Martin Kirby Column; Powered-up, Bones Of Contention and Unholy Smoke.
IT'S ALL FLASH AND NO BANG
Readers of a certain age may remember 'The Great Panjandrum', one of many strange weapons invented during WWII. In a nutshell, it was a giant Catherine wheel, propelled by rockets and packed with explosives. The contraption was supposed to roll off a landing craft, up the beach to the German defences, and explode. But like many experimental projects by the Admiralty's Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapons Development (DMWD), it was a good idea that simply didn't work in practice. My reason for delving into this bit of history is – for me – electric cars are the 21st century's Great Panjandrum.
There's no doubt that; for local estate Agent, Nick Ponting, booting the UK's first electric supercar to 151 mph is a great achievement, as it is for man behind the project, Dale Vince, the founder of Ecotricity. But what's the point?
Dale said "The reason is to kick-start the electric car revolution. People think that electric cars are slow and boring - we wanted to smash that stereotype." True, his car is capable of 0-100mph in 8.5 seconds, but given that the maximum legal speed is 70 mph, flooring-it on a public road would get your licence ripped-up.
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I have nothing against electric cars. I've road-tested one and for pottering around town or between Gloucester and Cheltenham, I couldn't fault it. But with a typical charging time of around eight hours and travelling 90 miles (if you're lucky) on a full charge, using one to visit my brother-in-law in Norfolk would take almost three days. The biggest selling point for electric cars is how cheap they are to run, but the cost of B&B while you wait for the damn thing to charge would have to be factored-in. Furthermore, has anyone considered what would happen to the price of electricity if we all had electric cars by next January?
Instead of installing a chain of charging points the length and breadth of the UK, as the government intends to do, it would be better to invest in developing batteries that can hold enough charge for long-distance travel. However, that won't happen. Because you can't tax a battery on the basis of how long it holds its charge, but you can tax the use of electricity.
BRING HIM HOME
It seems pretty likely that a search for the remains of Richard III under a car park in Leicester has been successful. With that in mind, Citizen reader, Michael Skillern, has made an interesting point.
If the remains are proved to be those of Richard III, shouldn't they be interred at Gloucester Cathedral?
The Bishop of Leicester says his city's cathedral would be the obvious place for Richard III to be buried if bones found by archaeologists prove to be Richard's, but as Mike said to me, Richard had no official connection with Leicester. However, the monarch had a great deal to do with our city, visiting Gloucester twice and giving the (then) town its city status in 1483. Earlier, in 1461, Richard was named Duke of Gloucester and the old city arms bore his symbol; which depicted a white boar.
Leicester South MP, Jon Ashworth, has shamelessly tried to make political gain from the latest discovery and called for a state funeral to be held in Leicester if tests confirm the remains are those of the former King.
Michael Skillern doesn't agree and neither do I. What do you think?
UP IN SMOKE
I'm all for people making a protest and I'm pleased to see those who opposed the building of an incinerator at Javelin Park made theirs in a lawful way. Some even wore mock-protective clothing and gas masks to show their disapproval. But I wonder; how many of them are quite happy with their neighbours lighting-up stinking garden bonfires every time we have something resembling summer?