Rightly, at times, high paid sports people get a bad press for bad behaviour, and certainly man of the match Ben Stokes has experienced that; but let no-one forget he asked the umpires if the four overthrows from when the returning ball accidentally hit his bat could be ignored. We salute you all, not just both sides in this unique match, and thank you not just for the entertainment, but also for the example you set for us all last Sunday.
When I was kid, some of my early pennies were earnt collecting bottles with deposits and raiding dustbins looking for them to take back and get cash. So how good it is to see Environment Secretary Michael Gove say he wants a deposit scheme on all bottles, including glass, plastic and aluminium cans. That is good. But I do see two potential problems. Firstly, will a lot people just look at the deposit as an extra cost because it is too much bother to take things back? But that’s why in the fifties I went banging on doors collecting bottles, which leads me to my second perceived problem. Are there enough kids who would be bothered to do what I and others did in years gone by? Would it just be too much trouble for them? I return to this theme in a bad below.
We can all get bogged down with the ‘heaviness’ of life today and I for one don’t think there are as many naturally lighter moments for most of us as there used to be. We have to create more of those lighter moments and I read with interest that spending a few hours with nature, even if just gardening, each week has a positive impact on mental health. I used to be a Trustee of a fabulous place in Faversham, the Abbey Physic Community Garden, which really is the most wonderful place and it does such good for people who have a few mental issues. Doesn’t diagnose, doesn’t prescribe, it is just a tranquil place. You can hear my pre-record broadcast from there on Faversham Natters (https://radiofaversham.org) on Monday 29th July between 10am and 1pm. So, I find this, which I have cut and pasted from the BBC daily news summary email, which takes me back to those carefree days as a kid in London, when we would sit for hours waiting to catch butterflies in our nets and put them in jam jar with holes in the lid. We always had a bit of something in there for them to eat and let them go at night. I don’t ever remember a painted lady, but the red admiral was the coveted one.
Becalming thoughts in a mad world.
“The UK is braced for an invasion of painted ladies . Charity Butterfly Conservation says unusually high numbers of the orange, black and white butterfly have been spotted heading from Europe. It's a phenomenon that happens roughly once a decade - 11 million arrived in 2008 - and the charity says it needs volunteers to take part in its annual Big Butterfly Count, which runs until 11 August. The task doesn't sound too arduous. It involves spending 15 minutes in a sunny spot anywhere in the UK, counting the butterflies they see before submitting sightings online.”
I’m interviewing Emma Sayle from Killing Kittens at the London Grill Club on Tuesday, my off the wall mind tells me to ask questions about Painted Ladies – or not!!
My generation, along with previous ones and later ones, used to earn a few bob as kids doing things. Saturday jobs, dog walking, helping the milkman, and babysitting. Although, no one wanted a boy to babysit! I guess they were perceived as having the wrong natural skill sets! I’ve talked above about my bottle collecting in the first good and I also went out on my bike with a bucket, sponge and leather to clean cars. I had some notable customers. Cliff Richard’s mum and Danny Blanchflower’s wife. Danny was captain of the great early sixties Spurs side and played for Northern Ireland. Things have changed now, kids just want to buy and sell things online. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a bit of buying and flogging things, but it’s the way it’s done that worries me. All online. No human interaction, no people skills learnt.
Barclays Life Skills reports that 670,000 folk between 14 and 21, more than what babysit or dog walk, are making money buying and selling on the internet. Many will say I am just being a dyslectic old GTI, but you gain so much more from earning a few bob the old way. Although, I admit it is good they are doing something. And yes, I am a dyslectic old GTI, and proud of it!
The Daily Mail tells us that “Criminals with long records get softer sentences than first time offenders.” And it appears the more offences the shorter the sentence. Average sentences for first time offenders are about three years. It’s about 9 months for those with 26 to 50 previous offences and as little as six months for those with more than 50 offences! I don’t get it. Apparently, you’re not banged up for carrying a knife until you’ve been caught doing so for perhaps as much as 18 times!
How did we get here? Where is the voice of sanity? I accept that crimes are different and that prison itself won’t always be the answer or a deterrent, but there is no deterrent if you know the more crimes you commit the shorter your stay at Her Majesty’s pleasure. Back in the day, the London gang world used to say someone inside was “away on a little holiday” – that seems to be about the size of it for career criminals from this information. I am a liberal conservative, but before that a pragmatist. This column is designed to start debates!
Now, I know that when I walk down Bermondsey Wall West after midnight I always see a fox or two and there are a number of fox families living in the green open space to the side of the Angel pub on the Thames. A place that incidentally a lot of the scenes for The Bill used to be filmed, especially on the beach. I put that down to nocturnal scavenging in the city. But, whilst that is almost certainly true, a YouGov survey has found that one in seven people leave out food, water and evens toys, yes toys! They stay up late in the hope of seeing the fox! Hang on a minute, not only are they killers, but they also carry lungworm, which can infect snails and slugs. Now, unlike the French we don’t eat a lot of snails, but our dogs do, and the result is loss of weight and heart damage. Foxes are dangerous wild animals and of the six million households who say they see a fox regularly, almost half said they’d be disappointed if they didn’t! Madness.
I’m combining two different stories for the second ‘madness’ this week. The link… parents. No, not another blast on inoculation, but I suspect many of the same parents will be involved. The British Nutrition Foundation reports that kids’ health can be at risk from a vegan diet. It deprives them of essential vitamins and minerals and it appears that you can even get vegan baby food now. There seems little doubt that in the modern world, as opposed to living in a cave, when of course life expectancy was short, that we are probably eating too much meat and too much processed food. But the human body is a machine that thrives on a mixed and balanced diet and as kids, we need healthy diets from all sources of food. Of course, pigging out on and living on takeaways, burgers and crisps is madness, but, equally so is the complete opposite. I use two overworked and grossly ignored words, ‘Common Sense’.
Common sense should also be used in the issue of transgender children, for whom I have nothing but overwhelming sympathy. But changing the gender, and that is how it is described, of children as young as three is dangerous and it appears that sometimes the only advice parents have taken is from the internet and lobby groups. The NHS have specialist psychologists to help and advice, so it’s madness not to use them. Maybe the course of action taken is right, but then again maybe not, so surely it isn’t something that should be done on a whim, but only after serious consideration and the best possible professional advice from… the NHS.