The Third Leader: All change

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The Independent Online

Unsettling times, indeed. Wherever you turn there are the crashing sounds and rising dust of tumbling fixed ideas and firm beliefs. Mr Blair, for instance, is, I understand, not going to be Prime Minister for ever. Labour MPs and even ministers are being disloyal. And now, we are told, mice don't like cheese. Well. Clearly, it would be unwise to rule out a startling development at the Vatican.

The cheese thing, though, is a bit of a facer. I am a layman, but one does have to wonder about the years of traps baited with cheese. Many of us have consoled ourselves with the thought that at least they died happy, not in half-hearted pursuit of a poor substitute for their sugar craving, or from a selflessly helpful instinct to tidy up. A more optimistic gloss, of course, would be that many lives have been saved by this clever piece of early animal rights disinformation.

But this won't assuage that craving for certainty which has seized humanity since those early pressing worries about the sun coming back. Nor will the other natural misconceptions we helpfully note elsewhere in the paper. Bears, eh?

I myself have scanned the full range of current events in the hope of finding some countering balance, not entirely successfully. William Shatner, formerly Captain Kirk of the USS Enterprise, has revealed he is terrified of space travel, a Finnish opera singer has been knocked off his bike by a squirrel, and Lindsay Lohan says she wants to be taken seriously. Fortunately, there is always Pete Doherty, who has moved out of his flat and left it rather untidy.