Tuesday 15 April 2008

There but for the grace of God

13st 12lb (phew!); zero alcohol; 1,389; the jungles of Borneo.

The Today programme this morning reported that, from today, all petrol and diesel sold in the UK must contain at least 2.5% biofuel, to conform (inevitably) with yet another EU Directive. Recently the same programme reported riots in Haiti as a result of the soaring price of basic foodstuffs, and there have been similar rumblings from other parts of what we are probably no longer permitted to call the Third World. And, of course, orang-utans are being wiped out as the remaining rain forests of South East Asia are grubbed up to grow palm oil. Now, children, do we think that these three stories might be in some way connected. Come on, Gordon! Yes, you at the back with the wonky eye! Think, boy, think!

Honestly, you could not make it up. Personally, I could not give a monkey’s (appropriately enough) about the orang-utan, even though I rather warmed to the only one I can recall meeting in person, which was at Dublin Zoo many years ago. His speciality was picking up his own excrement and lobbing it at the spectators. I remember thinking it was a great shame that he presumably had Irish citizenship, as he’d have made a most useful addition to the English Test squad. Nevertheless, given the choice, I’d much rather have rain forests than palm oil plantations. I’d rather we didn’t have to comply with half-witted Directives from the European Union. And, so long as we do, I wish the bureaucrats would think through the consequences of their actions. If there really is a threat to the future of civilization from excess carbon emissions, which I rather doubt, let us put ourselves on a proper war footing and ban all unnecessary travel rather than pratting about with token gestures that produce dire unintended results.

The local paper duly published my column this morning, eliciting a complimentary e-mail about my cleverness in writing about the Titanic on the 96th anniversary of its sinking. Which would indeed have been rather clever timing if I’d actually been aware of it. Still, I’ve now squirreled the fact away as further valuable ammunition for my next pub quiz. Not that I’ve ever attended a pub quiz in my life, even though I know more or less everything unconnected with games. (“Sport”, of course, involves killing things.) If you’d like me on your team, drop me a line at blokeinthenorth@googlemail.com. I feel that I really ought to get out more rather than sitting at home writing this. But then I feel that every Tuesday after I’ve listened to the splendid Ed Reardon’s Week on Radio 4, about a catastrophically unsuccessful and cantankerous writer. The funniest thing on the wireless at present, I think, though I am getting increasingly depressed by the number of people who say that it always reminds them of me.

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