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Wedding bells and marriage hell 

When are people – governments and councils I mean, since ordinary folk already know exactly what they think – going to realise what a useless blight these onshore wind turbines are?

We went to a country wedding last weekend. The sun was bright and hot but there was a crisp breeze to cut through it. The village – all thatch and stone cottages and pretty terraces – curled round the hillside, so there was a different view round every corner. The church was packed. Nearly all the men were in morning dress, which I hadn’t worn for 25 years, and had to borrow. Nowadays chaps seem to brighten up the traditional rig with fancy ties and waistcoats – “very EastEnders” someone sniffed to me. The bride was gorgeous in cream silk with a lace top, the music divine and the marriage sermon by the Catholic priest perfectly judged. “I have never been married, of course, but often a spectator can see rather more of the game than some of the players.”

Then we trooped, like refugees from a bomb scare at Ascot, through the village to the lawns of the house where we drank champagne and ate nibbles, heard funny speeches, then went into the marquee for dinner. They had the fine idea of appointing each table with a carver and a whole roast leg of lamb. Afterwards we danced to Glen Miller tunes, and I thought there must have been weddings in this village many decades ago and the music and the clothes and the hairdos would have been very similar. There are a few things we still get right in this country.

· And many things we get wrong. Next morning we drove to another village, Compton Beauchamp, to see the (originally) Norman church of St Swithun – which is famous in those parts for being tiny and for having gorgeous wall paintings. On the way we had wonderful, vast, outstretched views of the Vale of White Horse, or rather what would have been wonderful views if they hadn’t plonked a line of wind turbines at one of the most spectacular points.

When are people – governments and councils I mean, since ordinary folk already know exactly what they think – going to realise what a useless blight these onshore wind turbines are? Not only do they help destroy the very environment they are supposed to protect, but also they are roughly as cost effective as putting thousands of hamsters on wheels. Most turbines operate at a tiny fraction of their notional efficiency. When you’re told that one can provide enough power for a village, that means during a gale. Also, since they have to be turning all the time to prevent seizing up, they have to draw on the grid, so much of the time they are actually wasting power. It’s a classic example of the law of unintended consequences. The best thing to do would be to take the lot down, now, but there is too much money and too much political prestige at stake.

· Speaking of matrimony, wouldn’t it have been hell inside the Blair marriage over the last decade? Cherie’s memoirs show her being bullied and threatened by Alastair Campbell; being almost literally pushed back in her cage by Anji Hunter, as if the first Mrs Rochester had escaped from the attic; having to endure the neighbour from hell next door; and having a husband who tried to figure how best to use both her miscarriage and her baby to political advantage. There was the appalling Carole Caplin giving Tony naked massages, and her conman boyfriend lurking round. To misquote Princess Di, “There were 19 of us in that marriage, so it was rather crowded.”

· Last week I mentioned the poetry of death, and several readers have written in to point out that memorial verses have long been a feature of local newspapers. The trend I had mentioned was these long stretches of doggerel, often centred on the deceased’s drinking capacity, love of some football team, etc. But I do take the point. Often the older verses would be provided by the paper, and adapted accordingly. Sue Treagus read these in Stoke:

The last trump sounded

The angel shouted “come”,

The golden gates flew open

And in walked Mum.

Next week they had:

The last trump sounded

The angel shouted “come”,

The golden gates flew open

And in walked Sister Emma.

You’ll agree the latter doesn’t work as well.

Alison Howard used to work on the Isle of Sheppey for the Sheerness Times Guardian. “We kept a selection of billets doux from which something appropriate could be selected,” she said. “One week there was almost a riot in the front office when a family discovered that their favourite had been bagged for that week, and they would need an alternative. It was, from (bitter) memory:

If tears could build a staircase

And memories a lane

I’d climb right up to Heaven

And bring you back again.”

I don’t see why they shouldn’t have had the same one in twice. Or for a less well-loved departed:

If tears could be a taxi cab

And memories a car

I’d drive you back to heaven

And leave you where you are.

· I went to the annual Young Art exhibition of children’s paintings at the Royal College of Art with a friend who knows a bit about art. I asked which had attracted his attention. He walked straight to a picture of office blocks by four-year-old Finlay Matheson. It was indeed a capable, confident and remarkably attractive arrangement of different coloured blocks and lines. “If I put that up at home and said I’d bought it from a up and coming British artist for a few thousand pounds, everyone would believe me,” my friend said.

My fantasy has always been to find a child genius and buy up all their work, to make me rich when they become famous. It would be just my luck if young Finlay were to give up painting and become a hedge fund manager, or a bus driver instead.

Simon Hoggart

The Guardian

17 May 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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