Express & Star

Cathy Dobbs on floods, food and factory fodder

Millions were spent on flood defences for Bewdley but when the Environment Agency needed to get the barriers up to protect people’s homes and businesses what did they do? – ‘Computer says no’.

The River Severn defences at Bewdley were late going up

The ‘Computer says no’ catchphrase coined by Little Britain’s David Walliams is still as relevant today as it was when it was dreamt up 20 years ago. So while everyone in Bewdley knew the town was going to flood, the Environment Agency checked their data and delayed putting the barriers up, instead of playing it safe before the storm hit. But, there again we only spent £6.2 million on defences to keep people in Bewdley safe and dry – it’s a drop in the ocean for a government that seems to love throwing good money after bad.


Our main topic of polite conversation in the UK is the weather, it’s a good ice-breaker, especially when chatting with someone we don’t know well. Other countries aren’t as obsessed with the weather as we are though. My sister-in-law grew up in Hong Kong and says that instead of weather being their favourite topic of conversation, they discuss food. So, chatting to a stranger in a queue you would ask if they had eaten recently, what they’d had and how they had cooked it. Maybe they aren’t as stressed about body image in Hong Kong – after all the average weight of a Chinese woman is supposedly 8.8 stone, while the average UK woman is 11 stone, and in the US it’s around 12 stone.

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