Call our Sales Team on 0208 912 2120

Not even a plaque!

26th December 1975
Page 16
Page 16, 26th December 1975 — Not even a plaque!
Noticed an error?
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.

Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Keywords : Cromwell, Films, Slough

"EVERYBODY," said Maggie's brother Cromwell, "who pretends to know about the sometimes obscure past of road haulage sooner or later comes up with the discovery that it all began in a field at Slough after the First World War, when demobbed soldiers bought surplus army lorries with their gratuities at knockdown prices."

"It was the garden of Eden or the 1E10 of brimstone and fire, according to taste," I said. "It was there, you might say, either that the hellish brood of juggernauts was spawned or a great industry born."

"Whichever way you look at it," said Cromwell," it should be an historic site, a not-soancient monument where devotees, cheek by jowl with archaeologists, comb the ground for relics."

"There could be annual pilgrimages to the shrine," I said, "with headlight processions and decibels ringing in celebration."

"Instead of which," said Cromwell, "there is not so much as a plaque, let alone a custodian.. I doubt whether anybody could now find the right spot."

"While other local events are still memorialised," I said. "ft was at Slough, or near it, that Thomas Gray wrote his Elegy in a Country Churchyard, and we can still put ourselves in his place, although the view is a little different 200 years later."

"Charlotte has been reciting the poem all over the house for the past week," said Maggie. "Her environment teacher, Miss Virgo, has made her learn it by heart."

"I can't understand what Old Chastity sees in it," said Charlotte, "Listen to this— The curfew tolls the knell lf parting day; But heavy lorry noises do not cease.

Lord Avebury, please charm them all away And let me write my Elegy in peace.

Even Bob Dylan has done better."

"You have got it all wrong Charley," said Cromwell. This is how it goes— The curfew tolls the knell of Thomas Gray; But British Rail stands firm when all is lost, Explaining why the railways do not pay And why the public ought to meet the cost."

"He has the railway buffs on his side," I said. "There may not be even one corner of a Berkshire field that is for ever RHA, but every place in railway history has its admirers to keep its memory green."

"For example," said Crornwell, "a whole page of the Christmas book supplement in The Times was given over to railway writings. The roads did not get a look in."

"Hardly to be wondered at," I said, "since the editor is one of Miss Virgo's disciples."

"He must be under the spell of Lord Stonehenge and his druids," said Cromwell. "He sits in their charmed circle reading railway history, station posters, old train tickets and notices saying `Do not spit'.

"The enchantment is widespread," I said. "No less a person than Lord Black said the other day that boys with an ambition to be drivers only had trains in mind."

"Not true of girls," said Maggie. "A couple have just been expelled from Charlotte's ecology class because they told the careers mistress they wanted to be lorry drivers."

"Purely on the strength of oral tradition, as The Times would say," said Cromwell. "There must be rows of books on railways in the school library, and probably a booby trap to catch the hand that strayed to the shelf marked 'juggernauts':

"Not that there is anything there," I said. "But think of the possibilities. Not just histories of the roads and other improving works. You have mystery in 'The Affair at Spaghetti Junction', romance in 'With Bonnie Prince Charlie at Scotch Corner' adventure in 'Five Carnets to Cairo'."

"Remember also," said Cromwell, "the rich vein being explored across the Channel, especially the exquisite 'Trouvailles de l'Autoroute,' by a Paris dochard, describing the provenance of his mouth-watering collection of ironmongery picked up on motorways all over Europe."

"He has chosen his hobby wisely," I said. "when the tide of. opinion turns, he will find himself sitting on a fortune."

comments powered by Disqus