Planet Earth, as seen from my windows.




Looking out of my windows this bright Monday morning, I can see the World about its business.

The men have finished cutting down the foliage on that man made hill that sits behind my back yard. It will look like a moonscape until the Spring brings new foliage turning it back into a little piece of rural England. In the meanwhile there is something attractively barren about it sitting there – as it might have looked when those 11th. Century builders finished piling up thousands of buckets of soil to create a fortified outlook for advancing enemies.

The scaffolders have finished constructing their climbing frames a round the police station too. Soon work will start on refurbishing it as a base worthy of our local bobbies on the beat. There had been a plan to move the police to a new headquarters on the outskirts of town but this has now been rejected and they will now stay as my neighbours to keep an eye on my behaviour and to warn me about those advancing enemies.

Apparently, and I don’t know this for sure, but apparently, the main reason for them moving away from this lovely old building was that the stairs down to the cells had failed a health and safety inspection by being too narrow. This will now be rectified, I am told. Everyone who thought that the police usually escorted prisoners to their cells with a well aimed kick to the back will snigger but the rest of us will just thank our local constabulary for their warm-heartedness towards the local criminal fraternity.

Other lively activity from the vantage point of my windows, is that some workmen have started renovating a rotten bow window across the road on the end building on this Georgian terrace. I assume that it would have been a shop in the 19th. Century but it still makes a very handsome vista now that it has been turned into a domestic house.

Sadly another neighbour is in the process of moving. The herbalist shop is relocating and I can see the owners busying themselves in the final stages of moving out. So where will I go for those herbal remedies, creams and elixirs that were so convenient there, just across the road. I will also miss the owner who used to sit on his doorstep on a summer’s day playing his didgeridoo.

In case you didn’t realize, this is the most liberal and middle class town in England – handy for all those little essentials. Not just herbal remedies but if you wander round town, you will find guitar and lute makers, antiquarian books, organic meat, incense, a very chic French shoe shop, our very own brewery and a greengrocers with a live jazz band.

In other words, this is the very height of civilization.

I was wondering about civilization whilst reading about the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference that is being held this week in Chicago – another highly civilized place with some of the best architecture and jazz in the world.

Alan Boss, an exceedingly clever scientist from the Carnegie Institute in Washington has been talking about the launching next month of Nasa’s Kepler spacecraft which will search out Earth-like Worlds in space.

Alan Boss tells us that the discovery of hundreds of planets around distant stars in our own galaxy suggests that there are bound to be many life supporting plants throughout the universe.

He suggests that for every sun-like planet, or to put it another way, for every star that we can see in the night sky there will be an Earth-like planet revolving around it.

Well, my small brain boggled enough at this but he went on to tell us that there may be 10o billion galaxies in the Universe with a possible 10 billion trillion planets that could support life.

Now, if they can all maintain civilized life comparable to Planet Earth, I wonder just what that would be like.

Would they have all those bankers milking off our money?

Would they even have money?

Would they have dictators like our present crop of bullies?

Or would they all vote for President Obama and the Dalai Lama?

Would they have herbal shops and jazz club greengrocers shops?

Or even didgeridoos or guitars?

Or could there be a John Lennon Imagine planet? A Utopia?

Surely it would be too depressing to think that there isn’t even a 10 billion trillion to one chance that at least one of those civilizations could be a peaceful, egalitarian world where a man-like creature could live in perfect harmony with the rest of the planet’s natural history.

We will never find out of course because it would take thousands of years for us to get to them.

Maybe we could send those bankers, along with President Mugabe and a few others, off on spaceship Kepler to find them.

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