08 April 2008

Happy Birthday

Today is this blog's first birthday. It was on 8 April 2007 that I (G) took the decision to start a transport blog. Many people in the transport industry have a blog and when my fellow joint editor (P) chose to join in it was obvious to name the blog after the transport publication we produce - one of the longest-running publications of its type in the UK, the Lincolnshire & East Yorkshire Transport Review (LEYTR). As we have an ever-growing membership base who pay a subscription, we were hardly going to duplicate information contained in the magazines, so chose to keep the LEYTR name relatively low-key initially, and opted for the title A Transport of Delight as the main blog name.

Taken from their 1957 album 'At the Drop of a Hat', the name comes from a song written and perfomed by the wonderfully tallented Flanders & Swann. Having grown up with a father who was practically obsessed by the duo, I'd become quite accustom to their way with words and musical talent, not to mention comic timing and wit. A Transport of Delight was a song about travelling by bus in London at the time the song was written, i.e. the late 1950s. Some lyrics have been reproduced below to give you a flavour:

When you are lost in London
And you don't know where you are,
You'll hear my voice a-calling:
'Pass further down the car!'
And very soon you'll find yourself
Inside the Terminus
In a London Transport
Ninety-seven horse-power

Along the Queen's great highway
I drive my merry load
At twenty miles per hour
In the middle of the road;
We like to drive in convoys
We're most gregarious;
The big six-wheeler
London Transport
Ninety-seven horse-power

We don't ask much for wages,
We only want fair shares,
So cut down all the stages,
And stick up all the fares.
If tickets cost a pound apiece
Why should you make a fuss?
It's worth it just to ride inside
That thirty-foot-long by ten-foot-wide, Inside that monarch of the road,
Observer of the Highway Code,
That big six-wheeler
London Transport
Ninety-seven horse-power

Worthy of mention is the line in the above, last, verse where they claim "If tickets cost a pound apiece why should you make a fuss?" Today, travel by bus in London can cost double that for cash-paying passengers. I'm not sure Flanders & Swann would have been a big fan of the Oyster Card either - Oyster is such a difficult word to make rhyme! Both of us can heartily recommend a song Flanders & Swann wrote called Slow Train, in which they chose to mourn the passing of the closed railway lines c/o Dr. Beeching. A couple of defunct railway stations in the LEYTR get a mention!

Flanders & Swann are most remembered for their Hipapotamus Song - recited by many young children, even today, who mistakenly think its author was that very busy chap called Anon. "Follow me, follow, down to the hollow and there let us wallow in glorious mud."

We've tried to balance the LEYTR blog with a mixture of articles concentrating on specific national news stories and events as well as provide the fortnightly digest of national news - now split into two sections: rail and bus/coach. Mentioning the LEYTR magazine at numerous occasions on the blog has helped us acquire some new members and the blog's popularity - with around 4,000 hits per month - has benefitted from reciprocal mentions on the website and in the magazines. We also try to keep a local flavour to the blog, though not too much to the point that it may be of little interest to people who have never been to our area.

We hope to continue in the same vein for the forseeable future and hope to attract more returning visitors each month.