August 12th, 2013



It's a violent word. Onomatopaeic. It sounds like something you'd do to an enemy.

I'm against it instinctively- as I'm instinctively against the felling of trees to build motorways. The time I threw my parents-in-law out the house was because of a silly argument that developed out of Dot saying she'd like to feed Swampy to the crocodiles.

Swampy: remember him? Teenage green activist- notable for living in burrows and not washing very much. I wonder what he's doing now?

Besides, Cameron is in favour of it. There's a headline this morning that has him saying he wants to do it not only in the distant, Labour-supporting North (a far off country of which we know little) but also in the South.  If Cameron is in favour of anything you know it's because there's money in it for his disgusting corporate friends.

We felled the forests, we dug up all the coal, and now we're going to smash the shale beds. It won't be pretty. There may be earthquakes, there will very probably be water pollution, there's always a cost attached to these things. Sooner or later we're going to have to stop grubbing after non-renewable resources- because here won't be any left- and get properly serious about harnessing the renewable ones- like sunshine.

Desert Island Books

Ever since it started- a lifetime ago- the lovely middle of the road radio programme Desert Island Discs (which interrogates famous people by way of their musical and literary tastes) has "given" its putative castaways a library consisting of The Bible, Shakespeare and their choice of one other book. Now there are suggestions- whispers- that the Bible is going to be withdrawn- and the usual suspects have been tut-tutting predictably.

The point of the proviso was, I would have thought, to stop the castaways from making the boring- and personally unrevealing, choice of either of the two shibboleths. It had little to do with reinforcing cultural norms (which is how the tut-tutters read it) and everything to do with keeping the programme lively. But things have changed. The Bible has lost its hold over us (No foundations trembled when castaway David Walliams said he didn't want it because he didn't like it)  and a candidate who chose it now would be revealing something quite interesting about themselves- if only a certain courage and willingness to go against the grain,

I say, Drop it.

Notice that no-one has suggested dropping Shakespeare. (Hooray!)

I've often wondered what my desert island book would be- and I still don't know. I'm not someone much given to re-reading favourite texts. Do you think it would be cheating to ask for the whole of La Comedie Humaine?

Killing Hornets

The pest controller came round this afternoon and did for the hornets in our roof.  He worked from the ground, using a pump with a telescopically extending, semi-rigid hose. At full stretch it looked like one of those rods you catch marlins with. He inserted the nozzle under the tiles and gave the nest a couple of squirts. Each squirt produced a plume of vapour that drifted.

We stood back and watched. The hornets were circling giddily. Their bodies, coated in poison, had turned white. "They're looking for another way in," he said. "But they're stupid creatures; they only ever build one. No escape routes or nothing".

He told me about a case he'd been called to where some chap who was cutting a hedge had put his blade through a nest and had to be stretchered off to hospital. "His face was out here," he said, holding his hand about a foot away from his cheek.