WESTWELL: On drones, worms turning, Sir Terry Wogan, dinosaurs and what if?

Terry Wogan at St Albans Literary Festival

Terry Wogan at St Albans Literary Festival - Credit: Archant

Watch out for the drones If you enjoy the freedom of your backyard secure in the knowledge that no one can see you so that you can do whatever you like, even sunbathe in the nude, you might like to think again.

It was recently reported that our police force is seriously considering using drones for surveillance. The more we call for the personal, human approach and Bobbies on the street, the more they seem to forgo such interaction and try to replace it with machines. Nothing can replace human interaction. A drone cannot tell, for example, when a person is caging a neighbourhood before going in for a touch of burglary or just having a nosy stroll, is running away from a crime or running to catch a toddler heading for the road or is holding a false passport. Indeed, a drone is not capable of turning its eyes away when it realizes it is looking down at a local sunbathing in the nude. I trust the police will move forward with caution on this matter.

More stick for the police

The police are certainly getting some stick this week. It seems over 22,000 children were held in police cells overnight last year even though the law says they should have been transferred to local authority accommodation instead. This may be yet another glaring situation in which both police and local authorities have their hands tied and because of circumstances, they are forced to break the law. With more joined-up thinking by the government, the police and the councils, adequate accommodation should be available not only for our criminal children, but for the law-abiding ones as well. I ask, how is this going to happen if there are going to be cuts?

Worms turning

Apparently a large number of Tory MPs are going to rebel over these planned cuts to council budgets. One enraged MP points out that rural communities will have a 33% cut, while in the cities it’s just 19% , even though it’s cheaper to provide services in urban areas. Wales and Scotland will be even better off for their proposed cuts are only 8% and 4% respectively. Let’s hope the government thinks again and if it really needs to make any cuts, it will do so fairly and across the board, including their own salaries and pensions.

RIP Sir Terry Wogan

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The recent death of Sir Terry Wogan is such a sad loss to the nation. No longer will we have the quietly spoken words of wisdom cheekily bringing overinflated showbiz pizzazz down to normal everyday size. Some of his quotes might be worth remembering. He was certainly even in his derision of the sexes for on thin female models he said: “The girls … resemble nothing so much as garden rakes, and bad-tempered, pouting garden rakes at that” and on men and their attitude to barbecues: “Why do men think they know how to cook outside when they haven’t the smallest idea how to go about it indoors?” but then he also said: “My opinion has the weight of a tonne of feathers.” I dare say we could all do with a touch of his modesty.

If you’re in love with dinosaurs …

Certain of our children seem to know all there is about a favourite subject of theirs: dinosaurs. If you can keep up with them (and few of us can) you may be able to surprise them with the recent report of the discovery of a completely new type of plesiosaur, a sea creature, with features previously only known to belong to smaller varieties. This new creature was found near Whittlesey by a team from Oxfordshire – and where is the Cambridge team, I wonder?

What if?

Considering the size of some of these dinosaurs it doesn’t bear thinking about what would happen if they were brought to life. This all seems science fiction and nothing to worry about until you read the article I saw recently that says scientists have, in fact, brought a creature back to life after it had been frozen for thirty years. Not only that, after it slowly became conscious again over a number of days, it actually lay some eggs and another of the creatures has been produced. Fortunately, the organism, a tardigrade, is one of the tiniest and hardiest known to man. It is so small that it cannot be seen in the moss that it usually inhabits, but still, it makes one wonder, doesn’t it?