Saturday, 7 November 2015

Sentimentality and the modern world.

The actress Joanna Lumley had an idea: a green space spanning the River Thames in the heart of London. And thus the Garden Bridge project came into being. They hope to start work on it in the new year. It is going to cost £175 million! Most of that comes from private sources but £30 million is from the Treasury and £10 million from Transport for London. Because it will be a garden bridge there will be thousands of plants and, amazingly, 270 trees. What I want to know is where the roots of those 270 trees will go! 

There are going be all sorts of rules for people who use the bridge. No exercise other than jogging. Now, I would have thought that such a place, intended surely to be a peaceful area, would be ideal for a bit of Tai Chi. No speechmaking, no kite flying and no playing of musical instruments. If you do either of the last two activities, your kite or musical instrument will be confiscated and disposed of! Can they really take your stuff away and destroy it? Musical instruments are not cheap after all! And you can't throw your loved ones' ashes into the river from that bridge. Mind you, it may be a while before it has the kind of sentimental attachment for people that makes them want to have their ashes thrown off it! 

More sentimental stuff! The big stores are all putting out their Christmas adverts. John Lewis has one out about a little girl seeing an old man on the moon through her telescope. It must be a pretty big and powerful telescope! and what a clever litle girl! She arranges for him to be sent a telescope, equally powerful although only quite small, so that he can look at her on Christmas Day. Apparently lots of people have been moved to tears by the advert. Thousands of people have tweeted about how they have been sobbing at the advert. All I can say is that they cry easily. It's ONLY an advert! I have seen it and it didn't bother me. Mind you, I didn't cry when I watched ET either. But these easy weepers, how do they get through the news broadcasts without feeling the urge to weep and then to tweet about how much they have wept? 

The V&A may have rejected Mrs Thatcher's old clothes but they like the Clangers. Next spring the V&A Museum of Childhood will have an exhibition of puppets and scripts from such things as Noggin the Nog, Ivor the Engine and Bagpuss, among others. A big nostalgia feast! And lots of parents will take their children. Some of them, some of the parents anyway, may get a little weepy! 

Recently, in the early evening news they were talking about problems with energy supplies and the possible risk of energy blackouts. The National Grid needed to make sure there was a plentiful supply the report said. This struck me as rather premature. It doesn't usually feature in the news until the weather starts to grow very cold and at the moment, even though we are extremely damp, the weather is surprisingly mild. Yesterday's news bulletins explained that this announcement was really something called a “notification of inadequate system margin” (NISM). You see, it even has an acronym. What's more, It’s simply part of what they call the "standard toolkit" for balancing supply and demand. There's often a crisis point in demand, they told us, beginning at this time of year because of the clocks having gone back and night starting at about 5.30, when offices and work places are still operating and demanding power but families are starting to demand power in the home as children return from school and fire up their electrical devices and parents start cooking tea and turning the heating on. 

There you go, not really a problem at all. There is, as is often the case with crises that are explained away, a grain of truth in it, however. Many of our old power stations are getting old and decrepit. We haven't got enough of an infrastructure in place to provide wind and solar panel in sufficient amounts. And besides, where do you get wind and solar energy on dark, windless nights? Not enough has been invested in alternative supplies and if the government goes ahead with their nuclear energy plans, prices will go up and up. Is this going to be another thing that only the rich can afford? Will the rest of us have to go back to candles or going to bed when the sun goes down? 

Meanwhile, protests have been taking place in Spain as the government proposes introducing bullfighting into its vocational training programme, "Formación Professional". I have mentioned this idea before. One theory is that the right wing government is pro-bullfighting. Here is a link to an article about it. 

Imagine the consternation of some parents whose offspring has opted out of the academic route and into vocational training when they discover that young Juan or Pedro or, presumably in this age of equality, young María or Julia has chosen the bullfighting course. Work experience becomes a dangerous thing! 

And even if the animal husbandry side of it might just possibly have some transferable skills, how much of the work with the cape and looking after the "traje de luces", the torero's outfit, can you apply to other professions? 

There you go.

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