The Anonymous Widower

Qatar World Cup: It Is Hard To Know What Is Real At An Ever Creepier Tournament

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Times, which has been written by Owen Slot, who is Chief Sports Writer of The Times.

This is the sub-heading to the article.

It is a disgrace that, less than a month before kick-off, we still don’t know how many workers died in the construction of the facilities

I agree with Owen Slot.

The article also details what I consider to be other dubious practices.

Fans from around the world have been recruited as a PR army to report anything derogatory to Qatar.

This is a paragraph from the report.

This is the part in the agreement where these recruits are obliged, effectively, to spy on their fellow fans: “You agree to report any offensive, degrading or abusive comments to the SC and, if possible, to take a screenshot of those comments and then promptly delete them.”

The SC is The Qatar Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy.

I can see this and Qatar’s views on human rights, homosexuality and alcohol, leading to serious trouble.

On my several trips abroad to support football teams, there has general been good humour and manners between the two groups of fans.

One trip, that fans on the way out might go terribly badly was England’s trip to Belarus in October 2008.

Everything went well because everyone wanted a good time and gestures on both sides diffused tensions.

  • The good people of Minsk helped visiting fans navigate the city.
  • A group of us were made very welcome in their excellent War Museum.
  • British fans laid a St. George’s Cross wreath on the War Memorial, which was much appreciated.
  • The Belarussian police were passing local kids into the England fans to get their programmes signed.
  • The hotel were excellent with my gluten-free food, after I gave them instructions in Russian.
  • Several locals engaged me in conversation to test their English.

I also wrote a piece for the East Anglian Daily Times about the trip.  It is in two parts.

Belarus to me indicates how the good people of a country, with help from a sensible police, can still organise things in a friendly manner.

November 5, 2022 Posted by | Sport | , , , | Leave a comment

Polish Industry Calls For ’Full And Complete’ Sanctions On Russian And Belarusian Railways

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Representatives of the Polish railway industry have issued a joint call for the European Commission to impose ‘full and complete’ sanctions on the Russian and Belarusian railways because of their logistical role in the invasion of Ukraine.

Sounds fine by me!

March 5, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Trip To Corby

I took these pictures on a trip to Corby this morning.

These are my thoughts.

Trains To And From Corby

I got a Class 222 train to Corby and an eight-car Class 360 train back.

Brent Cross West Station

There was a lot of constructruction activity at the new Brent Cross West station.

Luton Airport Parkway Station

The extensions to Luton Airport Parkway station look to be comprehensive, with several escalators.

The Luton DART connection to Luton Airport appears to be under test, so should open in 2022.

But will there be any air passengers to use it?

I last used it in 2008, when I went to see England play in Belarus.

Electrification North Of Bedford

The electrification North of Bedford station is obviously complete on the slow lines, but on the fast lines, as the pictures show, the gantries are all erected, but there are still wires to be installed.

But as the Class 810 trains won’t be in service until 2023, there’s still a bit of time.

The gantries certainly look sturdy, as this picture shows.

They’re certainly built for 125 mph, but as the Class 810 trains will be capable of 140 mph with full digital in-cab signalling, I would hope that the electrification has been installed to that standard. Or at least to a standard, that can be easily upgraded!

Corby Station

Corby station has been finished to a single-platform station, which is able to accept a twelve-car Class 360 train.

This should be adequate for the current half-hourly service, as a single platform can handle a least four trains per hour (tph) and several around the country regularly do.

Both tracks through the station are electrified and I suspect with a second platform bridge, both could be used by electric trains to create a two-platform station.

But there would appear to be no need at the moment.

Even, if it were to be decided to extend one tph to Oakham and Melton Mowbray stations, this could probably be accommodated on the single-platform.

Network Rail seem to have already installed a crossover South of Corby station, so that trains can use the single platform.

Serving Oakham And Melton Mowbray

I discussed this extension in detail in Abellio’s Plans For London And Melton Mowbray Via Corby And Oakham.

In the related post, I said this.

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

These are mentioned for services to Oakham and Melton Mowbray.

    • After electrification of the Corby route there will continue to be direct service each way between London and Oakham and Melton Mowbray once each weekday, via Corby.
    • This will be operated with brand new 125mph trains when these are introduced from April 2022.

This seems to be a very acceptable minimum position.

When my Class 222 train arrived in Corby at 1154, it waited a couple of minutes then took off to the North.

I then took the next train to London, which was an eight-car Class 360 train which formed the 1211 service back to St. Pancras.

Meanwhile the Class 222 train, that I’d arrived on did a reverse in the Corby North Run Around Loop finally arriving back in Corby at 1345. The train had taken one hour and forty-nine minutes to return to Corby.

It might be just coincidence, but are East Midlands Railway doing timing tests to see if services can be extended to Oakham And Melton Mowbray?

It should be noted that service times North of Corby are as follows.

  • Corby and Oakham – 19 mins – 14.3 miles
  • Corby and Melton Mowbray – 31 mins – 25.7 miles
  • Melton Mowbray and Leicester – 17 mins – 12.8 miles (estimate) – CrossCountry service

My logic goes like this.

  • It looks to me that it would not be unreasonable that a Class 222 train could run between Corby and Leicester in forty-eight minutes.
  • Double that and you get one hour and thirty eight minutes, for a journey from Corby to Leicester and back.
  • Subtract that time from the one hour and forty-nine minutes that my train took to reverse and there is eleven minutes for a turnback at Leicester station.
  • Eleven minutes would certainly be long enough to tidy a train and for the crew to change ends.

I also believe that the 35.8 miles would be possible for a Class 810 train fitted with one or more battery power-packs instead of a similar number of the four diesel engines.

So are East Midlands Railway doing tests to find the most efficient way to serve Oakham And Melton Mowbray?

On The Corby Branch

I travelled North on a Class 222 diesel train and South on an electric Class 360 train.

On the Corby branch, I was monitoring the train speed on an app on my phone and both trains travelled at around 90 mph for most of the way.

There were sections at up to 100 mph and the track was generally smooth.

I was left with the impression, that trains might be able to go faster on the branch.

Average speeds for the 2.5 miles of the branch were as follows according to these timings from realtimetrains.

  • Class 222 train – Arriving – 5.25 mins – 28.6 mph
  • Class 222 train – Leaving – 5 mins – 30 mph
  • Class 360 train – Arriving – 7.5 mins – 20 mph
  • Class 360 train – Leaving – 5 mins – 30 mph

It doesn’t appear that there are much difference in the timings, although it might be said, that the electric approach is more cautious.

The Class 360 Trains

The Class 360 trains have not been refurbished yet although as my pictures show, some have been given a new livery.

In Are Class 360 Trains Suitable For St. Pancras And Corby?, I said this about the train refurbishment.

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

These features are mentioned for Midland Main Line services to Corby.

    • Increased capacity
    • Twelve-car trains in the Peak.
    • More reliable service
    • Improved comfort
    • Passenger information system
    • Free on-board Wi-Fi
    • At-seat power sockets
    • USB points
    • Air conditioning
    • Tables at all seats
    • Increased luggage space
    • On-board cycle storage

What more could passengers want?

It certainly hasn’t happened in full.

I did ask a steward, when the new interiors will be installed and he said they were running late because of the pandemic.

Performance Of The Class 360 Trains

I used my app to follow the speed of the Class 360 train, that brought me back to London.

  • The train hit a maximum speed of about 105 mph.
  • The train arrived in London a minute late.

I feel that as the drivers get used to their new charges, they will match the timetable.


I have a feeling that in a couple of years, these trains will fulfil Abellio’s promises.

May 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Got Easier To Visit Belarus

I’ve visited Belarus before, as I wrote in this post called Belarus.

I enjoyed the trip to see England in qualification for the World Cup.

The outstanding thing I found about the country was the friendliness of the people. And that included the police! Before the match, they made sure that all fans could frantenise and exchange banners and greetings.

The Times today has a two-page travel article about cycling in Belarus. Tom Chesshyre enjoyed it.

He mentioned that there is now a five-day tourist visa waiver, which was introduced last year. That surely would be a lot easier than the Stalinist bureaucracy, I had to fight through at the embassy to get my visa in 2011.

I shall now return to Belarus.

February 10, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | | 2 Comments

Whoosh At Langdon Park

I stopped yesterday at Langdon Park DLR station to take pictures of the so-called Whoosh sculpture.

I couldn’t find any details of who designed and made it, at the station. I shall go back for a look. I found nothing on return, but there is a bit here.

I aways think that works of art should be acknowledged.  When I went to see England play in Belarus, Minsk was full of unattributed modern statues.  But that’s communism for you!  Someone who is very good, might get some credit for it, when it should all go to the leader.

September 19, 2012 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 5 Comments

The Tragedy of Belarus

They were talking on the BBC about the state of Belarus.  I don’t know whether they read it out, but I sent in this e-mail.

I went to Belarus to see England play two years ago.  Minsk was a friendly city, with lots of things to see.  After experiences of Moscow, supporting Ipswich, Minsk was totally different.  Even the police were complicit in exchange of banners, tokens and signatures between fans.


The visit left me with the optimistic impression, that Belarus would eventually be part of mainstream Europe, but time has shown me wrong. On the other hand, the history of the country has shown, that they are resilient and sort themselves out in the end, usually without great violence.

I do hope my optimism was not misplaced and one day I’ll return to the country.  By train of course!

February 20, 2011 Posted by | News, Sport, Transport/Travel | , | 1 Comment

Street Sculpture in Ipswich

I have always liked street sculpture and feel it is something that brings art to everybody, or in the case of Minsk in Belarus to the people.  There are some of the Belarus street statues on this page. I must add to this page, as I have lots of photos from when I visited the city to support England.

Ipswich has some good street sculptues or statues, which tend to be on the popular side of culture. Here’s the Giles family in the Buttermarket.

The Giles Family, Ipswich

It was erected as a tribute to the cartoonist Carl Giles, who lived in the town. Does any other cartoonist have a statue of his famous characters?  Or do they have the street named after them?

You might think a statue of cartoon characters is unusual, but the other two popular statues in the town are those of Sir Bobby Robson and Sir Alf Ramsey.  Can any other town boast two statues to their football managers, but none to any of their footballers?  I doubt it!

Here’s Sir Alf, on the touchline for the World Cup victory in 1966.

Statue of Sir Alf Ramsey, Ipswich

And then there is Sir Bobby in a much more animated pose.

Statue of Sir Bobby Robson, Ipswich

There is also a sculpture trail for Ipswich. Is Ipswich unique in not having any full-size statues of military or royal and often obscure figures in the town centre? There is only one statue of a prince in the town and he was Russian. But Alexander Obolensky is not rememberedso much for being a prince as for scoring one of the greatest tries in the history of rugby.

October 3, 2010 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lisa Kudrow

Lisa Kudrow is an actress I’ve never come across before, but then I’ve never seen any episode of Friends.   However, I’ve just seen her trace her family history on the American version of  Who Do You Think You Are?

Lisa is Jewish and many of her ancestors were murdered by the Nazis in Belarus. It was a moving story, but it did have a happy ending, when she was reunited with a Polish man, who had met her father years before.

I have been to Belarus to see England play football and it is a country with a lot of sorrows. It lost about a third of its population in the Second World War and it wasn’t until about thirty years ago, that it recovered to its pre-war level.  I showed some of the pictures, I took in this post.

I also wrote a piece for the East Anglian Daily Times about the trip.  It is in two parts.

Belarus – Part 1

Belarus – Part 2

Both these files are in a PDF format.

One day, I hope I’ll be able to Belarus again.

September 19, 2010 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

What’s Up With England?

I saw them in Belarus.  The way they played that night, they could have put at least four or more past Algeria.

June 18, 2010 Posted by | Sport | , | 2 Comments


With the post about Droyt, I felt I should put up some of the pictures I took of Belarus.

I’d actually gone there to see England play football and thoroughly enjoyed the trip.  The people were friendly, there was absolutely no trouble and we were blessed with some very good weather.  England won too!

Holocaust Memorial - Minsk, Belarus

Holocaust Memorial – Minsk, Belarus

This memorial was tucked away in a quiet park behind the hotels.  Strangely, you can’t find much about it on the Internet, except for a small article about how it was vandalised in 2006.

Afghan Veterans Memorial, Minsk

Afghan War Widows Memorial, Minsk

This memorial to the widows of the Afghan War was built some time after the war actually ended.  The war doesn’t fit well in Russian history, but it made a serious mark on it.

English Wreath on the Cenotaph, Minsk

English Wreath on the Victory Memorial, Minsk

This wreath was laid by England supporters and the ceremony was totally unreported in any English newspapers.  I did manage to find a reference in a Belarusian News Agency and there is a bit on the British Embassy web site.

But then there was no trouble and newspapers have their stereotypes.

This is a getting to be a sombre series of pictures, so here’s one of the beautiful girls of Minsk.

Girls of Minsk

Girls of Minsk

There were so many and all were very well-turned out. But then one of their problems is that they outnumber the men considerably.

Minsk is also blessed with large numbers of street statues.

Street Status in Minsk

Street Statue in Minsk

None seemed to credit any of the sculptors.  I always like sculpture in preference to painting, I suspect because one of my uncles was a serious one.  He though, knew of the difficulties of making it a career, so he was earned his living as an engineer.  But a good one!

At Belarus England in Minsk

At Belarus England in Minsk

Note the police, who were friendly like everybody in Minsk.  There was no trouble at all.  And England won.

One day, I’ll go back to Belarus.  Perhaps in the Lotus.

September 24, 2009 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , | 4 Comments