The Queen shows she's still capable of wielding a spade, why gorillas throw parties, bad news for Britain's most famous alpaca and why the government is acting like Dad's Army on climate change.
‘I’m still perfectly capable of planting a tree’
She may be 93, but Her Majesty is still perfectly capable of doing a spot of gardening — and she made a point of showing it on Tuesday, during a visit to the National Institute of Agricultural Botany in Cambridgeshire. When the NIAB’s chairman Jim Godfrey stepped in to plant a sapling on her behalf, Her Majesty put him straight: ‘No, no,’ she said. ‘I’m still perfectly capable of planting a tree.’
‘As she strode over to the sapling, already half-planted on the lawn, she showed she meant business by giving her black Launer handbag to a lady-in-waiting,’ reports The Evening Standard.
‘Once said tree was officially planted, she even leant on the spade like an allotment pro before her equerry Major Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah discreetly spirited away the implement.’
How not to get bitten by mosquitoes
It seems that every year we get more and more mosquitoes in Britain – perhaps it’s the hot, wet weather so far this summer. Anyway, the Telegraph has some tips on how not to get bitten that are worth a look if you’re one of those people that these nasty little bugs target.
Britain’s ‘most celebrated alpaca’ loses fight against death sentence
The Times reports on the impending fate of Geronimo, who now seems certain to be slaughtered having twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis. His owner, Helen Macdonald, claims that the tests were false positives based on faulty tests, and insists that DEFRA is ‘relying doggedly on flawed science.’
The High Court has now ruled in favour of DEFRA, however: ‘The judge acknowledged that the government accepted that ‘it is possible that Ms Macdonald is correct that the… test results are false positives… Nonetheless, the two positive results provide strong evidence, to a high degree of certainty, that he is so infected.’
On This Day in 1553: Lady Jane Grey becomes queen
We’ll check back in nine days time for a new ‘On This Day’ about how she was removed again.
British government ‘acting like Dad’s Army’ over climate change
Several high-profile members of the Committee on Climate Change have accused the government of dragging their heels over climate change. Baroness Brown, the CCC’s deputy chair, told the BBC that ‘there’s an increasing sense of frustration that the government knows what it has to do – but it’s just not doing it.’
But the pithiest quote came from committee chairman Lord Deben, the former agriculture minister John Gummer: ‘The whole thing is really run by the government like a Dad’s Army. We can’t go on with this ramshackle system.’
And finally… Why gorillas throw parties and cockatoos know how to dance
Mankind seems less and less exceptional every day. On Tuesday, an email arrived in my inbox with a video of a cockatoo who can dance to a beat — the first proven example of any animal except a human doing so:
And this morning Cambridge University unveils research about how gorillas throw parties to get together with old friends.
Dr Robin Morrison’s research — using information put together over decades — reveals all manner of hitherto-unreported intricacy within gorillas’ groups of family, extended family and friends.
Perhaps the most striking though is how they come back together once in a while to celebrate a sort of fruit festival, timed to coincide with the arrival of a particularly rare fruit crop somewhere within the region that they live. Different groups travel long distances to come together.
‘Our findings provide yet more evidence that these endangered animals are deeply intelligent and sophisticated,’ says Dr Morrison.