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April 2009 - A New Angle on Life

Hello there, gentle viewers; may I bid you all a very warm welcome to this, the not so foolish, April edition of Nick Harvey's Comment?  I trust that you'll all find it both entertaining and educational, for that, believe it or not, is Comment's most important purpose in life.

Now, before we commence the proceedings proper this month, I need to surprise my faithful devotees with a minor digression from the path that shall be trod a little later on.  Please bear with me as I tidy up the odd administrative loose end or three.

It was in February of this year that I made my full administrative statement.  No madam, if you missed it then, you'll have to go back and read it later on.  There's no time to pop off there now, far more pressing matters need to be discussed.

You will all be delighted to know, I'm sure, that I am putting fingers to keyboard for this month's epistle with the aid of my nice new spectacles from those wonderful people at Specsavers.  I knew I should have gone there in the first place and I was right.

I should, perhaps, point out at this stage that last month's little rant was also produced with the aid of the new glasses, but I was so wound up about those idiots at TV Licensing (call them free on 0800 328 2020, in case you missed the number) that I omitted to spectacularly report back as promised in the February statement.

And to follow up on said rant from last month, yes, my paper television licence did, eventually, arrive.  They improved slightly on the length of their 2008 fiasco and managed to get it to me at the beginning of March, rather than at the end.

We shall now have to wait to see whether they get their useless system sorted out or if I have exactly the same trouble in 2010, for the third year in a row.  Watch this space, folks!

Okay, so that's the loose ends from previous exciting editions neatly snipped off and tidied away; now time to commence the treading of the April path and get under way for this month in earnest.

The subject for in-depth analysis under the Nick Harvey, Acme microscope for this edition actually came to me a little earlier today whilst 'er indoors and I were taking our afternoon constitutional and treading the path of the nature reserve, up on the local hill.

Now, the nature reserve, being what it is, has lots of trees, as you'd expect; and the hill, being what it is, has sloping sides, as you'd expect.

Well, I suppose not every single hill in the world has sloping sides, but I suspect the majority must do, otherwise we'd have to carry ladders around all the time in order to get up them, wouldn't we?

Oh, all right then, madam; and I suppose not every nature reserve is full of trees either.  Well, both the arguments sounded fairly sound when I started to write them down; it's just that they both seem to be deteriorating rapidly, a bit like my viewing figures if I don't sort out my logic pretty darned quickly.

You see, it's the logic of all this that's giving me a serious problem this month.  The complex logic connected with trees in nature reserves on sloping hillsides.  It's a very complicated subject, don't you know?

If you pop out into your back garden after you've read this, and plant a couple of seeds, then in a few weeks, with a bit of luck, a drop or two of water and a following temperate wind, they will start to grow.

When the seeds start to grow, you'll notice that they'll come out of the ground at roughly ninety degrees to the plane in which the surrounding soil is residing.  Okay so far, you will be thinking to yourselves at this point I suspect.

But what if, like in the nature reserve on the side of the hill, the plane in which the soil is residing is at forty-five degrees to the horizontal?  Now this is where things get ever so slightly complicated.

The seed won't have popped up more than a few inches of foliage before it ceases to proceed at ninety degrees to the plane of the the soil and starts to realign itself into a directly vertical direction of growth, regardless of the number of degrees the soil is lying out of the horizontal.

So if the hillside is leaning to the right at forty-five degrees, then why, I want to know, aren't the trees at right angles to it and leaning to the left at forty-five degrees?  Whilst wandering the nature reserve, I asked this of 'er indoors in case she might know.

Her reply, and also the one I'm guessing many of you good viewers would come up with as well, was that the trees are growing towards the light and the light is straight up in a vertical direction.

But the light isn't, actually, straight up and vertical is it?  Sitting, as the nature reserve does, at a latitude of something over fifty-one degrees north, then the light is never exactly overhead, even in the middle of the summer.

The sun, the greatest source of light known to man, on average, is quite a bit south of overhead.  So why aren't all the trees carefully facing south, pointing towards the sunlight?  That's what I now need to know.

I'm sure there's some highly logical explanation to all this and that one of you out there will send it to me, scribbled as ever, on the back of that five pound note.

On reflection, it's all rather reminiscent of that old joke about the water skier who never got any experience because, try as he might, he couldn't manage to find a lake that sloped.

I wonder if that's got anything to do with it?  We all know that water is always horizontal, so perhaps the roots of our trees have to go straight down to find the water, so in order not to have a forty-five degree bend at the level of the soil, where the roots turn into the trunk, the tree grows straight up after it leaves the soil.

That could be it, couldn't it?  Perhaps, in the best spirit of Nick Harvey's Comment, I've just managed to find my own answer to my own problem.  Wow, what an intelligent human being I am!

Having cracked that little problem without too much trouble, I guess that must be about it for this month.  If you have any alternative theories to my stupendous solution, then please don't forget to pop them on the back of that five pound note.  Send it along to the usual address.

A somewhat shorter edition than of late, I rather think, but with spring springing and the better weather coming along, you don't really want to be stuck indoors reading this rubbish for hours on end, you ought to be out treading the paths of the nature reserves of the real world, admiring the perfectly vertical trees.

I'll come up with some more thoughts, ready for the next edition on May Day, so do make sure you join me then.  In the meantime, I'm heading out to the back garden to check on the angle of my honeysuckle.  Right, I'm off, where's me spirit level?

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