Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

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Saturday 12 September 2009


WHY do people hoot their car
horns when they arrive and
leave their friends' houses?
I only ask because I want to
I live in a cul-de-sac which ought to be a little
backwater, a quiet haven away from the
hustle and bustle of the playa. To settle in a
lounger with a beer in hand and look over
the Med is one of life's little pleasures. Until,
that is, one's reverie is broken by the raucous
hooting of a horn that announces an
arrival or departure. It may be that they are
guests announcing their arrival for lunch or
dinner. If so, why hoot? You're going to be
on their doorstep in a few seconds. Why
announce it to everyone within a kilometre's
If, as is more likely, the hooters are telling
people in an apartment that they have
arrived to pick them up, how are they meant
to know it's you? Too idle to get out of their
car and knock on the door, the visitor sits
and hoots ... several times if necessary,
because I observe that patience is normally
short in these instances.
If several people are all being picked up
at the same time by different people and the
visitors hoot their arrival, imagine the cacophany
of sound that invades the ears of
bystanders. Why not synchronise it? Six different
makes of car might synchronise their
hooting to create an identifiable tune.
I have friends who also hoot when leaving.
Why? You've just said your farewells
with a peck on the cheek and a handshake.
Why get in the car, wave through an open
window and HOOT, for good measure, as
you leave?
It's noise pollution, plain and simple and I
would like the practice vilified and stamped

MY wife and I were walking passed what
used to be called the 'Buddha' bar the
other evening at about 8pm. It is now
called the 'Santo Pecado'.
The noise coming from the bar was the
same as what we often hear at 2am,
especially at the weekends. The boom
boom, head banging cacophany, these
days so beloved of the Spanish bars,
could be heard all along the paseo.
Curious, I put my head inside and found
it empty. Not a soul. A quick scan along
the paseo told me that there were few
people under the age of thirty passing
by. Why were they polluting the paseo
with this awful noise; it couldn't be
called music by any stretch of the imagination?
I wanted to suggest to them to
try some music that was gentle on the
ears to attract a wider audience; draw in
some of the people that were passing
with a tune that had some semblance of
a melody, but I reckoned I'd be wasting
my time. The point is they were empty
for a reason. They had no business at a
time when I'd have thought they needed
to be busy before the quieter times
arrive. Am I a MOG, a miserable old git?
You tell me. Meanwhile, I shall watch
their progress with interest.

Are you a ´MOG´? Or do some things really drive you up the wall?
Don´t suffer in silence, get it off your chest and tell us all about it!


THE devastation caused by the recent fires
around Mojacar is very evident. Following a
prolonged period of drought, the surrounding
vegetation was very dry and susceptable
to ignition from lightning. With the
exception of those parts affected by the ice
ages, this natural cycle of death and rebirth
has been repeated around the globe for millions
of years.
Now imagine how serious it would be if
these fires could start so easily in green
vegetation. That it doesn't is due to a quirk
of nature and involves the advantageous
percentage of oxygen in our atmosphere.
Let me explain.
When the earth was originally formed, the
atmosphere was mostly methane, and the
gaseous oxides of carbon, oxygen only
being formed with the arrival of early photosynthesising
plants. The earth's current
atmosphere contains 21% Oxygen and has
been stable at this level for millions of
The probability of lightning causing a forest
fire, say, increases 70% for every 1%
rise in oxygen concentration, so that by a
level of 35%, ignition of green vegetation is
likely. It is unlikely that any vegetation not
under water could survive for long in oxygen
concentrations above 25%.
This miraculous good fortune for the
human race does not stop here. Oxygen is
toxic to humans in higher concentrations,
but at current levels is essential for the
development and running of human brains,
which use up 20% of the oxygen in the
The formation of another form of oxygen,
called ozone, is also essential for life.
Without its screening effect, all surface
dwelling life, except some primitive microorganisms,
would be impossible due to the
bombardment of the planet by lethal cosmic

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