In Praise of Superman: A Cheesy Tunes Special

The understated genius of Black Lace’s party anthem

Once upon a time forty years ago, the son of Enrico and a mate of his wrote a cheesy tune called Gioca Jouer. The songwriters, Claudio Simonetti and Claudio Cecchetto (the former being Enrico’s son) did pretty well with their tune. It was used as the opening theme for that year’s Sanremo Music Festival and a smash in their home country, Italy.

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Now You Know What We Did This Summer: Bridlington By Bus, Train and Taxi

A look at Bridlington’s public transport offer

Thanks to previous lockdowns and pandemic conditions, it has been two years since we left our last Now You Know What We Did This Summer round-up. The last entry looked at Bournemouth’s buses, which we found were dirt cheap compared with Greater Manchester’s buses.

The last time yours truly went to Bridlington was nearly 12 years ago. I had an overnight stay there and used Lord Tennyson’s favourite resort as a halfway point between Doncaster and Middlesbrough. There, I was supporting the late great Donna Williams at what became her last UK lecture tour. After seeing her Doncaster lecture, I got Northern’s service to Bridlington (via Goole and Hull), then continued to Middlesbrough by bus via Scarborough.

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Holy Island, 2015

A Northern Wake-Up Call: IPPR North Report Confirms Westminster Failings

How COVID-19 has intensified inequalities in Northern England

This week, IPPR North’s report The State of the North has confirmed what many Northerners have known since the height of Thatcher’s term in office. With Brexit and COVID-19, the North-South divide has grown dramatically – to a point that the gap between South East England and North West England could be akin to that of West Germany and East Germany prior to reunification.

Before last week, one of the few things that set Northern England apart from the South East of England was consigned to history forever. If you wanted to know where the North of England really began, it was at the most southerly terminus of a rail service that was served by Class 142 Pacer units. With franchised buses as part of a fully integrated transport system, Greater London feels like another planet compared with Greater Manchester.

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Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge, 11 October 2009

What Has the North Done For Us?

Quite a lot to be honest!

Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge (widescreen)
The iconic Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge

Imagine a world without Northern England. It would be a dull place devoid of The Beatles, iconic suspension bridges, daft footballers, and railway lines. Prior to the late 1970s, we were the manufacturing heart of the world. We built bridges, ships, made cutlery and built the world its locomotives and carriages. Today, most of what manufacturing capacity we had has been eviscerated by London-centric governments and globalisation. Prior to the mid 1980s, we kept most of our country’s power stations ticking over and our houses warm, before they closed down the pits and started importing its coal.

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Can You Have a Full Yorkshire Picnic?

Feast of the M60 asks if you can have an all-Yorkshire picnic

With relatives on both sides of the Pennines, I could claim dual nationality status if in the unlikely event that Yorkshire secedes from Westminster rule. Thanks to the lockdown and yours truly not having left Greater Manchester since then, a strange thought occurred to me: “Could you have an all-Yorkshire picnic?”

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Durham Cathedral Square

Can You Get From Westminster to Durham By Bus?

If you have any sense at this moment in time, the answer should be ‘No’

The list of places associated with disreputable goings-on with present and previous Conservative governments have grown in the last five years. There are now enough places to muster a Best of British coach tour. Till last week, we had a suitable coach operator with the hotels and pick up points to pitch a possible inclusive tour.

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Northern Nationalised: Franchise Transfers from Arriva Rail North to DfT

Northern franchise taken over by DfT as Operator of Last Resort from the 01 March

After several rumours and persistent lobbying by Northern English political figures in the last six months, it was announced today that Arriva lost its Northern rail franchise. Under the Anglo-German company’s tenure, the rail franchise was dogged by poor service, delayed rolling stock deliveries and gross overcrowding.

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Stalybridge Station, Yorkshire platform and Buffet Bar

Tameside Train Timetable Changes, 15 December 2019

Stalybridge sees restoration of Liverpool to Scarborough express service

From Sunday [15 December], Stalybridge will regain its direct link with Liverpool Lime Street and Scarborough. Before May 2018, Stalybridge station was served by an hourly service from Liverpool Lime Street to Scarborough via Warrington Central and York. Since the infamous May 2018 timetable changes, this was discontinued with the service being partially replaced by two skip-stop trains from Manchester Piccadilly.

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Shepherd Group Youth Brass: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club, 08 December 2019

Hard working York youth band put on fantastic show

Hours before they came to Boarshurst Band Club, the Shepherd Group Youth Band held a concert in Selby Abbey. Courtesy of one of York Pullman’s finest coaches, they were on the M62 motorway whilst yours truly was enjoying his Sunday Dinner.

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Northern Class 195, Manchester Airport

Should Northern Rail Be Nationalised? Be Careful What You Wish For

Or: is the Grayling Curse to blame for Northern’s woes?

The rail franchising system is dead. Long live the rail franchising system. In the last year, we have seen a recasting of the rail franchising system in favour of management contracts. Since 1994, rail franchises in Great Britain have mirrored former British Rail profit centres, which in turn have roots in BR’s sectorisation programme by Sir Robert (Basil) Reid.

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