thinking outside the tank

Archive for March 2009

There is a blue hill quite close by

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Thick pinkish moss-clad curling flakes of ancient bark form the skin of a stout sycamore extruding buds to honour the imminent contract to shade the bluebells at its feet; the solid, stable, full expression of a tree. As eagerly awaited as any golden Vermont autumn, the bluebell flower-burst marks the progress of the Wansfell spring and answers the wintry question: why is it called Blue Hill Wood?

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst 2009


Written by netkingcol

March 29, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Claiming the moral low ground

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In their own language, ‘we will take no lessons’ in the morality of large bonuses in the financial sector from politicians who claim ‘no wrongdoing’ when dipping their snouts in the trough of allowable expenses for second homes. To me there is substantially no difference between an employment contract which has a bonus written into it and the rules of parliament that define the expenses that MPs may claim. These are legal arrangements.

What MPs don’t seem to see is that this is a moral question not a legal one. There is moral outrage at the ongoing delivery of taxpayers’ money to the architects of financial failure. Likewise, there is moral outrage that MPs claim money that they don’t need, simply because the rules allow it. If this kind of abuse were occurring in the real economy, Revenue and Customs would be seeking actively, and retrospectively, to close the loophole.

I once worked alongside a North Sea diver who was paid more the deeper he went. He admitted looking for depressions in the seabed that he could step into to claim extra money. In a moral topography he would find those low points filled with both bankers and politicians.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst 2009

Written by netkingcol

March 22, 2009 at 9:51 am

The First Cuckoo of Spring

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I live in Ambleside in the English Lake District at the head of a cul-de-sac on the lower slopes of Wansfell from which there is no public access to the fells. Today I can report that we had our first metaphorical cuckoo of the spring, by which I mean the first ramblers trying to make their way out of the village and into the hills – and failing the first test of their navigational skills. They reach my house and look around in confusion and bewilderment.

As surely as a lame-duck president is followed by a dream-ticket and the cold wind of recession is followed by the green shoots of recovery, the couple I met today will be followed by a steady stream of the cartographically challenged. They are almost worthy of classification as one of David Attenborough’s Great Events of Nature, the migration reaching its peak in the summer holidays.

Mostly these visitors clutch a printed sheet of instructions telling them, clearly in insufficient detail or in ambiguous terms, how to get from A to B. Some of them are completely kitted-out with map, compass, emergency rations, and two walking poles; the couple today had a GPS – but it wasn’t doing its job because ‘there was only one satellite so he couldn’t triangulate’.

I consider it a service to tourism to help them get where they want to be and I hope they will remember fondly the friendly face that guided them, though sometimes I feel a terrible responsibility. After all, I’m showing them where exactly they can get into the mountains and start to get really lost. I imagine the conversation they will have with the mountain rescue team, trying to describe their position after dialling 999. Maybe this year I will set up a lemonade stall at the end of my drive or, even better, write my own leaflet and hand it out to those who turn up at my door.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst 2009

Written by netkingcol

March 15, 2009 at 8:28 pm

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