If you go into a post office with a handful of weighty Jiffy bags, all very similar, they give you funny looks. If you do it again the next day, they give you hard looks. On the third day they handle the packets very gingerly indeed. I'm not surprised they were delivered so fast, the post office were probably worried that the timers would run out. I wish now I'd faked an Irish accent or worn a hijab. Or both. There was nothing but paper and card in any of them but these days, everyone is scared.
There are about two inches of snow outside. We were promised four. I demand a refund. The papers are full of pictures of people 'struggling' through a layer of snow barely deeper than white spray paint. Last year it exceeded a foot deep and the roads turned into glaciers. If they are struggling now, what will happen to this country when the full winter hits? It doesn't get properly cold until late December - okay, it's much colder than normal for the time of year and flies in the face of global warming as it is, but this is just a taster.
Cars are sliding around all over the place, not because the weather is terrible but because their drivers are idiots. Get decent tyres and don't drive like it's the middle of summer.
The salt has gone from the supermarkets. I haven't used any of mine yet, because if winter starts this early it's likely to be a lot worse later on. A neighbour is scraping it all into piles - bad idea. A thin layer like this could melt away if the sun comes out. Big piles will take ages to vanish.
If the summer gets a bit warm, everyone panics. If a little bit of snow falls, everyone panics. Sunshine means drought, rain means floods. I recall a holiday in Cornwall when the sun actually blistered my skin. That was in the early Seventies and it's never happened again. I recall a winter at university in the early Eighties when the car I had then was indistinguishable from all the other cars in the street because all you could see was a row of small white hills. Climate changes. Sometimes it's warmer and sometimes it's colder. It can't be legislated for, it just happens.
Smoking Hot has an umbrella that looks like a Samurai sword. The authorities don't seem bothered but some people are scared. I'd be far more interested in a sword that looked like an umbrella. Didn't John Peel have one in 'The Avengers'? We used to be able to buy sword canes but no longer. I recall seeing them in shop windows in Cardiff, around 1979. Back then, you didn't get arrested unless you committed an actual crime. We didn't have 'well, he might have...' in those days. You could have whatever you liked and as long as you didn't use it to commit crime, no problem. Now? Carry a bag of tools around and see what you get.
"Oh, but if you don't have a good reason to have it..." I do not need a 'reason to have it'. Whatever the item, as long as I commit no crime with it, what's the problem? And if I wanted to commit a crime I wouldn't carry a knife. I can buy a pack of 40 sharpened HB pencils for one pound. Cash sale, common item, untraceable and they're sold in a plastic bag so no need to arouse suspicion by wearing gloves when buying them. How much damage could a HB pencil do? Much more than a paintbrush. So don't concern yourself with the knife, only the person holding it.
The problems facing anyone trying to make the people of this country see sense are, as I see it, these:
1. People are scared of their own shadows now. Not a problem for me, I take delight in pointing out the shadow monsters of second hand, third and and as soon as I get the opportunity, fourth hand smoke. I will delight further in telling people they can catch obesity from the cheese counter or from smelling the local chip shop. I am going to torment these weaklings for fun. If, however, you have nobler ambitions and want to bring back the stiff upper lip and the courage of old, best of luck. You'll need a good supply of splints to prop up the jelly spines that so many have developed now.
2. Nobody thinks they have to prepare for anything. As evidenced from the panic-buying of salt as soon as the first snow falls, and that massive queue of cars I saw yesterday at the tyre shop, nobody thinks ahead any more. Nobody considers it their responsibility to look after themselves. Someone else will do it. These are people who will blame the government for the weather. I don't. I blame them for cashing in on it, but not for causing it. I have stocked up with salt all summer when it was easily available for pennies per kilogram, because I learned from the vanishing salt issue last year. I also have a few bags of sand. This year, I am ready and have been, long before the winter set in.
"Oh, but what if the winter had been mild? Then you'd have all that salt and nothing to use it for!" Well, salt does not go off. Keep it dry and it lasts forever. It has also cost, as I said, pennies per kilogram. I doubt I have spent twenty quid on salt in total this year and I have an awful lot of it here. If it never snows again, I'll never run out of salt. Sand is even cheaper and also doesn't go off, and if it doesn't get used this winter it has a dozen uses around the garden next summer. I risk nothing by stocking up. I would risk plenty by not bothering.
Too many people don't bother. They expect Nanny to do it for them. Newsflash: in the context of the State, Nanny does nothing useful at all. Ever.
3. The government believes its laws apply to nature. They do not. Nature is going to warm the planet, cool the planet, erupt volcanoes and throw rocks from the sky whenever nature feels like it. You cannot tax away a natural disaster. No matter how many people vote for you, you do not gain supernatural abilities on taking office. Apparent lobotomy, yes. Supernatural ability, no.
So many people now believe the government will save them, and worse, the government believes it can. The government even believes it can define 'happiness' and make it fit everyone in the country with no concern as to whether individuals might have different notions of 'happy'. A smoker is happy relaxing with a cigarette while an antismoker is only happy when they can find someone to bully. Some people are happy being oversized, some are happy being undersized, and for others, their size just doesn't figure in their assessment of happiness at all. We are all different, something that has been forgotten and not just by government. By every level of quango, charity, pressure group and petty officialdom.
The result? 'Nothing to hide, nothing to fear'. 'If you have a knife, you must be intending to stab someone'. 'If you work within a hundred yards of a child and you refuse to be CRB checked, you must be a paedo'. 'If you smoke/drink/exceed the British Standard Human specifications, you will cost the NHS money'.
On that last point, the answer is simple. If so many people object to paying taxes so other people can be cured, then the democratic answer is to disband the NHS. The vocal majority don't want to pay for it, and those barred from using it don't want to pay for it either. Try throwing that one into a few arguments.
The average British mind can now only deal with yes/no answers. They cannot cope with grey areas or scales of effects. Like infants, their world is composed of all-or-nothing decisions. Logical and comparative thinking are things of the past. A trace of tobacco smoke, even outdoors, will kill them but spending an afternoon at a barbecue or an evening at a bonfire does no harm at all. If you buy four cans of lager you are binge drinking. If you buy one doughnut you are going to become obese. Tap someone's shoulder and it's assault. Tap a woman's shoulder and it's sexual assault. Everyone accused must be guilty or they wouldn't have been arrested. That one is straight out of the Inquisition. Cotinine in your urine proves you smoke, whether you do or not. There is only ever one cause of anything and there are no graduations of effect. One molecule of nicotine will kill you (even though it's harmless unless really concentrated, just like caffeine) but the plasticisers in your plastic drink bottles are nothing to worry about.
One man goes mad with a handgun so nobody can have a handgun. One man stabs another so nobody can have a knife. One complaint to the BBC and a grovelling apology is demanded. One man makes a joke about one shorter man and everyone below six feet tall bursts into tears. One man lights a cigarette and half the country drops dead in an instant. One man takes a swig from a beer and everyone else develops bruises. Why?
Because the government has said we are all the same. Equality. If one of us goes mad with a gun today, then obviously the rest of us will do the same tomorrow. If one person is offended then obviously all those in their group are equally offended. If one person drives drunk, every drinker is certain to get into a car while completely tanked (because there is no such thing as a moderate drinker) and mow down Granny. All the same. No variation.
It makes the DNA database ridiculous because in order to even get close to the clone world the politicians believe we live in, we'd all have the same DNA anyway. Even then we'd be different. Identical twins might look the same but have completely different characters.
If there is one thing that anyone interested in ecology should realise, it is that lack of variation is a disaster for any species. A clone species can be wiped out by a single virus or a small change in climate. A species with a lot of variation will include individuals able to cope with a sudden famine, or hotter or colder weather. It will include a few who have a natural immunity to a new disease. The species might be decimated by a natural event but it will not be eradicated. A clone species would be. Hitler's Aryan dream was an ecological nightmare. If that lunatic, and others who still want that, ever make the eugenics programme reality, the human race will one day be wiped out by a single infectious disease. Only the sewer-rat class, like me, will survive.
Forcing us into one mould is a crazy idea. We don't know what the future will bring. Suppose there was a famine? All those who have large reserves of fat will live longer than the skinny ones and will be more likely to still be alive when the famine ends. Suppose there was an explosion - man-made or natural - that filled the air with smoke? Who would thrive, non-smokers with their allegedly perfect lungs, or smokers with their leatherised ones that are used to inhaling smoke? Or maybe survival will come down to another factor - those who are best able to tolerate the new toxins in the smoke, whether they were smokers or non-smokers before. It's not an obvious answer. It's not a simple 'yes or no' but the drones will decide one way or the other and stick with it. No matter the question, the answer is yes or no. There can be no adaptation or variation.
Look what just happened in the face of what is, really, just a little bit of snow. Travel warnings and mass panic-buying of supplies that any sensible human being would have been accumulating as soon as, if not before, the snow was forecast. No, they expect the world tomorrow to be exactly as it was today and even the normal changing of the seasons is too much to cope with. There should be a law against snow. Ban it, and it will all go away. Why doesn't the government do something? I'd turn that around. Why don't you do something?
Think ahead - winter is on the way, get the gear in ready. Do it in spring and summer when all the winter stuff is cheap. Now is the time to buy garden equipment and solar powered garden lights because they're in the clearance sales. I recently bought a garden fork in Tesco for 75p. Many will scoff 'Why? You can't use it now', but I can in spring. When the shop price will be £20. I also bought an electric lawnmower, identical to the one I bought earlier this year, for eight pounds. I now have an entire set of spare parts for that mower.
This used to happen. It doesn't now. Nobody thinks beyond the day and nobody prepares for what is, after all, inevitable. They let the government or the council deal with it all. This is, biologically speaking, a species doomed to extinction because it is entirely dependent on a single source. The council and the government. When they fail, the species goes under because it cannot cope. Like the panda that relies on bamboo, if the bamboo goes, the panda dies out. The versatile rat will carry on regardless. They'll even eat the pandas.
(Declaration of interest - I was born in the Chinese year of the Rat. I am very fond of rats.)
Putting responsibility for your life in someone else's hands is all well and good when they have the time and inclination to look after you. When they decide they can't any more, you are cast adrift within a day. There is no adaptation period. You're just dumped. When all the charities finally collapse, all their pets will be left to fend for themselves. They don't know how. They have been actively discouraged from learning how, because if the charities really helped people to look after themselves, they'd put themselves out of work. So they perpetuate dependence, not cure it. When the money runs out, which it has, they will simply walk away from what they have done.
Placing control of your life in someone else's hands is stupid. Yet it is what most of this country's population has done. Now they cannot cope on their own, even with seasonal changes in weather.
They could, at least, have picked someone intelligent to trust.