Monday, 25 July 2016

Japanese knotweed: Aphalara itadori to the rescue

Councillors in the 'noughties will recall that after dog droppings, speeding motorists and unauthorised parking, the biggest complaint in their casebook was Fallopia japonica (or Polygonum cuspidatum or Reynoutria japonica - even its botanical name was a nuisance), aka Japanese Knotweed. Virtually indestructible by normal methods, any bit with two ends can lead to a fresh infestation. Hence, it is legally treatable only by certificated specialists. It does not make the headlines as it used to, but it is still a pest plant.

I was just getting to the end of my term as councillor when the first announcement was made of a possible biological control. The plant-louse aphalara itadori was identified as one of the few bugs which would eat the knotweed and, better still, appeared to specialise in it, so that there was not likely to be any collateral damage as with previous releases of intended biological controls (look up "cane toad"). Still, there needed to be extensive trials in a closed environment to be certain. It seems these have now concluded successfully and live releases, including some in south Wales have started.


Sunday, 24 July 2016

Swansea cricket week

I can remember when the bank holidays (we had only two during the cricket season then) saw Glamorgan entertain whatever tourist team was visiting Britain then. At least one of those fixtures would have been in Swansea. The county's luck was due to a historical anomaly, which was removed when there was a massive overhaul of fixtures. (Was this part of the MacLaurin reforms?)

However, Swansea still has a cricket week in high summer and there are attractive visitors starting next Sunday, when the county XI meets Hampshire in the One-day Cup. This is followed by a four-day county championship match against Northampton. John Williams of the Balconiers who have done so much to hold on to the cricket week has called for more sponsors which I hope he will find.


Saturday, 23 July 2016

Closing the lid on North Wales child abuse?

It seems that the last major case will be heard in September. Operation Pallial will be taking no new evidence after the end of next month, though the operation will continue until all evidence in its possession is followed up.

It will be interesting to see what Cathy Fox makes of the news.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Kashmir: hidden news

We have been quite rightly exercised about the threats to democracy in Turkey and before that the dangers of home-grown terrorism in France. However, these issues have caused Western media to take their eyes off the situation in Indian-administered Kashmir. There have been intermittent media closures following heavy-handed policing.

There is background information on the disputes in Kashmir and Jammu here.


Thursday, 21 July 2016

German hospitality to Britain over a generation

Tom Peck of the Independent does not neglect the trivia of Mrs Merkel's meeting with Mrs May yesterday. He relates that the two prime ministers retired to a "meal of veal and mushrooms followed by marinated wild berries and ice cream". The Chancellor clearly has a healthier life-style than her mentor, Helmut Kohl, who insisted that Mrs Thatcher sample his favourite Saumagen when he entertained the Iron Lady.


Dies Natalis

Around 70 years ago, at the Three Choirs Festival, Gerald Finzi conducted the first public performance of what is generally regarded as his master work, Dies Natalis. When I first heard the cantata, it made an immediate impression on a father of young children. I relived the words of Traherne through not only my own recollections but also as if through the eyes of Catherine and Alice.

I am grateful to the World Record Club for introducing me to the work. That particular recording by Wilfred Brown and an orchestra conducted by the composer's son has not been surpassed. It may still be available in some form. If so, and you have not heard it, seek it out.