Saturday, January 2, 2016

Hovering, Homer and David Beckham

Erm, it seems to be 2016,

not sure how,

but we are where we are, Happy New Year an all that, but let us attend to matters arising in the first world.

First on the agenda - Hover boards with wheels?

I don't think this is quite what Bleep and Booster promised us in the Blue Peter annuals of the seventies, and smacks of corners being cut in the research and development department and a repackaging of old roller skate technology.

In an age of transparency and authenticity, hover boards should at least hover.

If at this point we turn to the Macmillan Dictionary for guidance we find that "to hover" is - to remain floating, suspended, or fluttering in the air,

While the Urban Dictionary teaches us that "to hover" is- not sitting on the toilet seat during defecation

Whatever your take on "hovering" there is no mention made in either definition of a pair of wheels.



Through the Froth we shall now attend to more serious matters and the flooding which has blighted the north and missed the south.

It's no fun being flooded, and the severity of some of the out of bank experiences are quite alarming but the stoicism of those affected has been nothing short of life affirming.

I have heard many radio programmes and seen several interviews where our man from the media has arrived in a haze of hyperbola trying to whip Joe Public into a frenzied rage. The car salesman in Kendall made light of his soggy situation, the farmer in York who accepted water on fields that were a flood plain and toured them in his boat ( because, yes it had happened before, and he had made preparations) the lady in a village in the lake district who put on her rubber boots and dished out the soup, the man in South West Scotland who informed our newshound that his community were used to flooding, the river flooded most years, but this was quite a high one.

On the radio we had an enlightened cove standing in to present the lunchtime news who suggested Cumbria's travails were a result of groundwater flooding, while another who sought to whip up a frenzy over faulty flood defence, was quietly informed that the flood defence in place had performed in the manner in which it was intended, so back to Bob in the studio. Another was indignant that the river was threatening to burst its banks, despite a visit by the Prince of Wales three days before, and who was this King Canute anyway?

Somebody must be blamed, and that man in the wellies in six inches of water waving his arms around to camera, is calling for the head of the Environment Agency, who has fled, like the merry monarch to foreign fields, but then his is only a part time post, and what can we expect for a six figure salary,

Not that his presence back on these shores would change much (worth every penny, eeeevvery penny)

A token post if ever there was one, did Generalissimo Smith teach us nothing?

There are environmental causes far more worthy of the funds fed to our man in Barbados.

Rivers flood and always will, take it as a space station moment, and a small reminder that mother earth has her own agenda. It is refreshing to hear during these past few weeks that there are many who understand that flooding on many rivers is a natural event that mankind cannot eliminate, despite the exhortations of an at time disconnected media, Call me out as an old fart for repetition, but

If we're not scared, they're not doing their job.

And now can we all agree to meet at the weekend with shovels and some sandwiches, to dig a ditch down the spine of England to move some of that water to the South East, because we still need the rain, or perhaps when HS2 goes in, run a big water pipe underneath the track,

now there's a thought,

because trains don't do hills,

and Ladies and Gentleman, for one who thrives in a grey area and obfuscation, I give you a brief spell of blue sky thinking, (we're having a drier January, not dry, just using wine stoppers more often)

but a conduit with a gentle gradient beneath the Y shaped track bringing moderately paced trains down the spine of our country, could transfer excess water in the north, to a corner of England stumbling slowly towards a water crisis.

Who will be our Brunel?

At which point I am reminded of the musings of Homer,

"Marge, Marge, fetch me a beer..........I'm starting to think"

On the first day of the year. Madam, myself and Otis completed our traditional post breakfast skirmishes on the common. We were the first down there on the day, bar a solitary twitcher, and there was not much about but a bunch of snipe and a few heron, although Otis achieved the fourth level of enlightenment during his crossing of the ford which often serves as a spa for footsore dogs, soothing sore paws that covered many metres during our restorative walk early on New Year's Day.

Next week, the chainsaw comes out and I will begin to attend to the many bank side willows that are beginning to impact upon the river, affecting weed growth and thinning the bank side fringe. There are a few that escaped the saw last winter due to my activities in the wood with a hundred or more fallen Christmas trees. There are a few bends that will look very different at the start of the season and a couple of bridges must also be attended to. This week I tweaked open the hatch on the house for the first time this winter, allowing a small rise in water to escape down the mill stream. There is water on the meadows, and the coming weeks will hopefully see an increase in groundwater flow and the river starting to creep up, but I'm sorry beleaguered flooded folk of the north, I'm all for more rain.

We had ice on the car on the first morning of 2016, but the temperature's risen since and the mower retains the status of "active and in service". I have been issued with a cutting edge digital weather station that relays all manner of interesting information to a monitor on our kitchen wall. It is strangely addictive and more informative than many half hour programmes offered on the box, but the daffodils in the garden, gorse in bloom,birdsong in the wood and six inches of growth on the clematis confirm that it remains a particularly barmy winter.

Oh yes, almost forgot,

David Beckham, a reasonable footballer (with my left foot he would have been complete) whose red shirt was always the wrong shade for me, but after seeing the TV programme last week in which he played a game of football on every continent on the planet, Dave's a superb ambassador for the world game,

Everything that Don Platter, Fingers Platini, and the bad guy from Live and Let Die should have been.

He won me over, well done Dave!

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