Monday, 18 March 2013


I may be right and I may be wrong but I’m perfectly willing to swear that the world has gone mad.
First we had that Brighton Elm – still standing and likely to remain so given the strength of views surrounding it. Their strategy will be anti-people as I gathered from a note pinned to the tree which proclaimed, as though this had been the product of much deep thought, “People can walk. Trees can’t”. (Presumably they’d never read the Lord of the Rings and heard of “ents”.) But those who are anti-elms (‘ulmaphobic’ is the correct term) the solution is for them to find a health and safety angle.

In Islington, for instance, a local resident complained about a pear tree which he said attracted wasps to whose stings he was allergic. It was promptly chopped down.

This is one of those dangerous pear trees. Any second now it’ll attack.

But it’s the sound of birdsong that drowned out sanity this week. In Chattenden in Medway there’s an old army base (Lodge Hill) for which great things had expensively been planned. 5000 houses, schools, shops, hospitals, green spaces. A great, imaginative, economy boosting scheme on a derelict site now covered in tumbleweed.

And nightingales.

They discovered it’s a habitat for the little darlings. So Natural England have designated it a site of Special Scientific Interest, and the economic rug has been temporarily pulled on any further work except for that by lawyers.

Imagine if Inner London developments had been like Lodge Hill. We’d be back in the Dark Ages still.

What’s that? You think we still are?

Well it’s attitudes like that that dominated my week. People asking what’s the point….we won’t have a free press much longer, the rich are getting richer, the new Pope wants the Falklands back, we have a school shortage crisis and there are no jobs…. so what’s the bleeding point?

Nearly everyone I know is a bit weary.

Except those busy making babies like it’s going out of fashion. The baby boom is back to 1950s levels – in 2010 the birth rate was 723k up from 600k a decade earlier.

“What do you mean no growth?”

So we now gave a shortage of school places, 250k nationally – nearly 90k short in London. Ageing population? Pah! Shortage of decent jobs? Double pah!!

Get into teaching boys and girls. Start at £27k in London, get £61k as an “excellent teacher” and over £120k as a head. Besides which there are sign-on perks like tax free bursaries of up to £20k.

Trust me there really is magic abroad in the air – provided you know where to look.

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