November 30th, 2006

International Kittens of Mystery

Questions not asked

With the TV news crammed full of KGB death squad Polonium stories, with Polonium 210 traces being found - apparently - wherever anyone looks for it, with two planes grounded and five buildings in London sealed off, there's one obvious question that no one on the TV news channels seems to be asking - is there anywhere they've looked that they haven't found Polonium 210?

It seems bizarre to me that so many places are contaminated. Did the KGB agents run around London spraying Polonium at Mr. Litvinenko? Ooops, missed again. The fly spray: Fsssss - sorry, sir, I thought I see big wasp on your nose. The department store perfume: Fsssss - what you think, sir? Manly fragrance all the way from Mockba. Drive ladies wild.

Or, as some pundits suggest, the traces came from the faeces, urine and sweat of Mr. Litvinenko? Five buildings and two planes worth of it?

Another possibility came from an expert on Sky News. When asked about Polonium 210 he replied off the cuff, 'You find it everywhere. It comes from tobacco smoke. In fact it's the part that causes all the cancers."

Strangely this expert was never quoted or heard from again. Of course I wouldn't suggest that friends of the tobacco industry met said expert as he left the building and escorted him round to the nearest sushi bar...

But... why hasn't anyone asked about the normal background level of Polonium? Are the traces being discovered in areas where there were a lot of smokers? And what level of trace is being found? A thousand times above normal, a million, ten?

Roll on interactive TV. I know you can email news programs but it's not the same as pausing the interviewer and posing your own question.

I am reminded of the time I spent on the jury of Bournemouth's Great Cucumber Crime. As a jury member, British law prevents me from divulging details of the trial. If I did the British justice system would collapse and a spate of cucumber crimes would sweep the nation. But I remember the frustration of sitting in that jury knowing which questions should have been asked and not being able to ask them. The prosecution lawyer was barely competent and the judge and defence lawyer seemed more interested in making sure the proceedings for each day closed in good time to make the 16:40 train to London.

I sat in the box and seethed. I'd read all of Agatha Christie's works - even the short stories. I'd watched Perry Mason. I knew the criminal mind. I knew all about pertinent questions, trial procedures and how to choreograph a denouement. But I was surrounded by amateurs. No surprise witnesses were called. The bloodstained cucumber was never challenged...

Alas, I can say no more.
International Kittens of Mystery

Kai Excels himself

Well, I knew I shouldn't have written that piece yesterday about Kai's climbing ability.

Today, he excelled himself.

He was on top of our Welsh Dresser, threading his way past the glass storage jars when ... he lost his balance. A back paw grasped at empty air, its companion paw joined it, he started to fall and ... reached out with his front paws to grab the nearest object. Which happened to be a glass Kilner jar. The jar toppled over taking Kai with it. Kai let go of the jar and grabbed for the spice rack, assorted glass bottles and practically everything else on the Dresser shelves - except, of course, the Dresser shelves. That would have been too practical. His descent was spectacular. And strewn with flying glass bottles of various shapes and smells.

Smash. Glass everywhere. Spices everywhere. Panicked cat running off at great speed. A speed far faster that claws on polished tile can cope with. Cue much skidding and unexpected changes of direction. The most unexpected being when he flew back to the scene of crime and ran through the glass for a second time.

Luckily no one - except for the vanilla, an easily bruised spice - was hurt. All glass and pottery vases have now been removed from the top of the Dresser.