Me and trains. I do like them, I confess. I outed as a train spotter a long time ago. In truth it is the engines, the locomotives that I like, especially diesel. Perhaps that is too much information.
My fascination spills over into my television viewing habits. I enjoyed ‘A slow train across Africa’ with Griff Rhys Jones and have watched every series of Michael Portillo’s ‘Great railway journeys.’ OK, they are more travelogues than trains but still, you have to take your fixes when you can.
His latest series that I am watching sees him travel across the middle states of America, from East to West. He has been to some of the parts of America but you don’t normally see. Not the brash New Yorkers or the laidback Californians, just ordinary Americans. They remind me of where I live.
Unlike in my land however, the distances in America are huge. Railways were built to carry goods from state to state. A lot of this traffic now travels by road. In one of the programmes Portillo talked to a lorry driver who described how he drove about two and a half thousand miles a week. That is a long way by anybody’s standards. That is a long time to sit behind the wheel.
Our grand tourist asked him how he coped. ‘I deliver the goods that keep America going,’ he said. Trade is such a vital part of the way we live. Without it our societies would collapse. All of us play our part. He was proud of his part on the great swell of humanity. He delivers the goods and we do something else.
I really admired his sentiment. Not all of us can invent the next Facebook or cure cancer yet all of us can play our part by doing what we love to do most. His was driving a lorry and mine is something completely different.