Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Wednesday, 6 June 2012
Dancing in the sunshine
Up with the lark (9.00 a.m.) and feeling as fresh as a daisy from last night's de-toxification when making way for members of Phil's own family to visit his bedside. He wasn't very happy about it, but rules are rules.
All this week on R4, there has been a woman reading from her own book about the great sweep of beach that runs between Liverpool and Blackpool where she was brought up as a child, and her reminiscences have only served to highlight the North/South divide and make my Home Counties upbringing seem very tame indeed.
True, most of the beaches of my childhood retained some evidence of preparation for an invasion which never took place, but were only all the more romantic for that, and the objects that I found washed up on the shoreline were evocative in the extreme - giant light-bulbs, twisted wood, cans from another continent, fragments of exploded sea-mines, etc. etc. The author seems blind to anything other than used packets of contraceptives and heaps of rotten tobacco on her 8 mile stretch of flotsam and jetsam.
Maybe it was me that was blind, but I think it was more the case that Winnie The Pooh could never have survived all the heavy industry, shipping, slaving and tobacco manufacture going on around Liverpool at the same time he was playing in One Hundred Acre Wood.
At last, she comes across vast stretches of clean, pale sand and what does she see? An abundant source of silica for use in the glass industry, hard won by men with shovels and horse-carts to be taken to smoking factories in the town.
The South has no such industrial heritage - or at least not much. I remember the Dennis bus-factory in Guildford, but even that just seemed to supply the quaint red and green vehicles occasional spotted driving through Nutwood. Whenever Rupert and his chums got on one of these buses, it was to go to the seaside and spend a week or two crabbing in between helping the local police to catch wicked Gypsies, or foil the smugglers in the cove. It is true - we are soft down south.
The first thing to be noticed by the northern author was actually invisible. Even the treated sewage which is pumped out to sea near her beach contains high levels of dopamine from all the Prozac pills flushed down the lavatory as urine - this stuff is very difficult to filter out, evidently, and is having some very strange effects on the marine fauna.
Ironically, the destruction of local industry has halted pollution of one kind, only to replace it with another. Everyone is now so depressed at being out of work that the doctors are issuing more and more anti-depressants of the Prozac variety, and the residue is finding it's way into the vast ocean.
The delicious and formerly multitudinous tiny brown shrimps were previously surviving by hiding in the shadowy, weedier parts of the ocean floor, but are now so positive and optimistic about their little lives that they bravely swim toward the light and dance in the sunshine, where they are picked off in huge numbers by gulls and other creatures.
Maybe this explains why all the gulls are becoming so brave and aggressive now, when they stare you in the eye before snatching a sandwich straight out of your hand?
After all, they must eat the same amount of Prozac as the shrimps did, but they have probably eaten many thousands of shrimps in their lives, and Prozac has been around for as long as they usually live - about 25-35 years. About the same amount of time that most of the jobs have been lost for, on the industrial northern coast-line.