Here at the top of the house, thoughts are turning towards Christmas.
Mostly they are thoughts such as, what on earth are we going to eat? (No idea). And will the sitting room floor be done in time to put up the tree? (Yes. So I’m told.)
Every commune worth its salt forks out for a few Christmas decorations to light up the streets; and it’s a tradition to take the children for an evening drive to see them all. Here in our tiny village, which has a mainish road as the high street, there are star-bursts attached to four lampposts; and there are coloured lights round the church door and windows. The star-bursts are new this year, and when first hung, only worked alternately. Now, after the electricity people have had the cherry picker out again, they all shine in the darkness.
One overhangs the carriageway a little too much, right on a bend, so there’s a bollard to force the taller traffic away from the building and into the middle of the road. So far it has only been a cause for oohing and aahing, not aargh-ing.
I can see this one from my house. In fact I have discovered that my bathroom blind which I have been assured is opaque, isn’t. This gives me pause to wonder to what can be seen from outside on a dark morning when the light is on, but it’s a bit late in the day to be modest after two years.
However, all this lighting requires wiring; and wiring is expensive. So expensive is it that every week there is a story in the newspaper about the theft of reels of the stuff from telephone companies and railway yards. Copper is the new gold.
There has always been a worry that, when the petrochemicals run out, so will the plastics, and with them everything we use to communicate. Well, long before that happens, there will be a world shortage of copper. It’s in high demand here, there and everywhere.
So highly prized is it, that in many countries mines which were long considered uneconomical to run are being re-considered. All of a sudden, people are beginning to think that their lovely local area could once again be laid waste by mineral extraction, and they really don’t like it.
It would be like telling Cornwall that the tin mines will all be re-roofed and the wheels at Wheal Jane will turn again. TheTamar valley would have arsenic production killing the landscape, as it did 150 years ago.
Now, France needs income. There isn’t enough employment from relying on the tourist industry or farming. Chicken production is down, pigs are being sold off so cheaply that farmers will go under without state aid. You can import food from everywhere in the world, so why pay to produce it at home? But you can’t go on importing metals, when there’s a world shortage. We need/demand/want more and more technology, and that means, for the foreseeable future, wire.
If you want Christmas to be bright and shiny for your children, maybe there’s a sacrifice to be made: there’s gold in them there hills, and copper too, and someone, sometime soon, is going to want to get at it.
Now, where did I put those candles?