The Third Leader: Believe it or not

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Chinese progress, we note, continues apace. You will be familiar with the evidence of your own eyes whenever you turn something over to see where it comes from; nevertheless, the sheer range of Sino-expansion is phenomenal. Even sectors for long complacently regarded as our exclusive preserve are no longer safe.

The Loch Ness Monster, for example. Unrivalled in mysterious appeal, the shadowy basis for extensive ancillary industries such as souvenirs, coach trips, binoculars, newsprint and knowing locals accepting a drink then muttering darkly. Until now, and China's promotion of not one, but a whole shoal of Nessies.

The video footage from Lake Kanasi in Western China is as grainy as anything we have ever managed. But these Nessies seem bigger, swifter, meaner: muttering locals say their monsters have been known to drag sheep, cows and even horses from the shore and into the deep waters of the lake to devour them.

Smile if you like. I have to tell you, though, that a cursory survey of current unexplained worldwide activities includes worms falling from the sky in Jennings, Louisiana, mysterious clouds that shine at night creeping out of the Arctic, a tape of a Bigfoot's howl in Michigan, and an average of one report per day of peculiar flashes and extra-terrestrial beings in Sweden.

Here? The usual big cat sightings (Chipping Camden, High Wycombe). And two girls have found a terrapin in the canal at Preston. It's not good enough: to survive in the modern world, we have to be more competitive. Never mind the rain, get out there and just use your imagination.

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