The Third Leader: Happy landing

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The Independent Online

Portents everywhere: the disappearing lake in Chile, a disappearing holy stalagmite in Kashmir, and now, at Warren Farm holiday camp, Brean Sands, Somerset, the appearance of an albatross.

The yellow-nosed albatross was the first of its kind ever to arrive in Britain. Intriguingly, Brean is no distance from where Coleridge was walking with the Wordsworths in the Quantock Hills when, with their help, he formed the idea for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which features one of the great birds to legendarily baleful effect. Indeed, a statue of the said long-winded and mournful matelot overlooks the harbour at nearby Watchet, with that albatross hanging from his neck in proverbial fashion.

Before, however, further gloom and despondency sweep our islands in a rising tide, with grim nods to the passage lamenting "water, water, everywhere", and wry asides that currently it's more likely one of every two being stoppt, I should point out that Britain has been placed joint 17th in a listing of the world's happy and wealthy countries.

True, that is equal with Israel and some way behind Canada, but neither of them has our climate. Remember, too, that in the poem the albatross is a good omen; bad luck comes because the trigger-happy old tar totals it. In Somerset, this one, several thousand miles off course and not surprisingly a little tired, has been very well looked after (even if conveyed in a car boot), then released once more aloft.

No, at such a time, we especially recommend the transcendent message of the mighty work: "He prayeth best, who loveth best all things both great and small."

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