My week

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

It began badly with a trip on Last Great Western's new trainset.  I was not impressed.  I travelled from Bath to Bristol; by Keynsham, my bum ached and by Temple Meads, so did my back.  LGW has taken a cheap seat policy to heart and applied it to the upholstery and padding.  I'm told that this is for fire safety reasons although its first class seats have padding aplenty it seems.  Is there less of a fire risk in First Class?

I'm reading Rory Steward's book, Marches.  These are the English Marches (not the Welsh ones) and they constitute the land south and north of the border line that runs north-east from the Solway.  The early part of the book is about the Cumbric, Roman, Northumbrian and Norse occupations, and it's hard to do justice to this epic book which I already know I'll have to read again.  This land was lawless for a long time and is now an almost empty quarter where there are still traces of lost times.  Asked, in 1912, why the vast majority of the people buried in Bewcastle cemetery were women, the churchwarden replied it was because the men had been hanged in Carlisle.

It was hard not to be impressed by the thousands of school children in the USA who walked out of classes the other day to protest about guns, death, and the gun lobby.  Many did so in the teeth of warnings from bureaucrats threatening their suspension, presumably on the ground that they'd be missing some education.  The irony.  I listened to TV footage to see is there was an update of the anti-Vietnam protests from the 60's.  There was:

"Hey, Hey LBJ (NRA), how many kids did you kill today?"

Overly simplistic, I know; but catchy.

A long trip to Llantwit Major on Saturday, the jumping off point for the wonderfully-positioned, Atlantic College, for an enjoyable Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership event (Routes to Resilience) and a witness session on the SDGs.  It was all rather polite.  I’d have asked more challenging questions of my two fellow witnesses and me.  Never mind, next time ...

Before the witness session I sat in on a talk on schools and 21st century skills.  As ever, this topic was engrossing but not convincing.  We were urged to consider that schools should be teaching "what machines cannot".  You'll not be surprised to know that this included: values, empathy, curiosity, independent thinking, caring, teamwork, believing, ... .  Only 'solidarity' was missing from the usual lists of attributes.  Unsurprisingly, of course, there was no mention of any of the following that humans are also quite good at: vanity, covetousness, prejudice, bigotry, greed, selfishness, envy, cheating, hypocrisy, deception, lying, ... .  Oh, the myths we tell ourselves about each other ...

The highlight of my Saturday train journey home was sharing the platform at Bridgend with countless young women dressed in skimpy lace 'n' lycra and men dressed down to a single (rugby) shirt.  It was below freezing even before you took the wind chill into account, and I was wearing my heaviest wool 'n' cashmere.  I shivered on their behalf and hoped I'd get safely home before the snow ...

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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