I had popped round to wish my good friend Sidney a belated Happy New Year. I hadn’t seen him since he was so upset by that Halloween business I told you about. He was in a bit of state again, pouring over a map of the world as it was millions of years ago, when Australia was pretty much joined to Africa. Sidney told me how Mr Bowen his geography teacher had explained continental drift, but how it happened and how fast the continents come together or split apart had, over the years, become a touch vague to Sid.
‘I’m a bit rusty on this, Dave.’
Why worry about it now?
‘Well, Dave, I think that Liam Fox knows something we don’t.’
I thought this improbable, but Sidney was having none of it.
‘No, Dave, he’s been put up to it, who by, I don’t know – maybe by Dr Short, his chief scientific whatsit.’
Put up to what?
‘Continental drift. Do you think it’s happening faster with global warming? That could be it, you know.’
‘Moving to the Pacific.’
Who, Liam Fox?
‘No, Dave, us. Britain, UK – well, it’ll be Ireland too, on account of them being attached, whatever that Arlene Foster says. We’re continental drifting to the Pacific.’
Wherever did Sidney get such an idea? Breitbart?
‘No, but stands to reason. Fox says our best bet is to join this Trans Pacific Partnership. Why else would we do that, unless we’re there? Makes no sense. Bit of a problem, of course, since Trump hates it, and Fox wants a deal with him too. But we have to join this Pacific crew apparently. I know it happens, this drifting, but it’s the speed that’s shocking, by 2021 or 2023 or whenever. To say that’s soon, in geological time, is an understatement.'
What about things like the Channel Tunnel?
'Well, I don’t give that more than a couple of weeks before it comes unplugged. And there’s all sorts of other questions. Do we take our sea areas with us, you know, Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger and all that, for the shipping forecast? ‘Cos if we don’t, the blue passport brigade will be up in arms, though they won’t be fussed about German Bight or South East Iceland. And our fish, will they come – all those herrings and Cornish mackerel and so forth – or do we leave them for the Spanish? In the Pacific they get earthquakes, proper ones, not like in Cheshire. That’ll upset the frackers, which is one good thing I suppose, Dave. But it’ll be bye bye North Sea oil and gas; which means lucky, lucky Norway.'
And whereabouts in the Pacific might we end up?
‘Blowed if I know. There’s a nice big space between the Aussies and the Kiwis, but after the cricket we need to get lucky and hope we dodge the Tasman Sea. A bit further south might be good? We own a stretch of the Antarctic don’t we? Tie up with that. Fox doesn’t know which way we’re heading, but he seems up for it regardless.’
In the face of this view of our changing place the world, I had no idea what to say. Where do you start when somebody’s totally lost it? And Sidney didn’t seem too steady either.