edward and Harriet were helping Gordon or trying to push him off the rails and into the scrapyard where an engine called Tony lived. (Tony had turned a strange bronze colour and drank a lot of oil.)
So Percy's other carriages (called George and William and Kenneth) queued up behind Percy - except for Kenneth who sidled into a siding and puffed up a lot of thick, grey smoke - and between them all the railways came to a standstill for a whole month (although it felt like much longer), which was very boring for all the poor passengers who just wanted to pop to the shops and not have to think about who should be the Most Important Engine in the country.
A passenger called Motorway Man came and waited on the platform whilst all the engines were huffing and puffing (except Christopher who, we've established, only huffed) but he was somewhat of a distraction and really of very little interest, Children, because he liked nasty cars and horrid, horrid motorways and new-build housing estates, not lovely old stations or big, shiny engines, and could not run his own finances let alone a railway, so we'll discard him.