Seasonal Area September 2011

It’s here! It’s a day early! I can spend tomorrow morning fulfilling one of my other commitments.

The other picture alluded to is a picture of Meldon Viaduct from the dam of the nearby Meldon Reservoir that got taken on a trip to Okehampton last year.  However, there have already been lots of railway allusions in Seasonal Area pictures this year (you’ll find references somewhere in all of them except for January) and so it seemed best to stick to the Dean. Had Meldon featured it would have been three paragraphs on the Withered Arm – the rail network, not the story, though they’re both tragedies; most of the railways die at the end.

I’ve also tweaked one of the History of the British Railway pages a bit with a typo correction and a different picture of a Sprinter near Calstock.  I’ve got a history of the Last of the Light Railways in the pipeline, but it requires a trip along the abandoned bit to Callington station to make it worthwhile and so isn’t going anywhere much at the moment – Callington being a pig for me to get to.

I had a thrilling trip to Gloucester yesterday. Someone got run over by an early-morning South Wales Mainline train, so everything east from Cardiff was cancelled (and most of the stuff west too, for no obvious reason). Three IC125 sets in Cardiff Central with their engines running makes for an impressive sight but doesn’t help me get to Gloucester. The departure boards were an interesting mix of “Cancelled” and “On time” since the Valley Lines network was running reliably. The identities of the chap involved and the train that killed him remain mysteries; I’m feeling a little sorry for the poor blighter despite him making my morning rather hellish.

A History of the British Railway

Sadly I haven’t time to condense it into a single blog post. (At least, not into a nice short blog post.)

Anyway, the lovely newly redesigned History of the British Railway, inspired by giggling about a few stories in a moment of boredom and now made into something posh, can be found at Page 76 of the Order of the Bed website.

The bit on closure pieces is due an update when I get round to finishing researching a second part.

Next update will either be the September Seasonal Area or the Walk of the Seven Lakes, which will be an awkward page because it doesn’t really fit in anywhere. I’ll have to establish a new section. Call it “Randomly interesting” and dump a few other odds and ends in there…

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Most unusually, I’ve also given the Staying-in-bed Department a little update. Page 9  doesn’t normally warrant such things (I’ve always been a bit stumped for what Sleeping and Staying-in-bed – pages 8 and 9 – can say for themselves). It’s the picture at the bottom right. There are a few odd tweaks that happen occasionally to tidy things up.

Happy Birthday!

The Order of the Bed is 12 today! Unfortunately I, as the Glorious Founder, was too busy organising stuff to stay in bed – in fact I’ve been rather too busy to stay in bed at all for a while, preferring to get up to catch the early train to Gunnislake, write long and uninteresting letters to employers and other such entertainments. However, if anyone is planning to protest about anything in the near future, I can wholly recommend staying in bed as a much more effective way to get positive attention than putting dustbins through other people’s windows.

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A recent discussion with our columnist A Pratt on the uses of an article as to why fast food is better for the environment than a three-course meal featuring a roast and several options for vegetables turned to other matters, such as how to resolve the US debt crisis and what to do about the rioters. This simple two-stage plan emerged:

1) Revoke the US’s Declaration of Independence, thereby making their debt our debt (ok, that bit has its downsides);

2) Send all the rioters to the former United Colonies of North America as more cheap labour.

2½) If demanded, grant them independence again and contrive to leave them to swan off with the combined debt of the two nations.

Ok, two and a half stages. In any event, you probably shouldn’t be trusting board game designers to create foreign and macroeconomic policy.

Seasonal Area (August 2011)

Well, this blogging thing’s going well isn’t it? Somehow I seem to have avoided finding the time to do much. I did ponder writing something on a thing-tank report called Sharper Axes, Lower Taxes but decided I ought to calm down after reading such ill-informed tripe first. Having taken the bike out around some narrow country lanes and shown a few car drivers where to get off (or, at least, where to get stuck behind a cyclist who isn’t getting off the road for you), I felt much better and am generally inclined not to explain why replacing Crossrail with express trains on the Circle Line is a silly idea.

SALT is, as far as rail transport is concerned, a less-well-researched version of the 1982 Serpell Report. It’s a tax-cutting report which recommends putting VAT on public transport fares. Since this is illogical (if VAT on petrol is a problem, which the author thinks it is, then abolish it and call it a tax cut), it gives you some general idea of the report’s overall quality. Which is a shame, since cutting taxes is a good idea and deserves better than a report which reads like a left-wing satire.

(I should add that if the think-tank wishes to complain about this review I am more than happy to do them a review of British transport free from their South-Eastern England bias.)

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Anyway, as may be gathered from the title, the Seasonal Area page on the website has been updated (in the new style – no, I don’t have time to fit the entire archive into this design too).  Comments will be appreciated. Pale backgrounds and sans-serif fonts are in these days (so I’ve made the blog look dated with a green background and a font which isn’t serif but looks like it out to be). Next up is A History of the British Railway once I’ve organised some more pictures.

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The Comment, Satire and Tripe Department’s columnist A Pratt is also threatening an article on a campaign to bring back the death penalty. One blogger has got himself tied up in knots over what the European Convention on Human Rights says about this (Protocol 13 should overrule Protocol 6 – i.e., for those laypeople not up on endless protocols, it’s banned). I’ve also seen an argument that we shouldn’t argue that we don’t trust politicians or juries on life/death matters because that would mean arguing that we don’t trust ourselves to adjudicate. Personally I’d argue that I don’t trust the police enough to bring a decent case (of which I’m sure you can remember your own examples). Anyway, the general position of myself and the Order is long-standing – no objection to bringing it back so long as it is accepted that after the inevitable miscarriage of justice the relevant judge and jury will all be executed for murder. (Back in the Middle Ages we fined such people, but  if the death penalty is good enough for murderers then it’s good enough for juries.)

Perhaps I should add a ringleader of the campaign, Guido Fawkes, to that line-up. It would be appropriate somehow.

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Sorry if I seem ranty this evening by the way. It’s a combination of the heat and me using this column to get a month’s worth of grump off my chest while I’m here. Must be off now, I think my sausages are done…