A Long Goodbye

I’ve written several times in the past about the decline in my railway interest. How it dipped as I saw changes I didn’t like, and how later something would cause a revival. A good example was during the early part of 1991, when I wrote the following rather rough piece on train between Crewe and Liverpool:

Crossing the Weaver
(on the 1454 to Liverpool)

It’s been a long winter outside,
But I’ve come in now.
Sun gleams on wind-whipped water,
Trees on the hillside
Welcome me back.
I’m glad to be back,
I hope I’ll stay this time.

I did nothing in the arid months,
Shivered in wind and rain,
Lost touch with an old friend..
Abandoned memories
But they’re forgiving.
I’m glad to be back,
I hope I’ll stay this time.

Now I believe it really is too far gone for anything like that to be possible.

Virtually everything I liked, and that got me interested in, railways – train types, journey experiences – has gone, and I’ve travelled over virtually every piece of railway in the UK. That doesn’t leave very much does it? The railways today have a blandness that is truly generic. Where is the variety? Passing my driving test in 2010 has also played a part: most journeys I take are now by car. And I don’t miss the train journeys on the whole. Not only are they more and more expensive, but having to make them in badly designed, uncomfortable carriages that are usually overcrowded, with over loud and over frequent tannoy announcements makes the whole process just too unpleasant.

So just what is left of the once dominant interest? One that gave my life some semblance of meaning and purpose? (I’ve long given up trying to explain that, too many piss takes over the years, including from people who should know better. It meant something to me.) What remains is mainly historical, and my collection of books and DVDs has grown. Lines that have close closed or ones I know or knew; ones whose remains I go in search of, seeing which are passable on foot or which have roads running along them; looking into old photos and wondering if it’s possible to be nostalgic for a time before I was born; the occasional railtour or even more occasional visit to a “heritage” railway. Occasional as both these last are far too crowded for me to properly enjoy them.

A few still-glowing embers from a once mighty fire. Not much heat now and certainly not enough to cook with. It’s not the last goodbye, more a wearied long one. And the void it leaves, I’ve no idea how to fill that. They don’t make polyfilla tubes big enough.


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