Close Calls

Via David Schneider comes this extraordinary collection of potentially fatal encounters averted at the last minute:

It’s thrilling to see the speed at which people can react when threatened with sudden danger, and how calm they can be whilst making a split-second life or death decision.

(Less edifying are the nutters who throw themselves out of the paths of oncoming trains, apparently for fun. Bad enough for their families; even worse – and unforgivable, whatever the outcome – for the poor train drivers.)

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Books about trains

I’ve been forgetting to mention the books I’m reading. This month I finished two which have nothing in common except being less about trains than their titles suggest…

Off the Rails by Lisa St Aubin de Teran is subtitled “Memoirs of a train addict”, but as it turns out trains are only a tangential part of the story. It seems to be out of print, which is why I haven’t linked to it, but in any case I would heartily recommend not reading it. What it loses in loving descriptions of trains and train journeys it gains in loving descriptions of Lisa St Aubin de Teran and how wonderful she is. I’ve no doubt it’s true, but it didn’t endear her to me, nor make for an enjoyable read. Plus, I wanted to read about trains, so I was doubly disappointed.

Closely Observed Trains, on the other hand, is a light, sweet, melancholy read that I forgive for not having very much to do with trains. I enjoyed it very much at the time, but – having moved on to very different things since – can’t remember all that much about it.

Neither of them is as much fun as my favourite book about trains, which now I come to think of it is also not about trains. But Murder on the Orient Express, which runs it a close second, is. That’s how you write a train book that stays in print, Lisa!

Transit maps of the world

This has just arrived in the post, and it’s very beautiful. Maps and trains, all in one book! If I had a coffee table, or a house in which to put a coffee table, it would be taking pride of place. As it is, it’ll be going into a box along with all my other worldly goods.

And while we’re on maps, there’s no reason not to plug my favourite (fictional) version of the tube map, and this, which is even better but sadly isn’t available as a poster. Although, of course, I’d have nowhere to put the poster, due to the aforementioned lack of anywhere to live. <Sob>

Monday update: Apparently the map of the world’s transport systems is available as a poster. From, uh, the London Transport Museum. I shall have to pay them a visit.