Saturday, 2 September 2017

Lost and (possibly not) found and other mishaps!

I just listened to a programme on BBC Radio 4 (Punt P.I. for anyone who wants to find it on IPlayer) in which Steve Punt investigates, in a chatty and lighthearted fashion, nuclear weapons that have gone missing. Apparently the Americans over the years have lost at least seven.

There were stories such as the one about a bomb ditched into mudflats somewhere because the plane carrying it was going to have to make an emergency landing. And a plane with a nuclear weapon on board rolled off an aircraft carrier into the ocean. No trace of it now!

The UK is not much better with a bomb, Blue Danube, coming loose in a plane and being ditched in the Thames estuary. Steve Punt warned fishermen that if they had a heavy pull on their line in the Thames estuary they might have accidentally hooked up the bomb!

And then there are the "suitcase bombs", actually more like rucksacks, which the Russians "mislaid". One story says they were all found and dismantled but another suggests that Putin might have them in his hands.

And we worry about North Korea!!!

Surely governments should be more careful.

Mind you, they seem pretty careless in other respects as well. Here is a story from the Independent:

   "Home Office mistakenly gives British history expert at London University a month to leave UK

A Finnish historian who works and pays taxes in the UK, was told by the government that she had one month to leave the country, in what subsequently emerged to be an administrative error affecting scores of people.

Eva Johanna Holmberg, a research fellow in British culture at Queen Mary University of London, received a letter from the Home Office stating that the decision had been taken to "remove her from the UK" because she had "failed to provide evidence that [she was] exercising Treaty rights".

It said that the 40-year-old academic was therefore “liable to be detained” and warned that if she failed to leave voluntarily, directions would be given for her "removal" from the UK to Finland." 

That's not the first story of that kind that has popped up lately. Don't they have experts to deal with stuff like that?

Meanwhile, life goes on. The Northwest might not have the kind of weather the Southeast of England gets but since I have been back we have had enough fine weather to get out and about. And today we have blue sky and sunshine. I have been advised to take advantage of it as rain is promised for tomorrow.

In preparation for a visit to Portugal a the end of October, I have been having another go at improving my rudimentary Portuguese. If I can persuade them to speak slowly enough I can already understand some of what they say, between my Spanish and having heard enough Gallego to fill in some gaps. But I have just about given up on classes here. Every time I sign up for a course it runs for a couple of weeks and then folds for lack of numbers. Most annoying!

So I am back to self study and Michel Thomas CDs. Listening to those teach-yourself-Portuguese CDs, I heard the charming "teacher" tell us that "tenho", Portuguese for "I have", comes from the same root as the English word "tenement". Okay, I can go for that. Then she went to say that "tennis" also comes from the same root. Who knew that? Maybe it goes back to French "tenez" - take or have it - as the ball sails across the net. The game is said to have come from France to the English court. 

Does this have any importance compared to lost nuclear weapons? Not at all!

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