Take HS2 south to see north’s assets

Ribble Penyghent

Ever wonder how the good folk living by the Ribble reacted in the 1870s on being told that a railway was going to be built along their peaceful dale? Most ordinary residents probably thought they didn’t have a choice in the matter and just got on with their lives. Today we think and react differently – but in the end, as in the Victorian era, our protests will more often than not go ignored. Those with money and power will have their way, as it seems with the proposed High Speed 2 railway scheme.

Countryside destruction

‘HS2 has come to symbolise a country run against the interests of the many and in the interests of the few.’ That’s a great sentence, sadly not one of mine, written by Patrick Barkham. It sums up my feelings about yet another ill-conceived fantasy project from which London will be the biggest benefactor. Latest estimates predict it will cost £57 billion – yes, fifty-seven-billion pounds, let that sink in – to cut 32 minutes off the journey between Birmingham and London. Our Northern Powerhouse (falls about laughing at the shallow attempt being made to deliver that promise) will eventually link in with this project (price yet to be properly determined) and – whoopee! – uncouth Yorkshire oiks like me will be able to take out a mortgage for a ticket and get to the capital to improve my flagging social status, some 45 minutes quicker. To achieve this, thousands of square miles of beautiful English countryside will be destroyed, wildlife habitats torn up, homes demolished and many a village life wrecked. Meanwhile, we are being fed a load of bull about job creation and that this super highway will bring great benefits to the north – don’t believe a word of it. Shareholders and contractors will make sacksful of dosh, most jobs will be temporary with workers being paid minimum wage, and I have yet to read one single persuasive argument showing how the North will benefit as a region.
Don’t get me wrong – I like trains, I think they are a sensible form of transport – but why not spend £57bn+ improving what we already have, by providing more local services or opening up old lines so that ordinary folk – not just the rich or businesspeople – can use and afford them? Patrick wrote a splendid monthly column for me when I was editor of The Countryman. Read his article on HS2 here http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/nov/17/hs2-the-human-cost-of-britains-most-expensive-rail-project
Also visit stophs2.org

Ribble gate

Last February near Fountains Fell

Museum asset stripping

I’ve visited the National Media Museum in Bradford dozens of times. I’ve taken children there, attended functions and exhibition openings. I’ve always been proud to have a ‘National’ museum on my doorstep. It even hosts the International Film Festival, promoting the city and Yorkshire further afield… well, it did, anyway. Museum officials have just announced they are abandoning the festival after 20 years and followed this by saying they were sending 400,000 unique photos from its impressive collection to be exhibited permanently in London.
So the asset stripping of the museum is well under way. To be discussed is the renaming and streamlining of the museum. One suggestion involves relegating it from the premier division of ‘National’ to (Division One) ‘North’. Eventually, I see the title becoming ’Yorkshire’, then ‘Bradford’, followed by ‘a rear room of an independent camera shop in Idle’. Pardon the pun but there’s been a total loss of focus here. If we can afford to host top-class exhibitions and museums in London why can’t it be done in the north? What’s next to disappear down south – the National Railway Museum?

Harking back

Ribble silverdale

Bad weather, extra freelance work and problems with contact points on a camera lens have conspired to curtail my own photography this week. So there are a few older photos included in this week’s blog. Make the most of them because I got a call from Boris Johnson who says he wants the best 20 per cent of them exclusively for visitors to look at in a trendy coffee house in the capital. The top photo in the blog showing Penyghent was taken this time last year. The one above shows the hill from t’ other side just a couple of days later.

A song for the Ribble

ribble pigeons

On Tuesday a cleaner at BT pulled out a plug so the vac could be powered up (I could be wrong there) and the internet went kaput. So, despite the howling gale, I went for a walk. Sadly, the path through Castleberg Wood to the rock overlooking Settle was closed due to a fallen tree, a victim of the strong winds. I headed back to Langcliffe beside the Ribble via Giggleswick and Stackhouse. These perching pigeons caught my attention: a music score with Stainforth Scar, as a backdrop. The ground was decidedly sticky and further rain over the next three days won’t have improved the situation. The walls of the older cottages like mine are becoming saturated so let’s hope for a prolonged dry spell very soon.

ribble ducks

I snapped this one quickly at the mill pond in Langcliffe and was surprised it turned out virtually black-and-white. I’ve not tampered with the photo at all. I do sometimes make adjustments to photos where I feel it is necessary – or just to amuse myself. Using Photoshop or other digital editors is no different from what used to happen in photographic darkrooms, yet for some reason viewers can get all hot and bothered by ‘touched-up’ photos. Some photographers are looking for an accurate representation of a subject; others want to add their own interpretation. Viewers can have an opinion on what’s been created but should remember that with ‘art’ there’s no right or wrong. That’s why we all have different artwork hung in our homes; why we decorate our walls differently or wear different styles and colours of clothes.

ribble honesty

This time last year: Just one set of footprints to the honesty box at Dale End Farm below Penyghent – mine. Which, I know, doesn’t prove that I paid. The picture got me thinking whether it would be worth putting an honesty box in the Houses of Parliament… but then again…

Priorities

The train spotting fraternity were out in force up and down the Ribble yesterday hoping for a glimpse of the revamped Flying Scotsman and the internet and Facebook groups are plastered with photos of the iconic engine. So where are all my piccies of this great event, you ask? Sorry, but on a Saturday I have to indulge in my own anorakic passion – watching Huddersfield Town. I admit to the addiction, and I know that each time I watch them it takes years off my life. If you have a cure please let me know.

A bit of poetry by the great Bob Dylan came to mind after re-reading this week’s blog:

I like to do just like the rest, I like my sugar sweet,
But guarding fumes and making haste,
It ain’t my cup of meat.
Ev’rybody’s ‘neath the trees,
Feeding pigeons on a limb
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here,
All the pigeons gonna run to him.
Come all without, come all within,
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn.

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