Ferguson, Missouri: “Proud to be ‘a playful USA community’.”

More:For the fourth consecutive year, they say  on the official website.

 

 

Ferguson

Newark 1967

 

Top: Ferguson 2014;  bottom, Newark 1967

To bring some sense of proportion to this, according to the St Louis Post Despatch, the number of protesters actually on the streets of Ferguson has varied from ‘ a dozen or more’, to  ‘a few dozen’ to ‘over a hundred’. The largest number appears to have been 400 who met in a church, some of whom briefly ‘marched up and down’ outside afterwards.

And for  this, they are deploying automatic weapons, tear gas, ‘wooden bullets’ (not rubber?) and heaven knows what else. And they order the media out; and they close the airspace. Small town, small war. And all because a young (admittedly rather large) man didn’t step onto the pavement when a policeman in a car ordered him to.

Also, according to the same newspaper,

Gun sales have spiked at several metro area gun stores in the wake of rioting and looting in Ferguson and disturbances at a few stores in other locations.Mid America Arms in South County reported that firearm sales were up by about 50 percent on Tuesday.Customers are loading up on semi-automatic handguns and shotguns, said Al Rothweiler*, one of the owners.

 

This, I suppose is where Bill Bratton’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ policing leads. (He wanted to be the Met’s next Commissioner; mercifully, we’ve been spared that, or perhaps the streets of London would be littered with corpses.)
* I’m not sure I can believe the owner of a gun store is really called that. . . .
And it goes on . . .now they’ve brought out armoured vehicles; tear-gassed a TV crew (Al Jazeera America. . .well, they would, wouldn’t they?) and nicked their equipment, arrested two journos, one from the Washington Post, because two bottles were thrown. (Which probably didn’t actually hit anyone.)  Nonetheless, this constituted an assault on the police:”The fear of threat like that is still construed as an assault. Injury does not have to happen for an assault to happen,” said a police spokesman.They’ve arrested a state senator for ‘unlawful assembly’. (What?) And they’re using flash-bang grenades and sound cannon. (There’s a pic of one mounted on one of the armoured vehicles.) What next? Bring in drones and start demolishing ‘suspected protester’s’ houses?All this does (all it can do) is fuel not just distrust, but absolute loathing. I was living in Notting Hill before (and during) the riot in ’87. I’d just moved there. For weeks before Carnival, I was stopped and searched at the end of my own street any night I was coming home late from work. (Dressed in a suit and carrying a briefcase. It got so if I spotted a police van in the distance, I’d turn and take a long detour home to try to avoid them jumping out of the shadows at me.) If I’d been black, I’d have been stopped at least once every night. It made me angry. So when rioting erupted after Carnival, I wasn’t exactly surprised. It took years  for the police around here to regain any sort of trust (let alone respect) whatsoever. What people in Ferguson must feel, apparently treated like that continually year after year and now faced with what looks like a military occupation, I can hardly comprehend.(A few weeks later I had to chair a public meeting (not in Notting Hill, in Westminster) with a senior ‘Community Officer’ from Scotland Yard about ‘reassuring’ people that the cops were nice people really. He was very shocked when he spoke to me privately afterwards to thank me for chairing the damn thing and I let rip—still seething—about what it had been like living in Notting Hill those few months.)

 

And now . . .the governor is sending in the National Guard. This is turning into a war.

 

And another man is shot by police in St Louis. The police car draws up, he first walks away, then turns back towards them as they yell “drop the knife!” Within fifteen seconds of their arrival, they have fired at least ten-twelve shots from a few metres away. they have made no attempt whatsoever to keep some distance between them, no attempt to calm him, no attempt to disarm him by other means. they just confront him and  open fire. They don’t even attempt to shoot to disable him. The police chief says it was ‘a lethal situation, they used lethal force.’ But it’s not clear it was a ‘lethal’ situation’. the man had shown no sign of attacking anyone else; he did not strictly speaking, show any sign of actually attacking the two policemen. And even the St Louis alderman who has been on the streets said “Legally, an armed man lunging at police can be shot. . . this seems to be legally justified.”

A couple of friends of mine (one Italian, one French) are as shocked as I am. (The point being, of course, that though both are living in Britain where the police in the streets are not armed, that’s not the case in France or Italy, where every policeman has a sidearm.) I’ve spent a fair bit of time in Belgium (where the police are all armed too) and France, but though I know people have been shot by police, it’s not like this.

 

And then, of course, there is the now notorious piece in the WashPo by an ex-policeman who is now a ‘professor of homeland security’ which lays bare the contradictions in policing this way. (Which the author, professor or not) seems not to have realised himself.)

You can refuse consent to search your car or home if there’s no warrant (though a pat-down is still allowed if there is cause for suspicion). Always ask the officer whether you are under detention or are free to leave. Unless the officer has a legal basis to stop and search you, he or she must let you go. Finally, cops are legally prohibited from using excessive force: The moment a suspect submits and stops resisting, the officers must cease use of force.

But:

if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me.

As we’ve seen, ‘aggressively walking’ (or too fast, too slow, or not at all) can be ‘legally’ lethal.

 

good for one thing

I’ve decided; this is the kind of thing, and it may well be about the only kind of thing, that the internet is good for.  Theoretically, it could also be good for a lot of other things too, but to my eye the jury’s still out on that one. Well, hang on. Recipes, it can be good for recipes.

And “How to get your washing machine/pickup truck to display its error codes without buying an $800 tool.” Yeah, it’s real good for stuff like that.

Oh, and for finding shit that you really need which the local hardware stores say doesn’t exist.

OK, the internet can be handy.

But this is the kind of thing it was really made for. I thought at first that maybe he has a pickup truck full of hay parked behind the camera. But then I realized that his audience would have simply walked right past him and got right into it. So that’s not it;

 

It’s Toasted!

I always wondered what that slogan on Camel cigarette packets  meant. However, seems there’s a new take-away notion in San Fransisco. Take-away cheese on toast.

Seven dollars will buy you cheese and macaroni on toast, with optional free tomato, or grilled onion and for another dollar you can have spinach on it.

It looks disgusting. That’s an expert opinion; squ has—probably like every kid brought up in this country—been making cheese on toast from a pretty early age. But never, never, never, even with being half-Italian, have I ever considered for a second, putting macaroni on it.

Melt-The_MacDaddy-Reduced-1082-20140413

Mozzarella-on-toast, yes. Tricky, though, taken a long time to perfect it . . .

And as for their version of a croque madame . . .

egg-in-a-hole-large-11005-20140413

 

Well, really. As a basic toasted cheese-and-egg sandwich, that’s the wrong way round anyway. The cheese should be on top of the egg. Or it tastes all wrong. There is much more to making cheese-on-toast than just piling one thing on top of another like a cheesy building site. And is the toast buttered? The menu doesn’t mention it. You can’t have toasted cheese without butter on the toast. And is the bread toasted on both sides? That’s important, too.

And you can’t just add a slice or two of tomato to your toasted cheese, just like that! If you put it on top of the cheese, it slides off. You need to put the slices under the cheese, so they’re nice and warm but not shrivelled and burnt at the edges. Better still is to put slices of tomato, well black-peppered, and cheese into half a pitta, and toast in a toaster.

And where on the menu are such real cheese-on-toast delicacies as Welsh Rarebit? And what about what I call ‘Italian poached egg on toast’? (I don’t actually know the real name for it.) You cut a very thick slice of bread, make a poached-egg size hollow in it, sprinkle it liberally with good olive oil, break an egg into the hollow with seasoning, sprinkle Parmesan over the top if you like, put it on a greased baking tray and bake at low heat in the oven until the white cooks. You have to watch it, or if you’re not careful, the yolk goes rubbery.

I think this company needs a toasted cheese consultant.

 

To Sleep, to Snore, Perchance to Die . . .

Look away now, if you don’t want to get upset. However hard I try (and it’s the BBC Proms Season, so I’m doing my best to listen to a lot of music) it is getting harder to distract oneself from real life. And here we go again. Another botched execution, this time in Arizona.

“I’m telling you he was snoring,” Stephanie Grisham, spokeswoman for the Arizona attorney general’s office, said in an e-mail to The Washington Post. “There was no gasping or snorting. Nothing. He looked like he was asleep. This was my first execution and I have no reason to minimize this.”

“No, he was not drowning, he was waving. This was the first time I’ve seen anyone waving out at sea; I know. Trust me.”

If, during the numerous times I’ve been under an anaesthetic (and that’s quite a few over the years) none of my anaesthetists have ever complained that I snored through the operation. According to the British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association,One of the first changes seen with the induction of anaesthesia is the loss of upper airway reflexes, when this occurs, the effort of breathing in will cause the throat to partially collapse. This is similar to the changes that cause snoring during sleep. This partial obstruction is so well known that anaesthetists automatically correct for this to maintain a satisfactory airway.”

In other words, if you’re snoring, you are not dying. . .you are struggling to do quite the opposite. In this case, it would appear, for an hour or more.

A long time ago, a relative (I never really knew what exactly,  he was just one of a number of old folks who tended to pat me on the head and give me a penny or two for pocket money) committed suicide in his house not very far from ours. He’d retired, and it was only overhearing when I wasn’t supposed to be in hearing distance, I heard that he’d been a policeman. An Inspector, I think. Not just that; he’d been a policeman who had had to be an official witness at executions at Manchester Strangeways Prison. It had preyed on his mind, they said. Whether that was speculation, I couldn’t, of course, ask. But since the person who was telling my grandmother had been called by the police to identify him at the house, and was still in shock, I assumed, though much later, of course, the he’d mentioned that in a note. Or perhaps he’d been talking of it.

I hope Ms Grisham sleeps well. And doesn’t snore.

Planes and Boats and TRAINS. . .

Squirrel is very fond of boats—you may have guessed—and trains. Especially trains. Ever since the Chunnel opened, I’ve really been missing crossing the Channel on the ferry; though the dismal hanging around for a train at Calais Maritime, which always had the most abominable coffee and the stalest croissants I’ve had anywhere, I haven’t missed at all.

My regular trips to the south of France I make by train now, as I did for several years between London and Brussels. I’ve given up planes. OK, it takes a couple of hours to get to Paris, and another 5 to get down to the south, and it costs a bit more. But then, it takes me only about half an hour to get from home to St Pancras instead of three times that to get to one of the airports. And I don’t have to be there a couple of hours in advance to make sure I can get through the usual checking in and security farragos. And while it’s not going to be easy getting across Paris from one station to the other with a wheelchair as I shall have to do one day (let alone on and off the damn trains, since they’re built for continental platforms that are lower than the UK ones, which means steps) it’s likely to be a damn sight less frustrating and anxiety-inducing than trying it on a plane. You read an awful lot of horror stories about what baggage handlers—especially for budget airlines—manage to do to wheelchairs. One of the London Paralympics teams arrived at Heathrow to find practically all of theirs wrecked.

So, as I was saying, I like trains. So does ‘best friend’, who, having more or less commuted between London, Brussels and Paris for years on the Eurostar (and even succeeded a few years ago getting a train from Damascus to Jordan, even though, she said ruefully afterwards, hiring a donkey would have been quicker though with a lot less conversation) thought, when visiting San Fransisco, she might take a quick trip to Los Angeles by train. People there looked at her in amazement, but she didn’t entirely comprehend why until she tried to get a ticket. There was only one train a day, and it takes nine hours. (Or thirteen, three hours or so of which is, bizarrely, should you inspect the timetable more carefully than any European would expect to, by bus.) Cue a pic of a famous English train:

Coronation Scot 1

 

Which regularly did the broadly comparable distance in the 1930′s in six hours or so. You can do it in four and a half now. I always loved the look of that train, and I kept asking Father Christmas for one, but I never did get it.

I’ve been trying to follow the ‘high speed rail’ thing in the States. Such as it is. There’s a bit of a qualification here; over here, we do not really think of a train going at 100-125mph as ‘high speed’, more, well, sort of normal. That’s the speed of the trains between London and Edinburgh, which we’re stuck with because of lots of awkward bridges, tunnels, and—once you cross into Scotland—very bendy bits, left over from the days when a driver or third class passenger could barely stand up without his stovepipe hat being knocked off his head when the train went under a bridge or into a tunnel.

I write ‘trying’, because it seems to have got increasingly difficult to get a real picture of what’s going on. Or not. As far as I can tell, all that’s left of the original ‘grand design’ for real high speed trains all around the US (i.e. those that go at least at 180-200mph) is the California one. And that seems to have got mired in the usual Republican Party “anything Obama likes we’re against” palaaver. Even though they seem to have forgotten that way back in 2004 they thought a nationwide network of TGV’s was a really good idea. And even more muddied by litigation all over the place.

The upshot appears to be, as far as I can make out, that this year work will start on a whole 29 miles of ‘high speed railway’ which will, in another five years expand to a hundred-and-odd miles between Fresno and somewhere else, whose name I’ve forgotten. Around 2018, apparently, Amtrak trains (the one that now takes nine hours or more to get from San Fransisco to Los Angeles) will be able, hopefully, to travel that whole hundred miles at a staggeringly shocking speed of between 90 and 120mph. So at a rough guess, it might only take eight hours, or maybe 12,  to make the trip. It won’t even be electrified ready for a real high speed train until around 2022.

Possibly like one of these, which are replacing the now rather tired original ones, and I expect I’ll be taking across the Channel in the autumn:

 

siemens-velaro-e320-eurostarfuer-674134

Some looks don’t really change that much, do they? Just add a little chimney and a plume of steam . . .

This, apparently, is because that stretch is to be used as a ‘testbed’. Why California should need a ‘testbed’ 29 miles long—or, OK, maybe a hundred—and for several years is a bit of a mystery. The Coronation Scot up above got a speed record of 114mph in 1937; its rival the LNER’s Mallard got up to 125mph the following year. Even a train (though a specially short and light one) in the US, the Burlington Zephyr, had managed over 100mph in 1934. And these were steam trains that needed someone with plenty of muscle to do a lot of coalheaving. We’ve had 125mph trains running here regularly since 1976. And the French, of course, were doing it well before. Their current record is 357mph, though the TGV’s running around Europe regularly now only get up to between 200-240. There are hundreds of them, and thousands of miles of track for them to run on, complete with all the wires, electricity sub stations, power stations, signalling, and even wi-fi . . .

What on earth is there to ‘test’? You can buy all this stuff almost like picking it off a supermarket shelf ready wrapped for you to take home. And if you’re a bit short of cash, you could probably take Eurostars’ old ones off their hands for nothing, though they’ve probably got another 20 or 30 years in them. Anyone from California who wants to give them the once-over just needs to look up North Pole on Google maps and come along. North Pole, London, England, I should say. They don’t have any high speed trains at the other one.

It’s obviously going to be a long time before my friend is going to be able to hop on a train in San Francisco and have a day out in Los Angeles like people in London, Paris or Brussels regularly do between their cities, because the trip only takes a bit more than two hours.* 2029, they say. But given the persistence of the ‘anti’ politicians and what seems to be an ever-increasing number of litigious pressure groups against it, you have to wonder. By which time, of course, there’s a good chance that the rest of the world (except probably for the UK, and that’s a sad bloody story, too, now) will be travelling not on ’21st century’ trains (as the California Authority calls them, though they are actually 20th century ones)  but 22nd Century ones at twice the speed of Californians and three times faster than anyone else on any train in the rest of the country. . . .

* Actually, given the number of proposed stations in between, only direct through trains  will be able to achieve anything like that anyway;  the most likely duration looks more like 3 1/2 to 4 hours or more. Just one additional stop between London and Paris, or London and Brussels, means those trains take 20 minutes longer. The official site looks a bit disingenuous; for the last few miles into both San Francisco and Los Angeles, the trains will be limited to the same maximum speed as local commuter trains are now. Which actually is lower than the Crossrail trains that will be crossing London underground in four years’ time. That’s exactly what bedevilled the Eurostar for years until they finally built a high speed line straight into London. There’s nothing more dispiriting than to have spent a couple of hours belting through the countryside at 180 miles an hour only to spend the last thirty minutes watching your super-train trundling along only a little quicker than the cars on the motorway alongside. (Though I used to rather like the train brushing against bushes and trees and having time to admire the flowers on some of the stations.) But that was still faster than the last legs into San Francisco or LA look likely to be.

That’s not really going to convince Angelinos to take the train instead of the plane, I suspect. But that’s the point. One reason that high speed trains are popular all over Europe is that while a journey may take longer than a flight, on many you save time at both ends because you’re in the middle of the city you want to get to. And even if it takes twice as long, the seats are more comfortable, you have more space, and you can wander along the train and have a beer or glass of wine and a sandwich. And you can keep your luggage near you. I would have said you also avoid the security hassles you now get at airports, though that doesn’t quite hold for the Eurostar of course. Even so, you get through that very much faster and with a lot less hassle at St Pancras or the Gare du Nord than any airport. I’m usually through the security and passport control at St Pancras in no more than five minutes. But unfortunately, tucked away in the California High Speed Rail Authority’s documentation is a proposal that takes even that pleasurable advantage away. They intend, it seems, to implement ‘airport style security screening’ at the stations . . .

Oh dear. Oh dear . . .

That new Eurostar train (the same as many running in Europe already)  btw, will take 750 passengers; the same as two Boeing 747′s. About fifty per cent more than they do now. The TGV I take down to the south of France is two ‘Duplex’ double decker trains together when it’s going on to Barcelona: that’s nearly a thousand if it’s full, and it often is pretty much in summer. That’s between 300 and 500 cars that aren’t on the roads for every train. I’m hoping, too, that Eurostar will do what the French do: mobile phones are banned in the carriages. You’re only supposed to use them in the corridors between them; there are a couple of little seats there for people who can’t live without them. There have been trips where I’ve heaved a huge sigh of relief and gratitude as we hit the tunnel where they don’t work.

 

 

 

evolution – part 3

Or maybe it should be devolution. You tell me;

It was not so much how hard people found the challenge, but how far they would go to avoid it that left researchers gobsmacked. The task? To sit in a chair and do nothing but think.

So unbearable did some find it that they took up the safe but alarming opportunity to give themselves mild electric shocks in an attempt to break the tedium.

What. The. Fuck?

The report from psychologists at Virginia and Harvard Universities is one of a surprising few to tackle the question of why most of us find it so hard to do nothing.

Well I’ve never felt like I belonged in the “most of us” group at any time at all, and crazy shit like this is one of the reasons for that. I love doing nothing.  Actually, to be precise, which is never a really bad idea, it’s completely impossible to do nothing. At the very least, assuming you’re still actually alive, you’re busy circulating blood, but of course we’re conditioned to think that’s something that’s just kind of happening and not something we’re doing.tumblr_m577mmPayT1qkkyq0o1_500

But let’s be fair. Sitting in a bare laboratory room could be off-putting, I suppose. Oh wait;

In case the unfamiliar setting hampered the ability to think, the researchers ran the experiment again with people at home. They got much the same results, only people found the experience even more miserable, and cheated by getting up from their chair or checking their phones.

Damn. Onward.

But the most staggering result was yet to come. To check whether people might actually prefer something bad to nothing at all, the students were given the option of administering a mild electric shock.
They had been asked earlier to rate how unpleasant the shocks were, alongside other options, such as looking at pictures of cockroaches or hearing the sound of a knife rubbing against a bottle.
All the students picked for the test said they would pay to avoid mild electric shocks after receiving a demonstration.

To the researchers’ surprise, 12 of 18 men gave themselves up to four electric shocks, as did six of 24 women.

Well then, there you have it. The question of whether we have finally decoupled from the enlightenment completely is answered. We’re moving toward a willingness to stick sensitive body parts in a fucking light socket rather than be stranded with uninterrupted thoughts for a few minutes.

I swear, I can’t make any sense out of this at all. As someone who has had more than their share of electric jolts from spark plug wires and cattle fencing, and who finds that they put me in a foul humor for some several minutes afterwards, I can’t identify with any of this.

In fact, the static belt one often gets around here (super low humidity, you see) from a metal portion of an automobile door, or sometimes the handle on the supermarket cooler doors, is enough to piss me off briefly. What the hell is the matter with these people?

Life on Mars?

Got to share this one:

“I don’t want to get into the debate about climate change, but I will simply point out that I think in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that. Yet there are no coal mines on Mars. There are no factories on Mars that I’m aware of.”

Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, Kentucky; who said, more or less, “You have your data, we have ours . . .”

In fairness, to Mr Smith, the mean average temperature of Kentucky is between 53-60 degrees F while at the Martian equator in mid-summer, it can reach 70. But it goes down to   –100 at night . . . (The lowest recorded in Kentucky is —37 F, the highest 114. The average summer temperature is around 87, the average winter one around 25.  So, if you take a hot summer day and a cold winter night in Kentucky. . . )

But we don’t know there are no coal mines on Mars, do we? How did they get their boats along all those canals? Stands to reason they must have had coal for the steam engines, doesn’t it? Especially with the weight of all those dinosaurs they had to carry about.

Who actually tells them this sort of stuff in school or college?

Own Goal?

Actually, Squ here has very little interest in football. (Or ‘soccer’, if we must.)  The Squ memories of it at school are mostly of getting very cold, very wet, and very muddy. So, after far too many attempts by my school to build the squirrel character with the wretched game, as soon as I could, I chose to go swimming instead. Where maybe you get wet, but not cold, belaboured by howling gales, and you do not get encrusted with mud up to your knees.

Why, without reasons like those to dislike football, the American Right nutjobs seem to be trying to make a fuss about it, is something of a puzzle. I read, casually, the first one, by a ‘psychiatrist’ (or maybe a ‘psychologist’) somewhere a week or so ago, can’t remember where * , and thought it was just some sort of attempt at a casual bit of silly controversy-mongering by someone who hadn’t yet grasped how to write a satire, and forgot about it.

But now the noxious Ann Coulter has got hold of it.

The argument against football seems more or less to run along these lines:

1) It goes on too long. (Up to twelve hours, I recall the first article saying. There seems to be some confusion with cricket, here. It’s my understanding it’s American Football that can take up an entire evening one way and another, whereas most actual football games are over in an hour and a half. It’s the commentary afterwards, especially if England loses an international, which always happens, that can go on for days and days.)

2) It’s not ‘manly’ enough. Because no-one gets badly injured or there isn’t a long death-roll from concussion. Yes, well . . .Maybe getting bitten doesn’t count.

3) There’s not enough rioting of teams of ‘real men’ on the pitch with half of each team being stretchered off. Like hockey. Yes, well . . .A lost football match once started a war. Beat that. American Football!

4) You can’t use your hands. And therefore footballers are wilfully and sacreligiously  disregarding God’s wonderful gift of opposable thumbs. This seems a bit odd to me, but there we are. See the possible confusion with cricket; these people apparently don’t know what happens when a goalkeeper saves a goal, for example or when you throw the ball in from the line; or perhaps these days, players have their thumbs tied behind their backs, which would explain why England loses so often.

5) If you get hit by an American ball, it hurts. (You can tell that these people have never played our kind of football. Especially not in the rain.)

6) Often nobody actually wins, ‘cos some matches end in a draw. Sometimes no-one even scores a goal! What’s the good of a game where you don;t need to count up to 148-79? (See ‘confusion with cricket’.)

7) Girls can play. Instead of wearing very short skirts, jumping up and down on the sidelines, and yelling strange phrases.

8) It’s played mostly by Dagoes, Wetbacks, Spics and the French. And blacks. And probably Libyans. In Benghazi.

9) And it came from England, and we fought a revolutionary war to keep all that British monarchical crap out.

10) Obama’s been photographed watching it on telly.

(Can’t remember whether that actually got in or not, just put it in to get to ten. But it figures.)

 

* I looked it up; it was in Politico magazine.

Clash of Symbols

Kayak Danger symbols smaller

Part 1 of Squ’s (largely unavailing) effort to forget about the general horribleness going on. The Red Squirrel Navy’s latest addition to the fleet came with a whole gamut of EU warning symbols. The Party convened a Red Squirrel Admiralty Symbol sub-committee to try to explain them, and here are their tentative preliminary conclusions, but any other input (especially answers to ‘Why?’) would be appreciated, since they have left a number of furrowed squirrel brows.

From left to right:

1: Men float face down.*

2: Do not argue about whose drink is left on the bar.

3: Do not attempt to escape from Alcatraz.

4: No Hokusai prints allowed on board.

5: This is not a flying boat.

6: Pine trees can be dangerous**. Paddle away quickly.

7: Reading Tintin comics on board is forbidden to under-fourteens.

* The alternative “If you see someone drowning, leave them to it” was rejected by unanimous vote of the committee as being totally contrary to Red Squirrel Party ethics. The young sub-lieutenant squirrel who came up with that has been disciplined by being made to drink a whole butt of malmsey. Upside down.

** Foreign highly territorial squirrels may hurl pine kernels at you. This may cause injury.

 

 

Kayak Warning symbols 2

 

1: Your book may get wet.

2: No more than two pink gins/cocktails to be drunk on board when sun falls over yardarm.

(Or possibly ‘before’; opinion in the sub-committee was divided and the final decision has been deferred pending consideration of the First Lord of the Red Squirrel Admiralty, i.e. Squirrel.)

3: When boat sinks under you, swimming lessons are advised.

4: Use contraceptives when on board!

5:  Maximum weight of body (including concrete and chains) to be thrown over the side.

6: When planting flag on unclaimed island, paddle away quickly before natives decide they do not want to be colonized.