30 April 2007

The White Cliffs of Dover c.12,000BC-2007

The As A Dodo Editorial team apologise for the following obituary. It would seem that, contrary to approved practice, our obituarist did not attend the scene from which he was reporting, relying instead on the in-no-way-hysterical reportage provided by the BBC, ITV News, Sky News and print media, all of whom chose to cover a small earthquake in which one person suffered minor injuries as the end of the world. The obituarist will be offered a pearl-handled revolver and asked to do the decent thing just as soon as he can be bothered to unstick himself from the sofa and trudge into the office.

There are no more bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover, after that ancient symbol of this sceptred isle crumbled and sank beneath the English Channel following the complete destruction of Kent, and everyone in it, during a massive earthquake on Saturday morning.

The White Cliffs of Dover were born 12,000 years ago at the end of the Devonian era as the Ice Age ended and the melting glaciers exposed those chalk edifices in their full, pasty glory for the first time. Within days, the Cliffs became a rallying point for patriotically-minded hunter-gatherers unnaturally proud of their new island status, sending out a message of British independence to those pesky Gauls across the Channel – not to mention becoming a popular jumping-off point for effete Guardian-reading hunter-gatherers who had already grown weary of patriotically-minded hunter-gatherers' intolerance towards their European neighbours.

Over the centuries the Cliffs guarded the gateway to Britain, warning off invaders from Napoleon to Hitler who schemed to add this green and pleasant land to their empire of subjugated territories, and completely failing to halt those invaders like Julius Caesar and William the Conqueror who had the nous to land at more gently-sloping beaches further along the coast.

During the darkest days of World War Two, The Cliffs had their “finest hour” – single-handedly defeating the Luftwaffe – and were immortalised (or so it was believed at the time) by Vera Lynn in her 1940 hit download, White Cliffs (Don’t Do It) in which she rapped about the dangers of becoming addicted to a powerful narcotic cut by profiteering spivs with large quantities of Dover chalk. (might need to check this bit, where's Wikipedia?)

But the war had taken its toll on the Cliffs and they no longer had the strength to raise two fingers to the Continent. Membership of the European Union led to the construction of a monumental folly – a railway tunnel linking France and England. Giant machines bored a huge hole through the Cliffs' heart, allowing millions of tourists to travel at high-speeds to London and thousands of desperate refugees dreaming of a better life to take up those really crappy jobs that Britons themselves refused to touch with a barge pole - much to the outrage of those very same Britons who kept complaining loudly about "these bloody people coming over here" even as they purchased their burgers from them, got them to fix their dodgy sewerage systems and sent them out to drown whilst cockle-picking.

Fatally undermined, the Cliffs stood no chance against the powerful earthquake measuring a massive 4.3 on the Richter scale (about the equivalent of two bluebirds colliding) which struck in the Straits of Dover. Panic ensued as Canterbury Cathedral collapsed, its extensive building insurance failing to protect it from an Act of God, the people of Tunbridge Wells were buried under an avalanche of disgusted letters to the Daily Mail about the incorrect use of the word "whom" and the town of Sandwich's plan to shelter itself between two layers of bread proved a complete and utter failure.

Kent slid into the English Channel and the Garden of England became the Sunken Garden of England, the White Cliffs of Dover hanging on until the very end when even they were submerged beneath the churning grey water and buried at sea, along with the last vestiges of Britain’s insular and arrogant attitude towards the rest of Europe and everyone in it. But still… at least we’re now a lot further away from the French.