As I drove in to work this morning, ready to send this issue to the printers, a small news item caught my ear. It was dropped into a maelstrom of glumness involving the usual suspects of Brexit, Trump, statesponsored murder and to be honest it was, of itself, small beer.
John Humphries said that the price of a pint of ale may reach £10 as a result of global warming adversely affecting the nation’s barley harvest.
Now I completely understand where this fits in the league table of global problems and it is nowhere compared to the fate of millions who will be more dramatically and seriously affected. But as soon as I heard the snippet I visualised fields of Norfolk barley swishing in the summer breeze; golden acres of Maris Otter and Flagon, dotted with the weeds that farmers’ sprays failed to touch.
And then I was at the bar, a glass of clear liquid amber in front of me, handing over a tenner and getting no change. I’m no big drinker but it’s potentially another little piece of the climate change jigsaw that will affect our daily lives in so many small ways.
It was the jigsaw that also had me up on the roof the other weekend, fixing new guttering to our stately single-level rural idyll. The ‘once-in-a-century weather events’ which we now get every year have been overwhelming our guttering and leading to a scenario where it appears to be raining as hard inside our conservatory as outside.
And so I spent several nervous hours on the roof, seeking a solution to the problem while picking lumps of moss from the tiles and lobbing them into the hedge. Any passer-by would have thought I was an inmate staging a rooftop protest against my intolerable living conditions.
Eventually a fix was made and I clambered carefully down, like an anxious old chimp, if anxious old chimps use wobbly ladders. All we can do now is await the next biblical weather event and see if it’s worked.
LIKE MOST people, I have a dread of cars or bikes breaking down. Luckily, it is a rare occurrence these days.
I can remember my dad having to get the family Vauxhall serviced for any trip longer than 100 miles to give it a chance of making the journey without stopping for repairs (to be fair I can’t actually recall it breaking down – unlike a Jag which was a total 1970s basket case).
But last week our little runabout, en route for an MOT, developed a fault which caused it to stop as dead as a fish finger, right in the middle of one of Norwich’s busiest junctions.
Being Mr Puniverse 1992, I could not shift the thing and Mrs C is still hors de combat. So I zipped off to seek aid. She was still there when I returned 15 minutes later. Not a soul had stopped to assist.
Luckily, at that point a man (also en route to an MOT test) did stop and the car was shoved out of harm’s way. He was enraged that no-one else had stopped to assist a driver in distress. If the age of chivalry isn’t dead, it’s certainly on life support.
We’re paranoid now that every hiccup and twitch of the car presages some fresh catastrophe, but to date all seems to be well.
Norfolk barley – threatened by climate change?
DOMINIC CASTLE, Editor, EDP Norfolk Magazine 01603 772758/07725 201153, firstname.lastname@example.org