Mark Andrews: Chuka, Bond, and letting the train take the strain

By Mark Andrews | Opinions | Published:

Read today's column from Mark Andrews.

Chuka is now a Lib Dem – at the time of writing, anyway

FAREWELL to Grace Jones, Britain’s oldest person who died at her home in Worcestershire aged 113.

Daughter Deirdre McCarthy said she ‘did everything with style’, and just a couple of days before her death she had been playing carpet bowls. And in an age where everything seems to be about what you should and shouldn’t do, it is refreshing to hear that she put her longevity down to drinking whisky.

Grace lived through two world wars, five monarchs and 26 prime ministers. I wonder what she thought when she heard there would be a leadership contest to replace Theresa May.

“Oh no, not another one?”

Heritage loco – but is it carbon neutral?

HERITAGE steam engines are set to play a greater role in the West Midlands’ rail network, according to metro-mayor Andy Street.


Announcing a tie-up between West Midlands Rail Executive and Birmingham-based Vintage Trains, Mr Street said turnover from the UK’s heritage railways doubled from 2006 to 2016, and contributed £250 million to the UK economy.

Of course, we are lucky to already have the wonderful Severn Valley Railway in our region, and Telford Steam Railway has big plans for the future. Mr Street says the latest venture seeks to establish the ‘Shakespeare Line’, from Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon, as Britain’s premier mainline heritage railway.

Which all sounds very exciting. But a reader points out one fly in the ointment – Theresa May has also pledged to lead the phase-out of coal, and make Britain carbon neutral by 2050. So what will these steam trains be running on?

MEANWHILE, the famous cliff railway at Bridgnorth has had to be fitted with reinforced suspension because it cannot cope with the strain of people getting fatter. ‘Overwhelming stress’ to the supporting brackets were causing the doors to jam shut, so the operator has now beefed up the supporting hangers and brackets with Land Rover parts.


Maybe some of the passengers would do better to lose a few pounds by walking up the hill instead.

Bridgnorth Cliff Railway – now reinforced for obese passengers

IT SEEMS filming of the new James Bond film isn’t going as smoothly as some would like. First of all the man himself, Daniel Craig, hurt his ankle during filming in Jamaica last month. Now health and safety inspectors have been called in after a crew member received ‘minor injuries’ during a controlled explosion.

People may recall there were some doubts about the choice of Daniel Craig as Bond when he was pictured wearing a high-viz life-jacket during the filming of his first movie, Casino Royale.

James Bond, licensed to kill. Subject to the relevant risk assessments, obviously.

CHUKA Umunna says his decision to join his third (or is it his fourth?) political party in four months was not a career move. Well, it has seen his career move from being talked up as a potential future prime minister to a music hall joke.

This time last year he was the bright young thing, the new Tony Blair. Now he is basically Robert Kilroy-Silk without the line in chat shows. That is some career move.

A REALITY television show called Love Island has attracted 800 complaints after one of the contestants called Maura displayed what has been described as predatory behaviour.

Which should be great news for ITV. I’m sure it is delighted to hear that Love Island has 800 viewers.

As for those sensitive sorts who were so offended by the programme, they might be interested to know that most modern TV sets are now equipped with a special censorship device, which means they do not have to be exposed to such traumatic behaviour. It’s called the off-switch.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.


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