In a handout I wrote recently describing the new footpath, Harpurs Crossing, I mentioned the ‘Thringstone Fault’, where the Leicestershire coalfield ends in a dramatic upward arc.  It set me thinking of a time when my father and I were in the mining business.

About forty five years ago the National Coal Board took over some of our land to win coal by opencast mining.  An acquaintance had told us that the clay under one coal seam was suitable for making drainage pipes, much used then but now largely replaced by plastic.  We formed a small company, had the clay analysed, and set off to interest local pipeworks; there were about a dozen in the Swadlincote area.  As the byproduct of another operation the price was competitive but at each address the pattern was repeated – the manager would chew on a sample to test for grittiness, check the chemical composition and turn us down – too much of this, too little of that. We felt we had backed a loser.

Shortly afterwards word got around that the Coal Board themselves were stockpiling thousands of tons of the clay at a nearby pipeworks they owned.  Almost immediately the phone started ringing with requests from those companies which had turned us down.  Before longwe  were selling all we could dig.  Not so much tipping point as herd instinct.

I believe we are now approaching a tipping point in our relationship with the EU.  If elections are held at the due time the Euro elections in  2014 will give a giant boost to UKIP, the eurosceptic party, as it did last time.  This will be fresh in our minds the following year when we go to the polls to elect our own MPs.  Surely by then they will have come off the fence and offered us what most of want – a free and independent Britain.