The Shortest Train

By far and away my favourite YouTube find of the year was All the Stations, a project of the entertainingly nerdy and passionate couple Vicki Pipe and Geoff Marshall wherein they undertake to visit every single railway station in Britain.

Perhaps the best introduction to the ethos of the project comes deep into Scotland in the video Chose Corrour, which serves as a sort of manifesto of acceptance of being interesting in interesting things. It’s okay to be a nerd.

While Geoff and Vicki completed their quest in 2017, they continue to release railway-related videos on their YouTube channel, including this week’s lovely The Shortest Train, a sequel to this summer’s The Longest Train.

Rather than traveling down the spine of Britain as they did for the summer solstice, for this winter solstice they took the 2 minute journey from Wrexham General to Wrexham Central, and did it with humour and panache.

If you fall into the All the Stations wormhole, you may not emerge for several weeks, as visiting 2,563 stations takes time. But I promise you will be delighted.

Some years ago Catherine and Oliver and I visited the Spring Geequinox while on a trip to Halifax. The event was a sort of “Comicon for people too weird for Comicon” and I was initially very, very uncomfortable with the heady mixture of Renaissance reenactors, ham radio operators, board game aficionados and furries.

But then I had a revelation: the freedom of each of those in the hall to be geeky in their own way opened up space in the universe for me to be geeky in my own way.

Printing presses and typewriters and fountain pens and bookbinding are my jam, not Dungeons & Dragons or inhabiting the soul of Shrek, but all are things that run contrary to the conventional, and the prominence and celebration of one only seeks to enliven all the others. My revelation put me immediately at ease, and that ease has taken me to places I wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise.

Visiting every railway station in Britain is, by almost any measure of reasonable, an inane thing to do. Which is why it’s such an interesting thing to do, especially when it’s done full-throated and without apology as Vicki and Geoff did it.