Monday, June 27, 2005


Lights Out After Dark

I have returned home again, back to my hometown, and life here is mesmerisingly dull. This post, consequently, is a sort of homage to that tedium. You might wish to skip it. So dull is life here, in fact, that during a break in the cricket, looking desperately for something to do, I started reading a copy of 'The National Trust' magazine, a genuine bastion of middle-Englandism if ever there was one. The stories were astonishingly boring, but my absolute favourite was an earnest report on the possibiltity that the glow-worm population may be declining! (sadly, not online)

This is clearly vital information, so let's take a closer look at the article:

'Seeing a glow-worm for the first time must be something of a thrill. As one awed spectator told the UK Glow Worm Survey: 'It's the first time I've ever seen such a thing - amazing. I thought someone had dropped a mobile phone!'

Now take a closer look at that first sentence. It says to me that the writer of the piece, one Nicky Trevett, may very well have never seen a glow-worm himself, which raises the question: why does he feel strongly enough to write about them?

He (I'm presuming it's a he, but I might be wrong) goes on to write several marginally interesting paragraphs about the 'glow-worm in literature', before coming up with the following astonishing paragraph:

'But your chances of seeing this fascinating little beastie might be diminishing. Glow worm enthusiast Robin Scagell began the unofficial, but highly regarded, UK Glow Worm Survey in 1990. 'There is anecdotal evidence of a decline,' he says. 'People tell us they are not as plentiful as they used to be. But it's hard to be sure - people don't walk around as much in the dark, we all drive around in cars, and populations of glow worms do fluctuate. But on specific sites, yes, I would say we have seen a decline.'

Astonishing because, firstly, in a half-serious publication, a paragraph contains not one, not two, but three sentences starting with 'but', and secondly because, it seems, no-one is even sure if the populations are even declining, not even the director of a national survey on the insects numbers. Which sort of raises the question: just what was the point of this article?

Lights out. Or not. Honestly, who really cares anyway?

In an extra bit, anyway, it is revealed that glow worms can be found on Box Hill in Surrey. This surprised me - I thought only middle-aged, beardy, Harley-riding bikers could be found there. Every day a school day, as they say.

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