Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Column, June 3, 2008

LET’S start at the beginning shall we?
The Earth was formed 4.6 billion years ago, and 3.8 billion years ago the oaceans were formed. Unless of course you are of a particularly literal religious persuasion, in which case it all happened over six days or so about 6,000 years ago, and if you believe that you’d best stop reading now.
But, what I’m getting at is that the Earth, the oceans and the Moon have been around quite a while now, and as a result, so have the tides. 3.8 billion years of the tide coming in, and going out, coming in, going out, coming in, going out, coming in, well, you get the picture don’t you?
You do, but the 70 people rescued from sand banks off the beaches of North Wales at the weekend did not.
Even as the water rushed in behind them, reportedly, some of them refused to heed the warnings of their rescuers of the danger they were in. Only when they realised they would have to wade waist-deep to get back to the shore did they, hopefully gratefully, accept a lift back from the RNLI.
Perhaps on the Croeso i Gymru signs on the border we should add “please check your brains in here”.
Even the common winkle, a mollusc not known for its extraordinary brain capacity, knows when the tide is coming in, but not, it would seem, the crowds paddling at Rhyl, Towyn, Llandudno and Pensarn.
Perhaps these holidaymakers were more accustomed to the puny tides of the enclosed Mediterranean, which lulled them into a false sense of security when they came to North Wales.
They might just be forgiven if they residents of the American Mid-West, for whom the sea was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But we are an island race, the furthest point from the sea is a mere 70 miles. Nelson would be turning in his grave to know a nation that once ruled the waves had been reduced to such a bunch of lubbers.
Still, I suppose it makes a nice change for them to be hauled from the sea rather than plucked off the mountains by helicopter after they tried a winter ascent of Crib Goch equipped only with flip-flops and a Mars bar.
Maybe there’s another way of looking at it. Perhaps this was evolution in action, some lemming-like instinct kicking in. These people through sheer stupidity were trying to unwittingly do the human race a favour by removing themselves from the gene pool. Or maybe it’s a crude attempt to return to the waters from which we evolved.
It’s a tribute to the dedication and persistence of the RNLI that those who refused help until the waters threatened to wash them away were brought safely to shore instead of being given a short, sharp swimming lesson.
It would seem there is a business opportunity for some bright entrepreneur who wants to set up a stall on the beaches of North Wales selling commonsense by the ounce – there are some visitors in dire need of it.

NORTH Wales Assistant Chief Constable Ian Shannon was out with the troops on a licensing visit to a pub when a sign caught his eye.
‘Polite Notice – Positively No Travellers’ it said.
Mr Shannon raised his concerns about the ‘bigoted and unpleasant’ sign on his blog and it was reported to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and the sign, in a pub in the Flintshire and Wrexham area, has removed the sign.
Its author ought perhaps to have remembered the original purpose of many pubs and inns was to provide a place of rest for travellers, so it’s a bit rich barring them now.
As the credit crunch takes hold mine host might also find his regulars tightening their belts and he cannot be so discriminating, or discriminatory, about his clientele.
Of course, I dare say travellers are used to this sort of prejudice, whether it’s advertised by a notice or not. You can make someone take down a sign, but it takes a bit more effort to change what’s going on in their bigoted little head.
A couple of points to make about this. Firstly, it’s heartening to know that senior officers get out and find out what happens in the real world rather than rely on junior officers to tell them – other forces take note.
Secondly, good to see that the matter got sorted out without recourse to lengthy and costly legal action.
And finally, to signwriters everywhere, if you find yourself penning the words ‘Polite Notice’ on a notice, you’ll find it invariably isn’t, polite that is, and it’s perhaps best to put your paintbrush away.

AND now to the vexed question of who to support for Euro 2008.
The BBC has been focusing on this heavily in the run-up, as if we are all in a real quandary now that England are not in it, the assumption being that we would all have been flying flags of St George had England not been dumped out in the qualifiers.
Who to support has always been an issue this side of the border, so it has taken a little thought.
It was settled in the Banks household by a gift from Banks junior’s uncles. He was presented with a full Italy strip, on the grounds that they might win, and that’s a good enough reason to support the Azzurri.
It might seem fickle supporting a team on such a tenuous basis, but a Daily Post colleague from deepest North Wales has been a lifelong fan of Spurs as a result of the gift of a strip at an early age, footballing allegiances defy logic and rightly so.
They’re in a tough group though, with France, the Netherlands and Romania, so if they go the way of my previous football predictions, we could be looking for a new team upon which to bestow our support rather soon.
Until then, Forza Italia!

No comments: