Britain gave railways to the world, yet its own network is the dearest (definitely) and the worst (probably) in Western Europe. Trains are deeply embedded in the national psyche and folklore - yet it is considered uncool to care about them.
For Matthew Engel the railway system is the ultimate expression of Britishness. It represents all the nation's ingenuity, incompetence, nostalgia, corruption, humour, capacity for suffering and even sexual repression. To uncover its mysteries, Engel has travelled the system from Penzance to Thurso, exploring its history and talking to people from politicians to platform staff.
Along the way Engel ('half-John Betjeman, half-Victor Meldrew') finds the most charmingly bizarre train in Britain, the most beautiful branch line, the rudest railwayman, and - after a quest lasting decades - an Individual Pot of Strawberry Jam. Eleven Minutes Late is both a polemic and a paean, and it is also very funny.About the Author:
Matthew Engel wrote for the Guardian for a quarter of a century on everything from terrorism to tiddlywinks, and is now the least fiscally aware columnist on the Financial Times. For twelve years he was also editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. Together with his wife Hilary, he founded the Teenage Cancer Trust Laurie Engel Fund, in memory of their son who died in 2005, aged thirteen. His other books include Extracts from the Red Notebooks, published to raise money for the fund. They live in Herefordshire and daughter Vika.
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