THE MARS ADVENTURE

At first glance, the pictures coming back from Mars are impressive.  The headline in my newspaper trumpeted the posibility of imminent holidays abroad, but on further examination, what I saw didn’t excite.  No swaying Casuarina trees bordering peerless white sands, no beachside bars where the Brits could get puking drunk and lobster red, and no pulling spare totty for a casual shag, and who needs condoms!

There was also no sign of the Germans, a fixture on any  package holiday, with their towels carefully rolled and placed on beach loungers at the crack of dawn, no singing along to the marching songs of yesteryear, and no tinnies of lager to squeeze on the journey down memory lane.  Those were the good old days, nicht war?

I  believed, for more years than I can remember, that Mars was a planet somewhere out there, inhabited by little green people of dubious provenance, who spoke English, which helped, and, when making contact, demanded to be taken to our leader.  Nobody explained why, although rumour had it that former President Chump Trump was ready and waiting.  Never one to miss a photo opportunity!

Reality is often a disappointment as we read avidly about Perseverance, a rover mission which I am surprised to learn is the fifth.  Quite what this fifth rover will achieve that the other four failed remains to be seen.

The statistics are impressive.  The flight from Nasa took seven months and covered 292 million miles, so unappealing when compared with the Luton to Benidorm night flight.  Other than the little green people, there is no evidence of intelligent humanoid life, and no infrastructure that would support it. Mark you, if you’ve ever been to Benidorm, there is also no evidence of intelligent humanoid life, green or otherwise.

Some laud the achievement in eulogistic terms, with one commentator declaiming that “the Mission to Mars is an outstanding venture in our quest for knowledge, and a triumph of scientific endeavour.”  Yeah, whatever!

Finally, a word to the wise.  In 1953, man first set foot on Mount Everest when Hillary, one of ours, and Tensing, a Johnny Foreigner, made the historic ascent.  When asked why he climbed Everest, Hillary replied, “because it was there”.  Since then, climbing to the summit has become a routine and almost daily event, especially for the sons of Nippon, but nobody claims it to be a triumph of scientific endeavour.

Live and let live is my motto.  If you want to go to Mars, good luck to you, but count me out.

STAND UP AND BE COUNTED

Word reaches me that all is not gloom and doom in Hong Kong.  There was a fear that HK’s special status, honoured more in the breach than the observance by the People’s Republic of China 香港回歸, would be ignored by President Xi Jinping, their all powerful ‘democratic’ leader, sporting a name which sounds like a dodgy cocktail 狡猾的鸡尾酒, with or without the stuffed olive.

Freedom of movement has never been easy since the Chinese assumed control of Hong Kong back in 1997.  The British Goverment committed the cardinal sin of believing the assurances of ‘independence’ given to it, and twenty three years later they are meaningless.  The British government is doing its best to keep the flag flying, and introduced a British National Overseas passport to HK residents for travel to the UK. But guess what?  This passport is not recognised by the Chinese.

But there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, not as yet confirmed, that any HK residents wishing to leave, can do so after a period of ‘re-education’.  They will be transported, free of charge, in trains without heating or refreshments, to resettlement camps where they will endure enjoy an oppressive system of mass surveillance, detention, indoctrination, and even forced sterilisation.  Somewhat predictably, the People’s Republic spokesman, reading from a script prepared and vetted by President Xi himself, described these claims as “lies and absurd allegations.”  But then, they would wouldn’t they?

Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn, but as somebody once said, the surest way for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.  Time for those good men to stand up and be counted.

HERE WE GO AGAIN

Just as you thought it was safe to go back into the water, the former President of the United States, Donald Trump, has let it be known that he is ready and willing to stand for election in 2024, and by all accounts, where most political commentators would howl with derision or sob quietly in a darkened room, he is apparently the candidate of choice in the Republican party.

I have a great affection for the United States, having spent three very enjoyable years at McGill University in Canada, which as the cogniscenti will know, is America’s 51st state.  Back in 1976 I also travelled extensively, when the Queen of England and I went to Philadelphia to ring the Liberty Bell to help celebrate 200 years of independence.  Representing the USA was their then President Gerald Ford, you remember him of course, about whom it was said that he couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time.  A President greatly loved and respected by his fellow Americans!

But back to Donald Chump, I’m sorry, that should read Donald Trump, who when the shit hit the fan, was found shovelling it by the spadeful.  On any view, to millions of onlookers who watched events unfold with open mouthed horror, his conduct was inexcusable and downright dangerous, and it was only a groundswell of revulsion enveloping the seat of government that Chump Trump finally and reluctantly backed down.

Americans may feel that Limeys like me have no right to criticise their way of life and their governance, but when it affects us all, we cannot and shouldn’t remain silent.  But it was a fellow American, Hilary Clinton no less, who put her finger on it, or in it, when she described Trump’s supporters as “a basket of deplorables.”  Whilst such a remark may have cost her the election in 2016, it has a frightening ring of truth in 2021.

NAP AWAY

It’s official, and I bring you news hot off the press and all the way from the Peoples Rupublic of China. An afternoon nap is good for you.  This follows research from the snappily named China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS), and you heard it here first.

I was not consulted, although I have been enjoying an afternoon nap for many years, and I didn’t need the stamp of CHARLS’ imprimatur to persuade me of its obvious benefits.

I wonder what else the Chinese will come up with in their quest for world domination.  We in the West are beginning to feel nervous about Chinese students swamping our universities, over 120,000 at the last count, and all paid for by the Peoples Republic. I wonder why, when Chinese universities are the best.  Surprisingly, Chinest students do not allow themselves the luxury of an afternoon nap.  Spooky or what?

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THE MARKLES ARE BACK IN TOWN

Following hot on the heels of the  news that Megan is expecting a baby to keep Archibald company, together with soft lens photos of the happy couple, we are promised as a sequel a night out with the American chatshow hostess Oprah Winifred when the Markles will reveal all (Yawn).

I don’t know what we have done to deserve this, but we’ve been here before, and there were tears before bedtime.  Diana, Harry Markles’ Mum, made a fool of herself in a similar interview, which helped nobody, and Charles, Harry’s Dad who doesn’t squeeze his own toothpaste onto his brush, also made a fool of himself when admitting what we all knew, that Camilla whatsername was his mistress offering sexual favours as well as companionship in much the same way as his great uncle Edward, who had to abdicate.

Finally, to complete this rogue’s gallery, comes Randy Andy.  Enough and more was said at our Nellie’s wedding, and does not merit repetition.

So what do the Markles hope to achieve by dishing the dirt?  I suspect Harry, as ever, is led in this venture by Megan, who is out for the main chance, and hopes to advance her lacklustre career as a television actor.  Good luck to them both, but why should we, the great British public, be remotely interested in their shenanigans?