No newts is bad news for today's green townies

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The Independent Online
Forget sun-dried tomatoes, measles vaccinations, Jennifer Aniston's haircut, Agas, wood floors, bidets, clip-on curtains that drag on the ground, nose rings, hormone replacement therapy, post-traumatic stress disorder, fridge magnets depicting Michelangelo's David, cranberries, stencilling, butler's sinks, dented enamel colanders, lavender hedges, mobile phones, Puppies in My Pocket, camomile lawns, Shaker boxes, wonky recycled glassware, quarry tiles, antique toilet bowls, UFO-style kettles, wooden dish-racks, folk-art coat- rails, anything Tuscan or terracotta (or preferably both), or Le Creuset pots and pans, patios, bouquets of bare twigs, framed pasta, nail polish, Prozac...

News from the street: the latest middle-class fad is fishponds without fish!

Just as it was once fashionable to have a country kitchen - especially in the city - it is now de rigueur to establish fish-ponds and then not put any fish in them. Instead you must pledge yourself a firm advocate of newts and toads.

I have personally come across two different sets of people taking this holier-than-thou conservationist stand in the last few weeks. Newts and toads are in. Never mind the fact that, in a previous more innocent age, newts, toads and goldfish co-existed in the same ponds. No one is interested in biology. All they want to do is keep a step ahead of the nouveau riche - who've all become well equipped with Koi carp.

Another supposedly ecological idea that has troubled me this week is the plan to release billions of unfamiliar beetles into British fields as an alternative to pesticides. These beetles are bound to clog up beehives or get up horses' noses or in some other way mess up the natural ecosystem (what's left of it). But when men get an idea in their heads, they can't bring themselves to consider all the ramifications. They never see the whole picture. Men are miniaturists.

They also have a knack for ugliness: they have filled the world with smog and straight lines. I have had some experience of daft male schemes this week.

A neighbour (male) in my building authorised a lighting specialist (male) to fix the long defunct lights in the communal hallway. Result: the soft defunct lighting of yesteryear has been replaced by seemingly thousands of blinding white fluorescent lights, turning the hallway effectively into an operating theatre. At any rate, no woman in her right mind would want to be seen under such merciless lighting unless she was having surgery.

These obscene lights then proceeded to attract a plague of previously unknown bugs - a kind of flying ant - who positioned themselves all over the walls and ceilings outside my door, wondering what to do with themselves next. Not only are fluorescent lights a bad idea in my particular building, they were a bad idea in the first place, and only men could ever have believed them a good idea. They're unearthly, and should be lighting up some alternative universe full of men hanging from ceiling wondering what to do with themselves.

"Ironically, in years to come, it will not be memories of her wedding day which will remain vivid to Di but these tender moments snatched with a lover... In this video we see a different Di." We certainly do. A Di so different she's someone else. "Through the video lens... it's clear to see the lonely Princess was besotted with Hewitt. And the feeling is most definitely mutual... Her body language proves she is sexually comfortable with him... there's no doubt this is a woman experiencing true love for the first time..." In fact, the only thing the Sun got right about the bogus Di video was that it was 80 seconds long.

Watching Amanda Ooms as the woman with werewolf problems in ITV's Wilderness, I had an uncanny thought, Ooms turned very coyly at one stage to her shrink - a true "Shy Di" pose - and said "I turn into a wolf once a month." Now, if only Di had come up with such a confession to poor old Martin Bashir, all the spying and demonising would be justified, and we'd really have a video of Diana's private life worth waiting for.

The nation surely listened with some perplexity to Steven Norris's dreary readings from his autobiography on Radio 4. But now we know why he had to have five women: no one woman could have put up with such a tedious fellow 24 hours a day.

Turn on the radio and you will also inevitably hear someone talking about the Single Currency. I know it goes against the grain to leave anything in the hands of such absolute sheisters, but I think this really is one issue that we must leave to politicians.

It is dangerously boring. I have always recognised that I would die if I ever had to read the Maastricht treaty. This is what we pay them for (maybe we don't pay them enough, after all).

Money Box on Radio 4 is a similar case. You don't know what they're talking about, you're never going to do what they advise, and your financial future therefore looks bleak - the mere mention of Vincent Douglebie can ruin your day totally.

The widow, the sperm and the High Court judge - I admit that I really don't understand this case at all. With organ donation, in the absence of firmly expressed wishes on the part of the dying patient, the next- of-kin will be asked about "harvesting" viable organs (is it really called "harvesting"?)

This suggests that the body is considered in some way the property of the next-of-kin after death. So how did the late husband's sperm become the property of the medical authorities, who are now trying to thwart the widow's wish to use it? This couple had originally planned to have children. The husband died young. All one can say is: have a heart.

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