Sunday, 17 August 2008


I am not a fan of the Fenland countryside so it came as a surprise to discover that it can be ruined. The instruments of destruction of our long green silence of countryside are, of course, Wind Turbines, the Triffid de nos jours. According to Stephen Mitten in his book on cognitive archeology “Prehistory of the Mind”, our world is a play that has gone on for six million years but all the action is confined to a hundred thousand years. Human life has appeared in 25,000 of them. If this, as he claims, is the last act it has been a tragedy in which the human race has played Feste, the clown.In Afghanistan a drug is freely grown which is responsible for most of the crime in the so called civilised world. We ignore it and fight a mock enemy, which we wrongly called Islam. Islam is not the enemy. The enemy is the Wahabi, a fanatical religious sect which we allowed to flourish when its embers were first blown into flame by Ibn Saud to create Saudi Arabia, the kingdom which now holds the world to ransom. Our rescue services are denuded; our workers are taken from useful civilian life to fight a tribal uprising in a country where the terrain dictates tribesman must always win. At the same time the coasts of Mexico are open to the Columbian drug cartels because the country is too poor to police them. That is where the armies of the West ought to be. Fighting the drugs war which is the greatest threat to our own civilisation. It is a war we could win. The climate has been changing at intervals for six million years. We cannot beat it, so we invent a strategy. The EU imposes laws governing the use of natural resources. We respond by offering energy providers huge sums to create wind farms on land which the farmers are glad to rent to them to ease their own financial difficulties. I was interested in Christopher Booker’s claim in the Sunday Times that the combined electricity output of all the 2,000 wind turbines so far built in Britain is less than that of a single, medium-sized conventional power station. According to Booker, Table 7.5 of the energy statistics on the Department for Business website, which quotes the latest annual figure for wind energy, shows that it contributed 4,225 gigawatt hours. Dividing that by the 8,760 hours in a year gives a total average output of 482 megawatts.Table 5.11, listing every UK power plant, shows that nearly 50 conventional power stations were each capable of contributing more than that. Even if we could build the 7,000 additional wind turbines Gordon Brown dreams of, their combined output would not be much more than that of the single coal-fired power station at Drax, he claims.
One of his readers suggested that makes interesting reading. And it does.


What would we do if France invaded the Channel Isles? When Egypt took back the Suez Canal we went to war.
Our ownership of the Falklands Islands rests on a dubious claim in the 18th century, mocked at by Sam Johnson. China's announcement that Tibet was part of China was also made in the 18th century. When Argentina claimed the Falkland Islands we went to war, to defend a population whose British passports we had taken away and was, anyway, leased to British Coalite. Should we counter invade Tibet? We made a cock up of the Younghusband invasion of that country and we were the laughing stock of the world when we invaded Abyssinia (see the Barefoot Emperor). What would we have done if the Tynwald had signed up the Isle of Man with the Warsaw Pact countries during the Cold War, as Georgia seeks to do with NATO?
For 300 years it was the central plank of British Foreign policy that BRITAIN DID NOT INTERFERE WITH THE INTERNAL AFFAIRS OF OTHER COUNTRIES.
It is one plank we should continue to walk.

PS a pretty girl mimed a song at the opening of the Olympics and China earned the contempt of commentators who also pointed out, with great glee, that the fireworks display was digitally enhanced.Do they think that the actors actually sang the songs in Hollywood musicals or that the countless hordes of soldiers in films like the Lord of the Rings are real people?. It is called show business.


I am so glad that in lovely Cool Britannia we can all abandon the stiff upper lip and explore cowardice as an art form. I have taken to it like a duck to water. I practise it all the time. Although I do say it myself, I am getting quite good at it. The next time I get a headache I am going straight into counselling.
When I think of all those years I wasted pretending to be brave, discovering cowardice is a joy akin to removing tight corsets or changing from shoes that pinch into slippers. The trick is to admit, in a manly way: “I would like to but, frankly, I would be scared stiff.”
None of my contemporaries believes me, of course. They are so used to that dreadful old British thing about putting a brave face on things they do not realise that in this grave new world cowardice is cool. Asteroids miss us by a million miles and humanity quakes; the prospect of duty free anthrax had the headlines shivering (I believe that scare story was a spin doctor’s ploy in support of the EU proposals for a duty free ban). A flu Pandemic and A World of Water wait in the wings with The End of the World. A medical magazine published a report of tentative research to suggest danger in triple injections and British mothers united to ululate on the six o’clock news. Now the prospect of measles injections terrify.
Those silly friends who fought in several wars and a number of marriages think I really have another secret reason for not wanting to climb Snowdon, even in a train. They cannot accept I am so frightened of heights that if I had been born a woman I would not have been able to wear high heels.
When my son suggested I might like to sail with him in a small boat from Anglesey to the Isle of Man, I declined with regret. I pointed out that I am the only father he has got and, since the edition is so limited, I must do everything in my power to ensure it does not go out of print. I got all the seafaring experience I want I told him, pacing the decks of piers.
Alas, constructive cowardice does limit opportunity. I am forced to say a regretful ‘no’ to tempting offers of hang-gliding, water skiing and wind-surfing. Even arm-wrestling can give you a nasty bruise and, despite a long career in the mouth-boxing booths of the BBC, competitive name calling is out of the question.

I claim my B.Sc. (Bachelor of Supreme Cowardice).