“Is there a podcast this week?” Someone tweeted me yesterday. “Is it about trains? I’d like it to be about trains.” Oh boy have I got good news for you.
The first half is very much about trains – or at least, the tracks they run on, as I tell Stephanie what I learned when I accidentally wrote a history of the London Underground. (Honestly, I just meant to do the line names but it kind of got out of control.) Quick précis: there’s a huge gap in the 20th century, and the British state is obsessed with bloody royalty.
Then Stephanie tells me about her favourite crazy article she’s read this week: this 2015 piece in the Daily Mail which imagines what London would look like had the Gunpowder plot succeeded in 1605, thus undoing the Reformation and turning these islands back into a Catholic country.
Never mind that the last 400 years of British, European and World history would have been different, the article says – let’s just assume that a few if London’s buildings would look a bit French.
Then I get a bit ranty for reasons you’ll understand when we get there.