Laterally Speaking – Sea Fever

We live in a country with a long tradition of ships and the sea. As an island we’re surrounded by water, so the sea is pretty important to us. In which case, I sometimes wonder in a laterally loony sort of way why we don’t make a bit more use of it? I mean… we go swimming in it, go fishing in it, sail upon it and sometimes lie on our backs on the beach just admiring it, but this is all fairly peripheral stuff. Our country has some serious problems—chronic shortage of housing, clogged transport infrastructure, shrinking ‘green pastures’ etc—so maybe we should view our seas and waterways more as potential strategic solutions.
For example, if you were stuck bumper to bumper for 4 hours during the bank holiday traffic while the child in the rear windscreen of the car in front made rude faces at you, then you’ll know all about our overcrowded road system. One of the great things about the sea is that it’s big, wide and relatively empty and it runs all the way along our coast, so lets take the “load off the road!” Can somebody please launch a line of small cruise ships sailing twice a day from London Bridge, Broadstairs, Brighton and Southampton all the way to Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. No static traffic, no petrol fumes and no screaming kids crying ‘are we there yet?’ OK, so there might be some slight discomfort on stormy days, but little brown bags could be provided on board to help if there’s a mere whiff of sea sickness. Just think of it—a fleet of half a dozen high speed hydrofoils in bright Jurassic green—the newly trending way to travel… sample the magnificent view and fill your lungs with fresh nautical ozone as you speed westwards along the south coast. In summer months, we could even offer water skiing for the bolder and braver commuters.
And what about our overcrowded landscape and lack of suitable accommodation? Well, there’ll be loads of room when we builHumphrey walwyn seaton on sead houses on the sea—on stilts! No more small dark apartments on the backend of industrial parks… now you can open the front door and let in the horizon and the bright sea breezes! Admire the view while you wash your hair on the balcony (salt water can be good for the scalp). Go fishing for sea bass from your kitchen window and drive to work on a jet-ski! What are you waiting for? Come and live in the floating new towns of Exeter-Lakeside and Beaminster-on-sea (literally!). And, if the roaring surf is too noisy for you or Granny feels a bit queasy when the stilts wobble at high tide in a gale, then choose the quieter waterborne option…
Welcome to Chesil Terrace! Safely moored on the still waters of the Fleet near Abbotsbury are rows of stately houseboats—top of the line dream dwellings in the lee of Chesil beach. Relax on your very own quarterdeck as you feed passing swans by hand. Be the master and commander of your own vessel and learn how to play the violin like Russell Crowe!
And why stop at transport and housing? For energy, people are talking about placing massive wind turbines out to sea all along the Jurassic coast. Although this concept is already under consideration, perhaps it would placate public opinion if the turbines were positioned out of sight and a really long way away. Like quite near France. This would have an added advantage of blockading in the French and keeping them away from our shores. This naval chain of steel windmills might also deter other incoming foreign migrants trying to reach England. No, I’m not talking about the poor wretched travelers from Libya or Malaysia crossing the sea and trying to reach safety. I’m talking about a new wave of potential migrants from rather nearer to home… the Scots.
Having achieved almost total Scottish domination in the general election, the SNP is but one caber’s throw away from talk about independence again. But last September’s referendum result shows there are many hundreds of thousands of Scots who would rather stay within the United Kingdom. So where do they go? To England of course! Some of them may try to cross the border at night near Gretna Green while others may fly into heavily over-crowded English airports, but there will be very long queues at immigration control and there’s a good chance they could be turned back en masse. Hence my suggestion that flotillas of over crowded boats from Oban and Skye and Stranraer might make the long and perilous journey to the south coast because they know they’d receive a warm welcome here and be picked up by the wonderful Lyme Regis and Weymouth lifeboats. They would probably be placed in temporary internment camps in the wilder parts of the Marshwood Vale but the Scots are a hardy race and they would be overjoyed to have escaped to a new life in the rural south west of the UK. Slightly improbable, I admit, but it’s an interesting thought…