There’s a storm brewing and for once, it has nothing to do with the weather. But it is man meddling with the planet again. This time it’s about land rights. And land wrongs.

The Diaoyu Islands is the battlefield for a 3 way war tonight, as Taiwan, Japan & China joust with giant water cannons in the East China Sea. Taiwan are claiming first dibs, but over the last week Japan say they’ve bought them off the back of a private tanker. China got wind of it and are trying to muscle their smaller, nimbler neighbours out of the hood.

Of course, it’s not a nearly extinct seabird or last remaining octopus they’re scrapping over, it’s gas. Deep reserves of it hiding way beneath the waves of discontent hoping to be ignored. But it’s already history. This petty battle for fuel is no more sophisticated than stone age man thumping flint axeheads into the skull of his neighbour all those aeons ago.

It’s the first of several SE Asian scraps on the bill. Just like the Ali Forman thriller in Manila, seats are being sold now for the Paracel Islands (China v Taiwan v Vietnam) and the Spratly Islands (Brunei v China v Malaysia v Taiwan v Vietnam v the Philippines) and the Pratas Islands (China v Taiwan) and Laincourt Rocks (South Korea v Japan). If they all kick off then we can stand back and laugh as the world did when Argentina fought Britain over the Falklands.

If energy is at stake, superpowers will stop at nothing.

So best buy your Made in China stuff while you can.

SPEECH BLANKS (# 74,876)

Scrabble is a wily old quick brown fox who jumps over the lazy dog. It taught us how to swear-spell in front of our parents and has laid bare our stupidity at times when we wanted it to shine in front of someone we fancy.

But its greatest gift was the blank counter – the idea that we can cheat and use any letter we want even though we don’t have it. Yet we so often blew it with the blank, using it as a paltry ‘e’.

What if we could pluck blanks out of thin air to insert in our speech so we can appear to be so much more intelligent than we are? Think off stage prompt with more words than a C21st trip-hopping Shakespeare.

Now you’ve got the gist of it, imagine the multiple applications…in football punditry (although we need to referee its usage to combat simulation)…in your French oral GCSE/eBacc…in a post coital moment…insert more scenarios as soon as that verbal stumble sidelines your brain.

Quite how we summon up this blank is anyone’s guess. Let’s leave it with the tech-heads overnight and see what they come back with in tomorrow morning’s petri-dish.


There’s been a lot of despair among the world’s beekeepers over the past few years. True, they have been dealt some duff climate cards and the flowers are sitting their like doughnuts wondering what they’ve done to deserve this annual jilting.

It’s not that the bees have been unfaithful and tried to pollinate buildings, although the sight of a swarm pole dancing up and down The Shard sounds pretty transcendental to me. No, it’s not the bees fault. It’s just bad timing. The flowers came out early and the bees missed the boat. The flowers colluded and said, we can’t have this, a non-pollinated year. So, they snook in a second spout of blossom and now the bees are gorging out on an Indian Nectar Summer.

There are thousands dancing on honey-coated MDMA right now. This mid-air rave is the insect world’s answer to electronica. And every single late-flowering bud is getting the seeing to it’s been dying for.

Who knows what the outcome of this belated pollen orgy will be? Bees, as we know, orchestrate the cycle of life, so we may well be looking at a new micro-season between Summer and Autumn, called Sumumn perhaps, or Autmer. Either way, we best get out the way and let nature call the shots. Here’s to the mid-winter windfall of apples.


He took on brambles in t-shirts. He tore out nettles without gloves. When the sun shone, he strimmed hogweed in shorts and waited for the sap to blister his flesh like a leper with the pox. He even smoked his roll-ups in a shed with an asbestos roof and a floor running over a seam of uranium.

Yet he lived to 99.

All because of a raw beet a day.


My daughter stunned me with this fact today. She was ill and off school with a headache so, there may be a decimal point or two missing. But let’s assume she was speaking in a moment of absolute clarity in between gobbledegook.

“Dad, there are only 38 leopards left alive.”

Thirty eight. That’s not enough, I felt. Man City have more players in their reserve squad. If you’re one of those 38 leopards, you must be thinking ‘it’s been a while since I saw Lenny’. Meanwhile Lenny is being turned into a rug.

So, is this the rarest creature on earth? According to the spurious truth of the internet, here’s how the leopard lines up on animal Death Row:

  1. Yangtze River Dolphin: a few tens (yes, it could be 20 or 90, so let’s split the difference with 50)
  2. Javan Rhino: 60
  3. Vancouver Island Marmot: 90
  4. Seychelles Sheath-tailed Bat: less than 100
  5. Bristly Rabbit: 110 in 2001 (so if you have an update, update me)
  6. Dwarf Water Buffalo: 30-200 (they’re not that hot on numbers in the Philippines)

Let’s ignore the Pinta Island Galapagos Tortoise as he’s has enough attention.


As Cameron shuffles his pack in sync with the on/off tellytubby musical chair soundtrack, the under-represented sit on the sidelines without a fizzy pop and a ticket to the party.

But Dave, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Outside your world of white, rich men-friends who have never worked a day in their life outside the political playpen, there is an opportunity to secure votes! and look good!! against all the odds!!!

Look beyond the obvious areas of sexual equality and fair ethnicity. The feelgood gravy train of the Paralympics is waiting at the station with your name on it. All you have to do is install an entire cabinet of coalition politicians with disabilities.

Yes, yes, of course it sounds desperate, but really it’s a stroke of tactical genius, if you don’t mind saying so yourself.