It was a slow weekend, not much sleep and there was enough going on to murder sleep anyway. So first of all there was the PM talking fulsomely about what he had accomplished re the EEC – which was then rubbished as not very much by those who had read the small print.
Small print readers are a breed. Not every grown up reads the small print, not every grown up can, in either sight or sense, and even if you’re are a sensible type, it doesn’t follow that you will understand what you read, the manuals of domestic appliances, insurance documents and anything to do with conveyancing being constructed to make things less clear rather than more.
What is clear is that large sections of the British Isles are covered with litter. There is an initiative promoted by Adrian Evans called Clean for the Queen which aims to enrol a million volunteers to pick up rubbish at 12 well known “grot spots “ in anticipation of HM’s 90th birthday. Why does this depress me ?
Because this news is followed 24 hours later by much weightier and more frightening research from the British Geological Society among others that many of Britain’s landfill sites are not secure and their location puts them at risk from flooding and coastal erosion. There are just over 21,000 British landfill sites, many predating tougher EU regulations brought in in the 1990s. We were known as “the dirty man of Europe” and if the cap fits, I am afraid we have to wear it. Ever watched a dog scuffing grass over defecation ? That’s us – ugh nasty, get rid of it, and if you’re a dog and you can’t see it, you may presume it’s gone away. Too many humans want somebody else deal with it, as far away as possible so we don’t have to think about it. But we do.
Mobilising large numbers of volunteers – something that in itself is more and more difficult to do – is admirable
but actually we need something closer to a national movement to pull together all sorts of skills and uses for the greater benefit of our overstuffed little country. There is always a harsh division between those think and want to help out and those who don’t. And the rationalisations of why they don’t are endless – too busy and “isn’t that what we pay the council for? “being among the most common. “Don’t care” is an illness all on its own.
But who’d be a policeman, an occupation which personifies “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”? For, the same week as the Metropolitan Commissioner is given a reduced contract in light (it is suggested) of who the next Mayor of London will be (the appointment not quite in his or her gift but certainly under his or her influence) and asked to apologise to the widow of a public figure whom he investigated, it is announced that millions of pounds of public money will be spent searching through the archive of former Prime Minister Edward Heath on the hunt for alleged abuse of small boys.
I hate the abuse of children. There are stories that will stay with me forever. But at what point does the investigation of historic abuse (ie that which took place some time ago) become inappropriate ? As time goes on it is harder and harder to prove. Nothing can give you back what has been taken. To prove in law what has happened is one problem, to make a case out of it is something else.
I am not an apologist for the police. Like everybody else, when they are good, they are and when they are bad, they’re horrid. But we have just cut their budgets and for every ordinary person, the police are the thin blue line, the first port of call when something goes wrong.
In or out of Europe, we need them to amass information about terrorism, we need them to research and act against child abuse which has spread perniciously through the internet and we need them to function in the maintenance of relative domestic welfare. And we lose sight of that last responsibility at our peril, because it is related to everything else that follows. on.