I have looked at my tag cloud, and noticed that because I have made no less than FOUR posts dealing with the so-called “trans-kids” issue in one week, the words ‘transsexual’ and ‘transgender’ have swollen to the point that they are nearly as big as the word ‘intersex’ on my tag cloud. I have unwittingly skewed my blog in this direction. So, this is the start of a concerted attempt to avoid trans matters for a while, beginning with switching the tags for those to “trans-kids”, and to get back to what my blog is all about:
Me, me, me, me , me. Intersex (mainly) and a whole load of other stuff (not trans).
One thing the past week has taught me is that newspapers know a thing or two – controversy pulls in the readers, and hits on my pages have doubled since a week ago!
I have been reading a great book – and in order to be able to have a post which has both ‘intersex’ and ‘locomotive’ in the tag-line, I am going to mention it here.
Fire & Steam: How the Railways Transformed Britain by Christian Wolmar
One of the most irritating things about it is that locomotives don’t seem to feature in it, after Stephenson & Gooch, and even then, hardly at all. Not yet has he detailed a single disaster, and let on what the wheel layout was of the loco pulling the train. This is very disappointing, and I am surprised nobody else has noticed. It kind of makes me feel a bit cheated – says ‘Fire and Steam’, talks about stokers and drivers, but nothing about the steam engines. Not fair! But, it is going under locomotives, because despite my aspergic tendencies, I do not want a tag that says ‘railways’, because this will probably be the only post ever that would use it.
It is a brilliant book though, and I have found lots of useful facts. I am just up to unionisation of railway workers, and the foundation of ASLEF & RMT. Cheers! What great names from my youth. They didn’t mess about those guys, did they, eh? Like the NUM, they were staffed by “real men” when I was young, and they could bring down governments. And reading about the history of the development of the first British Unions on the railways, you can see why. The people who ran the railways back in the 19th century were mostly complete and utter bastards. They were a bunch of crooks. They were bankers and stock traders of their day. In fact, the only reason why the London Stock Exchange is the way it is today is because of the railways, and the need to raise funds for the railways. Before the railway companies, multiple shareholding was illegal – the law was changed to allow railways to raise funds.
A lot of UK law changed because the railways. People had to work 16 hours a day, 6 days a week on the railways, received minimal wages, and many died in accidents that could have been avoided with better working hours and conditions. Once it became legal for men to form unions and enter into collective bargaining, it was people working for the railway companies who slowly started to fight for changes that would bring about better working conditions and pay. But in the process, people were summarily dismissed, and even punished by their employers by being sentenced to hard labour. Our generation doesn’t know they were born, eh?
But so much changed just because of the railways. You look at just about any component of life today in the UK, it came about because of the railways. Shopping? Railways – brought down the cost of goods to local stores, and facilitated the supply – took people from out of town into the town relatively inexpensively and quickly, where they could shop. Holidays? Railways – whole families could go to the seaside. Urbanisation? Railways – large numbers of rural labourers moved from the land to towns as they became labourers on the railways instead. Commuting? Railways – the network of railways around (and within) major cities meant that people could travel across and into cities to work. And so on. Fish and chips? Railways – once only available in harbour towns, the railways ensured a regular supply of fresh fish throughout the country, and fish and chip shops sprung up all over the land.
Fascinating. To be continued…
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