Last Call for the Dining Car: The Daily Telegraph Book of Great Railway Journeys


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Last Call for the Dining Car: The Telegraph Book of Great Railway Journeys

The journey, rather than its end, is the thing, with the opportunities it affords to "submit to chance experiences and insights along the way". As Paul Mansfield puts it, having taken five days to travel from London to Lisbon, "I could have made this journey by plane in about two hours — and missed everything. I wonder, though, whether "submission" quite sums up the attitude of some of the writers whose work I have included.

It hardly applies to Sean Hignett, who wasn't exactly ordered to climb on to the roof of the South Orient Express in Mexico just as it was about to enter a tunnel.


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Nor does it apply to Jonathan Routh the television prankster of Candid Camera , who, embarking on a long trip with his wife, and forced to share a compartment with two American women, makes plain his determination to have the pair of them do his bidding. Routh was on the Trans-Siberian, which is indisputably one of the world's great train journeys. It features in the book a couple of times: What is a "great railway journey"? Last Call for the Dining Car offers a liberal interpretation of the phrase. It can be great in length and duration — three weeks, seven countries, 10 time zones — and great again in the telling, as with Peter Hughes's.


  • Last Call for the Dining Car: The Telegraph Book of Great Railway Journeys by Michael Kerr?
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  • It can be great as in fabled, as in the Orient Express crossing Europe, promising lust, murder, revolution and intrigue — but not much in the way of breakfast or dinner, as Lee Langley discovered in its dying days. That was before James Sherwood, in , having bought some of the original coaches, started the private luxury train known as the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

    A journey can be great in its delays and frustrations and stoppages, and then great again in the humour or anger with which those are recounted, whether by Craig Brown, in a skit on The Night Train "re-re-re-crossing the border", or by Boris Johnson, prevented by Midland Mainline from keeping an appointment in a television studio, and giving way to his "internal John McEnroe". It can be great, too, in the qualities it reveals among the passengers: I found the story of Necdet Kent not among the travel archives but in obituaries.

    It was one of those serendipitous discoveries you make when dipping in and out of a search engine. I hope readers will make similar discoveries for themselves in the book, and I hope to see noses buried in it on the train. Accessibility links Skip to article Skip to navigation. Sunday 16 December Michael Kerr introduces it.

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    Last Call for the Dining Car: The Telegraph Book of Great Railway Journeys

    In Arts and Culture. More from the web. The world's cheesiest hotel photographs. The best escorted tours. Which weird laws of the world do you know? Last Call for the Dining Car: It might be something of a disappointment to the trainspotters; to men like Mr Peto, who, on reading Edward Thomas's Adlestrop , expressed his disappointment that the poet had not taken the opportunity to note the name and number of the engine. It is not a history of train travel, or even a history of the Telegraph 's coverage of train travel though it does record a few milestones along the way.

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    It is a selection of some of the best writing we have published on railways and railway journeys — on everything from the Trans-Siberian to the curling BR sandwich. The anthology concentrates on the second half of the 20th century and the start of the 21st, because that is when narrative travel writing about trains came into its own, and when our colour supplements and, later, our travel sections plump, prosperous and pre-internet had the space to do it justice. Reviewing the book in that paper, Colin Thubron wrote: Its ancestors are not H V Morton or Lawrence Durrell, but Mark Twain and Alexander Kinglake, and its author, most typically, attempts less to immerse himself in a foreign culture than to submit to chance experiences and insights as he moves along his usually harassed way.

    Even more than his earlier success, The Great Railway Bazaar , it is a travelling book. The same is true, on a smaller scale, of many of the contributions to Last Call for the Dining Car: The journey, rather than its end, is the thing, with the opportunities it affords to "submit to chance experiences and insights along the way".

    As Paul Mansfield puts it, having taken five days to travel from London to Lisbon, "I could have made this journey by plane in about two hours — and missed everything.

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    I wonder, though, whether "submission" quite sums up the attitude of some of the writers whose work I have included. It hardly applies to Sean Hignett, who wasn't exactly ordered to climb on to the roof of the South Orient Express in Mexico just as it was about to enter a tunnel. Nor does it apply to Jonathan Routh the television prankster of Candid Camera , who, embarking on a long trip with his wife, and forced to share a compartment with two American women, makes plain his determination to have the pair of them do his bidding.

    Routh was on the Trans-Siberian, which is indisputably one of the world's great train journeys. It features in the book a couple of times: What is a "great railway journey"? Last Call for the Dining Car offers a liberal interpretation of the phrase. It can be great in length and duration — three weeks, seven countries, 10 time zones — and great again in the telling, as with Peter Hughes's.

    Great railway journeys: Last Call for the Dining Car - Telegraph

    It can be great as in fabled, as in the Orient Express crossing Europe, promising lust, murder, revolution and intrigue — but not much in the way of breakfast or dinner, as Lee Langley discovered in its dying days. That was before James Sherwood, in , having bought some of the original coaches, started the private luxury train known as the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. A journey can be great in its delays and frustrations and stoppages, and then great again in the humour or anger with which those are recounted, whether by Craig Brown, in a skit on The Night Train "re-re-re-crossing the border", or by Boris Johnson, prevented by Midland Mainline from keeping an appointment in a television studio, and giving way to his "internal John McEnroe".

    It can be great, too, in the qualities it reveals among the passengers: I found the story of Necdet Kent not among the travel archives but in obituaries. It was one of those serendipitous discoveries you make when dipping in and out of a search engine.

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    Last Call for the Dining Car: The Daily Telegraph Book of Great Railway Journeys Last Call for the Dining Car: The Daily Telegraph Book of Great Railway Journeys
    Last Call for the Dining Car: The Daily Telegraph Book of Great Railway Journeys Last Call for the Dining Car: The Daily Telegraph Book of Great Railway Journeys
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