Just to update last month’s blog: English Nature has been granted a further £15 million for this financial year. Of this £4 million comes from the Government’s biodiversity fund to improve the monitoring of SSSI’s, fewer than 40% of which remain in favourable condition. Against this consider that their budget for 2008-09 was £265 million and this year stands at £95 million meaning that the organisation cannot possibly hope to do the job it was meant to. Thank God we can still afford £2 billion to be spent on cycling on prescription, I absolutely love cyclists of course but I thought we were broke. Can anyone play the fiddle? I hear Rome’s just caught fire!
Despite my past criticism’s and dubious regard for warmists, and by God its warm as I write this, I respect their sentiment, if not their methods or hold on reality, and have always tried to live as green a life as possible myself. I don’t travel abroad and even in normal times my car mileage is usually below 4k pa. My weakness, however, lies mainly in keeping warm in winter as I am restricted to burning solid fuels at present. Clear alternatives are limited to oil, container gas or going all electric which in my location is about as reliable as a chocolate kettle. I was, therefore, interested to see an article in my daily paper outlining alternative costs should I consider a change. Costs quoted were for a three bedroomed semi like mine. Apparently those on a low income would be able to get a grant for the full cost, up to £10k while the rest of us would pay only a third of costs but capped at £5k.
Cavity wall insulation is a nonstarter as I have solid walls, like most older properties. Being built on three floors, neither do I have a loft for which costs are quoted at £300, or £100 with a grant, saving apx £160 pa. My only realistic alternative heating method would be the ground source heat pump system which would cost £9000 – £11000 or £3000 – £3700 with a grant and save around £690 pa. This would of course also be dependent on an electric supply that didn’t reliably fail virtually every month regardless of season. Also impossible here as we have no mains gas, a new style gas boiler (soon to be banned) would cost £2300 or £760 with a grant and saves £110 pa over an old style one. Double glazing would cost £4250 or £1417 with a grant and saves approximately £85 pa while installing hideous solar panels would cost £4800 to save £100 to £240 pa dependent on area but might even be an earner overall!
From this I take it that double glazing is my only realistic option and would at best leave me in profit after only about seventeen years (heat I should remind you goes up not sideways, therefore, only about 4% of heat exits through single glazed windows and we already have curtains) if I should live that long and the vacuum sealed panels units didn’t, as in all probability they will, need replacement after about ten years. There is, however another catch in that the scheme is divided into Primary Measures i.e. various insulation measures, heat pumps, solar panels etc. and Secondary Measures i.e. double glazing, draught proofing, energy efficient doors etc. and you can’t get funding for a Secondary Measure unless you also install a Primary Measure which for me could only realistically mean a heat pump system which requires a reliable electricity supply, never mind the implications for my garden during installation. There are also exclusions, notably new build homes and commercial property do not qualify. The only other option of course is to devise a system that can efficiently exploit the heat coming off all the government bullshit.
While other reports have previously predicted continuous population rise throughout the century, I derive a little cheer from a report that world population currently standing at apx7.6 billion is likely to rise to 9.7 billion by 2064 but then decline to 8.8 billion by 2100 due to declining birth rates. Falling fertility rates (possibly bought about by imbibing our own pollutants) and improved contraception, together with improving female education, are factors. The Lancet predicts that UK population will grow from its current 67 million to around 75million in 2063 before gradually falling to 72 million by 2100.
The above figures are at best an educated prediction. Fact: At the time of my birth in 1951 the population of the UK stood at just 50 million.
Meanwhile the government is proposing a huge shake up in planning law to enable 300,000 new homes to be built every year going forward. Even if we can afford to build them will anyone be able to afford to buy them by the time they are finished if everybody’s job has effectively died of Covid 19?
Already I feel claustrophobic at my current address and am looking to put my property on the market but first need to take a good look at the proposed new system and where development is likely before setting wheels in motion to relocate. With somewhere between 700 and 8,000 new dwellings to be built around me shortly any scant remaining sense of rurality here will soon be gone forever. However, even if the maximum local estimation comes to fruition this will only represent one fortieth of the annual build for one year nationally. My self confessed appalling mathematics tell me that in the unlikely scenario of every brownfield site being exploited first, it won’t be many years before that applies to every part of our once beautiful country, leaving it as a screwed up complex of parks divided by a massive system of roads and housing estates before, ultimately, the parks too are concreted over.
A report from Germany indicates that numbers of flying insects have reduced by 75% in just 25 years. I don’t need anyone to tell me that the corpse splattered windscreens of my youth are long gone, despite my own garden still buzzing with life on a sunny day, but that scientific study now confirms that the most resilient order of insects has been so decimated over such a short timescale is absolutely terrifying. Doubtless our fault but we would do well to remember that where they go we shall inevitably follow, within 5 years according to Mr A. Einstein.
By the way has anyone noticed a huge reduction in plastic packaging since all the hoo-ha a few months back? No? Me neither.
Welcome to the end of days, by numbers!
Were I to stay in my current location my wish to be allowed to end my days in peace seems unlikely to come to fruition; In my actual location there are just 16 cottages/houses with six more dwellings, including farmer Jan’s place, about a quarter of a mile away at the other end of the lane and, allegedly, three or four among the industrial units within what used to be a plantation wood a little further down.
I only really know Jan and the couple in the house second nearest to my own at that end. A lovely pair of proper old locals, always available for a friendly chat and a mine of information about times gone by. They are among the few to have lived here longer than me and always seem to be up to speed with local events and, like myself, memories of the way things used to be.
Now I’ve previously confessed to being only marginally more sociable than a fart in a lift but I do get on extremely well with most of the folk in my little enclave and socialize with a goodly proportion on a regular basis. Of the remainder, some prefer to keep themselves to themselves and that’s absolutely fine.
After last month’s traumas I was hoping for a quieter time in this. That went well until, on the evening of 3rd, a shower of sparks from the power lines opposite my house ignited the tinder dry verge and I had to rush out and move my car before it too went up in flames. While I did that my wife and our direct neighbour extinguished the blaze in under two minutes flat. This was the second time this year. The power company were informed, told us not to tackle the blaze ourselves (too late, the fire brigade would have taken at least half an hour to get here) and rushed out, to be with us in just over five and a half hours. We were told it was probably a bird landing on the wire, apparently it happens all the time, nothing could be done other than turning off our power, and everything was safe.
Ultimately it took a rather stern letter concerning my doubts about safe wildfires but as a result we’ve now had some spacers fitted to stop the cables touching and shorting out so, hopefully we can sleep safe in our beds again. A better month than last you’ll agree, but then things took a downturn.
On the following Friday a kid appeared on the scene, interminably skateboarding up and down outside our open window, getting ever nearer to the cars parked opposite, twice he nudged a wing mirror before my wife cheerfully bellowed “Oi, bugger off”! He duly disappeared down the lane toward its confluence with the larger road at the end. Peace restored. End of story we thought.
Mid morning Saturday a lady from that end came strolling up the drive and politely asked to speak to my wife. This in itself was genuine progress as she has rarely ever spoken to us, other than to accuse me, on one occasion, of spreading rumours about her having run over a cat. Not me actually, the truth lies six doors further down. She went on to ask my wife if she had told her visiting nephew to ‘bugger off’. My wife replied affirmatively, if he had a skateboard, and agreed not to do it again unless our vehicles were similarly imperiled. All happily resolved in a civilized manner.
Naturally I concurred that the child should not have been sworn at, while reflecting that when I were a lad such behaviour would routinely have been dealt with by just such a comment plus a clump alongside the earhole to emphasize the point. Had I complained to my parents, I would likely have got another!
Undoubtedly time to heal old wounds and move on. I, therefore, apologize unreservedly for my wife’s outrageous behaviour in preventing damage to our unworthy property. But perhaps, if there is a next time, he could play outside his aunt’s own house a short way down the lane, spare us the racket, avoid any risk to our vehicles and all of these other complex issues? Nevertheless a happy resolution. Less so the following Friday.
At about one O’clock we noticed a small car trying to park opposite and immediately recognized it as the same vehicle which had run into the front fence the previous week. It then proceeded to gouge right down the whole side of our direct neighbour’s vehicle. The lady owner has had her car, only just back from the body shop, damaged in this or a similar situation on several previous occasions while stationary.
Being hot we once more had the front window open. “Oh God, not again” my wife exclaimed loudly. That, I must attest here, is all that was said. I was sitting next to her and she said nothing else, ‘Scout’s Honour’. I should add here that in cooler weather our front window would have been closed and neither of my wife’s little outbursts would have been heard beyond the privacy of our own living room. In any case are we no longer permitted to say anything when either our own, or our neighbour’s personal property is being wrecked before our very eyes?
Moments later and we were sitting down to lunch when someone started to try and batter our front door in. Oh the joy of country living, so civilized. On opening it there stood another lady, the picture of incandescent rage. This one was, in actual fact, the vendor of the previously damaged cat, who has barely acknowledged our existence in around fourteen years of residency, she had at last found her voice, big time, and was volubly accusing my wife of using foul language and much more besides while shouting at the errant driver, who was apparently her niece and it seems had just passed her driving test. This she absolutely did not do——————-yet!
From my perspective her behaviour fell barely short of physical violence, ask our front door, as she accused my wife and I of all manner of utter nonsense. At this point I must confess my beloved wife did, wrongly in my personal view, descend into a virtuoso demonstration of the correct assignation of Anglo Saxon and Middle English expletives in directing the lady as to how best to leave our property by the shortest possible route before anything nasty became irretrievably embedded in one of her bodily orifices. Unfortunately I fear she may have lost the high moral ground in the process. No doubt or argument about the quality of language at this point, but I was at least successful in grabbing the wife and getting her back indoors before any eyeballs were forcibly removed from their sockets. Very unedifying and wholly avoidable, especially as neither I nor my wife had, in my opinion, done anything to warrant such disgraceful behaviour.
Being a firm believer in the old adage of ‘least said, soonest mended’ I have refrained from further debate. Instead, in view of these events, I have since erected a large red and white sign on our front fence stating ‘Caution! These animals may bite!’, to gently disabuse badly intentioned neighbours of any future misguided perception that we are likely to role over and play dead if similarly disrespected in future. I did consider running a recording, 24/7, of the old Millwall chant, “No-one likes us, we don’t care!”, on a continuous loop but thought it might upset the wildlife. Maybe next time.
Doubtless the lovely lady will quickly realize the error of her ways and should be along any day now to offer her apologies for this ill conceived outburst of unbridled temper which we shall of course graciously accept, thus reaching another happy conclusion and moving ever closer to a serene sense of tranquil harmony.
She had cursed us both, called us gossips and busy bodies and told us that everyone hates us and wishes we would leave the area as soon as possible. Well so do we my dear, so do we! Everyone? 100%? Shows they’re all paying attention I suppose. No one kicks a dead dog, according to the late industrialist and author, Andrew Carnegie, so I’ll take that as a complement. As for gossip; this has formed the foundation of communities for centuries. Not necessarily a malicious thing. It can be of course but in general that we talk incessantly to and about each other and all know each other’s business is what binds a community together, maintains standards, and, in fact, keeps us all safe. Anyone a bit dodgy or a stranger in the parish stands out like a sore thumb and everyone will know to be on their guard in no time flat.
I can’t actually remember anyone actually saying anything derogatory about this particular lady but she may like to reflect that were my wife and our direct neighbour not so nosey her and her husbands cars would have gone up in flames when those power cables shorted out.
I take from these experiences that neither lady will, in future, expect us to intervene if we see anyone damaging their vehicles or other property, spot anything suspicious, or check things out if their burglar alarm should be triggered when we know they are out at work, which in one instance is an all too regular occurrence. We interfering scum (new name for friendly neighbours apparently) do at least have one quality, we hate double standards! Unlike, it seems, the rest of our neighbours who, although we’re told they hate our guts, spend hours chatting to us in the lane or over the garden gate, invite us round for drinks and barbeques and even ask us to go on holiday with them, no doubt just to try and prevent us spreading evil rumours about them while they’re away. Two faced bastards!
Seriously though dear critics far and wide, we are suitably chastened. Fling wide your ‘F–k Off’ gates, overcome your obvious paranoia and, once your anger management therapy is completed, just try talking to your neighbours as if they were equals. Join in our community rather than alienating yourselves from it with your patronizing attitude and I promise that if we can only sort ourselves out we will be only too happy to sod off ASAP.
Ok, so that’s my view of the situation. I’ve never said I’m perfect and there are always two sides to every story. So ladies, if you read this blog please let me have your versions of events if you honestly believe them to be at odds to mine, identify yourselves, and I will gladly publish them, unedited, next time out so that the world can come to know what a despicable human being I really am.
Recent events do at least present the opportunity to consider a few points of law. One of which in my view represented a text book example of verbal assault under section 4A of The Public Order Act of 1986. There is no requirement for physical contact in order for a guilty verdict to be returned in this case. Not to worry I’m not at all litigious.
I well remember a friend from the world of nature conservation calling my dear, recently departed, mate Roy by the rudest name in the English language. This was all part of good natured banter but Roy protested that he could sue him for libel. The chap, who was a High Court Judge by profession, and we may therefore assume understood the law, explained that libel must be written. What Roy meant was the spoken version ‘slander’ and he explained that this too would fail as what he had said was demonstrably correct and there had been no defamation of character, insults alone are not actionable. Had he called Roy a thief or whatever and Roy was able to prove it to be untrue, he would have had a valid case under existing law.
So, with my status within the lane’s pecking order at last elevated to marginally above dung I was feeling as chuffed as a dog with two cocks. Then, though I’m loath to believe it, another neighbour told me that our new friend, the first lady down the lane, has, allegedly, been putting it about that my wife had ‘attacked’ her nephew just for skateboarding past our house. That is an absolute lie. That is deformation of character. That, if true, is exactly what defines actionable slander. I shan’t sue of course but be careful my darling or our new found love affair may be short lived!
Hopefully that’s the end of matters for this month. Events have at least convinced my wife too that its time to move on. In the past few weeks we’ve had one accusation of something that I have not the first idea of what it was all about, two incidents of youths looking for someone who doesn’t live here, on one occasion quite intimidating, and two complaints about us verbally defending our own, or neighbours, vehicles, one of which in my opinion crossed the boundaries of reasonable behaviour. The previous thirty seven years? nothing. This on top of everything else going on about us, at a time when we need to be more united than ever. I hate to feel driven out but its long past time. This is nothing like the rural idyll that we enjoyed for so long and pastures new beckon if only we can be sure that we’ve found the right pastures.