The End Of The World
Week 8

James Leavey's


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By James Leavey

What a week this has been. The Queen Mother died aged 101, God Rest Her, and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict gets more nightmarish every time I - hesitatingly - switch on the news. Perhaps that’s why I keep finding myself humming, 'Nearer My God, Than Thee'.

I had thought of hiring a Gestapo uniform and flying out to Bethlehem for May Day, but what's the point. I never wanted to join the Israeli army, anyway.

As if all this Middle East meltdown wasn't bad enough, from around April 20 until May 12, especially May 4, we will be able to witness a heavenly spectacular that won't be seen by British, at least, skywatchers, for another century.

For this is when the five planets visible to the naked eye, i.e. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, will come together in a dazzling conjunction, at least according to the astronomers.

Historically, alignments and conjunctions of planets - especially on such a massive scale - have always been seen as portents of huge changes.

Unfortunately, that is what we seem to be experiencing at the moment, and there is no sign that things are going to get better.

Then there's the problem of sick offices, which Professor Ole Fanger (sic!) presented to the International Conference on Air Distribution in Rooms and published in the magazine, Indoor Air (Sic! Or sick"). Apparently, his research is seen as further evidence of the malaise known as 'sick building syndrome', which can cause blocked noses, headaches and dry throats, and has been linked to the movement of air around the workplace.

I don't know how he'd cope in my office. You have to wade through inches of Havana ash just to get to the desk. And there are occasions when I do find it difficult to see the PC screen, through the smoke.

Which got me thinking about the late Queen Mum and how she enjoyed her daily Gin and Dubonnet, with the occasional petit corona (yes, she did smoke occasionally, until quite recently, and I know the London tobacco retailer who supplied those Cuban smokes!).

Then one of our national newspapers stated that corporate jingles have become the latest underground music craze. How about a jingle for the end of the world, along the lines of:

We've got no time
To sit and stare
The anti-smokers are here and there
An asteroid may strike the Earth
So give the oceans a very wide berth.

I made that up thinking about an intelligent glass that has been developed in the U.S. by Mitsubishi. Each glass is fitted with dishwasher-proof electronic tags which, when the glass is emptied, detect the drop in liquid and warns bar staff or waiters, ensuring the customer is never left waiting for a refill.

Would somebody get me one of those tags for my ashtray, please. The way things are going, chain-smoking Havanas is going to be the norm.

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