... the bells! Wednesday evening is bell ringers' practice evening at St. Mary's, Warwick. My allotment plot is about a quarter of a mile from the church, and I had a pleasant hour hoeing and watering there this evening, with the waves of sound echoing across the rooftops, the allotments and trees. The sky was doing its best to add to the general sense of rightness, with pale, water colour washed pinks and blues, and the sun was bright but subdued. There was a fair amount of traffic on the railway, with both the 'up' line (to Birmingham), and the 'down' line (to London) busy, not just with late passenger traffic, but also goods, and a train that was made up of London Underground carriages, odd goods wagons, and three diesel units. They were on the 'down' line, and I suspect they were coming from some repair yard. Perhaps Crewe? Where England used to make so many engines, carriages, wagons. But that was before the country that invented the railway stopped making the kit to run on it.
Every time I think of the 'up' and 'down' lines that run past my allotment plot, I think of the rather readable novel, Bhowani Junction, by John Masters. It's a decent middlebrow novel about love, Partition, Indian independence, and personal identity. It was later made into a film starring that rather scarily intense, out of control actress Ava Gardner (who would show any of today's Hollywood favourites a clean pair of heels), and, I think, Stewart Grainger. The novel is fascinating because it deals with some of the horrors of Partition (mmm, thinking Islamic intransigence again, that Jinnah chap, you know), but also because the key characters are Anglo-Indians. I suppose there must still be, of sorts, an Anglo-Indian community left in India (and I wonder if English-Indian marriages here in England now are a sort of Anglo-Indian community??), but for many years, the Anglo-Indians (i.e., mixed marriage families) were key to the operation of the Indian rail network, and, to some extent, the civil service. Needless to say, they didn't fare so well after 1947, and perhaps they fall into the sort of category that the descendants of white indentured serfs do in the Caribbean. I don't know. I have, somewhere in this Hobbit bunker, a fascinating book entitled Lost White Tribes, about the forgotten historical losers of European imperialism. Must look it out and read it again. Anyway, if you fancy a decent read about Indian railways, Partition, love (both in its human form and in the case of a man's love for a decent British motorbike), and the Anglo-Indians, then try Bhowani Junction. Masters was himself an Anglo-Indian - though he didn't care to admit it - so it has another interesting edge.