Oil on the beaches

To the residents of Louisiana who seem to be getting their knickers in a bit of a twist about some oil in the sea…

Don’t worry, it will be fine.

You see oil is a natural product, it comes straight out of the ground, as natural as soil, or rock, or decayed vegetation, for instance – its a natural product and it won’t do any long term harm to your environment, no more than soil, rock or decayed vegetation would be expected to.

And to the panicking elderly Louisianian that was interviewed last week pleading with Obama to do something “because, hell, people are going to die here”…

No they are not, calm down, seabirds might die, fish might die, some plants might die, thats how oil gets made, but people won’t die because some oil gets washed ashore, not unless they are incredibly stupid and try to eat it.

So just calm down, take a deep breath, its a natural process and a direct consequence of your own country’s total reliance on the stuff and your decades-long defiance of the fact that you can’t keep building and owning vehicles that consume a gallon of the stuff every ten or so miles just so that you don’t have to walk fifty yards to the nearest store.

Theres a price to be paid, and elderly panicking Louisiana residents, its your turn to pay…

Heres what happened to us in 1967..

In March 1967 the captain of the oil tanker “Torrey Canyon” took a shortcut between the Scilly Isles and Cornwall and then realised why he wasn’t supposed to be taking a shortcut between the Scilly Isles and Cornwall when his 120,000 ton, 974 foot long oil tanker became stuck on the Seven Stones Reef.

As the ship broke up its full cargo of crude oil cause a huge slick that contaminated 120 miles of the coast of Cornwall and 50 miles of the French coastline too, our Prime Minister at the time, Harold Wilson, decided to order the RAF to bomb the ship and to set fire to the oil slick with napalm, things were so much simpler back in the 1960s, if you had a problem with waste you just set fire to it, it would be fine, don’t worry – just don’t let any of that oil come ashore onto the holiday beaches of Cornwall thats all.

We watched enthralled on TV News as the RAF’s finest dropped 42 1000lb bombs on the stricken vessel, some of which even hit the stationary target, and yet still it didn’t sink, well it wouldn’t would it, being stuck on a reef and all that.

Understated British Pathe newsreel here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV-EhBesVjg&feature=related

The oil washed ashore even as far north as Newquay where the famille de Jerrychicken were to take their summer holiday that year, copious quantities of detergent and the might of the British Army ensured that when we arrived there in the August of that year the sands appeared to be clean and unblemished by huge globs of crude oil as seen in those marvellous newsreel shots and yet as the 11 year old Jerrychicken was soon to discover, the glorious expanses of Cornwalls finest beaches had been merely window dressed for the holiday season for just beneath the surface of those beaches was oil, lots of it – the buggers had just ploughed it underneath and surface dressed the rest of it with clean sand.

Oh what fun we had that summer building sand castles, big black sand castles they were, dripping with tar, and what a lovely texture the sand had too for the oil made it a much more suitable medium for sand castle construction, more pliable, elastic and resilient to destruction by bigger kids, we’d tramp off the beach every evening exhausted with our construction efforts and totally blackened with crude oil only to be severely admonished by our mother by the liberal use of the palm of her hand around our heads, then scrubbed viciously with carbolic soap and a scrubbing brush in the small sink of our caravan.

But the important message to those elderly panicking Louisiana residents is that we British did not panic in the face of a devastating oil slick on our holiday beaches, oh no, we just adapted, Cornwall even made a feature of the oil, “Come and see our oily beaches” the railway posters all proclaimed, and we did, in our tens of thousands, the summer of 67 was the busiest holiday season that Cornwall can recall and there has been talk ever since of recreating the spectacle during those summers when the advance bookings aren’t quite as good as they could be.


2 thoughts on “Oil on the beaches

  1. Can you imagine the clamor if the Louisiana coast were filled with touristy beaches like Florida or California?

    I’m from Louisiana and sickened by the spill — but at least I can appreciate levity. Thanks for that.

    Oh and, “People won’t die unless they are incredibly stupid.” You’ve never been to Louisiana have you? Someone’s gonna be dying I can assure you!

  2. Looks like we might be finding out what Floridians think of the oil slick anytime soon !

    What you really need now is a hurricane, an off-shore hurricane, something bad enough to whip the sea up into a fury – that will get rid of the oil once and for all.

    Seriously, it happened in Scotland a few years ago, another tanker ran aground (its the downside of living on an island, sometimes they don’t draw the UK on maritime maps), spilled its oil everywhere, and even as detergent manufacturers were rushing to the scene a huge seven day long storm came and washed the whole scene clean like the worlds biggest washtub.

    Anyway, you can watch the live feed from the robots under the gulf as they try and fix the well, right here : http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.do?categoryId=9033572&contentId=7062605

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