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Mathew Engel contends that our railways are “the ultimate expression of Britishness” revealing not only our renowned inventiveness but also our liking for nostalgia and tolerance of incompetence and suffering. All this and more he finds on his journeys round the country. A very personal history of the railways, their development and decline, giving us reasons for why, having invented them in the first place we have one of the worst and most expensive systems around. An entertaining journey of discovery with the humour leavened by the wistful wish that it could all be so much better.
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Britain gave railways to the world, yet its own network is the dearest (definitely) and the worst (probably) in Western Europe. Trains are deeply embedded in the national psyche and folklore - yet it is considered uncool to care about them. For Matthew Engel, the railway system is the ultimate expression of Britishness. It represents all the nation's ingenuity, incompetence, nostalgia, corruption, humour, capacity for suffering and even sexual repression. To uncover its mysteries, Engel has travelled the system from Penzance to Thurso, exploring its history and talking to people from politicians to platform staff. Along the way Engel ('half-John Betjeman, half-Victor Meldrew') finds the most charmingly bizarre train in Britain, the most beautiful branch line, the rudest railwayman, and - after a quest lasting decades - an Individual Pot of Strawberry Jam. Eleven Minutes Late is both a polemic and a paean, and it is also very funny.
Publication date: 05/02/2010
Publisher: Pan Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan
|Publication date:||5th February 2010|
|Publisher:||Pan Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan|
|Genres:||eBook Favourites, History, Travel,|
|Categories:||Trains & railways: general interest,|
Matthew Engel was a journalist at the Guardian newspaper for nearly twenty-five years. During that time he reported on wars, elections, the fall of the Berlin Wall and countless major sporting events, ranging from three Olympic Games to the world tiddlywinks championships. He now writes the least fiscally aware column in the Financial Times and is editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. He lives in Herefordshire with his wife and daughter.More About Matthew Engel