Express & Star

Peter Rhodes on good libraries, controversial X-rays and HS2, the end of an imperial dream

In a new document, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals says a “good library” should encompass controversial issues and that books should not be rejected solely for being contentious. Good luck with that. The problem is that it's up against staff who subscribe to the all-pervading woke motto: “I know the truth. I proclaim the truth. Everything else is hate-speak.” Common sense may fight back but it's an uphill struggle.


To recap. HS2, which promised to lop 20 minutes off the rail time from Birmingham to Euston for a mere £30 billion, is now promising a slower trip from Birmingham to Old Oak Common, a station six miles away from Euston, for a mere £100 billion.

Meanwhile, the original architect of HS2, Tony Blair's old chum Lord Adonis, is keeping quiet, to the dismay of his local paper the Camden New Journal. It offers the challenge: “Lord Andrew Adonis! Come out, come out wherever you are!” and goes on: “Lord Adonis and the other high-ranking politicians like him have promised us a world-class railway but have left us with a world-class hole in the ground.”

My theory is that HS2 was never really about trains in England. It was a project for the European Union, part of a vast high-speed network extending from Istanbul to Glasgow, knitting the Euro-empire together for all time. This EU “Core Network” scheme reminds me of Cecil Rhodes' vision of constructing a railway the length of Africa, from Cape Town to Cairo. As with HS2, the dream was seductive but the money never added up.

So back to today and the burning question: how, in a clean, green and recyclable manner, can southbound HS2 travellers get from Old Oak Common to central London? Hansom cabs, perhaps?

Some mistake, surely? According to the Guardian, “Children seeking asylum in the UK may run away and disappear because of fears of being subjected to X-rays and bone scans to verify their ages.” But why would children flee? Children would surely rejoice at any means of proving their age. Adults pretending to be children, on the other hand . . .