Thursday, 24 May 2012

Watch out for the liquid drought

HOW fortunate for us that the Environment Agency has announced that Dorset has been removed from the country’s drought area.

Without their benevolence we might have missed the change because there have been so few signs of recent wet weather unless you count the spate of drownings and all the boats being built in people’s gardens.

In six weeks Weymouth and Portland went from temperatures up to 75F (that’s 24C in new money) with ground baked like iron to temperatures in the low 40s (7-8C) and ground transformed to the consistency of porridge.

Day after day people went round heads bowed under umbrellas, battered by downpours not seen since Noah was around packing them in two by two.

Rivers and streams flooded, homes and businesses were left underwater and sporting events were devastated by conditions which are only now showing signs we might get a bit of summer sunshine.

Incredibly this part of the country remained in the drought area despite the wettest April since records began in 1880 and it has only just been taken out of it.

So I urge you all to keep an eye on future Environment Agency bulletins so we are kept up to date with important conditions such as knowing that when it gets dark its nighttime. 

After all, we need the agency to broadcast the less obvious things in life.

...and mind that painting doesn’t fall on your head!

ART means different things to different people, but one Weymouth painter is having to cope with adverse criticism of his work from an unexpected quarter.

His large paintings are quite striking in their detail, subject and dramatic use of colour particularly gold, so it isn’t surprising that they can take thousands of hours to produce and are keenly sought after by buyers.

So when he began to add the final touches to his latest work and started to consider where the painting might initially hang he was startled to receive a comment that his choice was being questioned.

He’d never had a problem with his paintings before. Indeed there was competition to hang them rather than turn them away.

So who could it be that was suddenly not so sure about seeing them displayed.

Yes, you’ve guessed it... our old friends the Health and Safety Executive.

Regular readers of this column will have seen me highlight a few of H&E’s more aberrant decisions including a ban on pins to secure commemorative poppies, so you shouldn’t really be too surprised to hear that even art isn’t safe from H&E’s clutches.

Apparently the painter was informed that his regular choice of position above a staircase posed a safety hazard to people going up and down the stairs who might be hit on the head if the painting suddenly came loose or decided to leap off the wall.

Paintings have hung in this position for years without a problem, but the painter is now sadly being forced to seriously consider what he wants to do with his latest work.

Hopefully common sense will prevail although this is the Health and Safety Executive we are talking about.

Enough to blow your socks off!

ALL you cooks out there should take note of my mistake and treat certain types of chilli powder with the respect they deserve.

I ran out of chilli and went and bought some more at Helen’s Famous Wholefood Store, carelessly dismissing the “extra hot” part of the label on the jar.

That night’s evening meal was very nearly the last for my son and I as he knocked up a pasta dish with just a teaspoon of this new powder plus a few grains which had escaped my attempts to put it into my chilli jar.

The resultant meal was like eating a volcano!

I lost all feeling in my lips, my son began to melt with sweat streaming down his face and for a while I was convinced that my tongue had caught fire.

We will try the chilli again. Perhaps a quarter of a teaspoon might be safe. Take heed.

Monster raving loonies?

PEOPLE have become very suspicious of politicians in recent months.

Certainly the antics on Weymouth and Portland council over harbour walls, the Olympics and various developments have done nothing to dispel the impression of politicians who struggle to think ahead and who can’t or won’t listen.

But sometimes local councillors are not quite as easy to pidgeonhole as you might think. I was chatting away during the recent elections with one councillor able to enjoy proceedings because they weren’t up for re-election.

One line of conversation led to another and, with a sweep of their hand to where votes were being counted, the councillor revealed that they had once polled 24 votes... as a candidate for the Monster Raving Loony Party.

This seemingly encouraged them to make a serious start in politics because they got hooked on the process and the ins and outs of the local council.

Judging by current times it could be argued that a great many of that person’s former political colleagues successfully made it on to the council!

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