The Third Leader: Signs of the times

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The Independent Online

How are you? Not long to go now. You're probably fed up with people asking you if you're ready for Christmas, so I won't bother. But it is a pretty frazzling time of the year, isn't it? Normally, I wouldn't like to add to your concerns; it's just that life seems to have taken an alarmingly science-fictional turn.

You will have seen that a paper sponsored by the Government's chief scientist is considering granting robots the same rights as us in the reasonably near future; but I'm not quite so worried about that, because, the way things are going, we won't have very many left, anyway. And if you are a robot, I wouldn't start building up any hopes of being allowed to do much, particularly near Parliament.

No, it's the komodo dragon that's bothering me, as one has immaculately conceived at Chester Zoo, hatching expected around Christmas. Cue cracking noise, electronic music and screams.

It wouldn't be so bad if anyone knew very much about the komodo dragon, even how long it lives in the wild. It is agreed, though, that they are stealthy, efficient killers and very intelligent, although I'll leave you to decide just how intelligent after telling you that one ignored Sharon Stone and attacked her then husband at Las Vegas Zoo in 2001. And he was a newspaper editor (the husband).

Some, of course, will continue mocking those who claim the world is being taken over by giant reptiles. Others might be grateful for the tip that komodo dragons, besides having extremely bad breath, can't climb trees. Mind you, they said something similar about Daleks.

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