Word of the Week

Shee-eesh, but it’s cold! Those of you reading this in less temperate climes than the UK may scoff but it was below freezing last night and this morning a clammy cold pervades the atmosphere; the sort of cold that reaches into your bones and which any sane person would stay in bed to avoid. Normally by this point I’d have turned off the radiator in my room but not only is it on full-blast, I also have the halogen heater wafting warmth in all directions. It’s definitely time to put up the plastic double-glazing.

See, it’s not just the cold that makes us run for cover, it’s the damp. Dry cold I can deal with; wet warmth I can deal with – but damp cold is the worst of all worlds, and we have it in abundance here in the UK. Still before I complain too much let us spare a thought for those flooded out of their homes – and another, deeper thought for those who have no homes, flooded or otherwise.

I’ve begun to wonder how safe we are here in Loughborough. It’s a fairly low-lying town and the drains get blocked at the best of times; the park over the road is regularly turned into a swamp with rivers running through and although the council have taken the excellent measure of planting absorbent plants in specially absorbent soil next to the stream, I can’t help wondering how effective they will be in the long term. I imagine it: first the underpass will fill up (it’s already six inches deep) then the footways will become impassable, threatening the leisure centre; then the park will become a pond and finally the water will creep over the road and start on us.

The frightening thing is that once it starts there’s little or nothing you can do. Water is one of the most pervasive elements on earth, and potentially one of the most destructive – which is why we all need to do what we can right now. And I suggest the first thing would be to elect a government which takes the climate emergency seriously – which is not one led by Boris Johnson.

All of which makes my word of the week look a bit trivial. Applied by The Guardian to Jenifer Arcuri, it’s ‘sublebrity‘, someone ‘famous for being famous.’

A much-needed word, I suspect.

Kirk out

Twopence to Fly from Heathrow

It occurred to me today that although I grew up under the flight path near Heathrow and suffered all the attendant nuisances of that location, I never actually flew from there.  It was not only after I had left home but also after my parents had retired and moved away, that I finally took a flight from Heathrow.  I had suffered the endless screams, the pollution and the heat; I’d even worked there one summer in the airport shops, but I’d never had the money to get on a plane, not until 1993 when I used the money my grandfather left me to take a trip to India.

It is insulting in many ways to compare this experience with ‘Twopence to Cross the Mersey‘, the first volume in Helen Forrester’s autobiography of a calamitous childhood where help, in the shape of her aunt, was literally across the Mersey, had she only been able to find twopence for the ferry.  These books are remarkably dispassionate and a salutary reminder of where many of us would be without state benefits.

Interestingly, I’ve just heard that campaigners have lost their fight to challenge the expansion of Heathrow which seems a mad decision.  Parliament has just agreed to declare a climate emergency: this makes no sense at all.  We should be shrinking airports, not expanding them and we all need to fly less.

Which reminds me, if you have local council elections today don’t forget to vote!

Kirk out