The Third Leader: Washed up

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The Independent Online

Watch the wall, my darling, while the gentlemen go by! Enough of synthetic entertainment and its attendant furores: time for a bit of good old-fashioned British wrecking and looting.

The enterprising gentlemen, and ladies, going by with BMW motorcycles, beauty cream, barrels of wine and nappies from the wondrously mixed cargo of the stricken MSC Napoli are following one of the most enduring traditions of this seagoing nation: the belief that we are entitled to profit from acts of the sea, particularly those that deposit stuff right there for the taking. It's been going on for centuries, and shows as much sign of abating as storms ceasing. One of the delights of the hobby, vide supra and Whisky Galore, is that you never know what might turn up. The Cita, (Scillies, 1997), for example, had barbecues, Action Men, and nighties; the Royal Adelaide, (Chesil Beach, 1872), was carrying hats, herrings, hams and figs as well as the usual strong drink.

Some will condemn. Others will say that at least we're now taking steps to limit environmental damage, rescuing people first, and not biting off their ears and fingers for jewellery. The British Third Way is evidenced by the Branscombe Beach coastguard handing out declaration forms to the finders.

Whose side is God on? Well, the clergy have always been divided. I find myself attracted to the Cornish vicar whose service was interrupted by a wreck: "Everyone remain seated until I've taken my cassock off so we can all start fair!"