This England

Hennessy also has an eye for detail. He has discovered that in the event of a surprise nuclear attack, the commander of whichever Trident submarine is on patrol is instructed to scan the airwaves for signs of life back home. The failure to pick up Radio 4's Today programme for several successive days is regarded as the ultimate sign of total destruction. - Observer (Brian Smith)

Bedlington in Northumbria responded to Nasa's invitation to provide material for the Message to Mars. Malcolm Robinson, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, said: "We'll offer any alien visitors a range of discounts, with pensioner rates for haircuts, and discounts on food and clothing. They won't get a warmer welcome anywhere in England." He added: "God knows if they'll understand our accents." - Guardian (Camilla Inglis)

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This article first appeared in the 27 November 2000 issue of the New Statesman, The rise of stealthy wealth