à propos April

In the United States and in Canada, April is National Poetry Month.

Although we don’t actually celebrate the month in the UK, focusing instead on a single Thursday in October for National Poetry Day, the concept of “national” celebrations has become very blurred in recent years. With modern tech and global comms, it’s sometimes hard to ignore the sheer number and volume of voices taking it for granted that what’s true in their region must be true everywhere.

So there is a little bit of my mind that seems to think I should be writing or posting poetry throughout the month.
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train of thought

Trains were a major feature of my childhood. I don’t know how many times I’d actually been on a train before my first birthday, but I do know that I had already travelled from the south east of England all the way to the Highlands, a journey that, even today, would be likely to take the best part of a day.

Even when we returned to live in the south a few years later we didn’t own a car so my father commuted to London by train and underground each day, and any holiday we took tended to feature traditional black cabs and card games played in waiting rooms at railway junctions.
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ecstatic thoughts

Even someone who cares as little about cars as I do couldn’t walk past the Rolls Royce parked in town the other day without stopping to look closer. It wasn’t the car that interested me, though: it was the emblem – or, as Wikipedia would have it, the bonnet ornament.

I don’t think I’d ever really thought about what the figure represented; I’d just assumed it was a winged victory. But now I come to do some research, I find it’s actually the Spirit of Ecstasy.
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transports of delight

The EWS logo on the side of a train the other night caught my eye: it seemed so eminently traditional that I felt it must belong to the era of nationalised railways and navy blue quilted anoraks.

Having looked it up online, though, I find the company is only twenty years old. I also find that what I think of as an anorak probably bears little resemblance to the original Greenlandish garment.
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plum loco

Perhaps it was more of a steam engine than a locomotive but, from the angle that top photo was taken from, it was certainly plum-coloured.

Its trimmings were in other shades, though, including the most glorious scarlet wheels with black and yellow detailing:
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let me count the ways

When I was out walking the other day, I came across this lovely angle, where the Grand Union Canal crosses the railway track.

Initially, I thought of Frost’s “two roads diverged in a yellow wood”, but that wasn’t quite right, as there were no steps down to the train line so I had to keep following the towpath, whether I wanted to or not.
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squaring the circle

The problem with taking photos at a classic car gathering is not just the hordes of people who jostle your elbow or wander absent-mindedly into the frame.

Even when you get there before anyone else, there are far too many polished surfaces: you end up as the main feature of at least half the pictures you take, which might not be quite so bad if the surfaces didn’t act as distorting mirrors.

Another problem is that too many of the cars there are altogether too familiar and you start to reminisce…
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