Maplehurst Ramblings


1)An Apology
I was away for two weeks earlier this month which caused a delay in sending the Ramblings file to our esteemed editor. So, a big sorry to the masochists out there for delaying your monthly dose of literary hemlock. Being away meant that I was absent for all the momentous events in Maplehurst from the 1st until the15th September. This newsletter will be rather short, therefore.West Grinstead Ploughing Match 2001

2)West Grinstead Ploughing Match.
I was away on holiday and I missed it, which was very annoying. I hope those who went had a really enjoyable day out - any chance of a report on it??? (I’ve been busy too, but will make an effort shortly- DT)

3)Motor Cyclers - bikes in top gear, brains in neutral?
On Sunday morning I was treated to a rather interesting spectacle on Broadwater Lane. I was travelling North to pick up Clive Warren for a mornings clay pigeon shooting. Just past the entrance to Ghyll Farm there is a series of nasty blind bends. Common sense (as well as the briefest knowledge of road safety) dictates that you slow down and stay near the side of the road when negotiating this stretch of the road. After all, you never know what will be coming the other way.

It just so happened that coming into the bends I was met by a loose convoy of motorcyclists travelling dangerously quickly. As if this was bad enough the motorcyclists treated me to a display that was dangerous beyond belief. In a rather juvenile attempt to emulate their race-track heroes, they were cornering using the "late apex" technique. For the uninitiated, this is where you take the bend very late, moving to the outside in order to maximise the effective radius of your turn (and so minimising the "sharpness" of the turn - see this link for a complete description). The upshot of this technique is that speed is maintained throughout the bend. The downside is that the maneuver requires the full width of the road to be executed properly. This is all very well in the confines of Brands Hatch, but not a particularly smart move on a country lane. By the time most of the motorcyclists had passed me I was travelling at a crawl. This turned out to be rather good news for the cretin at the back of the convoy who had to take emergency avoiding action. His right leg managed to miss my bumper by about 6 inches. I wonder how our budding Barry Sheenes would feel about hitting an oncoming horse? Or perhaps it would take an impact with the sharp end of some agricultural machine to bring them to their senses???

The horrific events in New York have put the Police on a (necessarily) heightened state of Pete Setterfield's Shoot at Burton Mill Winter 2000 alert which means that shooters need to be careful when they are outdoors. I have heard many stories in the past about people being confronted by armed police whilst in the field. HM Constabulary take reports of "armed men in fields" very seriously and quite rightly so. A decision has recently been taken to involve a police "Armed Response Unit" in these cases because, apparently, it provides the ARU with very realistic training. A few shooters have, however, found the experience of being confronted by marksmen somewhat intimidating.

It is impossible to prevent the Police being called (as a few Sedgwick zealots will demonstrate) and it is unreasonable to expect all fieldsports enthusiasts to stay indoors in the coming months. The best course of action for weapons owners, therefore, would be to inform the Police if you are likely to be out shooting (I don't believe you are saying this Simon! We can't call the police every time we go about our perfectly legal activities. DT) and definitely carry all the relevant firearms / shotgun certificates with you when you are out (I believe that failure to do so is an offence).

5) Charioteering
In July, an advertisement appeared in Horse and Hound asking for volunteers to take part in a chariot race  Naturally, this caught my eye, as well as my imagination and I immediately sent a missive out on e-mail inviting applications from a lot of the horse people I know in Sussex, after all if you are going to be involved in a riding accident, you might as well have a few associates there to watch! Many friends and acquaintances applied, in all over 1,000 people contacted the television company. Some people I know were rejected at the first hurdle, some got through to the last 100. Four of us (including Mrs.McClean) made it to the final thirty hopefuls. All have now sadly been rejected after lengthy video interviews. What is peculiar is that for some unfathomable reason I have made it to the short-list of six candidates and I should hear in the next fortnight if I am one of the chosen pair. The chariot race is being held in late October in Spain and is being filmed as part of a "Roman weekend" on Channel 4 - I also offered my services as stuntman for the Orgy scenes but I haven't heard back about this yet. The  race will be held in a purpose built "arena" and we will be racing authentic (reproduction) chariots, in authentic costumes (I am wearing Y-fronts underneath, though) and we will be pulled at 45mph by a team of horses. I understand that there is no safety net and any injuries are likely to be serious. That should concentrate the mind. I will, of course, let you know if I get picked. Watch and laugh as I try to defy death.......

5)Tax return Top Tips.
If, like me, you haven't done one yet then its too late to get the IR to do the sums for you. If, however, you disagree with the assessment you can always write to them and tell them so. They politely reply with a complete breakdown of their numbers. Thus saving you, the taxpayer who pays their wages, the job of doing it yourself. If you don't have to fill a tax return in then you probably don't know how lucky you are!

6) Breaking the "laws" of Physics
A friend passed me the details of the following website (click the JPG's) a few days ago. Apparently some gentleman has developed a "perpetual motion" machine that has been working for over 1 year now and even he doesn't know how it works.....

7) Doom and Gloom
In the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Centre last month, the financial markets became tumultuous. This volatility has just begun to subside and a semblance of normality is returning this hasn't prevented the wholesale destruction of "shareholder equity" in a vast range of companies. Most stocks fell rapidly in the days following the 11th September attack and  have partially recovered. A few shares have maintained their downward spiral but profits beckon for the shrewd investor who can sort the wheat from the chaff. Sadly, some companies have even been forced to seek legislative protection from their creditors via the bankruptcy courts - Swissair and Sabena being two of the more notable examples.

Rather interestingly, one or two companies have thrived in the current environment and their share prices have done very nicely, thank you. One such example is Acambis, which is a small-ish publicly quoted company based in Cambridge. While chaos reigns all around them, their share price has gone from 107.59 on the 12th September to a 40 month high of 168.5 on the 3rd of October 2001.

The casual observer might think that they are involved in disaster recovery, or perhaps providing resources to help the grim work in Manhattan. The casual observer would, however, be wrong. Acambis are involved in the engineering business, but it is biopharmaceutical engineering. A recent press release shows that they have a 20-year contract with the US government to develop and supply vaccines that would be used in the event of germ warfare.

In the Evening Standard of the 3rd October 2001 I saw an advertisement selling NBC suits and chemical warfare gasmasks. It looks like the entrepreneurs are hard at work again! These suits and respirators are very useful on the battlefield but I fail to see how they would help in the event of a madman releasing deadly poisons into the air or water. By the time it was clear an attack had taken place, wouldn’t it be too late to do anything about it??              

Simon  McClean 5th October 2001  last months MR's


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