31st May

Thanks to Dr Beeching

We walk our dog on the disused railway line now, but I can remember when the trains still came through the village. Half a dozen a day there must have been, and they were always busy, because nobody had cars then, well, nobody that we knew anyway. If you wanted to go into town you went on the train.

We lived in a cottage on one of the farms, and if you needed something you walked in and bought it at the village shop and walked home again, two miles each way. You didn’t go for just one thing, that’s for sure, and you didn’t forget anything either.

I know exactly what age I was when they closed the railway here. I was eleven, and it was 1965 when the last train ran. I know this because I was going up to the grammar school after the summer, and I was dreading it. There were all these stories about what happened to new boys the first day they were on that school train. Your cap got flung out of the window or you were put in the luggage rack or hung out of the window by your ankles – whether the stories were true or not I was worried sick at the thought of it. I daresay I’d have handed out the same treatment to new pupils myself when I was older, but I never got the chance, because Dr Beeching had recommended closing the line, and close it did. Things were much quieter on the bus.

Nobody has a good word for Dr Beeching. The way they say his name you’d think he carried out sinister medical experiments or something. He took all the blame but he only recommended the cuts, it was the government who went ahead with them. It was absolute madness, of course, we can see that now, but I suppose the future looked different then. And I have to say, although I’m sorry that the railway’s gone I still feel quite grateful to Dr Beeching. It was thanks to him that I was saved from a terrible ordeal. And the old line’s not a bad place to walk the dog either.

Reader: Matthew Zajac
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Guitar: Sorren Maclean
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