Thursday, 8 March 2018

From Russia With Love!

And It Is NOT April 1st!
A few years ago, Mrs fbb bought her soul-mate a really entertaining book.
It does what it says on the cover; it was a tour of the more unusual gyratory traffic obstacles that test the motorists of this Sceptred Isle. Of course, the highlight has to be the officially named "Magic Roundabout" in Swindon ...
... technically known as a "ring" junction.

No 1 trumped this for this year's 73rd Anniversary non-celebration.
This book is a MUST for all public transport enthusiasts, and an equal must for those who might claim utter boredom with anything to do with buses. (Surely that cannot be possible?)

But let's start at the beginning. There is an introduction by writer Jonathan Meades.
It is pompous, pretentious and irritating ...
... but that is, essentially, Meades' style!


Appertaining to  brass-coloured mineral, FeS2, occurring widely and used as an iron ore and in producing sulfur dioxide for sulfuric acid. Also called fool's gold, iron pyrites.

No further comment necessary!

We then hear from the author, Canadian emigré Christopher Herwig ...
... who explains the origins and the outworkings of his passion.
His travels through the Russian republics to research this book have been both extensive and utterly dedicated.
The numeric list of "countries" contains many that fbb could never place on an atlas or globe, even after perusing the helpful map above!
And, if you wondered what the dot is beside Abkhazia (No 8) ...

The region fought and won a war of secession with Georgia in 1992-93 and formally declared independence in 1999. After the Georgian-Russian war in 2008, Moscow recognised the region as an independent state. Georgia responded by declaring Abkhazia "occupied" by Russia.

... you know now!

The third chunk of introduction is by Vera Kavalkova-Halvarsson ...
... who explains a little more about how this omnibological weirdness came about.
But first we must get one thing straight. This is not a book of bus stops; it is a book of so-called bus shelters, which, as we all know, don't shelter buses but people waiting for buses. (So they should be called "people shelters" or "waiting shelters"?)

From page 15 to 186 of this amazing volume, we have picture after picture of these weird, wacky and wonderful creations.
Many of them are in the middle of nowhere and very few of them are actually served by any bus route; many were never actually used for their designated purpose ...
... although new uses have been found!

Many are actually useless for their intended purpose ...
... as they offer little actual shelter!

Some are ludicrously huge, but artistically ...
... interesting.

Only a few are in good condition ...
... like this one serving Poltava Airport in the Ukraine. Poltava has a population of about 290,000 and plenty of bus routes and several trolleybus services.
Highly decorated shelters are a feature of the area ...
... but the edifice illustrated in the book seems to have lost its decoration and now appears in plain but boring white.
fbb could not find a bus route to this airport stop. Maybe a blog reader can help. The airport terminal is a typical Soviet building but it would appear that the airport itself has seen better days.
It is not often that fbb is really, really enthusiastic about a book, but if you are used to this sort of thing in the UK ...
... or even this ...
... Christopher Herwig's book is an absolute must.

Published by "Fuel" (a design company) and currently priced at around £12 from a well known on-line bookseller.

P.S. There are also four pictures of model buses, presumably Russian!

Back to the UK tomorrow!

 Next Yorkshire rail blog : Friday 9th March 


  1. I know that Thamesdown Transport drivers used to break the monotony of certain shifts by trying to do the whole duty back and forth over the Magic Roundabout without stopping!
    The traffic is probably too busy now, but careful timing on approach and the right gear for departure would have made it possible for the driver of one of Swindon's numerous Fleetlines years ago.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Didn't see an option to 'Like' your piece so thought I'd write a note 'cos I did. Also, having visited half a dozen countries on that 'Russkie' list, I'm actually very tempted to buy the book even if my preferred mode of transport is the train wherever possible - and affordable!