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Razing a Nation by Nigel Roth

While 1978 might be better known as the year the Unabomber began his career as a lunatic at Northwestern University, and David Michael Rorvik cemented his by claiming he participated in the creation of a human clone, and a brand new arcade game called Space Invaders changed our lives forever, a much more important event was happening in an upstairs room of a house on the busy Edgware Road, in the very center of London.

The Ryness Valley Railway was incorporated, and began serving the surrounding town and countryside.

Oddly, the RVR, as it was known to those familiar with the operation, was based in what appeared to be the Swiss Alps, though the coaching stock were liveried for the East German DR, the Czech CSD, the Hungarian MAV, and the Polish PKP, and were often pulled by blue British Rail diesel brutes. There were also some wagons with Palethorpes Pork Sausages written on the side, and some older brake vans with mismatched wheels.

Anyway, the RVR ran day and night (but mostly day) to the town of Ryness and back to the town of Ryness, via a couple of tunnels and a waterfall. Every now and then there was a slight derailment, but an ancient red crane wagon was always on hand to put things right. No lives were ever lost, or injuries incurred, though a cow was once briefly trapped under a Mitropaspeisewagen.

For my 12-year-old self my HO-scale model world was a brilliant distraction from my somewhat-illegal evening job stocking shelves at my father’s liquor store, and my torturous long-division homework, the usefulness of which still eludes me after forty-one years. But it served no real purpose other than to abet my compulsion to collect railway coaches from everywhere but Ryness, and my endless obsession with miniaturizing what I saw around me.

For King Vajiravudh, also known as Rama VI or Phra Mongkut Klao Chao Yu Hua, of Siam, now Thailand, his own miniature obsession was far more important, and he’d probably view the current unrest in his country as unnerving and ironic, and would certainly lament “Thailand's grinding transformation to arrive in the 21st century."