Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Wednesday 14/01/09

Now Prince Big Ears is getting it in the neck for calling an old Asian pal of his ‘Sooty’. The gang of lads I used to knock around with used to call one of our crowd Black Mac because his family hailed from Barbados and his surname was McAlister. Another of our coloured brethren, whose provenance none of us actually ascertained, was nicknamed Savage. It was several years before I realised this was a nickname and not his surname and came as a bit of a shock. It was totally good humoured and taken as such by the boys concerned – or else we wouldn’t have done it. These boys were integral to and leading lights of our group, not merely outsiders tagging along hoping for recognition and therefore willing to tolerate racism. As long as there’s no malice intended and no hurt felt, there’s no problem with nicknames.

While I try to be as green as reasonably possible without going over the top by wearing free-range clothes spun from organic tofu and sporting open-toed sandals, I’m seriously starting to doubt the motives of the organic ‘movement’. MEPs have voted to restrict the use of 22 commonly used pesticides on the basis of ‘perceived hazard’ (i.e. total bollocks akin to the stuff that started the MMR scare and resulted in a measles epidemic) and not sound scientific evidence. Even Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, said the regulations could hit agricultural production in the UK without producing a single shred of recognisable benefit to human health. It’s possible that up to a quarter of produce could be lost, including the total carrot yield, 20% of cereal production and a good proportion of our Murphies.

It’s damnably difficult finding out exactly what the list contains, but I have discovered that triazole is one of the chemicals in question. It’s used as a fungicide and also happens to be an endocrine disruptor; however, as with almost everything, the toxicity is dose-related. If you’re going to ban triazole, there’s an argument that says most household cleaning products (bleaches, disinfectants, biocides, soap powders, etc.) should also be banned. Anyone remember the Irish potato famine? That was caused by potato blight, which triazole combats. Common or garden salt, if consumed in sufficient quantities (like the quantities found in pre-processed food), will kill you; most cooking oils are carcinogenic when heated – should these substances also be banned? Dose is what’s important and where the focus should be, not scare-mongering on the part of the green lobby, many of whom seem to pursue the organic agenda with the fervour and dogma of a religion. If I didn’t know better I’d be tempted to think that the green lobby was trying (by fair means or foul) to level the playing field with the non-organic fraternity.

Pete Goss, the yachtsman, has left Simonstown in South Africa en route to Australia on the last leg of a voyage commemorating a trip by a group of Cornishmen who went from Newlyn to Australia some 150 years ago in a Cornish Lugger. I had the good fortune to listen to Pete give an after-dinner speech some 8 or 9 years ago where he regaled us with his exploits during the ‘96/’97 Global Vendee race. He rescued fellow yachtsman Raphael Dinelli and had to perform surgery on himself with a pen-knife with the aid of a surgeon at the other end of a radio link. He’s a mesmerising and entertaining speaker and the man is a natural-born adventurer. I have a great deal of respect for him. Pete epitomises the perfect example of a role model for kids.

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