IRONY is everywhere. It surrounds us.
To some it may have looked like an innocent scene – a child doing a relative a favour.
But to most parents with any amount of decency the sight of a grandmother – it may have been an aunt who was a little weather-beaten, hard to tell – handing a little girl aged no more than five a cigarette to rush over to her mum a few yards away was a thing of near disbelief.
There are plenty of parents, millions in fact, who smoke in front of their children every day.
It’s a sad fact of life.
But to hand a cigarette – albeit unlit – to a child of very impressionable age as if she was being given a sweet to relay to an adult who really should know better is tantamount to scandalous.
So where does the irony come in?
This scene of familial grimness was happening on The Moor near Atkinsons and close to a photographic exhibition that will shake most right-thinking people to the core.
Tarnished Earth, a dramatic open air gallery of photographs by Jiri Rezac, also involves the devastation caused by tar.
While our fag-loving folk may not have cared a jot about the message they were sending to the child in their midst, the one issued by Rezac’s images ultimately affects us all.
Or those of us who like breathing clean air.
If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to go.
This free outdoor exhibition tells the story of one of the world’s biggest ongoing ecological disasters in the race for “dirty oil”.
Canada’s magnificent Boreal Forest is being destroyed by the rush to extract fuel from the tar sands just below the surface – and the sights on the three-metre high installations will do little for your mood.
Tarnished Earth is being staged by The Co-operative Group in conjunction with WWF-UK and Greenpeace.
So far it is estimated to have been seen by more than five million people.
The photographs contrast the destruction caused by the oil extraction with the Alberta forest’s pristine wilderness and the traditional way of life of the indigenous First Nation Cree.
While there’s probably little we can do as individuals to stop that tar-based destruction, we can at least stop our kids aspiring to pollute their own lungs.
Righteous fool? Maybe.
Parent with a conscience? Definitely.
ONE creature that does have some smarts about her is our cat Mildred.
She was recently fitted with a magnetic collar so only she can get through the catflap in the back door.
Well, in theory.
But clearly frustrated at not being able to let in her furry chums too, she has taken to entering the kitchen in a fashion that leaves her tail trailing so the catflap will not shut, thereby allowing other cats to literally tailgate.