Haiku: ‘Brexit Day’

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The contention hurts
whichever side we’ve taken
Bells of joy and doom

copyright Francis Barker 2020

The Beeching Railway Cuts Are Still A Disaster Today in 2020, Especially for Wales

conwy castle
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The Beeching Review and cuts of the British railway system from 1963 were simply catastrophic.

They encapsulate the ludicrous notions and false economies of the time, executive decisions which were and are still made without due thought of the social, environmental and economic consequences.

After all, the British railway system had been nationalised since the late 1940s; the system as a whole, if run properly, was surely highly profitable and the whole idea of nationalisation (to my mind) is for the ‘stronger’, busier, more profitable areas to help out and support financially the ‘weaker’ ones – common sense, one would think, part and parcel of joined up thinking of governments which, one would hope, were doing the bidding of the people who elected it. Not a chance.

body of water
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Instead, large areas of Great Britain were left devoid of rail services, especially the outlying areas.

But it seems to me and hosts of others that Wales was the most hit, where only three major lines were left and none connecting the highly populated south to the rest of the principality.

Wales became a nation divided, without any efficient road link connecting north to south. The effects of these cuts, from which we have not recovered from even yet throughout the United Kingdom, were simply devastating.

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Wales left divided by Beeching cuts

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

On This Day 1936 – Edward VIII of Great Britain Abdicates

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He had been king for less than a year and hadn’t had a coronation.

Edward VIII officially gave up his kingship, his rule over an empire which spanned the earth, on which the sun never set. All because, we are famously told, for his love of an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, a situation which could not be tolerated by the highly conservative establishment of the time. But of course it was a bit more complicated than that.

Like quite a few Britons at the time, Edward was an admirer of certain European dictators. After the abdication he became more than a mere acquaintance of one of them, something which didn’t go down too well in certain parts of the British establishment, as Europe and the world was led inexorably towards war.

As Prince of Wales he had been quite popular with his people back home and throughout the Empire and Commonwealth. He was able to relate to them despite the most privileged upbringing one could get. He was, however, quite shy and perhaps felt somewhat unworthy of the role fate had given him, something which led to several bouts of depression.

For these reasons and perhaps others too, he probably never felt he was not cut out for being a monarch of a vast and populous empire.

Falling in love with Mrs Simpson was only one reason among several which made him feel incapable of carrying on as king, a heavy responsibility which in the end he was forced to leave behind.

copyright Francis Barker 2019