The last day of Spring marks the end of a quarter the like of which no one living today has ever seen before.
The virus that escaped from somewhere around Wuhan in China has been devastating. Not in the way that the two world wars were – but in its impact on our economies and way of life. It has become the unseen threat that could be hiding on every person and point of contact. The silent bullet that is not felt until days after it has hit its random target.
The nature of the virus and its infection process has fed two contradicting fears – huge death tolls and – overreacting to a minor health issue. And even though the 38,000 UK deaths to date are a shocking statistic the economic impact of the government measures – such as paying the wages of millions to stay at home – will hold the nation back for decades. So arguments are rife that lock-downs are being lifted too soon or not quickly enough. And that the virus is either a major threat to the nation or nothing worse than seasonal flu. Arguments that have now taken on political dimensions. With Labour supporters generally taking the opposite view to the Conservative ones. Hardly conducive to achieving the best outcome.
But politics, rules and regulations aside Mother Nature seems to taken notice of the lack of emissions from factories, motor vehicles and aviation. With reduced exhaust gases and the absence of con trails clouding the skies Spring has been a new experience for everyone here in middle England. Record sunshine hours, number of dry days and above average temperatures have pushed the time at home to new levels of outdoor activity.
It’s just a pity that most of us have not been able to share the glorious weather with friends and relatives …
Apparently we are braced for chilling temperatures and heavy snowfall … as the so-called Beast from the East batters the UK. Even though there were few signs today that any of the local supermarkets were experiencing a run on provisions. And few seemed to think anything special was needed to tide us through the possible travel disruptions and power cuts.
Being Britain there will of course be some extreme reactions in both directions; with shorts still being seen outside in tough areas and airlines being forced to cancel flights at airports with no snow. Meanwhile the media will be getting their reporters to the regular vantage points so that they can paint as black a picture as possible for their next edition.
For those Grandads that have seen all this – and worse – before the plan will be to be make the best of the situation – stay warm and have a nice cup of tea. Assuming that the country still has enough working power stations to keep the home fires burning …
One month without any posts while enjoying a holiday in the sun. So has anything happened while the keyboards have been silent?
Well last Friday saw the flurry of political activity in London and Brussels linked to the announcement of a major milestone in our attempts to leave the European Union. Every effort has been made since the news broke to make the limited progress made sound like some modern equivalent of the Magna Carta. At this rate Whitehall and Westminster are certain to win another Whitehall Farce Award. Oh what a mess they are creating!
Elsewhere the snowfall over the weekend meant great fun for the grandchildren – at least in some parts of the country. It also was fun for the Grandads remembering how many times the author of Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past has been proved wrong since The Independent published the article some seventeen winters ago.
On the technology front Microsoft gave us all the chance to test our patience again while waiting for Version 1709 of Windows 10 to trundle on – Grandad’s laptop has been downloading and installing for the past six hours. Meanwhile Wikipedia keeps ask us for money to help keep itself afloat. A request that seems a bit rich given that much of their content has been created for free by volunteers – many of whom, like us, have to pay for their Internet access. And worst still there are plenty of US tech companies in such strong financial positions that they could easily fund the entire operation without denting their bottom line.
Despite years of contrary experience Grandad reluctantly agreed that the Express was right when warning of a Conservative melt-down. And so their journalistic credibility had been restored in our eyes.
In which case we simply had to believe their forecast of a 100 days of blazing heatwave – and planned for sweltering Summer.
But at less than halfway through those 100 days we find Rebecca Flood (did you spot that kiddies?) is forecasting 70 days of hail, rain and freezing temperatures instead.
With no way that both stories can be correct it’s back to bottom of the pile for the Express journalists. And perhaps Grandad’s biased prejudices were nearer to the truth after all.
After the shock success of the DE election prediction Grandad has had no option but to reassess his views. So now we are totally confident that suntan lotion, cold beers and loaded barbecues will be all that we will need for the next three months or more.
Meanwhile the politicians, civil servants and assorted activists can roast in the flames of the hell that they have created. Another fine mess where the UK political establishment is floundering around in La La Land while being attacked from both within and without. A farce where no one makes any useful progress and the only certainties are more taxation and broken promises.
What next? The EU asked to appoint a competent negotiator to act on our behalf – with Guy Verhofstadt as acting Prime Minister? Excalibur is found in a lake and used by Cornwall to declare independence? Greece finds a hidden stockpile of bullion and pays off all its debts? Tony Blair descends on a golden cloud and saves us all? Who knows …
Obviously all flat maps are inaccurate in some way due to the curvature of the earth. But this distortion – plus the position of the weather satellite – should not cause town / cities to be relocated. Yet places on the BBC weather map used by Look North have recently seemed to be in some unusual positions when compared to traditional maps or indeed digital imaging.
According to Google Earth the straight line distance from Doncaster to Sheffield is 28kms and from Doncaster to Leeds is 42kms; yet Sheffield looks to be further away. Leeds to Settle is 56kms, twice the distance of Doncaster to Sheffield yet the map, if anything, has it shorter. All an unavoidable effect of satellite imaging? Possibly – but one that is routinely overcome by other forecasters; including other parts of the BBC ..
While the BBC keeps piling on the stories about hard times in the UK – food banks, public service cuts, pay rises below inflation, etc – in reality the economic conditions are far better than those in many other countries. And even with the UK’s ever increasing debts, there are still the funds available to back some major, and unique, sporting events this coming summer.
First the world of cycling will be focused on Belfast for a unique start to the Tour of Italy – in just 45 days time. The Giro will spend a total of three days in Ireland having to make an exception to its long tradition by starting one day earlier to allow for traveling back to Italy and stage 4. Since this annual event is ranked second only to the Tour de France big crowds are expected.
Speaking of which – Yorkshire’s successful bid to host the 2014 Tour de France means that there are now only 100 days to the race’s start in Leeds. With an estimated cost of £27 million there are plenty of locals hoping that spendin’ all that brass achieves its promised returns. But it’s not just Yorkshire involved with Cambridge and London also hosting stage 3 on the Monday after (7-July).
And Scotland is not being left out with the Commonwealth Games due to start in Glasgow just 16 days after the Tour de France leaves – on 23-July. With 17 sports at 14 venues spread over 12 days the Games can claim to be the biggest sporting event in the UK since the Olympics.
So all these countdown clocks are running and their organizers are just hoping that the British weather cooperates. But that should not be a problem if you believe today’s newspaper story – Summer heatwaves here to stay as seasons become more extreme thanks to climate change, say experts. [Link]
Back after a short gap but still looking for something interesting to report. Comet ISON did not to survive its trip around the Sun so failing to give us the predicted spectacular display. This rather dented the impact of the BBC’s Comet of the Century special – but it still goes ahead this evening.
The UK Government’s announcement this week on a digital radio switchover date was another non-event. Neither FM nor DAB was dropped and instead the promoters will continue trying to convince us that DAB is a good idea. The fact that the target take-up may never be reached before the out-dated DAB technology is scrapped does not seem to have been considered. But clearly the BBC’s earlier announcement of spending on more DAB transmitters foretold what the outcome would be.
Next the Coldest winter in modern times and Big freeze to last three months that were headlines in the Daily Express last month have, like ISON, failed to appear. Wind and rain yes but not the coldest winter so far; even as we reach the solstice. Perhaps the weather soothsayers will be right next month … but then even random choices are right sometimes.
Finally it will be no surprise to Grandads everywhere that this year’s festive TV schedules are again packed with repeats – often repeats of repeats. In the case of the BBC they are sticking to the story that they lack the funds to provide enough new programmes. A story that is hard to square with, for example, the cost of switching last week’s Question Time venue from Swansea to Johannesburg at short notice. Especially with the BBC already paying for a larger team there than all the other UK channels combined. And even more difficult for TV tax payers to take when the media had also been highlighting the BBC’s over-generous severance payment record and their blocking of a critical report into their failed Digital Media Initiative.
This time the world will end 22-Feb-2014 according to some unnamed Norse mythology experts with their interpretations of Viking legends. Now we are not casting any doubt over this expert opinion but just pointing out that this comes via people from the Yorvik tourist attraction in York – and that winter is a quiet time for business.
But just in case you need reassurance about next summer’s holiday bookings we have a firm condemnation of the Viking Ragnarok myth from that regular Dozon spokesman, Denzil. He told the media this week that now that we had passed the worrying date of 13-11-13 the greatest risks of disaster had passed. And these risks would continue to decline as we approached the end of 2013. The new year would be a broadly neutral year, based on the latest Dozon assessments, with the next highly favourable period not expected until 2024.
However this week the Daily Express indirectly contributed to the Viking myth story by re-issuing its annual predictions of a terrible winter – using almost the same script as last winter’s stories of snowbound economic collapse. But at least is good to see that the Express’s weather story editor (Nathan Rao) avoided the angry mobs demanding sensible forecasts and is back to the journalistic form that helped the Express take Grandad’s Pointless prize for January.
Away from Britain’s baseless weather warnings and tourism PR there is a wider world. And sadly one where the victims of Typhoon Haiyan must have felt that the end of the world really had arrived. Despite the enormous losses and devastation the people there will rebuild their lives. But the scale of such disasters seems set to climb as the world population heads towards 11 billion and environmental stresses increase.
Broken Spring – a reader has pointed us to this article in The Independent from March 2000 – Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past – as an illustration of climate predications that were shown to be completely wrong.
We did try to trace more by the article’s author Charles Onians – but The Independent’s advanced search came back with Your search did not match any content. However, as it says in the article, the actual source of the prediction was Dr David Viner, senior research scientist at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit – a unit famous for being cleared of fraud and scientific misconduct after being hacked in 2009.
But this did not prevent The Independent’s original article generating the headline Why British Climate Change Prophets Can’t be Trusted – at the Global Warming Policy Foundation in 2010.