Latvia, it seems, is a cash based society. It’s fortunate that I purchased some Euros on the crossing because the young lady at the kiosk is shaking her head. “Sorry, no cards.” I trudge to the van to retrieve some notes, stowed since I arrived in Calais. If this was Britain, I think, there would be an ATM next to the kiosk ready to exploit my oversight for an additional £2. Not all progress is good and, despite being a technologist, I often yearn for the more simple existence that the Latvians seems to have.
I need only have brought some coins for it costs just 4 Euros to enter the vast lands of Cineville. Vast is not an overstatement. There are 370 acres in total to explore. The map reveals 25 distinct zones from “Viking stage” to “18th Century Street”.
I’m startled, as I turn the first corner, by the sight of workmen toiling in the sun. They’re sawing MDF, stapling-gunning plasterboard to timber frames, and laying cables along the ground. Is this area out-of-bounds? Where is the yellow tape? The big red sign? It appears a less fervent attitude to health and safety, and a less litiginous mentality prevail. Good. Don’t be daft, as they say in Yorkshire. With common sense and personal responsibility, things’ll be reet. The men don’t even register my presence as I walk past.
The most interesting area is a full replication of a 1940s railway station, complete with train, platform and clock. The guide says that the set designers attended to such a fine level of detail that they used the same gauge railway tracks as did the Russians during the war.
I step into the carriage and am transported to the 1940s. It is cool and dark. Beams of light pierce the gloom, drawing my attention to a set of photographs on the wall. They picture the full horrors of war. Men and women sprawl on the ground, blood seeps through their clothes. Broken enginery smoulders beside the side of the tracks. Man and machine alike lie destroyed, victims of war.
It doesn’t need to be said that nobody wants a return to these days. But scenes like this certainly put to shame our present culture of entitlement, lack of personal responsibility, and not-me-ism. Britain would be a better place if we all practiced a bit less mithering and a bit more self-reliance.