Tuesday 17 July 2012

Cheer up: it's great training for the British space programme

To look on the bright side, the English summer of 2012 is surely providing us all with absolutely perfect training for long distance space travel.

So something positive may yet come of all these weeks cooped up in confined spaces going slowly insane as Vitamin D deficiency and seasonal affective disorder take rampant hold, like the weeds now choking my dripping garden.

Why are we so intent on ruining the glorious Northumberland landscape with gigantic wind turbines, instead of investing in less obtrusive waterwheels? Yes, they might also only generate electricity intermittently, but on recent form a steady supply of rainfall looks a much safer prospect than the right sort of wind.

The great news for all opponents of wind turbines is that the Church of England is on the other side

I am also beginning to wonder what effect the conspicuous absence of anything recognisable as summer is having on my three year-old son, who has now entered that period of life when enduring memories form.

Like every other grown-up, I remember enjoying consistently fantastic summers when I was little. My parents took me to the sands at Druridge Bay nearly every Sunday in summer, accompanied by a black-clad Granny who must surely have been the model for those classic Giles cartoons.

Even if the weather looked unpromising at home in Longbenton, Dad would ring RAF Acklington for a chat about conditions on the coast, which often proved better. I can only recall one occasion when we ended up spreading our picnic rug on the dining room floor rather than the beach.

The sun also always seemed to shine on our two week summer holiday in St Abbs.

I keep repeating to Mrs Hann the sound advice of other parents that there is really no point in taking small children abroad, as the journeys will prove a nightmare and they won’t appreciate the destination when they get there. They just want sea, sand and, ideally, a bucket and spade.

All of which young Charlie Hann enjoyed at Bamburgh on Saturday, warmly wrapped up in waterproofs and with Dad on hand to help dig the moat around his sandcastle, and wipe his constantly streaming nose.

And that, poor soul, was the high point of his whole week off nursery in beautiful Northumberland, watching the rain tip down.

There is rebellious talk of a holiday in Majorca in September, though obviously without me as I do not like going abroad.

But then, over lunch on Sunday, a new danger emerged when our hostess revealed that she had been researching holidays in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Which are a British overseas territory, so technically not really “abroad” at all.

Flag of the Turks and Caicos Islands

Worse still, there are other potentially warm and welcoming Caribbean treasures including the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Anguilla and Montserrat.

Bermuda, more temperate and closer to home (though still much too far for my liking) is another theoretical possibility.

But then so too are the Falklands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and British Antarctic Territory, all of which should help to put the UK summer of 2012 in some sort of perspective.

As should the fact that my mother, who was Charlie’s age precisely a century ago, pitied me because the summers in the late 1950s were nothing like as good as they had been when she was a girl. I seem to recall that people blamed the atomic bomb.

Yet the summer of 1912, when she was three, was by all accounts the worst of the twentieth century, with the great floods of August causing widespread havoc after some places saw three months’ worth of rainfall in a single night.

Sadly I shall not be around to witness Charlie pitying the lousy summers endured by his children. That is assuming that they are not on a long distance spacecraft in search of a planet with a rather more agreeable climate.

Flag of the British Martian Territory
A long shot, I know, but I think any sensible bookie would probably give you shorter odds on that than on my ever visiting what is left of the British Empire in the tropics. 

Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.


CC said...

Laughing out loud...... especially love your attempt at that British Territory Martian flag.

Summers were also much better in my childhood. Summer around here these days is my most unfavorite season, especially as we've been cooking in our own juices since about April. 90 degrees F is considered "cooling off" this year... as its been around 100 degrees F withmassive humidity most days. Can't leave air conditioning
accept in the morning, for supplies.

The trees, plants, birds and Squirrels are
all cooked to a turn.
So you can see why I've rather enjoyed pics of Charlie bundled up on that beach.

At least this subject made a small change from politics 24/7.

Regards to all Hanns.

Keith Hann said...

The flag of the British Martian Territory is not my creation. I owe it all to the genius behind The British Commonwealth Manned Space Programme at http://www.sptv.demon.co.uk/britishspace/

See also the rather attractive flag of the British Lunar Territory on the same web page.

Marvellous stuff!