P&J Column for 19.8.13

‘Fracking’ is all over the news just now. Mary Whitehouse must be turning in her grave.

Professor Hector Schlenk, science explained 

As a scientist, I often find myself called upon to explore important questions, like, is there really a God particle and if so, which football team does it support? Or is buying 3 packs of basic ham better value than taking 2 packs of the good stuff when the 2 for £4 deal is on?   Recently, I have been asked about  ‘fracking’ and why it causes the public such concern.

The problems start with the name of the process itself.  Some words are beautiful; some are ugly. “Fracking” is the Shane McGowan of the lexicon, to be found hanging around in the corner at the dictionary’s annual disco, drinking heavily and wondering why nice words like “cuddle” won’t dance with it. In onomatopoeic terms, too, it is not a success, with the sound it makes suggesting a flaming drilling rig crashing into the splintered earth.  This does little to inspire public confidence.  The name of the first company to hold licences to frack is also less than optimal.  The great oil companies have names that suggest solidity and dependability, British Petroleum, Royal Dutch Shell, Conoco Phillips. Cuadrilla, on the other hand, appear to have named themselves after a villain from the Transformers.

Of course, there is more to this than names alone.  We interviewed 100 members of the public.  Once they had recovered from the disappointment of realising that their answers were not going to be used on an episode of “Pointless”, we provided them with pieces of information about fracking and asked them for their views on the process.  We mentioned that it would allow us to domestically produce more oil and gas.  80% of people supported it. We mentioned it might cause earth tremors. Support fell to 37%.  We mentioned that if the drilling work was not carried out properly, there was a risk of drinking water being seriously contaminated by hydrocarbons or arsenic.  Support fell to 3%.

We then mentioned that the introduction of fracked gas into the wholesale market would probably reduce their heating bill by a few quid, and that all the negative consequences we had outlined would be suffered by a bunch of rhubarb farming black-pudding fondlers hundreds of miles away, and support for the project shot right back up again.

Davinia Smythe-Barrett, ordinary mum

Once again, the people of this country are being taken for fools by the powers that be.  Such is the uncontrolled lust for oil and gas that the very ground beneath our feet is to be fractured in order to feed this addiction.

There is nothing more important than the preservation of the enviroment, and now is the time for ordinary people to stand up to the greedy corporations who have no care for the harmful impact of what they do. So I’m going to keep Fidel and Emmeline out of school this week and drive them all the way down to Balcombe in Sussex to stand shoulder to shoulder with the protesters.  And the great thing about taking the LandRover is that we’ll have enough room to take the patio heater and portable butane-powered refrigerator down with us

Tanya Souter, lifestyle advice with a local flavour

I dinna ken aboot yous, but I canna wait fer the school holidays tae finish!  A single mum like me his important things tae dae with her day – the last 6 wiks his been a nightmare.  Instead of lang lies, watching Jeremy Kyle and swanning roon toon looking fer bargains and day-dreaming store detectives I’ve hid tae entertain the kids.  “Mum, can we go to the beach”, “Mum, can Brogan fae next door come roon tae play?”, “Mum, where’s the ladder? wee Beyonce’s climbed oot her bedroom windae again.”  – it niver stops!  Some of yous oot there hiv maybe got kids fa’re jist awa tae start school.  It’s an anxious time, so here’s Tanya’s top parenting tips tae ensure yer little darling settles in:

First of all, they’ve got to weer the right uniform.  This year, It’s tiny pencil skirts with bleck tights for the lassies and half mast black addias trakies for the loons. Aye, I’m nae spikkin’ aboot the stuff the school wints them to weer.  I mean the stuff fit’ll stop them lookin like a spoon, and getting bullied.

Bullying is a very tricky issue.  My brither was a right swot at school an’ it wis really difficult.  Fer me – I hid to pretend I didnae ken him so’s I didnae get pelters in the playground.  So mak sure your little cherub kens fit kids they hiv tae watch oot for.  The first kid that gets lines fae the teacher, the een that lamps fowk in the playground fer no reason, the quine fa snogs someb’dy on the first day; these are yer cool kids. Mak sure your kid kens tae hing aboot with them and they’ve nithing tae fear. Unless, of course, they are Ginger or speccy, in which case I wid recommend hame schooling.