Even if you are too young to remember the exploits of Dan Dare in the boys’ comic The Eagle which brightened up my week when I was a boy at school arriving, as it did, in a special wrapper for all to see, I suspect that you will be familiar with the name Dan Dare and with his trusty friend and sidekick, Digby. Some of you will also remember other characters from The Eagle such as Harris Tweed the private detective and Captain Pugwash and yet others will have fond memories of other comics such as the Beano with Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx and Lord Snooty along with the Bash Street Kids.
But there was one character above all who was really spooky. The Mekon was the green headed evil genius who was planning galactic domination long before the Daleks and the Klingons clashed with Time Lords such as Doctor Who. The Mekon held a special place in the small chamber of my tiny mind which was reserved for horrors. He was always present in person (if that is the right description for an alien being) or in the background and poor old Dan was always looking over his shoulder, metaphorically speaking, to see what the Mekon and his devilish accomplices were up to and where they were up to it. And of course Dan and Digby had to sort it out which they inevitably did!
A THEORY OF RELATIVITY or M=e-D 2
Magpies and squirrels are renowned for collecting stuff and humans are not bad at it either. Clearing out old papers recently I came across an article published in The Times (sadly no longer available unless you pay to view the website!) on December 31st 1999.
Bear with me because this is extraordinary! Written by Simon Jenkins for the Eve of the Millenium over ten years ago, the article was entitled “Oliver the Timelord” (An extraordinary memory reminds us of the ambiguities of time).
It starts with a man he knew being addressed, as a child, on the subject of Oliver Cromwell. The speaker was a lady of 91 who told him sternly never to speak ill of the man: She went on:
“My husband’s first wife’s first husband knew Oliver Cromwell—and liked him well.”
Those two words and all the menace they contain must have overshadowed the lives of many of the inhabitants of these islands over the centuries. After all, being sent to The Tower meant damp and insanitary conditions, poor food and rough treatment leading often to ignominious execution. Remember Thomas More and Anne Boleyn to name but two of the unfortunates who fell foul of the power of the King.
These islands are littered with memorials to historical events and one of the most outstanding is The Tower of London. Built by William the Conqueror following his victory at the Battle of Hastings it was originally a royal palace but soon became a prison and a visible reminder to the defeated English that their new masters from Normandy were not to be thwarted.
I suppose it was always going to happen. If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is! This is not a moan of “the glass is half full” variety but a realisation that in almost every sphere, the law, and often it is law made by our lovely European masters, sorry partners, which intervenes.
Let’s get the European bit out of the way first not least because it is, in a sense, old news. There has been an ongoing debate for some time now about whether privilege attaches to communications between a client and an in house lawyer and I have always thought that the courts have tended to the view in Europe that no such privilege attaches on the basis that the in house lawyer is “too close” to the client for the advice to be objective, disinterested and, therefore, worthy of privilege.
idea of poking someone in the eye with the end of a biro is not one which occupies my mind a lot. I have to say, however, that the prospect of damage is high. The mere thought of a sharp pointed object being forcibly thrust into a soft and delicate object like an eye not only makes me squirm but is obviously an action liable to cause extreme pain and harm.
I had not thought about this until confronted recently with the problem at the entrance to one of our revered temples of cricket (to save embarrassment I will not say which one and I have been to three of our Test Match grounds recently). Having queued briefly to gain entrance to the ground I arrived at the place where you and your bags are searched these days clutching a very small can of sparkling water which I had been given free by enthusiastic promoters working the queue. I intended to drink it when in my seat but one of the ground’s vigilant staff members told me I could not take it in as it was a possible offensive weapon and it would have to be confiscated. The alternative was to drink it there and then which, being of a cussed nature, I duly did.
Has the Oxford University Press printed its last book?
This may appear startling to those of you who thought that the OUP was one of the great bastions of the printed word. As someone who passes the premises of the Cambridge University Press each week on the train, and an Oxonian, I was immediately drawn to press comment on the future of the OUP. Could this possibly be true?
William Caxton is credited with establishing the first printing press in England in 1476 and incredibly the OUP printed its first book just two years later. Horrors! Was that proud tradition of printing books really to come to an end after an extraordinary 532 years?
Some of the new building continuing around London and particularly in the City is going to give London a new skyline. Take a look at the Shard going up near London Bridge and you will see what I mean. I actually rather like London’s understated skyline. Walk over any of the bridges over the Thames and particularly if you look east there is a reassuringly familiar skyline interspersed with new buildings like the Gherkin to give it a bit of a modern feel.
Visiting offices of law firms as I do regularly, I find I am often treated to the most spectacular views over London, old and new, and naturally every view is different so one never gets tired of it.
With summer coming to an end (although the recent weather over the Bank Holiday suggests this has already happened) we can look forward with keen anticipation to what the autumn and the first half of 2011 will bring.
Incidentally, why do we all still have to suffer bank holidays? Given to bank workers in the late 19th century who did not have proper holidays, they are an outmoded concept where the state allows you to have a holiday on a given Monday when the weather is “guaranteed” to be poor and everyone else is on holiday so you cannot get anything done. Note to Coalition: Abolish bank holidays (except Christmas and Easter as these are religious festivals) and allow everyone an additional number of days of statutory holidays to be taken when we want and not just because it is ghastly Wilsonian May Day or August 31st!