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Considering that January is the month I’m normally trotting the globe I seem to have spent an awful lot of this year’s opening month sat at home staring at computer screens. I shouldn’t complain. The British weather has been pretty typical. It’s reminded me why I normally flee the UK now. It’s been predictably dull, but it has allowed me to make big inroads into scanning my old rail and travel pictures as I’ve scanned over 600 so for this month, which has freed up a not inconsiderable amount of space in my office! I’ll add a few samples later In this blog.

Whilst the weekend’s seen me busy at home I have been keeping an eye on the media and the continuing saga of HS2 as it’s played out in the press. The Fourth Estate have done themselves no favours in the way they’ve reported events. What’s sad (but predictable nowadays) is the way most of them (print or TV) can’t be arsed to do the slightest bit of independent research, so we’re into “send three and fourpence” territory (aka ‘Chinese whispers’) where the message gets distorted down the line. The FT originally reported an anonymous Government briefer who claimed the cost of HS2 was now £106bn. This was picked up and amplified by a cohort of lazy journalists who turned it into an official figure in a ‘secret’ report, when in fact it was total bollocks. The fact the National Audit Office then published an official report into HS2 and £106bn was never even mentioned (as it’s bollocks) matters not. Joe Public’s seen the figure mentioned and swallowed it, hook, line and sinker. Are these journalists apologetic? Are they hell as like. This is the ‘post truth’ world after all.

On the bright side, this whole furore does seem to have registered in Downing St where some people do seem to have realised they just might need to do something about this rubbish as it looks bad on them. The logical thing to do would be to release the Oakervee review which would show up that fact £106bn is bollocks, we’ll have to wait and see it that’s not just to sensible. In the meantime, it’s looking increasingly likely that the Government will be announcing HS2 will go ahead within the next couple of weeks – hence a lot of the froth we’re seeing in the general and social media as this really is the last chance saloon for the stophs2 campaign. Once phase 1 is given the go-ahead, they’re toast.

OK, enough of this. This theatre will play out over the next few weeks until the fat lady sings.

In the meantime, next week will be interesting for other reasons. I’ll be out and about at a couple of events next week – including volunteering for the Railway Children charity at this event, their sleepout on the 30th. Whilst this will be a fully supported fundraiser and I’m volunteering to help out, it’s a cause close to my heart. Plus, when I was a lot younger back in the 1970s-80s I’ve known just what it’s like to sleep rough on railway stations when you’ve nowhere else to go.

Now, it’s time for a change of tempo. I mentioned earlier about the pictures I’ve been scanning. I’ve been swapping between two albums. One’s old railway pictures from the 1980s whilst the other is travel shots from Brazil back in 2002. Here’s a couple of examples.

It’s a long time since Manchester Victoria looked like this! This particular picture was taken in May 1990. The area you’re seeing now has all disappeared under the arena. The platform I was stood on to take the picture still exists (it’s now platform 3) but everything else is long gone. The two locomotives were stabled in the roads that were used by engines that would push heavy freight trains up Miles Platting bank.

Now for a travel shot. Here’s the stunning island of Fernando de Noronha and the ‘Bay of Pigs’.