New review of Where’s Sailor Jack? : ‘‘…romantic, poignant, and extremely funny, exactly what I want from a family saga.’ – Stephen Carver, Blot the Skrip and Jar It

Wonder where the wonder’s gone

I know there’s a lot of depressing stuff in the News at the moment, such as the imminent nuclear war, but nothing has depressed me more than the recent religious survey. Less than half the population have any religious faith, and only 15% even say they’re Anglicans. I grew up in a Lancashire village just after the war when the vast majority were churchgoing Anglicans. Those that weren’t could be Methodists, Catholics whose ancestors had stuck with the old faith, or the odd atheist whose position was defined in opposition to Christianity. The community, 230 miles from London, was in direct line from that which developed 1300 years before when ancient Briton met Anglo-Saxon, perhaps with a bit of Dane thrown in early on. Yes, by then we had a picture-house, but the main entertainments were the church dances, the beetle and whist drives, and the annual gala (pronounced gayla as it should be), led by the prize silver band escorting the Queen of the May, where I won threepence for finishing third in the six-year olds race. A war had just finished and rationing was still on, but the mood had moved to one of hope.
This isn’t an anti-immigration piece: indeed I share the mourning for our past with reflective people from all colours and creeds I now talk to in London suburbs. Dog walkers of all ages form a group that thinks about what relationships mean. It isn’t an anti-liberal piece. I would have voted for nearly all the ‘progressive’ legislation passed since the sixties. It may be a piece with anti-metropolitan leanings but that’s not today’s concern. It’s not a piece to re-argue my view that theism is entirely rational, indeed more in line with the evidence from modern Physics and the theories from modern Maths than the alternatives of multiverses and actual infinities. It’s not about dualism or dual aspect monism, splitting the mental and physical, giving neither primacy, which I’ve also said enough on. It’s not saying we make reality, but it is saying that what we make is real.
The past is real. The universe is finite, a bit bigger than the universe of the six-year old me but finite. There’s no creator if it’s infinite, and if so nowhere to keep anything. No creator and there’s no sense of wonder to be felt when you look out at the night sky or across Ullswater to Helvellyn. What’s left is the frustration that the equations, all you then have by way of explanation, will never solve, with you wondering hopelessly why that’s the case. Now thank we all our God…

Somewhere a place for us

A recent debate with a friend has left me wondering about the distinction between somewheres and anywheres as propounded by David Goodhardt in his book The Road to Somewhere. This categorisation has been widely used by commentators to differentiate between leavers and remainers in the EU membership referendum. I can imagine the glee with which they read about it, guaranteeing as it did that they had fresh material for several future columns. Or in my case, for a blog.Those of you who have read Where’s Sailor Jack? will know from the biographical notes and from the themes of the book that I have strong links with Lancashire, particularly with Poulton-le- Fylde and Bolton, the home territories of Bob Swarbrick and Richard Shackleton respectively. This latter surname from just over the boundary with Yorkshire was my nod to my own distant ancestry on the male side. To this list, I could add Southport, Liverpool and Manchester where I have either lived or worked. But I did spend the bulk of my working career in London, and I live in Home Counties affluence. I moved from living in a Poulton terraced-house with an outside lavatory as the war ended to going to New College Oxford, the Wykehamists’ college, in 1964. Such was the unique opportunity for the favoured few intellectually able boys (and just a few girls) at that stage.
I voted Remain for three separate reasons: the economic risks from leaving: the wish to avoid further European wars: my children were voting Remain. If I had my way, the EU would also have Russia in too for the second reason.
My friend pointed out to me, after my usual, tedious eulogy for 1950s Lancashire, that anywheres are also from somewhere, not that I had remotely argued the opposite. I think the main critique of what I choose to write about is that it is arguing for the past as seen from both a temporal and geographical distance. It would be fair to accuse me of having a love-hate relationship with the socially liberal London-based media, for whom my principal criticism would be that they don’t know their own country very well. They also irritate me in the way they inveigle themselves into the editorialising position at the end of every discussion. It’s a skill I wish I possessed.(I do actually have even more problems with locally-based authority figures who know their own domains only too well and as a result wish to impose petty controls.)
I’m a philosophic dualist accepting separate physical amd mental domains that meet in reality. In Physics we used to say that the field is fundamental. I expect I will continue to strive to be rational in the decisions down to me while otherwise remaining a northern, Anglican, Bolton Wanderers supporting, family-centred male from the Fylde, capable of voting for all three main parties depending on time and place. In life, it’s the story that’s fundamental. We’re somewhere any old how.

The Church of the Holy Allegory

Tracey Ullman’s “A Christian’s Job Interview” is a brilliant piece of writing. A likeable and impeccably qualified woman is about to get the job. The interview panel think she is wonderful. Right at the end, it emerges that she is a Christian. The mood shifts. The candidate gently points out that for the previous 1500 years the British have been Christian. She is ushered out quickly, and once the door is closed, she is now described as weird.
This appears to be the factory setting of nearly everyone under fifty, maybe even sixty. I find it deeply depressing, indeed as I tell my kids, almost treasonable! But I have to acknowledge that it’s happened. At University, my youngest is friendly, but no more than that, with some ‘Christians’ as he calls them, who are ‘nice people’. By Christian, he means members of the Christian Union. They are evangelical and believe in the literal truth of the Bible which they study earnestly, passage by passage. As such, they then believe that their narrow group is ‘saved’ by their faith in Jesus Christ, with the clear inference that all others are damned. That view clearly will cause resentment, as does their use as a rule book of the very rare temporally-conditioned comments in the Bible on matters sexual. To me, this does no justice at all to the gentlest and least triumphalist of faiths, one that believes in victory only through defeat and which has developed the sublime doctrine of the Trinity in an attempt to understand how creator and creation meet.
The most descriptive passage in the Bible on the nature of faith is Hebrews 11.The first verse is: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The rest of the chapter is a description of many Old Testament figures who “…died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off…”, words from verse 13. These people could believe in what a Christ, maybe the Christ in themselves, could do, without seeing him. That sounds like a biblical challenge to exclusivity claims. It to me also suggests that the Christian message can be reached allegorically.
Christianity is not in the Western zeitgeist. The Holy Dove, the still, small voice of calm, is having trouble being heard. Despite Christian imagery abounding in the arts, with those two giants Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen’s work suffused with it, today’s young give the last word to the scientists, usually life scientists. I’m a physicist by first degree, so naturally find amusing Ernest Rutherford’s comment that all science is either Physics or stamp collecting. It’s true that life science subject matter starts some five billion years after the Big Bang, but I do think they are entitled to see what happened before than as analogous to evolution. What differentiates physics from biology is in the use of Mathematics. And not only does the maths make uncertainty fundamental, but Gödel has shown that no mathematical system can contain its own solution unless it is infinite. Infinities are notoriously difficult to deal with in Maths and he thus suggested that the infinite is outside the system. I make a simple statement. If you could sit outside the system, would it not be rational to view the creation of the conscious human, and animal, world that exists today to be some kind of result? Of course it has resulted from evolution; creationists do the religious cause no favours. Whether consciousness produces any agency can perhaps never be tested. If so it is best to assume that it doesn’t, even if the odd incident suggests otherwise.
What can be said from any introspection is that the mental lives we live are who we really are, rather than the bodies necessary to have them. It’s the mental consequences of the physical world that religion tries to give a meaning to. Maybe there is no meaning. I would dispute that but would accept that it may be only a meaning we give to it ourselves. It is by faith that I believe in a God.
If that God is outside the system, then what use is it to postulate him? I think that’s where religion needs a mystery that sits uneasily both with the bible class mob who try to make salvation a logical matter explicable in words, and the determinist scientists who see everything as physical. The doctrine of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit may be culturally conditioned and flawed, but speaks to the way we see our mental lives. Not only do we need to be provided, pardoned and guided, but we can think outside the system, as if Gods.
I suspect that during the 1500 years of Christianity in Britain, there have been many whose faith has been mental. It’s highly likely that previous generations had a better ability to understand literary genres than today’s does. Truth comes to us in waves, physical and mental. They didn’t need to separate. The truth in Christianity is a marriage of history and rich theology, with a resulting transcendental imagery. If you can believe in the physical resurrection, which I can, then come worship at the Church of the Holy Cross. If not, come anyway to worship at the Church of the Holy Allegory. You may be the truest of believers.

Moments

 

Live for the moment. Is this the secret of a fulfilled life? Not for a mind/body dualist.The mind is never in the moment.There’s a lag. Memory can’t fully replicate a sensation, but it does last, until it fades.
Seize the moment.That’s a thought, before the event, one that embraces what’s about to happen, maybe even changes it. That’s fulfilling. Until the memory fades.
Life goes by so fast. We miss most of it, one reason I hope for an afterlife. I want to go through it all again, seeing what I missed. (Which is probably mainly others in the picture muttering “plonker” in my direction.) In Where’s Sailor Jack?, there’s a moment when Richard thinks his resurrection body was taken from him. I once lived what I wrote. It wasn’t a moment to be seized. It wasn’t a moment to be lived for. It was a moment to be lived in. Perhaps the only one.You should seize the moment. The rest is decided for you.

Let there be Light

I find myself drawn to dualist notions of reality. There’s not much chance of an afterlife if the mental and physical can’t be separated. I’m betting with Pascal. It seems to be the no-lose option. Unless of course at some stage in the future we’re all reconstituted by time-machine and a committee of atheistic humanists decide who can best assist the construction of heaven on earth.

Physics reduces all problems to the language of mathematics. Gödel has demonstrated what we can probably all intuit, that no complex mathematical system can contain its own explanation unless it is infinite. To me, a numeric infinity is entirely a mental construct. With Gödel, I would take the infinite outside the mathematical, that is the physical, system. In the beginning was the Word. The physical world is the Word made flesh. The Word is descriptive language, not Mathematics. Concepts and virtues are permitted outside the system, and not just as shadows on the cave wall.

I seem to understand myself better too if by viewing the physical and mental as two discrete categories. I’m not saying that there aren’t linkages. The correct philosophical category for me might be dual aspect monist. I fully expect, as the brain scientists steadily map neural activity, that every mental state will be seen to correlate to a physical state. Every physical state will be caused by a prior physical state under the laws of Physics, perhaps with some quantum uncertainty at the smallest levels which from all observation is random. And so any room for mental agency would seem to be zilch at best.

But let’s start from the other viewpoint. We all inhabit our mental universe while living in space and time. Sitting in a comfortable chair, I never stop thinking until I fall asleep, and then I dream. Awake, I recall events, sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches with a vividness which makes me feel that the mental sensation is actually reliving that physical past. Do I choose what to remember? That raises the question as to if there is more than one ‘I’. I think there is. I’ll continue to call the mental ‘I’ and the physical ‘me’ in this piece of introspection, even if that does make the mental the subject. That’s how it feels. If there are no apostrophes around the personal pronouns, then it’s indeterminate which one I mean. When I am doing something I like doing, than ‘I’ am not free, because the act was caused by ‘me’. ‘I’ can recall the sensations with pleasure or disappointment afterwards. If I do something spontaneously, and then regret, am ‘I’ to blame?

I was reading Marcus du Sautoy recently about what can we know. He, a mathematician and brilliant thinker, believes his atheism to be a decision he has made. He also accepts that such a decision has implications as to how he views life, just as the opposite one does for believers. I am not sure if I ever made a decision to be a theist. Christened as a baby into the Anglican church, followed by Sunday school, Bible Class, Confirmation and with a love of both the liturgy and the hymns, it’s difficult to tell. The furthest I can go is to say that ‘I’ now try to live my life accountable to a Creator, to the extent that ‘I’ might have a choice. The two things conferred on ‘me’ by that are in the summary of the Commandments, to love God and to love thy neighbour as thyself. I’m sure most atheists feel strongly too their duties to others. Many would argue that lack of belief in God makes them more determined to tackle injustice. Believers would argue with St Francis that knowing what can be changed, and being accepting of what can’t be, makes for a better mental life. Perhaps these thoughts are at the core of the decisions made either way.

Yes, I do believe a spontaneous act by ‘me’ is something ‘I’ should feel accountable for. ‘I’ should have built better self control into ‘me’.

Is all this negated if our mental capacity is zilch? I think it probably would be, which is why I want to take the mental outside the constraints of the physical system. If there is an eternity, then Alpha and Omega are at the same point. The story unfolds which includes our thoughts and actions. These will correspond to the physical state of our brains, but more importantly includes the texture of sensual experience and the reflection of our conscience. All actions are inextricably linked, perhaps similarly to eternal quantum entanglement. The thoughts are no less real for that. The uncertainties collapse just the once, at the end of time, which is the beginning. Have we thus made the God who makes us?

I do the Times crossword and Killer Sudoku each day. It feels like ‘I’ do the crossword and I do the Sudoku. Equations can be beautiful, and perhaps that’s one of the edges where the two realms meet. But I don’t believe God did the Maths before creation. He said what he wanted. He saw what he and ‘we’ had thought and made it real. The story is fundamental.

One more locust?

I’ve been together through most of my life with Bob Dylan. It started in the upper sixth in 1963, the year made famous by Philip Larkin for the discovery of sex. Not in my world, it wasn’t. That took a few more years. A northern grammar school boy, what else could I be studying but Maths, Physics and Chemistry? Twenty miles down the road, the Beatles had broken through to mega-stardom, with the Mersey sound everywhere. There was some great stuff, along with classic pop coming from America with guys like Don and Phil, the Big O and Gene Pitney.

In these days before teenagers had learnt how to lie in until lunchtime, there was a two hour morning pop music programme, Saturday Club, on the Light Programme introduced by Brian Matthew. The Beatles were playing live, after which John Lennon was interviewed. “That Bob Dylan, he’s dead gear,” were the words as I remember them.

Once the show finished, I rushed out to the record shop to buy Freewheelin. I couldn’t get over how good it all was, head over heels at the wondrous ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’. For me, everything after then, even the great British stuff that followed almost immediately like The Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Spencer Davis and The Animals, would never claim my total allegiance.

I’ve bought every single Dylan album since during the last fifty-two years, as well as the one album out before Freewheelin’. We really have been together through life. In these years I’ve ploughed through science and divinity degrees, and had a long business career. I’ve also had a family, finally having learnt the game, if slowly, that Buddy Holly sang about. I’ve only just now written my novel, Where’s Sailor Jack?, so I certainly got to know my song well before I started singing.

At every stage Dylan has struck the chord. I was still catching up at Oxford when the savvy public school types listened to ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ for drug references. I knew where I was from, so I was far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow anyway. I was friends with a few folkies, one of whom would have lent Pete Seeger her axe at Newport. I loved the electric stuff, happily paying whatever the price was to be ‘Stuck in Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again’.

Into the seventies, I lived the pain in that incredible album Blood on the Tracks where every word was etched into my soul from him to me. In one of the concerts at Wembley Arena I went to, Bob wasn’t having his best night, but his acoustic version of ‘A Simple Twist of Fate’ was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard, apart perhaps from another concert when he did ‘Tomorrow is a Long Time’.

His Christian phase didn’t faze me. I’m a lifelong unorthodox believer. Like Jesus, he only preached for three years. He saw that the lone soldier on the cross would win the war after losing every battle, the only sense to be made of life.

He’s taken all his songs with him into his old age. The devil might rule this world, but God is the judge, and he’s decided they’re eternal. No-one has written old age like Dylan. We’re all trying to get to heaven before they close the door. We stayed in Mississippi a day too long. None of us can go back, at least not all the way. We missed that moment when all old things became new again. So while it’s not dark yet, it’s getting there.

But thanks to him, I’ve always had the murmur of his songs, like a prayer, in my soul.

Those Autumn Leaves

I’m reaching the empty nest stage quite late in life, being 71 next week. My wife Janet and I are not fully there yet, but the return to university this week for our youngest means that we’re rattling round the house during the day. Our eldest has found pastures new, leaving just our daughter with us and then only evenings. And our family dog, Timmy, is nearly 15, has cancer and a failed kidney. He still soldiers on, leaving an acquaintance observing how he doesn’t want to leave us, but sadly we know that very soon he must. I’ve lost my sister and my Mum over the last few years, my Dad having gone in 1998. In that under-rated Dylan song ‘Nettie Moore’, he sings of there being no-one left here to tell. There still is, but nobody who shares with me where it started.

There’s an old joke from a Rabbi saying life begins when the kids leave home and the dog dies. Rob Brydon and his wife in the advert go on a cruise looking forward to the glazed scallops for dinner that evening. I know I’m fortunate that such pleasures might still await, and if they do, I must make the most of them as gifts freely given. Yet I wish Dad was at the end of a telephone to talk to on a Saturday as the football finishes; that I was looking forward to visiting my sister’s beautiful garden as the Autumn leaves turn to flame; that my Mum was still here to ask the recipe of that suet crust we used to have on cold winter days. Most of all I wish it was ten years ago and summer, with Janet, the three kids,the dog and me piling into the old Espace around a picnic box full of sandwiches, sausage rolls, pork pies and cake, for a day out at Nicky Nook, Timmy unable to contain his joy at the prospect.

I swear that at the first glazed scallop on that luxury cruise, I’m going to think of that day with my eyes full of tears.

Kettle Calling Pot

I’ve lived a pretty comfortable life materially. It’s difficult to say that I earned it. I worked at the top in worthy industries, but not in creative or productive roles. I now have a good pension. So this rant is bordering on rank hypocrisy.
It’s just that walking round the streets of our very bourgeois area on the outskirts of the London bubble, I see many burly guys from all parts of the world working hard on knocking down and rebuilding houses that were very pleasant to begin with. These guys could be building new start-up homes for the young or sheltered accommodation for the old. The owners of these palaces are usually making mega-money in the zero sum game that is the City, or advising those that are. It’s a negative sum game actually, once those involved have been paid their exorbitant fees. As a former CFO of a top company, I can’t think of a single derivative instrument that I really needed to buy, and yet trillions are traded in them. As a former Chairman of smaller companies, I can’t think of any bank finance offer that wasn’t close to certain to lead to a default.
Walk round the City or Canary Wharf and all that’s being built are office blocks to house such traders, not hospitals or nursing homes, or high-tech factories. Railway lines are being built, it’s true, mainly to allow more City workers to get into their offices.
Yet outside this bubble, the towns, the old county boroughs, are having nothing spent on their infrastructure. They’ve lost their spirit as they’ve lost their reason for being where they are. As an ageing country with a population that is perhaps 20 million greater than we can feed or keep warm with indigenous food and energy, we need to live on our wits and sell things the rest of the world wants. That used to be manufactured goods: now it’s financial services. But how soon before the world wises up to the fact that they’re paying out massive fees for precious little? I stood at Bankside, looking at the cranes across the river and I couldn’t see the future.

The Honours System

 

After the Olympics, there’s been a bit of discussion about the Honours System. I’d better declare my interest straightaway. Back in the 1991 New Year’s Honours. I was awarded the OBE for “services to the National Grid Company”. I hadn’t hesitated about accepting as to me it would have been churlish towards those who had put my name forward to have refused. And it’s impossible not to respect Queenio. It made for a nice day at the Palace for my mother, my wife and me, followed by a celebratory meal at the Goring Hotel for more of the family.

I had over the previous couple of years taken on additional responsibilities to those in my main role as Finance Director of the CEGB, namely CFO designate of National Grid where I was leading the privatisation discussions with Government, Project Director of the Settlements System for the new electricity market, and Project Director of the split of all the CEGB systems into those for the four successor companies. On top of this, our first-born had arrived in late 1988. He wasn’t a good sleeper and I spent many nights lying on the floor by his cot, or marching the corridor singing hymns to him, after my wife had put in her twenty hour shift.

The additional roles were all demanding, although I had the resources of the entire company available for the privatisation preparation, and excellent project managers for the other two. These were IT based, and were far and away the two most successful IT projects I was ever part of. It was the corporate equivalent of a war concentrating minds. If either hadn’t been ready, then privatisation of all the CEGB successor companies would have been delayed. There was a particular irony for me in that I wasn’t in favour of the new ownership structure, and it removed from my career path the job I aspired to and would probably have ended up in, Deputy Chairman CEGB.

The Settlements system was so crucial that the privatisation of the regional companies couldn’t happen without it either. The Project Manager there was the sort of guy you only gave the job to if you really wanted it done. I used to joke that my role was to walk behind him apologising. But he did it, and he was a lovely man behind the brusque exterior. He got the MBE (my bloody efforts), and I got the OBE (other buggers’ efforts).

He certainly deserved his. Did I deserve mine? Well I went from perfect eyesight to needing a reading prescription as a result of all that privatisation documentation. I don’t think my digestion’s ever been the same since all those sandwiches as the meetings took place, and then having to sit for another eight ours plus round the conference table.

My secretary (you’d call her a PA now) was so proud of my honour that she added it to my personal details for the conference I was attending the next month, which was in Tokyo. The concept didn’t travel well: my name badge said Mr Obe and in the end it was easier to go along with that for the week rather than to change it. (At that conference I also picked up a useful tip. When a Japanese delegate delivers his paper in English, listen to the French translation even if you don’t speak French.)

Prior to this in our nationalised days, I know of honours handed out that were strictly for time-serving, and not for conspicuous extra effort. Naturally I tend to think this is particularly the case with those who’ve got the CBE! Some deserve their honours, some are borderline, some don’t. They haven’t got the haemorrhoids to go with it. Overall, I wouldn’t object to the abolition of all honours.

What they conspicuously can’t handle is sport. The distinctions between MBE, OBE and CBE are arbitrary and to give a young person a knighthood/ damehood while they’re still playing makes the television commentary sound ridiculous. Andy Murray richly deserves an hereditary earldom but it would be better after he retired. And I think that would be true for all Olympians.

But for those who receive them, they do add to the gaiety of life, rather like a gold star did back at school.

Hinkley Point C the new Dungeness B?

Theresa May wants to review the nuclear contract with the French and Chinese. She’s right to, although I hope she is keeping our manners with EDF. The engineers there are good guys.
As everyone at the CEGB knew, as Finance Director I was somewhat of a sceptic on nuclear power. The case for it was that strategically it reduced dependence on British Coal and foreign oil, and that in terms of carbon it was green. In the early eighties, I twice put out under CEGB livery an Analysis of Generation Costs which demonstrated that as a matter of fact all nuclear power stations had generated electricity substantially more expensively than coal stations. The Chairman of the CEGB, then Sir Walter Marshall who was a fine nuclear scientist, was big enough to welcome the document, as did the green lobby, with academics praising its integrity.
At that stage the CEGB was struggling to complete its first generation of Advanced Gas Cooled Reactors, the AGRs, with Dungeness B the by-word in how not to build a power station. It required precision engineering on a massive construction site to a uniquely British design. To be fair, the second generation of AGRs at Hartlepool, Heysham 2 and SSEB’s Torness fared better when eventually commissioned years later. But the CEGB had learnt its lesson, and decided to move to a proven design, the PWR, used widely in USA and France, where most components were to be factory-manufactured. After the interminable Inquiry for Sizewell B, permission was granted and it has been built and operates more or less as expected. The economic case for it though, presaged on rapidly increasing fossil fuel prices and a series of similar stations, has been more than proved wrong. Electricity privatisation, the availability of cheap gas to be burnt in highly efficient combined cycle gas turbines, over-demanding safety fears and lack of political will has meant that no further PWRs were built. The engineering world has moved on. Nearly 30 years later, we’re talking about the mainly French public sector EDF building Hinkley Point C with finance including Chinese Government money. This is to be an EPR, European Pressurised Reactor, a third generation PWR, which is not yet a production-line version and requires much on-site engineering. The few stations being built elsewhere in the world are proving tricky. All this has again brought out my scepticism. We seem to have replaced the old CEGB with the old EDF, and the old AGR with the new EPR without the benefit of national security or good jobs in technology. And the guaranteed minimum unit price is more than double the going rate.
The lights won’t stay on by themselves. So what would I suggest? As an old CEGB man, I’ve never been that fond of wind as it doesn’t blow when you need it. At the tea time peak on the coldest winter day, it’s not blowing at all. The sun’s not shining either, but I’ve been prepared to give more local solar a chance while thinking we’re not the best placed country in the world for that. Electricity can’t be stored; it’s a flow of electrons. What can be stored is gravity energy in pumped storage schemes and chemical energy in batteries. The benefits from pumped storage though are already used for daytime peaks, and battery technology is still developing. To help, I’d have liked a big tidal barrage scheme built decades ago and still think we should give one a bash. Reluctantly, I’ve gone along with a modest nuclear programme.
Now I don’t think we should do the nuclear. We must frack for gas, and I say this as someone born in Blackpool and brought up in the Fylde. I’ve enough faith in engineers to think they can get the stuff out without knocking over Blackpool Tower and St Chad’s Church in Poulton,where I was christened. To buy off the greens, I’d now accept as much wind as we can sensibly manage and abandon nuclear for the time being as a quid pro quo for fracking. I’d try to get as much storage on the system as feasible. And to reduce dependence further on foreign oil, I’d want major incentives for electric cars.
I don’t think the nuclear industry will regain the confidence of the political process with uranium based reactors. Fusion reactors are still a pipe-dream. There is some talk of using the more readily available thorium, which can’t really be used in bombs, a big plus, and that’s where I’d focus developments. India has loads of the stuff.
Come on, engineers and greens. What have I got wrong? Come on, Prime Minister. Let’s get this right.