Saturday, 27 September 2008

A Transport Manifesto- Pattingham to Penkridge

"Pillock?" she enquired, scanning a finger down the visitors book, "Er no, the name's Pollock, actually, I made the booking over the phone, perhaps you misheard me" I laughed, she looked puzzled. Young and Polish, she clearly knew not what she'd said. It was early morning in a Pub in Penkridge and I was itching to get going, once I'd extracted myself away from the jolly landlady who wanted to know all about the trip. How good it felt to be back in the Black Country. From the moment Keith dropped me off at Coventry station, where, with perfect timing, I caught the only straight through morning train to Penkridge, friendliness prevailed, from the ticket office at the station to "Curry's" in Wolverhampton, I was met with smiles and greetings. Why, I was even getting to like the accent!
Dumping the rucksack in Penkridge I made my way to Pattingham by train and bus. With an hour to spare in Wolverhampton, while "Curry's" were obligingly charging up the camera for me, armed with a town trail map I explored. And was pleasantly surprised. Wolverhampton is like one of many post industrial towns, making the best of their heritage
For the first time in the history of the Lejog/Jogle I found getting lost actually worked to my advantage! Following the Shropshire Union Canal, watching the barges chugging slowly up and down the canal, I started to muse about how our whole transport system had completely changed, for the worse really, in the last 50 years. While Beeching was ripping up train tracks, canals were drained, and tram lines removed, arteries of motorway were threading throughout the land, and the age of high speed travel arrived along with jumbo jets and Concord. Deep in thought, I found myself in the middle of a housing estate, and on asking for directions, was guided to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal all the way into Penkridge.
So back to the Transport Manifesto. It seemed to me that in the name of progress we'd actually gone backwards. All because we've lost our sense of time. Continuously seeking ways and means of getting ourselves, and goods from A to B faster. If only the time element was taken away, we could return to the days of transportation by foot, bycycle, train, boat or barge.
But it would take a brave Transport Minister to radically tackle today's problem of pollution, overcrowded roads, and a confusing and inadequate railway system. I reckon whoever is in charge of National Express should be appointed. What a fantastically efficient way of travel. How else can you travel from London To Inverness (return) for £2?
And so all the new Transport Minister has to do is make us all go on compulsory "Canal Bank Holidays" Why? To get us all to de-stress and chill us out to the level where we can accept a slower pace of life. I've never been on a canal boat holiday, but it seems you've got to learn the art of travelling slowly and waiting patiently at all those lock changes.
And so, after a day of sunshine and "bon homie" along the tow path, I spent the evening in the "Littleton Arms" with Kim and her husband, good food, wine and lively conversation. Perfect!