A Driving Instructor's Blog


Still determined to prove that it was a UFO that hit that wind turbine last week, The Sun has now splashed the news across its front page that there is life on Mars.

ALIEN bugs are responsible for strong plumes of methane gas detected on Mars, it was claimed tonight.

The thing is, this story contains exactly the same information as this one and this one – separate stories from March and September 2004 . The gas was actually first detected in 2003 . Personally, I'm not really concerned about whether the methane is due to life or not. I'm more fascinated by these details:

  • the way The Sun chooses to omit or gloss over any information which might lead to the conclusion that the methane isn't produced by living organisms
  • the way The Sun deliberately pushes information that it likes down its readers' throats (reminds me of its pro-Thatcher bias in the 80s)
  • the way The Sun leaps on this in the wake of the damage caused to that wind turbine last week by what it says was 'definitely' a UFO from outer space.

Even Colin Pilger – the guy who made Britain a laughing stock by crashing a probe, which had no chance of landing safely, into Mars – quoted from the Telegraph's version of this story says:

It's not proof, but it makes it worth a much closer look.

(The Sun makes the same quote, but obviously attributes much less importance to it). Of course, to The Sun's staff and readers, it is a very small step from primitive methanogens to aliens driving spaceships into wind turbines in Lincolnshire. I was talking with a pupil last night and she says that everybody at work accepts completely that it was a UFO that hit the Lincolnshire turbine! Frightening, isn't it? They'd laugh at anyone who confessed to believing in God, and yet they're happy to believe in spirits, new age crap (aromatherapy, crystallography, and so on – I even have some who kiss photos of famous film stars before they take their tests), and UFOs with far less evidence to support them…!


The Sun can't let this one go. In the printed version (again, I can't find it online) they had one of their reporters at the site of the wind turbine damaged by that UFO carrying out scientific experiments. The story is titled 'Farmageddon '. Apparently:

The shroud of secrecy thrown around the wind turbine wrecked by a UFO was lifted yesterday for The Sun's X-Files-style hunt for aliens.

Oh dear! But intrepid reporter Brian Flynn managed to keep his wits about him on the 'eerily silent' fen (well, it was cold, and the fens aren't exactly the best place to be after torrential rain) as:

…the faint hum of [his] metal detector broke the silence as [he] swept around the base of the 290ft-high turbine.

Now that's how to set the scene, isn't it? There's a well-posed photo of Mr Flynn pointing to the turbine lying beside him (it's about the size of a jet engine, so you could easily miss it if he didn't point). Oh, and wait. It needs to appeal to Sun readers here:

Decked out in boiler suit, hard hat and high-visibility vest, [he] scanned the site for clues of alien life forms.

Alien life forms? Where did that come from? Is someone suggesting an alien might have had the passenger door open, whacked the turbine by accident, then fallen out? A spacechav , maybe? Now the bit I liked most of all:

In the shadow of the looming structure lay the remains of the 65ft-long blade torn off in the encounter.

Hang on a minute! The multitude of stories we've had to put up with this last week all clearly implied that the blade was missing – presumably, being examined by alien scientists at the equivalent of The Sun HQ on Omicron Persei 8 , or wherever the mothership the blade was embedded in flew back to after it pranged the turbine.

Close examination suggested it had taken an almighty blow from a large solid object…

No, really? But unfortunately:

…our hour-long mission to the bitter cold uncovered no sign of alien life.

Damn. And I had money on it – what with all that technology (i.e. the metal detector). I promise you, this one is going to run and run. With or without Nick Pope .


Nick Pope simply cannot consider any other possibility!

I wrote the other day about the UFO that had undoubtedly flown into a wind turbine in Lincolnshire. Nick Pope is the 'renowned' UFO expert who did not – even for a split second – consider any possibility other than it being a UFO from another world. The next day the story developed a little and it was being suggested that the collision might have involved a secret robotic stealth aircraft being tested by the military. Mr Pope was quick to dismiss this outright as an absurb idea – it was definitely an alien spacecraft which did it.

It does make you wonder what colour the sky is in Mr Pope's world.

And today, in The Sun newspaper again (paper version – I can't find it in the online version), Mr Pope is now saying that even if it was a stealth aircraft the technology it used was not of this world.


Great stuff in yesterday's press. The Sun (registered at the Post Office as a comic) declared:

UFO Hits Wind Turbine

across its front page. The Daily Mail – which has got into the habit of reporting exactly what The Sun has, but a day later – has enhanced the story:

Unmanned stealth bomber could have been UFO responsible for destroying wind turbine

I love the way the most ridiculous explanation possible comes so readily and excitedly to these people.The Definitive UFO Picture

When you consider that a sparrow is quite capable of bringing down a 747 if the two happen to meet unexpectedly you can't help but marvel at the technology which could smash into a 65ft wind turbine blade and then fly off unharmed. Even more so when you remember that the same technology wasn't quite so robust over Roswell in the 1940s.

I particularly like the 'definitive' photo of (the) UFO taken by a local village idiot. The crash happened at 4am (that's in the middle of the night – when it's dark) – the photo is clearly taken in broad daylight . The Mail reckons the crash happened 'hours later' – technically this is correct, but 'many hours later' would be a more appropriate claim given the position of the sun in that photo, and allowing for the fact that sunset is around 4pm this time of year.

So this photo was taken more than 12 hours earlier – probably more than 15 judging from the sun's elevation. Getting on for a whole day earlier, in fact. Not quite as neat and tidy as they'd have you believe.

But anyway, back to that photo.

Anyone heard of Sundogs? (Sorry to use Wikipedia as a reference, but it illustrates what Sundogs are all about. In any case, it's probably the primary research source for most journalists involved in this story anyway). Can anyone see the obvious similarities here?

Let's face it, the 'definitive UFO picture' isn't a UFO at all, is it? It's just an optical phenomenon caused by clear sky, low sun, very low temperatures, and a few clouds or even aircraft contrails.

It's a Sundog!Sundog Example 2

It even appears slap in the middle of a cloud or contrail – precisely the way it happens!

Yet the jackasses at both The Mail and The Sun aren't interested in facts, and behave as if the photo is actually of a UFO. Doesn't it occur to these people that the simplest and most logical explanations must be considered first?

And the official crazy guy… sorry: UFO Expert … Nick Pope, who follows all these things up said:

What's particularly exciting is that because there's been a collision, there will be residue of the object involved.

What's funny is that they haven't even found the missing turbine blade, let alone the Mothership it is apparently embedded in. So Mr Pope is perhaps a little premature in proclaiming:

Forensic science will enable this material to be recovered and analysed. This elevates this UFO case, because with most sightings all you have is eyewitness testimony or indistinct and shaky film footage taken on a mobile phone.

Yeah, it's a good job that photo of the UFO is so incontrovertible! It's got to be the funniest story for a long while.


In the UK we have a road sign which warns you you’re near a rest home or other area where you might encounter elderly or infirm pedestrians (shown here).

Old or Infirm People road sign

Old or Infirm People road sign

According to a story in the press this week (various newspapers, but full story in the Daily Mail) campaigners are demanding for it to be scrapped because it is ‘insulting to today’s fitter, healthier senior citizens’. They’re saying that it should be replaced with traffic calming measures (it often is) or a new image which is more politically correct.

Help The Aged senior policy officer Lizzy McLennan (26) says: “Very few older people are hunched over, with a walking stick.

“They are assuming everyone who is old looks like that, and they don’t.”

Erm, no Lizzy. They’re not doing that, nor have they ever done so (and at your age you probably wouldn’t know that). What they are doing is warning you that you might encounter infirm people.

Gordon Lishman (no age given), director-general of Age Concern says:

“The motivation behind these signs is positive.

“However, in practice a reduced speed limit in such areas, as implemented in school districts, would be a more welcome way to achieve this.”

Hold on, Gordon. Don’t get carried away. School districts also have a road sign irrespective of whether or not they have traffic calming measures. Haven’t you seen this one? And while we’re on the subject, do children actually look like that nowadays?

Barry Earnshaw (65), chief executive of Age Concern Lincoln says:

“I am 65, so therefore I am considered an elderly person.

“The sign doesn’t represent older people as they are today.

“There should be a generic sign that is representative of all vulnerable pedestrians, regardless of age.

“The objective is to make people slow down – there needn’t be separate signs for sifferent types of pedestrians. It is very outdated.”

Of course it is, Barry. I’m sure your ‘generic sign’ – perhaps a smiley face or something – would be really useful outside schools, stables, and hospitals and would prevent a great many injuries and deaths. But what on earth would be the point of putting up a warning sign at all if senior citizens nowadays are all fit, athletic, superheroes? It must just be my imagination that they’re building so many care homes and ‘retirement villages’ around the country.

At least some people haven’t succumbed to senility just yet. The Taxpayers’ Alliance said the objections were ridiculous and a waste of public money. Campaign director Mark Wallace said:

“They should pay more attention to the real concerns of older people – rising taxes and soaring household bills.”

Problem is, Mark, the ones kicking up the stink probably don’t have to worry about those things. That’s why they have so much free time on their hands to come up with ridiculous stuff like this. Whatever happened to eating ice cream on the benches in shopping centres and trying to get on the bus 10 minutes before their bus passes become valid?

Waterfowl warning sign

Waterfowl warning sign

But the best response has to be the one that came from the Highways Agency. A spokesman said they would not be making further alterations.

“To change every sign in the country would cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds – and a change in the law.

“It’s not a simple process, and I don’t think most people would see it as a high priority for government spending.”

Quite. But while we’re on the subject I think the RSPB ought to start a campaign as a result of that highly offensive sign warning of waterfowl. Every duck and moorhen in the country should be compensated for the gross insult that sign has delivered concerning their appearance.