Cats on Tracks

Yesterday saw the funeral of the Japanese station cat Tama, attended by 3000 mourning the death of a feline who had single-pawedly saved a rural railway line, and lifted the local tourist economy. She has been made a Shinto goddess, and a successor duly appointed to watch over the station and wear a funny hat.

Credit: Anthony Bale

Credit: Anthony Bale

Apposite news, as ‘Where’s the cat?’, and ‘Where’s the incredibly fast & exciting train?’, are more or less the only things Central Belt Shuffler can say in Japanese (neko wa doko desuka and shinkansen wa doko desuka, respectively). Japan is a world of cat wonder and weirdness, from Hello Kitty to cat cafes, from the movie Rent-a-Cat to cat island, and to pretty much every book that Haruki Murakami has ever written.

But for a little transcultural memorialising of Tama, here’s a picture of a cat patrolling the tracks in rural France, courtesy of a friend. Good night, and travel well, sweet Tama…

Central Belt Service Alterations

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 22.18.26The time for the ‘Central Belt Service Alterations’ is nearly upon us.

In reality, this is to allow for engineering works in the Winchburgh Tunnel to lower the tracks, in order to gain additional headroom for the electrification of the tunnel.

But Central Belt Shuffler’s mind runs instead to a different sort of alteration. A shortened hem; a nip and tuck; a colouring of grey hairs; an extra notch on the belt.

Will a much spruced up train service emerge to greet us at the end of July?