Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Idler, Wednesday, June 6, 2018

This is Brexit

BREXIT means Brexit, says British prime minister Theresa May. That means UK traffic lights will change colours and sequence after Brexit.

I have this on the excellent authority of a fellow named Wordsworth, who used to write a weekly column in The Mercury on the vagaries of the English language. He also stood in, on occasion, as the Idler.

Wordsworth these days finds himself in Bulgaria in the countryside on a smallholding planted with vines and fruit orchards. From these, he and his lady produce wine and distil from fruit Bulgaria's national drink, raki – which I imagine is a kind of schnapps.

It sounds idyllic. But Wordsworth still has an itch for the keyboard. He's started a news agency which he calls Real Fake News.

His first offering is the post-Brexit traffic lights. Red moves from its top position to bottom. It still means "Stop" but it's bottom as it's inappropriate that a socialist colour like red should be given prominence. Also, it's appropriate as the socialist colour, red, wants everything to stop, including development, progress and prosperity.

"Go" will be the top light. But it won't be green, which is the colour of the Republic of Ireland, which has been so difficult over Brexit. "Go" will in future be a blue light – true-blue British and Tory.

The amber light in the middle remains, but it will in future be known as "Orange", in recognition of the useful role played by the Democratic Unionists.

Is Wordsworth pulling our leg? Does he need to go easy on the raki?


YESTERDAY was World Environment Day. Friday will be World Oceans Day Both are supported by the UN. And as if to mark the occasion a whale has died with 80 or so plastic bags in its stomach. Is this not a grisly foretaste of the fate that awaits us if we don't get our act together?

The whale was found in a distressed state in a canal in southern Thailand. A veterinary team tried to save it, according to Agence France Presse, but it died after vomiting five plastic bags.

It had mistaken the bags for food, according to Thai marine officials.

There's a world-wide alert to the menace of ocean plastics. They range from flee-floating islands of plastic rubbish at the convergence of ocean currents in the Pacific to tiny, invisible nodules that are beginning to enter the food chain, of which we are part. Unsightly plastics are being washed up on beaches all over the world.

They say that before too long there could be more plastics than fish in the oceans.

It's a menace that is being taken seriously in many countries. Measures are being taken to enhance collection and recycling. There are campaigns against single-use plastic wrappings; schemes to introduce cash deposits on plastic bottles so they are returned for recycling or re-use.

But such action requires effective world-wide participation. Are the worst throw-away offenders fully committed? It seems doubtful.

Does it not make more sense to attack the plastics scourge at source? The technology certainly exists – it's been around far longer than plastics.

Until the mid to late 1950s, we used paper wrappers, cardboard containers, paper straws. If these were carelessly thrown away, they bio-degraded pretty fast. By the time they'd washed down the drains, into the rivers and perhaps into the sea, they'd disintegrated, disappeared. They weren't there for the whales to munch on, mistaking them for seaweed.

It's not rocket science. Just stop using plastics as throwaway material. They're a by-product of the oil industry. That means the developed world. And that's a much smaller grouping that has to be persuaded.


Good reply


A POSTSCRIPT to the Royal Wedding. On the Friday beforehand at La Lucia Junior Primary School, the teachers all wore their wedding dresses to mark the occasion.

During assembly the headmistress asked what they thought was the reason. The reply of a little Grade 1 boy: "Cos we're having a cake sale."



A TOURIST is playing a disastrous round on a golf course in Scotland. He slices a shot, hits two trees and sends his ball into the middle of a bog.

"Golf! Funny old game isn't it?" he says to his caddie.

"Aye. But it's no meant tae be."

Last word

I say that good painters imitated nature; but that bad ones vomited it.

Miguel de Cervantes

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