This week I must start with a confession; although I have passed off my written ramblings under the dubious title of The Pilgrim for many years, I have yet to complete my reading of John Bunyan’s account of The Pilgrim’s Progress. Some cite this as a reason for my obvious lack of progress in life.
I have seen much of it quoted, sometimes in odd circumstances, and know it concerns the journey of a mythical and hopeful chap who embarks on a journey, which is in effect his life. Beset by all manner of problems, lavishly populated with characters bearing names according to what they represent, the hero, Christian, gets by as best he can and I suppose reaches the end of his journey one way or another; (I haven’t got that far in the book yet).
Published in 1678, Pilgrim’s Progress is written in the language of its time to the tune of nearly 110,000 words and is nobody’s idea of a quick read.
Does anyone know if there is an edition translated into modern English and condensed in a way a dimwit such as I could easily grasp?
Enough of Bunyan and his learned tome; he wrote it in Bedford County Goal while doing a bit of bird for illicit religious activities by the way.
It seems while we were concerned with more important matters, another more modern Pilgrim has been making his or should I say its tortuous passage from an uncertain birth, through an equally uncertain infancy, thereafter a tempestuous adolescence, and now approaches maturity with all the same trepidation as the rest of us. The new Pilgrim? You should have guessed by now – it is the Borders railway project
OK, so The Wee Paper Pilgrim has been shamelessly milking this lengthy saga for almost as long as it has been in existence; indeed, he feels privileged to be able to do so.
The simple facts of the matter, along with a much larger host of speculation, lies, political double speak and bigoted ignorance, has occupied so much media space in the last decade or so it would be discourteous to expect The Wee Paper readers to plough through it all again.
Suffice to say, these frequently wildly inaccurate alleged facts have been consistent in actually making the case for the return of our railway, complimenting a well prepared and sound business case.
Many will differ with this statement, but with the latest developments in the project, the time approaches when everyone’s theories, claims and doom warnings will be put to the ultimate test.
Even when the railway is finally completed and opens for passengers sometime soon, there will still be a degree of opposition and it will come from the same faces.
Should the railway fail to come up to expectations, if this column is still on the go, it will admit defeat with whatever grace the writer can muster; maybe a similar pledge from the anti-railways crew will come from somewhere.
Will the regular letter writers and politicians transfer their pessimism to other issues? Well, maybe. But in the light of what some of them claim, I would not hold my breath on that one.
It is always so easy to cherry pick a few negative issues and assure others they are a copper bottomed case for ditching the whole thing, but, of late, the anti-railway mob’s output has largely taken on an appearance similar to the quacking of flustered ducks.
Picking holes in the job is all very well, it can even be good sport for some, but most of the opposition arguments are getting rather weary by now and follow the same old line.
Examples are many; the completion date, still something of ridicule has been deferred mainly by the delaying activities of those who now cite it as a shambles.
The cost is certainly linked with the time span of the project and how anyone can prophesy the failure of the service before it has the chance to prove itself is beyond me.
If these guys know so much about the job, is it not the case that if they had put their great minds to supporting the project from its conception it would already be running a regular service for them between the Borders and what passes for the Capital of Scotland?
Maybe all that is now required is for the railway detractors to give the project a sporting chance; who knows, a significant proportion of those riding the new railway might travel just for the fun of it, and there’s not a lot of that around right now.
Because of the way we do things in this country project overrun is inevitable, due to an overdose of misplaced democracy; thus costs always rise in line with delays.
We have seen this in so many cases, of which the Scottish Parliament and the Edinburgh Tram fiasco are only two out of a great number of examples.
At this time there is little we can do to reduce cost or time overrun in the railway construction, but we should maybe take a little time to look at the wider situation.
If by misfortune or incompetence the New Forth Road Bridge suffers the same delays and over-budget ills, we should take a long hard look at one unpalatable fact: if Scotland cannot exercise simple fiscal control and supervision over its capital projects it can be sensibly concluded that this is a sure sign this condition extends to every part of day-to-day government and come the great referendum in October 2014, we should address the single question with a question of our own.
That question should be: “Is Scotland capable of running its own affairs or am I voting for a similar disaster to the one that brought about the union of our country with England all those years ago?
A factual referendum question might well easily be: “Do you want your country run by elected UK representatives or un-elected bureaucrats in Brussels?”
Think hard before you answer – reference to a couple of accurate Scottish histories might be revealing, if only to prove that a philosophy of Scottish independence should not be based on a worn out grievance.
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Weather for Selkirk
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 1 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 26 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: South west