Express & Star

Mark Andrews: End to the energy crisis, or just fool's gold?

Well it looks like the end of the cost-of-living crisis is in site, following the discovery of enough eco-friendly natural gas to meet our energy needs for the rest of the century beneath the site of a former agricultural equipment showroom in the West Midlands.

Embargoed to 0001 Wednesday 15 July File photo dated 16/08/13 of a Cuadrilla exploration drilling site as fracking faces an "uphill struggle" for public acceptability, Lord Chris Smith has admitted as his shale gas task force published a report on the local environment and health impacts of the industry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday July 15, 2015. The task force said shale gas extraction could be safe for the local environment and people's health in the UK if provisions were in place and regulated to prevent larger earthquakes, water contamination, gas wells leaking and methane pollution. See PA story ENVIRONMENT Fracking. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire.

Heath Robinson Geological Research made the discovery at the site in January, but the news was only made public this morning following the conclusion of an exclusive £560 billion distribution deal with TelDud Energy Supplies.

Junior energy minister Grant Cash said: "This announcement is a real game-changer for future energy policy.

"This development in green-technology means, as it were, we can move forward to a sustainable future, creating thousands of jobs.

"It means Britain is well placed, as it were, to become a global leader in clean energy. Let be me clear, this site, between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth, has enough resource to supply the world with cheap, clean energy, putting us in a strong position to make record investment in our wonderful NHS, and to have the lowest rates of taxation in the developed world."

April Fool! And ok, if you read this after midday, then the joke is supposedly on me. But forgive me if I don't lose too much sleep about that.

The run-up to April Fool's Day is always a period of time of great nervousness and trepidation for journalists – and news editors in particular – who have to sift through all manner of bogus press releases from bored public relations workers trying to see if they can get a bit of fake news in the paper.

Nine times out of 10, these are tedious and unfunny, wasting time we don't really have.

Just occasionally though, they can be quite clever and funny. There was the bookshop owner who claimed the author 'Salmon' Rushdie – who was, at the time, in hiding following an assassination order from the Iranian government – would be making a rare public appearance to sign his new book, Against the Tide. While this newspaper suspected the release seemed a bit fishy – the clue was in the spelling – a regional television journalist was taken in hook, line and sinker, even telephoning the shop owner to voice concerns about the author's safety. They really needn't have bothered, the press release did state that all visitors would need to bring ID and be searched for weapons.

Another year, the same bookshop owner also wrote an indignant letter complaining about his local council wasting money on Hollywood-style lettering on a hillside in Gornal Wood.

A popular prank in many workplaces used to be leaving notes for colleagues, telling them they had missed a call from 'Mr C Lyon', 'Mrs G Raffe' or 'Albert Ross', with the telephone number for Dudley Zoo. I imagined the joke very quickly wore off for the zoo staff who had to keep answering these calls. Then again, the zoo's press office did try a bit of similar tomfoolery of its own one Christmas.

About midday on Christmas Eve, when the phones were silent and thoughts began to turn to how we would fill the centres pages of the Boxing Day edition, a press release came through stating that the Department of Food and Reindeer Affairs (Defra) had granted Father Christmas a special licence to take Dudley Zoo's own herd of deer out that night. A news editor, who shall remain nameless, was taken in, and asked us to check it out.