Flares. That’s right, flares. And not just any old flares, but solar flares, up in the heavens, immense and dazzling. Solar flares due to create a space storm that could incapacitate the infrastructure of civilisation on earth. Or, as The Sun puts it, excitingly, “could turn the sky red, wipe internet and paralyse Earth”.

These world-shuddering solar flares were an item on last night’s Channel Four News. In spite of the fact that these huge explosions of energy from the sun which could crash electricity grids and paralyse the earth are due to occur in just three years’ time, the story was not the main headline. Nor even the second or third. In fact, it came at the tail-end of the bulletin, the place one might expect to be told about a skateboarding duck or a pancake bearing the face of Christ.

Has it come to this? The destruction of civilisation is considered to be of lesser account than Nick Clegg? Yes, yes, we know Clegg smokes and idolises Samuel Beckett and weeps when he listens to the Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss, but remember, too, that Chris Mullin, a man of (I think) some integrity, who still watches television in black-and-white, describes him as “easily the biggest charlatan of the lot”.

The terrifying thing is that, if two-thirds of the skies will indeed be smothered in a blood-red aurora, what will become of Hooting Yard? Let’s get our priorities right. The Lib Dem party conference may be of interest to smoking Beckettian Straussist charlatans and their hangers-on, but any sane person would be preparing themselves for a hideous new dispensation of pre-industrial scavenging, untold savagery, and silence like unto death itself falling upon Dobson and Blodgett and Tiny Enid and Pebblehead and all your Hooting Yard favourites. Surely even Krishnan Guru-Murthy can grasp the horrifying implications.

There is a crumb of comfort, I suppose, in the likelihood that we will reach the end of our alphabetic postage series long before 2013.

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