Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I’m never quite sure about the small “snippets” you get in the News columns in the newspapers. You know the ones, where there is a single column with half a dozen little items which someone deems as not important/good or entertaining enough to merit a part page spread with one or more pictures. Sometimes, I think some subversive sub-editor slides a story in, once in a while, just to see if we are all awake.

One such appeared in "The Times" today. To set the scene, the story of the day, or at least the one which captured the front page headline was “The end of cod” which threatened the cessation of catching the cod in the North Sea, to ensure that the species did not disappear. At first sight, this strikes one as a good idea – now I like (actually, love) Cod as a fish to eat. I won’t go into the “gastoporn” bit about its meaty, white, flaky, shiny and firm texture, but the truth is there are a lot of other fish that are good to eat as well. I am quite happy to transfer my allegiance elsewhere. Look out you Sea Bass, my frying pan awaits.

Actually though, when you delve a bit into the story, there has been a (very low) limit on allowable levels of North Sea Cod catches since 2004 – 26,500 tonnes, to be precise. But, and it’s a bloody big But, the Cod is a big fish, and when the guys who go out fishing do their stuff, and try to catch the Haddock, Whiting, Plaice and Hake which they are allowed to catch, they inadvertently catch huge numbers of Cod. You can see where this is going, can’t you? Now because they would otherwise exceed their Cod quota, they gaily separate out the Cod they shouldn’t have caught, which by the way are now dead, and throw them back into the sea. I haven’t yet written a piece on the Law of Unexpected Consequences, but when I do, this whole sorry saga may appear again there.

It seems to have just dawned on The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, who seem to be monitoring this, that Cod levels in the North Sea, which should be getting much healthier following 2004’s Draconian fishing restrictions, are actually showing no signs of improvement. Now, maybe it’s me, but that strikes me as heading towards the blindingly obvious. A net which is fine enough to catch a small fish like a Haddock, Whiting, Plaice or Hake, all of which are allowed to be caught, could quite possibly also catch a big fish as well – like a Cod for instance. Quite why this eventuality was not seen as at least possible, escapes me. But then, I live 100 miles from the Coast, so what would I know?

Anyway, apart from the proposal to not catch any fish smaller than a Cod in the North Sea by using coarser nets than today, or somehow ensuring that Cod are genetically changed instantaneously to be of the Dwarf variety, allowing them to swim through the nets currently in use, I have no further useful thoughts to add.

All of which is nothing to do with the intended subject of this ramble. That piece of news was tucked away on Page 4 of today’s Times and is shown in its entirety below.

I cannot make my mind up whether this interesting little vignette is –

- An act of potentially darstadly Terrorism caught in the nick of time by our stalwart Intelligence Services (is that an Oxymoron I see before me?), without whom none of us could begin to sleep soundly in our beds

- Jamie Oliver, skillfully dressed up as a South Korean, to put the aforementioned Intelligence Services off the scent, aiming to raise the profile of his “Don’t let our kids eat Crap” campaign in a very dramatic way. Note, the accused was found with a 7” kitchen knife, something I understand to be available in the new “Jamie Oliver” range in Sainsburys. To off-set this positive but circumstantial point, the accused allegedly demanded to see “Mr Blair now”. Actually, I can’t see Jamie Oliver calling our Tone anything other than Tone, so maybe on balance, this option is the result of an overexuberent intake of Red wine with my meal tonight

- How about one of Gordon Brown’s acolytes, trying a new way of getting Blair out of Number 10? As Morse, or is it Columbo, would have pointed out, he has the motive, he has the weapon, he knows his way around, and it would seem he has the motivation. Interestingly, although the potential assassin was caught red handed, with a knife, asking to get to Our Glorious Leader, having already climbed the wall and railings of No.10, while Blair was in residence, and he pleaded Guilty, the Crown OFFERED NO EVIDENCE, AND THE CASE WAS DISMISSED (My Capitals!). Now what do you make of that?

The other alternative is of course that the man actually was Byung Jin Lee, a South Korean, and he did have designs upon the Prime Minister. In this case the really worrying thing is that he was remanded in custody to allow “doctors to assess his mental health”. Perhaps the sub-editor who looked over this piece before submitting it to the Printing Presses was thinking along the lines of Yossarian out of “Catch 22”, and how the balance between mad and not-mad, sane and insane, rather depends on who you are and where you start from.

And anyway, why wasn’t this front page news?

My confusion is immense.


Anonymous said...

My reading of the article was that he denied the charge of resisting arrest. The Crown offered no evidence that he did resist arrest, so that charge was dropped. Presumable he will be sentenced for his other crimes once they've worked out if he's a proper loon, or just taking 'direct action' a little far.

No Idea why it didn't make more news.

rogerc said...

Thanks for your note. I speak not as a lawyer, but as a simple Accountant/Engineer sitting very firmly on the top of the Clapham Omnibus. It all seems too wierd to me. Here's a guy apparently looking to take the life, or at least rearrange the internal organs, of Our PRIME MINISTER, and all he gets is a charge of resisting arrest. Most peculiar, and then the papers seem to show no interest.

Where was the "Prime Minister escapes assassination attempt" headline?

I think I'm missing something here.