The end of the line

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My wife returns from a funeral 

and says: I know now 

what we should play at yours. 

The deceased arrived 

to the strains

of Flanders and Swann's

Slow Train, a lament

that lists so many 

mellofluous-sounding stations

bulldozed by Beeching. 

 

The service leaflet has 

a tank engine and coaches

on its cover. I find myself 

composing the first line

of my own obituary: 

He never quite got over

the branch line closures

and steam engine scrappings

of the mid-1960s, 

even though he was only twelve. 

 

 

◄ For Ronnie

The land of total rhubarb ►

Comments

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Greg Freeman

Wed 26th Jan 2022 17:53

Yes, sorry about the shameless plug, Graham. Very good and kind of you to absolve me. And thanks to you, Stephen. "Ghost of a steam train echoes down my track," as Paul Weller said in Town Called Malice.

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Stephen Gospage

Wed 26th Jan 2022 16:39

Good poem, Greg. I still find myself fascinated by vanishing stations on the London to Southend line. East Horndon, for instance.

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Graham Sherwood

Wed 26th Jan 2022 14:44

'Railway enthusiasts out there might consider delving into my 2015 poetry pamphlet Trainspotters, still available from Amazon'

A shameless plug!!!....................but why not it's a bloody great read! (especially P21 and P32)

G

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John Coopey

Wed 26th Jan 2022 13:39

Place names in the north are often suffixed with -by, -Thorpe. Thwaite, -keld, -toft, -Kirk. All “Viking” words. When Alfred negotiated the division of England (as it became) along a line roughly from London to Chester it established Dane law in the north and east. Hence the influence on the language of place names there.

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Greg Freeman

Wed 26th Jan 2022 12:46

Tell me more, John! Do you mean Cleckheaton, and Heckmondwike, and the like?

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John Coopey

Wed 26th Jan 2022 12:35

And all unsullied by the linguistic consequences of the Danelaw, Greg.

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Greg Freeman

Wed 26th Jan 2022 11:58

Oh yes, John. I know I've said it before, but the stations on that axed East Devon line - Tipton St Johns, Newton Poppleford, Ottery St Mary, East Budleigh (change for Otterton and Ladram Bay), and Budleigh Salterton, were like a Betjeman poem.

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Greg Freeman

Wed 26th Jan 2022 11:56

Thanks for your thoughts, MC, and for mentioning Marples as well, the other villain in this episode. It should be added that the closures were mostly implemented by the subsequent Wilson Labour government. Railway enthusiasts out there might consider delving into my 2015 poetry pamphlet Trainspotters, still available from Amazon, or from me https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trainspotters-Greg-Freeman/dp/1909357642. And Marples Must Go! is the title poem in my current collection https://www.dempseyandwindle.com/gregfreeman.html

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John Coopey

Wed 26th Jan 2022 11:56

“Chorlton-cum-Hardy or Chester le Street” incomparably poetic.
Even Selby gets a mention,

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M.C. Newberry

Wed 26th Jan 2022 10:35

Beeching and Marples: the remover of so many rail lines and
instigator of so many motorways (unsurprising I suppose for
one with his business interests!). There was a widespread blight on much of what was, in post-war years, considered
to be outdated, and this lack of foresight presided
over the loss of much - now regretted, and with good
reason! Would anyone now dare propose demolishing
the London residence of Charles Dickens at the top of Marylebone High Street W1, its business replacement now marked with a large mural reminding us of what used to be
there? Like some ornate memorial for what someone in
their "brave new world" authority sentenced to its doom.

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Greg Freeman

Wed 26th Jan 2022 09:33

Thanks for the comments, Keith and Ray, and for the Likes, Nigel, Branwell, Julie, Ghazala, Holden and Moonlight. The station in the picture is where we spent our early 60s camping coach holidays - holidays that I could never forget. You can just see the coach in the far distance of the photograph. And just look at that lovely station canopy!

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raypool

Tue 25th Jan 2022 23:45

Such a good metaphor Greg. Really the whole thing is a love affair and like so much of our country was sold off at scrap value, particularly the land the railways utilized. If you go before me i'll listen for that celestial whistle!

Ray

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keith jeffries

Tue 25th Jan 2022 19:07

I remember this wanton act which deprived vast tracts of the country from their only means of public transport. Similarly so with the departure of trams which are now being reinstated. Since world war two this nation has been mismanaged by myopic fools. I used to go to school on a train every day. Now children are on local buses and frequently caught in traffic jams. Flanders and Swan can play at my funeral also.
Thanks for this. All change!
Keith

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