Who will speak for the fish?

WHAT will Brexit mean for the fish in our rivers? In all the debate about the UK’s exit from the EU (two years and counting down), this is not a topic I’ve seen addressed anywhere.

The only reason that I’ve raised it here is because of a conversation I had in the showers at the pool where I go for a regular morning swim.

A fellow devotee of the early dip, who happens to be a very keen angler, was bemoaning the fact that EU agricultural grants had had a devastating effect on fish stocks. I asked him to explain his thinking.

His theory went something like this: EU grants encourage farmers to maximise the amount of land they have under cultivation – including boggy land along riverbanks that would otherwise be left in its natural state. Along with the rest of the farmer’s fields, this land is given large doses of fertiliser. Then, at times of heavy rainfall, this fertiliser is washed into the rivers because the bogs no longer act as natural sponges. The fertiliser kills invertebrates in the water, and the fish starve.

Being neither farmer nor fisherman, I have no idea if he is right; our son The Gamekeeper says there is something in it, though blaming it on EU grants is pushing things a bit.

Now that we have finally delivered the letter to Brussels, formally starting the exit process, I cannot help wondering if anybody is going to be negotiating on behalf of the fish.

Inquisitive East meets intellectually lazy West

This time last week we were in Stratford-upon Avon, to see the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Snow In Midsummer, a modern adaptation of a classic Chinese play (it says on the programme notes.)

I enjoyed it very much, but it did get me thinking how little I know about Chinese culture – which, let’s face it, has been around for quite a long time.

My ignorance and my lamentable lack of curiosity about the subject was only driven home the next morning by the large numbers of Chinese tourists on the streets of Stratford, photographing everything of a Shakespearean theme.

The wrong actress in the house

On Friday afternoon I went to the cinema alone; literally so. Not only was The Current Mrs Feeney unable to join me, but I was the only person in the audience.

At least that meant there was nobody to distract me from the film. Viceroy’s House tells the story of the weeks leading up to the partition of the Indian sub-continent into the states of India and Pakistan, as the British prepare to get out after three centuries of colonial rule.

END OF EMPIRE: Lord Mountbatten, Gandhi, and Lady Mountbatten outside the Viceroy’s House in Delhi, in the last days of the British Raj.

The film takes a very Upstairs, Downstairs view of proceedings. Upstairs, the last viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten, is locked in increasingly urgent talks with Indian political leaders in what turned out to be a doomed attempt to prevent the country being torn in two.

Downstairs, there is a star-crossed love affair between Mountbatten’s Hindhu manservant and his wife’s Muslim maid, while the Viceroy’s House staff begin to divide along religious lines.

The film was competent, but never quite matched the scale of its subject matter. I did very much enjoy Gillian Anderson’s performance as Lady Mountbatten, but unfortunately, when I was discussing the film on our local TV station a few days later, I attributed the role to Pamela Anderson instead.

Now I cannot shake off the image of Lady M in a red swimsuit, bounding athletically along a beach with the Indian Ocean breakers crashing ashore behind her.

Not wisely, but too well

TWO former colleagues tied the knot on Saturday. An occasion of much drinking and dancing. It was lovely to see so many old faces, and catch up with what everyone had been doing over the last four years.

I’m sure the conversations were fascinating; if only I could remember them.



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