Written by tjmstroud
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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Dear Constituents


Fresh from my work experience as an apprentice vicar at Krupton Parish Church and with the Conference season over for another year we can now focus on more important things such as re-election.

My theme this week will be the looming power crisis and I have a solution that I think should guarantee me the necessary attention before the election and a Ministerial job soon afterwards. I would, however, prefer being the Minister for Energy without the Climate Change bit tagged on. As Vicar Whicker so wisely put it last week when I told him of my ambitions, "God giveth us the sun and the rain not a Government Minister."

My reason for wanting this job is simple.

If on the remote chance I do not get re-elected, then I don't want to come home from a day spent at the Job Centre only to find there is no electricity to recharge my Blackberry, that the lights are flickering, the laptop has died and the fridge has defrosted itself.

You see, I will know that this is no temporary power cut caused by a local transformer failure but the result of a national power shortage caused partly by our short sightedness but mostly by the French and other foreigners.

I am expecting all of these nasty foreigners to eventually divert our electricity and gas pipelines to themselves or others, and they'll only need the flimsiest of excuses. It could be a falling out with Hollande over fishing for sand eels just off the Channel Islands or our refusal to put up another billion pounds of security to prop up Merkel's Euro or even Putin getting mad because we beat his football team and made him feel inferior.

And with Brussels already having forced our coal fired power stations to close, there are no quick replacements. This is because we've allowed foreigners like the French to own everything and Hollande and Merkel send us far too many inflated invoices priced in Euros.

Merkel herself loves wind turbines for some political reason and when I am in charge of Energy (and especially if the job also includes Climate Change) I have a nasty surprise for her - I am going to invoice her in pounds sterling for the westerly wind we send over because it's our wind.

Here in Krupton where the wind never ceases, Krupton's solitary wind turbine is well known because its arms hardly move. I could cycle quicker and have even suggested plugging it into the mains to make it go faster It stopped completely last week but, as it was also raining, I suspect it may have rusted up a bit.

Nevertheless, I did felt sorry for it. It looked redundant, like a product of mistaken policy of the nineties and it reminded me a bit of Nick whatshisname.

Nick is a bit like a wind turbine in that he doesn't do very much except stand there trying to attract attention but only succeeding in looking isolated. Like Nick, once you've seen one wind turbine you've seen them all. And like Nick whatshisname, our wind turbine does not seem to produce anything. It is supposed to provide power and light to residents and local businesses but I think I generate as much electricity on my wind-up torch and wind-up radio.

The solution came to me during another black-out this week just as I was listening to the Archers. Because it was so exciting I switched on the wind-up radio - a present to my son Hector to teach him about engineering and to put the cost of household electricity bills into perspective.

Wondering whether the problem lay within the national grid or an EU approved, long-lasting light bulb that had blown on schedule after seven days, I then used my wind-up torch to check out the circuit breaker in the cupboard.

Now you will recall that the inventor of modern wind-up devices was an Englishman called Trevor Baylis. Trevor sold a few of his radios to Africa but then failed to take his ideas to a scale that could have solved the energy crisis.

Deep in thought about it this week, I happened to pass Krupton leisure centre where red faced, overweight locals were using complicated contraptions that Trevor Baylis must now wish he had invented. That was when I had my flash of inspiration. Why not put all this wasted energy to better use?

So, next week, I will be proposing to Government that we grant free gym membership to all those currently receiving benefit. In return they will be expected to attend the gym for eight hours per day to use the exercise machines. The machines will be fitted with small turbines linked to the national grid.

Knowing that the Department for Energy and Climate Change would require an expensive feasibility study before considering my scheme, I thought I would pre-empt this by doing my own.

The Government, civil servants and consultants all love statistics so they can blame others for mistakes. The more complicated the statistics the better and they can always ask for even more statistics so that decisions can be delayed and the unemployment figures kept down.

I have constantly lobbied against this sort of nonsense and so I bribed my son, Hector, with a promise he could stay up to watch Newsnight if he helped out.

Hector told me that he would but needed to simplify the calculation with a few assumptions. For instance, it would be useful to know the average food consumption per person attending Krupton Leisure Centre in order to calculate kilowatt output per person. For that he needed to estimate the numbers of potatoes eaten in one day. I agreed and gave him the go ahead. This was far cheaper than employing Price Waterhouse Cooper or similar.

I now understand that one 2" diameter potato Nutrition Grade A has around 161 calories of energy stored within its starchy interior.

If this is then converted to Joules where one Joule is equal to the energy expended in applying a force of one newton through a distance of one metre (ie one complete circular pedal on the exercise machine at setting 6) and extrapolated, each person could generate enough power to light a 60-watt light bulb for 500 hours in a day - that is if they spent 8 hours on the bicycle or 5 hours on the rowing machine.

Now just imagine the benefit to the economy of 2.5 million people burning unwanted calories by pedalling or rowing every day just to get slimmer and fitter and with the energy released being fed into the national grid.

Here's the incentive:

For every kilowatt of energy they produce they will receive £15 tax free and a free go in the sauna. And just imagine the extra benefits - guaranteed gold medals at the Olympics and a narrowing of the trade gap because we import less forty foot containers due to the smaller clothing sizes.

As Hector has pointed out, the only issue is the supply of potatoes as due to the bad summer they are in short supply. However, Hector says they could, instead, eat bags of crisps.

But let me return to Angela Merkel as I always think of her when I look at the Krupton Wind Turbine. Its arms turn so slowly these days that birds have started roosting on it so it isn't even any use as a giant scare crow. Which, brings me onto my other theme - scare crows and, in particular, German scare-crows or Vogelscheuche as I think they call them.

Judged on how Angela scares the wits out of the Greeks and Spanish I think Angela Merkel is actually just one big Vogelscheuche but I'd like to check this out.

I intend to set up a mini nuclear reactor disguised as a Vogelscheuche in her cabbage patch in the back garden and wire it into her fuse box. I bet you she won't be able to tell the difference between electricity generated by nuclear power and that generated by wind.

She'll need to get used to it anyway as I have another idea for when I'm the Minister for Energy. If the EU keeps interfering then I'll put up so many damned wind turbines in the North Sea they'll absorb every puff of wind before it ever reaches Frankfurt.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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