Wye Valley Railway Closure – 60 years

The website has been updated.

Since I decided that spending the 28th of every month hurriedly writing a Seasonal Area page (before the month ended and I had to skip one) was getting silly, the website being updated has been an unusual event of much status and importance. This one has been driven by an Event – specifically 60 years since the Wye Valley Railway (and neighbouring Ross & Monmouth Railway) was officially closed to passenger traffic.

For the 50th anniversary I did a Walk, so I’ve done another one for the 60th and this has found its way online – Page 65.

This represents the latest addition to the general WVR feature which dominates my web presence. Inevitably this new page includes several Brexit references, but it also does a little tour of a long-abandoned trackbed and looks at what has happened to it. This is not much, and so long as its re-opening remains unfunded let us hope it stays that way.

The webpage mostly focuses on “big ticket” items and a few general pictures, but there are of course other things to look out for – the old lineside fences mostly survive, various retaining walls still make their presence felt, the concrete post for the southbound distant signal for St Briavels station still stands high above the trackbed and the WVR’s culverts continue to survive the tests of time. So does some three miles of track, retained into the 1980s to serve a pair of quarries at the south end of the route:

tidenham loops 3 jpg The former “end of line” indication also survives in this view of the north end of the loop for the larger and more southerly quarry – it’s the moss-covered sleeper lying next to the rails at bottom right. When the line was in use up to this point, the sleeper was tied to the rails to warn drivers against taking their locos any further. The fact that the overbridge from which this picture was taken is shored up by a series of supports, completely blocking the line, probably provided a harsher disincentive.

Tintern Bridge 11 JPG.jpg Some trains do occasionally still run on the old route – there’s a miniature railway at Tintern station, with turntables at each end. One sits outside the signal box; the other, filled with fallen leaves, is on the northern abutment of the long-demolished bridge over the Wye. The southern abutment and a telegraph pole can be made out in the distance. The WVR built a separate bridge over the Wye, nearer to the famous Abbey, for a branch line to Tintern Wireworks; this was nationalised at the start of the 20th Century (by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests) and, after several renovations at the public expense, still stands today. 

Tintern Old station 13 JPG.jpg Tintern station weighbridge and the stationmaster’s house. The house was built by the GWR many years after they bought out the line; the WVR management were never sufficiently flush with cash to build houses for their staff, though they did suggest that the stationmaster could build one himself if he felt in need of it.

Culvert G JPG.jpg A culvert, between St Briavels and Whitebrook. The WVR built a lot of culverts. They lack ostentation in their design, but they are striking in their size. Note the rail-built fencepost.

Hut near Bigsweir 1 JPG.jpg A former permanent way hut. These had no residual value so the demolition contractor left them be. There are still a couple left; one between Llandogo and St Briavels, and this one between St Briavels and Whitebrook. The other is in rather better condition.

Hut near Llandogo 1 JPG.jpg And this, rather out of sequence and across a field (from the public right of way) is the other – just north of the former Llandogo Halt, and apparently being looked after.

St Briavels Distant 1 JPG.jpg This is a signal post – obviously someone has nicked the signal arm. The GWR did a nice line in concrete signal posts, but there are not many of them left. This one is suffering from concrete rot. Being a lump of reinforced concrete – and an awkwardly-shaped one at that – it has no reuse value so has been left by the lineside.

Redbrook Hut 1 JPG.jpg A stone hut at Redbrook, as referenced on the webpage. One wonders why whoever installed the wooden post through its roof didn’t just knock the building down while they were there. The walling is more rubbly than usual for WVR buildings; it was presumably once a WVR building, though the land it stands on was sold in 1911.

Monmouth Viaduct 9 JPG.jpg The great (but sadly little-noted) engineer Joseph Firbank built both railway bridges across the Wye at Monmouth, but in rather different styles. Here we see the one built for the Ross & Monmouth from beneath an arch of that built for the Coleford, Monmouth, Usk & Pontypool Railway. No CMU&PR passenger train ever used this handsome viaduct, which remained a long (and expensive) siding until the WVR had it brought into passenger use in 1876.

For more information on the WVR, see the Order of the Bed’s website on the line’s history and the importance of re-opening it.

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Data Protection

There’s been a bit of fuss about data protection lately and I’ve had several emails on the subject, as a result of which my email inbox will be much quieter from now on (being restricted to friends, family and the one company which just updated its privacy policy instead of sending me patronising emails that begged to be deleted).

This unfortunately means that no longer will I come home to phone calls from people who want to recover my PPI payments for me and get puzzled when my first question is “Where did you get this number?” to which the not wholly satisfactory answer was “You must have not ticked a box at some point. Now why don’t you want to tell me you had PPI?”

(I eventually worked out who was distributing my telephone number to the extent that I would have got fewer unexpected calls had I posted it on here, which was that some relatively-reputable-looking survey body that UCAS signed me up for, possibly without asking, got me to do a survey from some seemingly reputable body willing to pay something for it which included a mobile number for follow-up surveys, which I foolishly provided, which follow-up surveys turned out to be working out which probably not reputable organisations – including Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospice, British Gas and the aforementioned PPI people – I would like my details selling to so the said organisations could cold-call me. The follow-up surveys seemed to consider they were doing me a favour and were unwilling to accept either my requests to be removed from their database or my pleas that I was busy, particularly as I say this a lot (well, I usually am). Having worked out what they were up to, and during a particularly insistent call taking the view that I could not possibly be busy at three o’clock on a Thursday afternoon, I may have used only very slightly better couched terms to tell the surveying caller to sod off and this they have obligingly done.)

As an amusing feature, I thought I’d take a look at one of the organisations which has been asking me for permission to keep emailing me and examine exactly how this relationship has gone.

Organisation: The Labour Party.

Modus Operandi: In 2015 I went onto the Labour Party website to discover what their policies were for the forthcoming General Election (beyond putting up blocks of concrete in Hastings car parks – not, alas, across the entrance). On the website was a questionnaire about my views on Labour’s policies. Thinking this might prove interesting, I clicked on the link and was prompted to input my email address in order to complete the questionnaire. (The questionnaire is discussed at the bottom of this blogpost, in case you missed it at the time; unfortunately the questionnaire itself has outlived its usefulness, the General Election being over, and is no more.)

Comments made at time of collecting data: Nothing terribly memorable.

Upshot: 90 emails (so far, over three years) inviting me to get excited about the activities of the Labour Party (including six on the 7th May 2015, which may have been in part because I live in a marginal seat, and seventeen over the course of the EU referendum campaign, which perhaps I should have paid more attention to). Included offers to buy postcards, calendars and a vote in the leadership elections. Also some slightly more random though highly worthy stuff, like a recent one for joining the campaign to ban bee-slaughtering neonicotinoid insect sprays.

Approach to new data protection laws: Recipients need to opt-in again. (As I can’t recall actually opting-in to communications in the first place, beyond a default assumption that putting an email address into an organisation’s box that asks for one counts as an opt-in to spam, this may actually have been a sensible attitude to take.)

Incentives: It’s Jeremy Corbyn’s birthday this weekend (it is indeed – tomorrow – he’ll be 69) and he’ll be terribly upset if his email database has shrunk.

Response: Actually, this one might have been tempting as the Party’s rather naive assumption that their database consists of supporters, instead of random people who went to look at their website at the wrong moment, is rather touching and the resultant emails quite amusing. Alas, I also have a latent desire to annoy Jeremy Corbyn, for various reasons which I will withhold on data protection grounds.

Thinking of the PPI cold caller, one of the organisations the Press have picked up on that is particularly affected by these rule changes works by harvesting your data from your email inbox and selling it to random people that they meet in the street. They are terribly upset not to be able to offer this service to citizens of the European Union any more. It takes a lot to get me to make cynical comments about capitalists, but in this case I can’t help feeling the sorrow should be directed to the shareholders rather than the erstwhile customers. (Ironically that organisation’s work is now fairly obsolete in the EU, as it was dedicated to removing people from mailing lists – something that the mailing list owners have mostly now done for themselves.)

Recap

Some people may be feeling left behind at UK news lately, so here is a summary.

Thursday 23rd June 2016

  • Referendum is held on membership of European Union. Exit polls suggest a narrow Remain win.

Friday 24th

  • UK wakes up to news that vote went to leave the EU by 17million votes to 15million;
  • Pound collapses;
  • Stock market plunges;
  • Nigel Farage goes on ITV to deny that £350million promised by Leave battlebus for National Health Service will go anywhere near the National Health Service;
  • Other notable Leave campaigners suggest continued single market presence and no cut in immigration;
  • EU top brass ask for things to be tidied quickly;
  • Leading Conservative Party “Leave” campaigners (Boris Johnson, ex Mayor of London, and Michael Gove, Justice Secretary) call on Prime Minister to stay on;
  • David Cameron resigns as Leader of Conservative Party and announces intention to resign as Prime Minister when new leader is elected in October;
  • Cameron kindly leaves triggering departure from the EU to his successor;
  • Boris and Gove hold press conference where they stand around looking like they don’t really know what to do, weren’t expecting the result and have been steamrollered out of existence;
  • Both suggest a period of calm and that there is no need to rush the result they had been anxiously fighting for;
  • Scottish top brass say angry things;
  • Boris is abused for his support for Leave.

Saturday 25th

  • Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, suggests that EU exit talks will be nice and friendly;
  • Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Opposition, denies he is going to quit too as various people blame him for not delivering a Labour block vote for Remain.

Sunday 26th

  • Jeremy Corbyn fires his Shadow Foreign Secretary Hillary Benn;
  • Reports that half Corbyn’s top team will now resign feel overblown;
  • Petition for a second EU referendum set up by a Leave supporter expecting to lose is overladen with support, some of it created by computer programmes written by people who fancied making computers repeatedly sign petitions;
  • England win at rugby against Australia;
  • 12 of Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet members quit in protest at his continued leadership, including most of the people who voters might have heard of for moderately good reasons (and the woman who said that Ed Miliband carving his vacuous election pledges in a bit of stone last year didn’t mean he wasn’t going to break them).

Monday 27th

  • Most of the rest of Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet quits, leaving some of his mates, an ex-girlfriend, two people who can’t resign but promised to stop attending and a former party leadership contender whose attitudes bear a certain resemblance to a drowned sponge;
  • Angela Eagle, one of those resigning, breaks down in tears on television;
  • Corbyn recruits most of his remaining supporters/ people who would rather not have a Labour leadership contest to his Shadow Cabinet, filling roughly half the vacancies;
  • Names include such widely-known figures as Pat Glass MP;
  • Nick Clegg, once Liberal-Democratic Party leader and former Deputy Prime Minister, suggests an early election but is told by David Cameron that someone called Nick Clegg got a law passed about fixed-term Parliaments so he can’t go back to the country;
  • Anti-foreign sentiment in UK post-referendum prompts concern;
  • Corbyn heckled and told he faces a leadership contest at Labour party meeting;
  • He goes to a rally of his supporters afterwards;
  • Tory party reckons it should manage its leadership contest by 2nd September;
  • England knocked out of Euro 2016 football tournament (by… err… Iceland);
  • Panda gives birth to twins in China.

Tuesday 28th

  • Nigel Farage, man who has done very little worth commenting on except complaining about the European Union and getting stuck in M4 traffic jams, accuses European Parliament members of having never had proper jobs;
  • Pound continues to fall;
  • Pat Glass MP decides she can’t face being MP for another term and tells her local party she will stand down at the next election;
  • Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission President, observes that people leaving the EU are, for obvious reasons, going to be outside the EU;
  • Corbyn massively loses an unofficial vote of confidence in his leadership by 172 votes to 40;
  • General feeling that nobody else from Corbyn’s cabinet will resign now.

Wednesday 29th

  • Pat Glass MP resigns from Shadow Cabinet;
  • Tory Party launches leadership contest. Anyone can stand if they can get two people to nominate them in 24 hours. Immediate appearance by Stephen Crabbe, Work and Pensions Secretary;
  • Corbyn mocked at Prime Minister’s Questions and told to resign by Cameron;
  • Gibralter begins looking at options for not totally uncoupling from the EU;
  • It is announced that Angela Eagle will spend Thursday challenging Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour Party leadership.

Thursday 30th

  • Theresa May, Liam Fox and Andrea Leadsom quietly launch Tory leadership campaigns;
  • Michael Gove announces that despite years of not wanting to be Prime Minister and being totally unsuited to the role he regrettably considers it his duty to stand because Boris is incapable;
  • Boris spends a press conference thought to be intended to launch his leadership bid, sets out his aims for the country and then closes by saying he won’t stand, leaving a distinct impression that he has given up on the premiership and his remaining political ambition is the Chiltern Hundreds;
  • Gove has to spend the first bits of his leadership campaign explaining why he knifed Johnson in several places;
  • The Eagle does not launch.

Friday 1st July

  • Some debate over how to handle EU negotiations;
  • Labour top brass reject calls for their party to back a second referendum or ignore the result of the first if they win any early election;
  • George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, gives up on his delayed budget surplus targets;
  • Wales goes through to the semi-finals of the Euro 2016 football tournament.

Saturday 2nd

  • Shadow Cabinet look at ways to lever Corbyn out;
  • Neil Kinnock tells Corbyn to go;
  • Protest in London against democracy (specifically the referendum result).

Sunday 3rd

  • Andrea Leadsom says we should get on with leaving the EU;
  • Theresa May says there is no rush and people want a good prime minister for PM, not specifically a Brexiteer.

Monday 4th

  • Nigel Farage resigns from UK Independence Party leadership – to jubilation from his Parliamentary party, who had a UKIP MPs meeting on Brexit arrangements and agreed unanimously with himself;
  • Chris Evans resigns from his short-lived job hosting BBC2 show Top Gear – to jubilation from his predecessors, who were out in the sticks somewhere filming their new show for Amazon;
  • Jeremy Corbyn does not resign – to the continued jubilation of his supporters;
  • Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says Theresa May is quite right not to guarantee EU citizen residency rights in UK (useful bargaining chip for British citizen residency rights in the EU and a general sign that the UK is reverting to the good old foreign policy approach that saw it sink the French fleet in 1940).

Tuesday 5th

  • Teachers go on strike;
  • Tory MPs vote on their leadership candidate preferences;
  • Ken Clarke, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, is filmed making caustic remarks about “anyone but Gove” and how Theresa May is a “bloody difficult woman, but then you and I worked for Margaret Thatcher”;
  • His interlocutor Malcolm Rifkind remarks that he and Ken would happily have had that conversation on the record if Sky had asked them to;
  • Liam Fox knocked out of contest;
  • Stephen Crabbe withdraws;
  • Theresa May leads by some margin;
  • Next round on Thursday;
  • Twentieth anniversary of Dolly the Sheep, the first clone of an adult mammal.

Wednesday 6th

  • Chilcot report into Iraq War published. Broadly speaking, Blair got carried away and deluded himself but with no dishonest intent;
  • Tony defends himself;
  • Wales knocked out of Euro 2016 tournament.

Thursday 7th

  • Tony defends himself some more;
  • Questions continue as to how much we want to leave the EU;
  • Tony says world is a better place without Saddam;
  • Gove supporters try to drum up support by suggesting that Andrea Leadsom, who hardly anyone had heard of a month or so previously, is not suitable leadership material;
  • It is generally agreed that Tony Blair is probably not going to prison over Iraq;
  • Ian Hislop spends a Question Time appearance arguing that just because Remain lost the referendum doesn’t mean it should be ignored forever more;
  • Michael Gove, to the surprise of very few people, is knocked out of the Tory leadership contest;
  • Tory party seems to generally incline towards his previous view that he is unsuited to be Prime Minister, and does not want him to put himself out unnecessarily;
  • In the process of leaving he guarantees that the new Prime Minister will be a woman, for only the second time in the exceptionally long history of the Tory Party.

Friday 8th

  • The actor who played Sulu in 1960s Star Trek is upset that Sulu has been outed as gay in the latest film (ironic, as Takei is also gay);
  • Andrea Leadsom gives the Times an interview in which she says she won’t make the leadership contest about how she’s a mother and May isn’t because that would be “horrible” before going on to explain how as a mother she is making an investment in the future for her children.

Saturday 9th

  • Andrea Leadsom sees the morning’s Times and takes issue with the headline saying that she thinks that as a mother she is making an investment in the future for her children;
  • Italian foreign minister suggests UK might not leave the EU;
  • Labour begins looking at nuclear deterrent options for its defence review;
  • Tories announce plan to break up already wrecked Labour Party by having a vote on Trident renewal (which the Tories are largely in favour of, but Labour’s leader isn’t);
  • The Eagle to fly on Monday;
  • Still no candidate for UKIP leadership contest.

Sunday 10th

  • Conservative Party wins general election (foreign news from Australia);
  • Ongoing controversy over whether being a mother is a qualification for the role of Prime Minister, battering Leadsom in the process;
  • John Prescott, once Tony Blair’s Deputy Prime Minister, announces the Iraq War to be illegal (some 13¼ years after he could have stopped it by resigning);
  • Corbyn tries to calm critics by saying he voted to Remain;
  • Chris Evans backs American co-host Matt LeBlanc to anchor next series of Top Gear;
  • Andy Murray wins Wimbledon.

Monday 11th

  • Theresa May goes to Birmingham to make a speech about why she should be Tory leader;
  • Angela Eagle gets all the nation’s political press into a room to announce her Labour leadership bid;
  • This means the Press all discover simultaneously that they want to be over at Andrea Leadsom’s house, where she is coming onto her doorstep to announce the end of her leadership bid;
  • Eagle finishes her speech, turns to questions and finds the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky political editors have all run away;
  • Leadsom says she can’t be leader without more support from the Parliamentary party [and a vastly thicker skin] and wishes May success as sole remaining Tory leadership candidate;
  • May has achieved this mostly by making a joke about Boris buying water cannon and not self-immolating;
  • Southern Railway cancels 341 trains from its timetable so that customers have some idea of what’s not going to run while it finishes managing the Government’s dispute with a trade union;
  • Tory Party backbencher leader Graham Brady, technically the Chair of the 1922 Committee, announces that there need to be some internal discussions as to how to manage a leadership contest with one candidate;
  • Discussions conclude Theresa May is the winner;
  • Labour put out two press releases almost simultaneously, one demanding an immediate General Election and the other announcing a leadership election between two candidates of such polar opposites that they would be unable to agree a manifesto;
  • Cameron comes out of No. 10 Downing Street to announce he will be resigning as Prime Minister after Prime Minister’s Questions on the 13th and expects to be replaced by Theresa May, after which he goes back inside humming the opening chords of “Braid the Raven Hair” from The Mikado.

Tuesday 12th

  • David Cameron hosts his final Cabinet meeting;
  • Angela Eagle’s office is vandalised;
  • Jeremy Corbyn appeals for calm and for him to be on the Labour leadership ballot paper without needing to seek nominations;
  • Neil Kinnock repeats previous observations that when Corbyn’s mate Tony Benn stood against him for the leadership in the 1980s Kinnock had to scuttle round for nominations;
  • Petition on second EU referendum to be debated on 5th September in Parliament;
  • Bernie Sanders backs Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate for President of the United States of America after a contest that began a year or so ago;
  • Jeremy Corbyn is announced to be on the ballot for the Labour leadership without needing nominations.

Wednesday 13th

  • Sun headline is about the BBC “faking” a “live” TV programme about trains by featuring a bit of film submitted by a viewer that was taking in February, thereby getting a picture of a Class 66 on the front of a national paper;
  • The Japanese Emperor announces he intends to abdicate;
  • The Prime Minister David Cameron lays into Labour for not being able to decide the rules of their leadership contest in the time it’s taken the Tories to have a leadership contest, praises Theresa May, claims he doesn’t hate the Downing Street cat, makes a speech thanking everyone in front of TV cameras, aides, his children and SamCam, goes to Buckingham Palace and quits;
  • Theresa May goes to Buckingham Palace and accepts an invitation to form a Government;
  • The Prime Minister Theresa May makes shorter speech than Cameron’s outside No.10 which doesn’t so much park tanks on Labour’s lawn as blow up their house, ransack the garden and build a new garden wall that confines the Opposition to the compost heap;
  • Speech is noted as being rather like the one Ed Miliband would probably have made if he won last year’s election;
  • Labour is too busy discussing if Pontypridd MP Owen Smith should be on the leadership election ballot paper to notice;
  • The Mays refuse demands from the Press to kiss on live international television;
  • George Osborne is encouraged to resign before he can outstay his welcome;
  • New Government appointed with Philip Hammond as Chancellor (he was Osborne’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury until May 2010, when David Lawes got the full job and Hammond was banished to Transport), Boris as Foreign Secretary (he could have been Prime Minister in three years’ time if he’d backed Remain), Amber Rudd as Home Secretary and David Davis (not the MP for Monmouth) as Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union.

Note for Posterity

The above all actually happened and occurred in the timeframe specified.

Remaining points

One question remains. David Cameron had a house of his own in London which was tenanted. The tenants have apparently been given notice.

We have not heard enough about these tenants.

Did they know who their landlord was? If they did, they have presumably been packing since Friday 24th.

If not, one can picture them cheering his resignation when the phone rings.

“Sorry,” says the estate agent, “I’m afraid you’ve been given notice. Landlord needs his house back.”

“Why?!”

“He’s got to leave his place in a hurry after he quit his job.”

“What job was that?”

“Prime Minister.”

 

And finally…

Here is a mid-winter picture of a bridge in Maidenhead, our new Prime Minister’s constituency:Maidenhead Bridge 1 JPG.jpg

Maidenhead is one of the richest constituencies in the country. Jerome described the town as “too snobby to be pleasant” but added that the stretch of the Thames up to Cookham is “unbroken loveliness … perhaps, the sweetest stretch of all the river”.Thames near Maidenhead 1 JPG.jpg

Of course our previous Prime Minister was based in Witney, incorporating Charlbury and Hanborough, on the North-western side of Oxford.Combe 2 JPG.jpg

Seasonal Area October 2013

The October 2013 Seasonal Area page, which has been online for the usual dubiously lengthy period of time before being mentioned here, is the most northerly to feature on the website to date. (Until August this year the page had never even been to Scotland.)

There’s a bit of scope left for going further north in next October’s picture without leaving the British mainland.

Forsinard Bog is an oddly pleasant place. There’s not much there, especially now the trees are coming out, and on a good day the result is a feeling of peace and solitude. On a wet day the result is of course liable to be exceedingly bleak and unpleasant. In winter snows the area is notoriously remote; trains get stuck up there from time to time, with the odd particularly dire occasion requiring passengers to be airlifted by helicopter. The single-line block section from Helmsdale to Forsinard, at some 48 miles, is the longest section of single line (and the longest individual signalling section) in the country – which has the upshot that in the time between a snow-clearing locomotive reaching Forsinard and the passenger train getting there after being cleared to leave Helmsdale it is entirely possible for the snow to block the line again.

The road, meanwhile, just goes on and on and on through the landscape, rolling idly over dips and hillocks in a pretty straight line overall, though on the ground it turns out to mix the rolling gradient with twists and bends. Like the railway, it is mostly single track.

The fact that there is only one surfaced road for miles means that the South side of OE449, the Ordnance Survey Explorer map for the area, has the possibly unique accolade of featuring almost the same mileage of railway as road.

Seasonal Area September 2013

The campaign to get Seasonal Area update notes to appear on here is proceeding punctually. October’s page should be going up sometime this week; meanwhile September’s is still available for viewing here.

This years Annual Stupidly Long Walk failed to get into the Forest of Dean, which does leave a small hole in the picture archive for September next year. The picture may therefore, for the first time in a few years, not be of somewhere in the Forest of Dean.

___…___

Meanwhile the war on Syria is proceeding nicely – in so far as it looks very unlikely to happen. The press must be rather disappointed. After the Parliamentary vote against war the terrifying idea was that the UK should abandon any military pretensions because it would never be relevant again. At least one trade paper was delighted at this because it would mean much more cash being available for the paper’s pet projects.

In the event we’ve had one of those terrifying little moments, as with a former President of Iran blaming a severe bout of rioting on the BBC, when a distinct impression is given that Britain being irrelevant is a convenient storyline for a handful of newspaper editors, a few politicians and the US Government. Within days Obama was also promising a legislature vote on Syrian war which he was widely expected to lose. Now we have Assad offering to hand over his weapons stockpile, the UN Security Council agreeing on something (almost unprecedented) and a general sweet impression that war isn’t going to happen after all. The Islamic terrorists have got so desperate they’ve gone to Kenya instead.

And this is all because the Leader of the Opposition decided to be political. Imagine what would happen if the Prime Minister had an idea.

Imagine what the world would have been like now if Blair or Iain Duncan-Smith had gone against war in Iraq and Afghanistan too.

And whatever anyone says about defence systems based on the output of white flag factories, such factories do produce a much more flexible product than the average munitions factory. You can use white flags as sheets, togas, blankets, costumes for tacky ghost tours or the base for more colourful flags too. If you really have to go to war you can use them to bag up bricks before dropping them on the enemy. The bricks can be used for rebuilding the war-torn nation afterwards while the white flags will put in their way the means to surrender, resolving any issues of enemy combatants who would like to give up and go home but have no white flags to hand. Also constantly having white flags dropped on you may be mildly annoying. (Seeing as dropping bombs on the modern enemy combatant seems to mildly annoy them at best, we might as well save money on the deal.)

___…___

On a lighter note, I’m doing a spot of recycling. A strange compulsive habit to have something to do away from a computer screen involving creating imaginary worlds results in me littering any flat surface in the house with 1:76ish scale models of things. The latest bit of fun is converting a Daz laundry power box into a model engine shed. (The box is made of very thick card and handing it over to the council seemed to be something of a waste.)

I’d like to say “other laundry powder available” but unfortunately all the other brands I can think of at this hour come in sachets or plastic bottles, which are not nearly as suited to hacking apart with a craft knife into industrial buildings.