The US military has announced that its fleet of 70-year-old B-52 bombers will be modernised so they can keep flying.
And strangely, this makes me very happy.
The B-52 was designed in the early 1950s to drop nuclear bombs on Russia.
So its sole purpose was to flatten cities and kill as many people as possible.
Later, during the Vietnam War, it was adapted so it could drop ordinary bombs, but the goal was still the same.
And it remained unchanged in the Balkan War as well.
In the summer of 2003, I would sit in my garden and watch them lumber over my house, having taken off from nearby RAF Fairford.
And then 17 hours later, I’d watch them coming into land again. And I’d always think: “What on earth were you doing while you were gone?”
I knew, of course. They’d been dropping hundreds of tons of high-explosives on Baghdad.
By rights, then, I should be horrified to hear these eight-engined giants are to continue in service until they are 100 years old. And yet.
I went once to the endlessly sunny Davis–Monthan airbase in Arizona, where, under the watchful gaze of Russian spy satellites, B-52s were being destroyed by a giant guillotine.
America had agreed to decommission many of them as part of the nuclear reduction deal, and I found it rather sad seeing these old girls queuing up to have their arms cut off. One of them was called Memphis Belle III.
I had the same sense of sadness when I went to a small lake in the centre of Hanoi, because even to this day you can still see the remains of a B-52 that was shot down by the North Vietnamese.
This is the problem. Some machines are more than the sum of their parts.
They have a personality and a character. Concorde, for example, or the Flying Scotsman.
Both were more than a few hundred tons of steel and aluminium and glass.
And the B-52 definitely falls into this category. Bands have been named after it, and cocktails. It even has a nickname: BUFF.
You’ll be told in polite circles this stands for Big Ugly Fat Fella. But that’s wrong. What it actually stands for is Big Ugly Fat F***er.
Which is another reason I like it, because I’m a BUFF as well.
SAS will end EU tantrum
WHEN Britain left the EU, everyone on the other side of the Channel was expecting us to starve and die in squalor surrounded by some upended red telephone boxes and a broken-down Land Rover.
Which explains why they’re so cross that we are beating them hands down in the race to get people vaccinated.
So far, they’ve done two people for every 100, whereas we have done ten.
This week, EU leaders behaved like a playground full of spoiled four-year-olds and said that companies making the vaccines in Europe must get permission before exporting them to the UK.
Permission which, I guess, wouldn’t be granted.
I hope they do this, because then we would have an opportunity to demonstrate that we excel in other areas too . . . such as sending a plane full of SAS guys over to their vaccine factory in Belgium, and asking them to get busy.
All skin and groans
Like all good citizens, I’m now absorbing more alcohol through my hands than I do through my mouth.
And it’s not just sanitiser, either.
Like everyone, I spend most of the day running my mitts under the tap and scrubbing away with a bar of soap that has more chemicals in it than the river systems of Bhopal.
And now comes news from doctors that this obsession with cleanliness is causing a massive increase in eczema cases.
That’s not good news. I used to suffer from eczema, and once it became so badly infected I had to be completely mummified and was hospitalised for two weeks.
Whereas when I had the Covid, I sat in bed for ten days watching Bond films, drinking wine and eating cheese.
007 to oh… ooh heavens
IT was suggested this week that Ana de Armas, the star of the never-to-be-released new Bond film, is set for global superstardom.
People always say this of every new Bond girl, but it rarely turns out that way.
Ursula Andress, the eye candy in the first proper 007 movie, Dr No, went on to do soft porn.
Eva Green has been mostly naked since Casino Royale, Carole Bouquet hasn’t worn a stitch since For Your Eyes Only and Maud Adams, who appeared as a Bond girl twice, filled the time in- between by winning a Nobel Peace Prize. Only kidding.
The list goes on and on until you get to A View To A Kill star Tanya Roberts, who died twice recently.
Her other credits include Sins Of Desire, Forced Entry, Pleasure Cove, The Yum Yum Girls and Deep Down. None won an Oscar.
If history repeats itself then, the next film in which we can expect to see Ms de Armas is likely to be called Shaving Ryan’s Privates.
Needled by Covid queries
EVERY time there’s a coronavirus press conference, Boris, the talking turtle and that other bloke – the James May of the operation – make their statements then ask political journalists for questions.
So do they ask if anyone who’s been vaccinated has gone on to catch the disease?
Or do they ask if there’s any truth to German reports that the Oxford jab only works on eight per cent of the over-65s?
No. Instead, what we get is: “So, Prime Minister. Now that you’ve murdered 100,000 people by dithering, will you cut your own head off?”
There’s no point to a question like this because Boris is never going to say: “Yes. It’s all my fault. I had some bat for supper and now everyone is dead.”
I get so angry, it makes my teeth itch.
In the years to come, all sorts of inquiries will be held to see what went wrong and what can be done to make sure we are better prepared in the future.
In the meantime, can we just ask questions which are relevant now.
A little less conversation
AS a man, I’ve never seen the appeal of phoning someone “for a chat”.
And now we have the pandemic, I can’t see the point either.
Because this is how the call goes.
“Hi. What you been up to?”
“Not much. You?”
“Not much either.”
Not smart at all
TO try to halt the alarming death rate caused by (not so) smart motorways, transport chiefs are looking at new technology which will alert drivers when a broken-down car is blocking one of the lanes.
And how will they pay for this? Simple.
The speed limit will be reduced to 3mph so that every single driver on the motorway will be caught by one of the cameras, and fined.
Go the whole way
BAD news I’m afraid.
One in ten of the nation’s bicycle- friendly “low traffic neighbourhood schemes” has had to be scrapped.
What this means, of course, is that nine out of ten have not been scrapped.
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