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"End to End via the Margins"
-the diary of a walk.

- Linlithgow to Bonnybridge

Diary

In response to requests, The Questions are... (to be discussed in the group) What are the two changes you've seen that have had the greatest effect on people's lives? (social, technological, economic, etc., and global, national or local). Who gains from these changes? Who suffers or has been left out? What does God think about this? What has the church done about this? Hard questions, but basically intended as conversation starters, so I can make notes of what's said.

[I remember saying last night, "I wouldn't fancy being a cow." It seems to me this is the kind of imaginative leap that puts the gut feeling into our ethics, and means we can make sense of the Golden Rule. But it doesn't work with other species. I'm not sure it even works with other people: I wouldn't fancy being a police officer, but it clearly suits some people. Or is this the beginning of the path to apartheid?]

Early in the walk, I could see BP Grangemouth steaming and flaring away to the north. According to the local paper, jobs are going to be lost here and gained at Wal-Mart / ASDA ... a sign of the times?

The site of the fatal train accident at Polmont is nearby, in which a DVT hit some cows, with tragic consequences. Nevertheless, trains are still a safer way to get around than cars. I wonder at our double standards, which fuss so much about railway safety, while considering speed cameras offensive. Maybe it's something to do with feeling in control.

I walk past the YOI, and smell chips, reminding me of the identical smell which used to emanate from the canteen of Uxbridge Police Station when I was a child. Hunter and hunted have something in common. The bridges from now on are tagged, often with sectarian slogans. A passer-by tells me more about the shale byngs. James "Paraffin" Young used to extract wax, paraffin for lamps and other hydrocarbons from the shale in the nineteenth century. The money he made enabled him to sponsor David Livingston.

I met Ia[i]n Crozier of Grahamston United Church at the Laughing Greeting Bridge, so called because of the faces on opposite sides (pictures below). The canal was built between Edinburgh and Glasgow by two contractors, who started at opposite ends and met at this point. The laughing side looks towards Edinburgh, where the contractor treated his navigators well, and the greeting side looks towards Glasgow, on which section the navvies fared badly - or so the story goes.

Bonnie Prince Charlie, it emerges, got as far as Derby, which is why his name features in the area. He also has a number of his soldiers buried above where the canal tunnel now passes in Falkirk. Falkirk became an iron making centre, because of having the right raw materials nearby, and a visit from a Sheffielder. 37 foundries used to grace the area, but now there are none. The Grangemouth refinery has helped employment (although some is to go), some people commute to Glasgow or Edinburgh, and the Millennium Wheel has helped tourism.

The Wheel is magnificent. When it operates, people just stand around in knots looking up at it. Nearly every such group has a man in it who has taken it upon himself to explain the physical principle involved. And I guess I would do the same if I had the chance, but I shan't bore you with it just now.

Pictures from today...
Exodus: ...
Laughing
Greeting
Ian Crozier of Grahamstown United Church, Falkirk
The Falkirk Wheel, seen through the wet roof of the visitor centre
Prayer
God of love,
we pray for those who still live with the consequences
of tragedies on rail and road.
Comfort those who mourn,
bind up the broken hearted,
heal the wounds.
Give strength, we pray,
to those who work for safety,
that they might achieve their aims,
despite all the pressures ranged against them.

We pray for people in prison,
and for those who care for them.
When they feel suicidal,
hold them back.
when they feel lonely,
give them companionship.
If they are prisoners to addiction,
set them free.
When they love to lord it over others
by their violent power,
show them another way.
God help us to dream
of the time when we are all freed
from what binds us.
© Bob Warwicker. The words here may be reproduced freely, but not for gain, or without attribution. All alterations must have the permission of the author.