Eleven Minutes Late: A Train Journey to the Soul of Britain
Britain gave railways to the world, yet its own network is the dearest (definitely) and the worst (probably) in Western Europe. Trains are deeply embedded in the national psyche and folklore - yet it is considered uncool to care about them.
For Matthew Engel the railway system is the ultimate expression of Britishness. It represents all the nation's ingenuity, incompetence, nostalgia, corruption, humour, capacity for suffering and even sexual repression. To uncover its mysteries, Engel has travelled the system from Penzance to Thurso, exploring its history and talking to people from politicians to platform staff.
Along the way Engel ('half-John Betjeman, half-Victor Meldrew') finds the most charmingly bizarre train in Britain, the most beautiful branch line, the rudest railwayman, and - after a quest lasting decades - an Individual Pot of Strawberry Jam. Eleven Minutes Late is both a polemic and a paean, and it is also very funny.
What people are saying - Write a review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - Opinionated - LibraryThing
As withering a critique of Britain's mismanagement of the railway system as you could wish for, best summed up by a junior civil servant as "its completely fucked. The biggest cock up of all time ... Read full review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - Eyejaybee - LibraryThing
A fascinating paean to Britain's railway network. Engel, better known to me from his former incarnation as the editor of Wisden, spent a fortnight doing nothing but travelling around the British ... Read full review