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  • Harry gets "normal"

    08badeed0ff4bfbb336973ee4d4f727b.jpgThe Daily Mail, like most of its stablemates, is gripped by another bout of Harry fever. The revelation that the carrot-top royal is soon to be an ex-air traffic controller in Afghanistan is accompanied by acres of perfectly posed photos of the pin-up prince on patrol with the Ghurkas. Tragic that for him it's "a dream come true" to take part in a ghastly conflict in a country that's been wrecked by a poisonous cocktail of religious extremism mixed up with centuries of outside interference.

    What's more Harry hasn't "really had a shower for four days, haven't washed my clothes for a week and everything seems completely normal." The prospect of slightly whiffy Prince who has only had unreal showers lately doesn't entirely do it for me. Our obsession with endlessly rubber-necking young royals and now with their bathing habits strikes me as daft and intrusive.

    The other day I was at a concert where I sat next to a young soldier the day after he got back from active duty in Iraq. After talking to him, and seeing him twitchy and alert to attack even in a concert hall in an English village, I have huge admiration for any young person brave enough to put their life on the line for their country.

  • Earth moving for beginners

    46133cfc9b387c5be50f2dc063f2401d.pngIt started with a low, distant rumble, somewhere to the north. It was 1am and I was wide awake and I thought I could hear rocks being ground together somewhere far, far away. I was wrong. The sound was not man-made - it came from deep down beneath the earth's surface: it was an ancient and utterly fundamental sound.

    Then everything - me, my bed, the whole house - seemed to quiver slightly and it got faster and louder and ornaments were knocking and I knew this was my first experience of an earth tremor. After a few seconds the shaking died away. Then the only sound was the roar of water pouring over the weir and the call of a frightened blackbird, - 'pink, pink, pink', darting away in the darkness.

    Apparently around 25 earthquakes are felt in the UK annually. At 5.2 on the Richter scale this was a one-in-30-year event, last matched by a 5.4 in Wales in 1984. It happened 15km beneath the earth's surface. The last time where was major earthquake activity at the epicentre, in Market Rasen in Lincolnshire over 100 miles from here, was in the 12th century. The seismologists say an old geological fault has opened up and may now become more active.

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