Editor's Comment March 2014
PUBLISHED: 12:02 21 February 2014 | UPDATED: 10:12 24 February 2014
Cotswold Life's editor, Mike Lowe, admonishes the shysters capitalising on the recent flood concerns, and offers his novel solution to a worrying first-world problem.
Wasting away a miserable Sunday afternoon while the wind howled and the rain lashed at the windows, I idly clicked on a website offering me a free flood risk assessment. I have no idea why – we live 800 feet up on top of the Cotswolds and the nearest stream, never mind river, is five miles away down the hill in Nailsworth.
I was somewhat surprised then to receive the following message: “Be vigilant. This location sits within 100 metres of a flood zone.”
Eh? How can that possibly be? I’ve lived here for 10 years now. Surely I can’t have missed the presence of a secret river lurking nearby. Then I suddenly twigged – the village duck pond. This modest, postage stamp pool, home to a matriarchal goose, a handful of mallards and the occasional itinerant heron checking out the village koi carp stocks, is the least malevolent watercourse you could ever imagine. It is less of a threat to my house than an overflowing washing machine. Yet suddenly its peaceful presence has been identified as worthy of the attentions of Eric Pickles and 40 Commando Royal Marines with their emergency sandbags.
So what now? Well unsurprisingly the website in question has some advice, recommending the purchase of a more detailed flood assessment at the bargain price of £9.95 (was £19.95). What an outrageous rip-off.
And, more worryingly, these shysters claim to supply information to insurance companies. So am I to be penalised with an increased premium just for the occasional pleasure of watching my grandson feed bread to the ducks?
Be vigilant? Yes, be vigilant of internet con-men seeking to trade on people’s fears at this difficult time.
Inhabiting the lofty position of editor of Cotswold Life means that you spend a great deal of time at assorted receptions and events, inevitably clasping a canapé in one hand and a glass of bubbly in the other. (I know, it’s a hard life but someone has to do it.)
The first-world problem that arises is that when speeches have been made, applause is expected, and applause is impossible when both, or even one, hand is already fully occupied. Try it – there’ll be vol-au-vent crumbs all down your jacket and champagne stains on your trousers. I was pondering this dilemma the other evening at the pre-launch event for the marvellous Cirencester March Hare Festival, where a succession of people made short, entertaining, heartfelt speeches, well worthy of acknowledgement but received by an audience reduced to ineffectual flapping. And then it hit me – designated clappers.
Think designated drivers on trips to the pub, only in this instance guests at a reception should be paired off on arrival and then, when the speeches begin, one can applaud loudly while the other holds the grub and glasses. Swap back before the next speech and away you go. Both parties are fed and watered and guest speakers aren’t left worrying that their words have fallen on stony ground.
Sometimes I wonder at my own genius...
This article by Mike Lowe is from the March 2014 issue of Cotswold Life.
For more from Mike, follow him on Twitter: @cotslifeeditor
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