Why do so many people start sentences with "So . . .”?
PETER RHODES on the case for fining them, the mathematics of terrorism and an uprising in Cornwall.
NATURE notes. There is an old saying that gorse is out of bloom when kissing is out of fashion. I can't help noticing, from the endless feathery eruptions of passion in our hedge, that whether gorse is in or out of flower, pigeons are always bonking. Do they ever stop?
JEREMY Vine says anyone starting a sentence with the word “So . .” should be given a fixed penalty notice. He has a point. The “So . .” epidemic infests every media interview. I have no idea where it came from or what the “So . .” brigade thinks it adds to the conversation. But I suspect that every generation has its opening line which in time makes way for something new. Back in the 1960s, one particular opener became so commonplace, and so damn irritating, that Monty Python gave us John Cleese as a spokesman for the British Well Basically Club. And what did Cleese tell us? Well, basically . . .
YUVAL Noah Harari is an Israeli professor and writer who warns that Britain should not over-react to the threat of terrorism. He points out that for every person killed by terrorism, 100 are killed in car accidents. He says governments should not react to the “puny threat” of terrorism by changing the way we live, demonising communities or going to war. Harari believes a wiser policy would be to say: “Okay, every year there are three or four incidents of terrorism, a couple of dozen people get killed. It's terrible but okay, we get on with our lives.” No-one can argue with his maths and we should all keep a sense of proportion. But the difference between former terrorist campaigns and the current Islamist threat is that today's attackers set out to kill as many people as possible and are supported by some extremely wealthy backers. If these lunatics could get their hands on a nuclear warhead, they would use it. And Harari's maths would suddenly not add up.
FOR the time being, however, we probably need not panic about the latest terror group to raise its standard. The Cornish Republican Army (CRA) claims it was responsible for the fire-bombing of Rick Stein's seaside restaurant recently and says one of its members is prepared to be a suicide bomber. This has led to much online mickey-taking, especially among the Cornish, with speculation about CRA guerillas going into action with suicide pasties strapped to their chests.
BEING racially pure tends to matter greatly to extreme nationalist movements. The CRA, pledged to prevent what it calls “the ethnic cleansing of the people of Kernow,” believes it is part of a once- great Celtic nation. Sadly, research by Oxford University two years ago failed to find any evidence for this. It concluded that Cornish people are genetically far more similar to people elsewhere in England than they are to the Welsh. So in DNA terms, the CRA terrorist strapping on his exploding pasty is probably not a Cornish warrior with Celtic blood in his veins but an Englishman in denial with a chip on his shoulder.
MIND you, if you're out to destroy a fish restaurant, what more appropriate weapons than chips?