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Willy Poole.

Oh yes, I remember the Metric Martyrs. I was appointed to some sort of committee for their support and I remember going to a grand dinner in the Stadium of Light in honour of their cause. But it did no good at the time.

The Prodnoses got them in the end and Steve Thoburn got a criminal record for trading in what were, in fact, still legal weights. Now it seems the Prodnoses were wrong and all that taxpayers' money was wasted: we can trade in Imperial or metric, in sterling or euros, just as we want and just as we always could.

I can remember Steve, such a quiet, fresh faced, young man, who obviously wanted nothing more from life except to follow his lawful occasions in the market, as he had always done.

I always reckoned that his premature death was due to stress induced by the strain of pushing against the formless mass of malignant bureaucracy. The least they can do now is get him a posthumous pardon.

I am old enough to remember when pounds, shillings and pence suddenly turned metric and "the pound in your pocket" suffered a de facto devaluation overnight, in spite of Harold Wilson's promise.

We thought him the all-time Labour Championship Liar; little did we know of what was to come.

I also remember a taxi driver in London giving me my first 50p pieces in my change: "There you are, Guv, two Wilsons in the change". "Wilsons?" "That's right; Guv, two faced and many sided." Now there's a thought: what coin could we name as part of the "Blair Legacy"?

Bye the bye and talking about economy with the truth, I watched the victory of Monsieur Sarkozy on the TV. He is reputed to be a great admirer of T Blair.

As he walked to his motorcade after singing the Marseillaise, the announcer told us in reverential tones that he was going to spend the next 10 days in retreat in a monastery where he would be meditating, on the "hand of history" no doubt.

In fact, it turns out that he was on a millionaire's gin palace swanning about in the Med. I can quite see why he and Blair get on so well together

I SEE red squirrels here almost every day. Pippy loves a good squirrel hunt, although he never gets anywhere near them. They are charming little animals and I fell to wondering how the struggle to preserve the red squirrel goes on in Northumberland; badly I suspect.

This is because the population will continue to decline until people accept the fact that the Northern English population of the red squirrel cannot maintain unless there is control of the goshawk population and the grey squirrel.

The grey squirrel is an illegal immigrant. It was brought here from the USA, for no good reason that I have been able to discover.

The grey is not even a squirrel, being a close relation to the rat. It is, in fact, a tree rat. Like most rats, it is highly intelligent and will do clever things for foolish people to make videos of.

Rats also do funny things. I remember spending a fascinating hour watching a family of rats playing ever so sweetly around a broken sewage pipe on the beach of a well known Spanish holiday resort. Magic, wish I had had a video camera.

Like its brown rat cousin, the grey squirrel is a great carrier of disease, especially to any reds in the neighbourhood and does immense damage to young trees and plants. It will also gobble up birds' eggs and fledglings.

Yes, I know grey squirrels are such pretty furry little things, but then so are the reds and they belong in England; grey squirrels and brown rats do not.

I can remember a few years ago in Northumberland when posters were plastered all over the place: "Save Our Reds" (SOR). A very nice and well intentioned idea, but a complete waste of time and space unless you accept that SOR means KAG (Kill All Greys). Now, some of you may regard that idea as unacceptable, but let me ease your conscience by pointing out the fact that Brunswick Stew, that fine American dish, is made from grey squirrels and is quite delicious.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 17, 2007
Words:718
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