Train In Vain

Today’s been a Bank Holiday here in sunny rainy London, so it’s tradition to go and do something different. Like go and ride on a steam train. A steam train! And lots of fun it was, too. Gazing out the window as we choo-chooed through the pretty English countryside, a thought struck me. Trains are fun in a way that planes – for all the technological marvel that they are – never will be. Because, on a plane, one minute is just like the next. You’re very high up, you probably can’t see anything, you haven’t got any room, the bloke next to you looks a bit funny and it’s fundamentally dull in a way that whooshing through the air at 600 mph in a pressurised metal tube really shouldn’t be.

Choo choo!

But on a train, even a 130-year old one like the one we were on today, the scenery constantly changes. There’s a bridge! A deer! A farm! A cow! Another cow! SQUIRREL!1. It’s just fun, on a whole different level. You know, I still like getting the Tube every day (as long as I get a seat).

And so here’s some Kraftwerk. One of their best tracks, capturing the mesmeric rhythms of train travel perfectly. Wonderful.

MP3: Trans Europe Express by Kraftwerk

1 Yes, we watched Up last night.

Buy Kraftwerk’s “The Catalogue: Remastered” (CD Box Set)


When you have a blog, you can do all sorts of daft things. Like posting a track that gets you shut down, for instance. But today, I’m going to post something for one person, and one person only.

She knows why. MUAH HA HAAAA!

Happy birthday, Kate!

MP3: Combine Harvester by The Wurzels

(and thanks Rob for the help!)

Note: It wouldn’t be fair for me to post this track and not explain who made it. The Wurzels were originally the backing band for Adge Cutler, who wrote Scrumpy and Western songs, mostly based around drinking cider, farming, village life, and more cider, all sung is Adge’s rough Portishead accent1. Tragically, he was killed in a car crash, but the band continued without him, and rewrote some recent songs in their own inimitable style. Such as changing “Una Paloma Blanca” to “I Am A Cider Drinker”. They were faintly embarrassing when I was growing up, but in my teen years we used to sing “Easton-In-Gordano”, “I Am A Cider Drinker” and “Combine Harvester” in our favourite scrumpy-selling2 pub in Bath. Which is now a wine bar. Now, I can’t help but laugh along with them. Sometimes, in life, it pays to be a bit silly.

Kate relaxing with me, Bill and Gordon

Loads more information about them on this great site.

1 Yes, that Portishead.

2 Scrumpy is a rather raw, unrefined, unfiltered version of cider. Generally, it’s cloudy, very strong, very cheap, and gets you horribly, horribly drunk. I can’t touch the stuff now, after spending two years drinking six pints of it every Friday and Saturday night as a teenager. You can make it yourself by leaving some fresh apple juice (not pasteurised) out in the sun for a few days. Drop a rat in it for extra authenticity.

Buy “The Finest ‘arvest of the Wurzels” (CD/MP3)