The Editor takes a philosophical look at life in the UK
As I sit down to write this January editorial, Christmas is still a week or so away. But nevertheless I have, to my utter surprise, reached the end of yet another year. I know everyone says it, but it is true; time goes so much quicker as you get older! By the time you read this, you will all have enjoyed Christmas and probably even taken back those unwanted presents to change for something much more desirable. I hope that the event was a happy one, shared with those you love and your closest friends. Now we all have to look forward to a New Year and a new set of challenges.
How fortunate we are in this wonderful country of ours. No secret police, no state enforced discipline and a total freedom of speech. But for how much longer? Lord Butler, this week, complained that our current Government is over-regulatory; lots of ideas but no thought as to the impact of their implementation. As we get more and more restrictions placed on us, more rules to prevent us voicing our thoughts and opinions we are fast becoming the sort of police state we fought so long to destroy during the Cold War. And know we have the pension crisis!
For years the experts have been predicting that within a decade or so we will have four or five times as many pensioners being supported by two or three times fewer citizens of working age. So what does the Chancellor do about it? Impose a £5 million a year tax on company pension funds. Now, almost too late, they say that companies must re-introduce final salary based pensions. And who says this? None other than Lord Sainsbury who has the comfort in his near old age of a £1.3Million a year personal pension! Something here does not seem quite right!
At a local level, I am delighted to report that the Fieldfares have returned with a vengeance. Brian and Janet Tilburn tell me they are stripping the berries from their Rowan tree and we see them, almost daily now, on the Stoke Ferry common. I was also delighted last week to see the return of a pair of Kingfishers. How I have missed their colourful presence. The Herons and Cormorants are once more in regular attendance on the Relief Channel but so too are the sinister Coots. Last year we watched in dismay as a pair of Coots systematically destroyed a Crested Grebe's nest and consumed the eggs. This year, to my sadness, a pair of Grebes returned to the nesting site and was carefully monitored by two pairs of Coots. I don't hold out much hope for the Grebes.
But how fortunate we are to have such a range of wild life on our doorstep? If you ever get bored over the Christmas break, take a trip to the Welney Wetlands and Wildfowl Trust. You will see more birds in five minutes than you have probably ever seen in your life. The best time to visit is during the evening feeding; the swans will have returned to the trust in their thousands.
That just leaves me sufficient space to wish you all a very happy and prosperous 2005. Thank you to all our contributors and advertisers and to that stalwart band of brave hearts who put the Pump together each month and distribute it around the area. Without you all we would be in a very poor state. God bless and thank you all.