Pounding the keys

I think that we have reached the stage where another short break from matters of noise would be welcomed by one and all.

A couple of days ago I passed a significant personal milestone. No it wasn’t a birthday where my age was divisible by ten, although that will come soon enough, but a full five years since the first of my essays – Why am I doing this? (posted 10 Mar 2010) – appeared on this blogsite. As I sit in front of my computer to type this current posting the evidence of this marathon is all too visible. Reading the keys from the top left of my keyboard, I see “Q” and a “W” as normal, but the next two keys are totally blank and the third is blank all but for a single remaining fleck of white. All in all, about half of the letter keys are cloaked in mystery. Since I am not a touch typist, this does pose a few problems, and, when they are first typed in, my sentences can appear to be something that even GCHQ might find a challenge to decode. I really must get a new keyboard!

Whilst this sorry state of affairs is testament to the poor quality of the keyboards that some suppliers ship as standard, it also bears witness to the two, or perhaps, three million keystrokes that were necessary to input more than 450,000 words that have been required to construct around 470 blogs that you are able to read on this site, if you have the time and the inclination.

If only I had known what I know now when I was approached five years ago by a person – and yes you know who you are – who had commissioned the HS2 and the environment site to be set up and was looking for an author for a few blogs for it. If I had, then my definite refusal at that stage would have saved me a big chunk of my retirement spent in hard, but I must confess not entirely unrewarding, labour.

Looking back over this past year’s output, I have counted eighty-eight blogs posted requiring just short of 100,000 words. Only twenty of these essays have covered the chosen topic in a single blog; the vast majority have been made more expansive by dealing with the subject in two or more parts, consistent with my mission to investigate and report subjects fully. An example of this multipart approach is the current series Gladiatorial games, covering the expert evidence on noise issues that was presented to the Select Committee at the back end of last year, which has reached part 20 with more to come. Two other major multipart series posted during the past year have been Degrading practices (fourteen parts), looking at the likely impacts of HS2 on classic services on the West Coast Main Line, and Paxo stuffing (eight parts), in which I dispute the claims made by HS2 Ltd Chairman, Sir David Higgins, in a letter published in the Financial Times. What has become my specialist topic, HS2 operational noise pollution, received additional attention in the two series A very noisy bird (three parts) and Not a precise science (six parts). It is my hope that the research that was required to prepare these postings, and the resulting facts presented, will serve as ammunition for those who are relentlessly continuing to fight against this nonsensical project.

Unsurprisingly, the activities of the HS2 Select Committee provided the stimulation for a number of my postings, and the contest for the Leader of the Labour Party did not fail to motivate my fingers to twitch over the keyboard. Then, of course, there were the exploits of a certain pear tree to report. But, above all, my main stimulation remains that the more that you look into the project and its justification, the more the sheer inappropriateness of the proposal and the legislative process that will allow it to be built becomes apparent.

Just in case it might interest anyone other than just me, I have updated the table of the top five blogs that I have presented every year at this time. For anyone new to this site, this table shows the five – well six, actually, this year – most popular blogs across my entire five-year output, measured by the number of page views achieved by each blog up to the end of this past year 2015-16. I have also identified the comparative positions of each at the end of 2014-15.

End 2015-16 End 2014-15
Pass me the map 1 1
Grabbed by the throat 2 2
Another walk in the woods 3 3
It’s there for all to see 4 (-)
A stroll down the road 5 (-)
Westminster comes to Cubbington, part 1 5 (-)

The top two are well clear of the field – why this should be is a mystery to me.

It never ceases to amaze me that whenever I sit down to pen a new blog there are always several candidate topics to tackle, and I have never, as far as I can recall, been left struggling to find a subject. In fact, I have set aside many potentially fruitful subjects when selecting the topic for my next blog with every intention of tackling them in due course, but have then failed to get around to them.

As long as there is an abundance of issues to examine I will find it hard to resist the temptation to blog about them, but I want to get my life back at some stage, so I can’t necessarily promise that I will be posting another celebratory blog at this time next year.


One response to this post.

  1. The Camden Cutting Group, at the Euston station throat very much appreciates your continued output! We too would like our lives back at some point – but with well over a decade of construction on our doorsteps this seems like a distant wish. Thank you for the series on noise in particular.


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