Haiku: Lines

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Straight lines to nowhere
Somewhere other than this place
Back to beginnings

copyright Francis Barker 2020

Old Books Are Great – Railways!

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Ok, it may not be in the best condition and the photos, apart from the cover, are in black and white, but I love this little book.

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I’ve had it since childhood and I still love to read the information and study the pictures. I’m not a railway buff, but I think I could have been if I had allowed myself to get drawn into that world.

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As a boy, I used to dream of visiting these places, experiencing the different European and other cultures, which all had their own distinction.

I fear much of that uniqueness is disappearing, along with the trains. Of all the countries, Switzerland does appear to be retaining its sense of place, aided no doubt by its particular geographic location.

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copyright Francis Barker 2020

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

conwy castle
Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

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
Photo by Lukas Hartmann on Pexels.com

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.

abandoned forest industry nature
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

Wales left divided by Beeching cuts

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

Poem ‘Heat’

English: A map of the British Empire in 1921 w...
English: A map of the British Empire in 1921 when it was at its height with British Raj indicated when it too was at its height as well. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Heat

When stepping off the ship, heat
hit him,
something heavy and palpable, his duty drawn
out into an exile
stuffing the bank accounts
of far-off millionaires, stuffing
him and the natives from Melbourne
to Manitoba.
Such a relief to be on the train,
officers hankering in rigid
silence for the cool heights of Shimla,
Home Counties in miniature once bleeding
the big world dry, where spinsters
of Little England began to
watch their gingham fade

He favoured his mother’s
side, whose pale skin and eyes were
more fondly remembered
than appreciated, now more than
a world away,
spattered freckles on his face
where the sweat ran
free in that searing carriage;
sights of displaced women
wrapping up in their shawls, children
standing and sitting, staring
and sleeping, heading on to homes they’d
never seen (or ever see), leaving him
to watch the scorched earth slide
by like some weary sentence,
his mind hanging on
to the boney cattle half
hidden in mud, in the channels
of sometime rivers
gaping for monsoon

poem © copyright df barker 2012