Thawerapsaw, Gadda ge, Baie dankie, Ntyox teru’, Seé, Iyayraykere….

I reckon Joanne would have liked to say thank you to a few people.

Men such as the raiders of the United States SEAL team who found and killed Osama bin Laden. People such as the occupants of the CIA ‘safe house’ in that sleepy Pakistani town which was home to the Pakistani equivalent of West Point, or Sandhurst; the guys who actually helped determine whether the shadowy occupant of that well-protected building was the ‘most-wanted’ man in the whole world. Joanne would have liked to shake the hand of the head of the CIA Leon Panetta, and the secretive but steely people who work for that sometimes harshly-judged group, who organised the enhanced search teams upon a directive from  his boss, President Obama. Joanne would have spoken kindly to the people who built and flew the helicopters which helped keep the secret of the attack until the last moment.

She might have liked to congratulate the President herself, but would have liked to have also congratulated his predecessor President Bush, because he commenced the tiny, very personal war which ended in the death of bin Laden.

I keep saying ‘would have’, or ‘might’; when writing of Joanne’s thoughts or actions in these days when at least one of America’s enemies has been given the last rites of his religion before being given a burial at sea: but all I can do but surmise. You see, I really don’t know how Joanne would have reacted to the news, but I like to think I have guessed right, because even truly gentle people have a right to get annoyed some time!

Meanwhile, back in the ‘Real’ world…

Been driving recently? Been out for a long walk through  scenic hills or moorlands? Done any running to get a little fitter? Ever  wondered how the Channel Tunnel boys managed to meet in the middle less than  six inches off track? Read of an amazing rescue by helicopter miles out to sea,  with absolutely no land reference points to guide the pilot and navigator? Oil  spill tracking, to animal migration habits, it is all done at the click of a  mouse and the touch of a button; the mouse and buttons being of course  connected to a G.P.S. (Global Positioning Satellite) receiver. You can track  your exact location, within ten yards of course, at any place upon this Planet  Earth, and the greatest thing about the American G.P.S. system is that once you  have purchased your Tom-Tom, or Garmin or whichever of the dozens of systems  available, there are no charges whatsoever! Amazing that! absolutely free to  use. Fair enough, if you want more maps, or updated speed-camera lists, or  whatever else, you may have to pay extra, but you still do not pay one penny  towards the G.P.S. system itself. Free, like America is; free as the air we  breathe!

So you might be asking yourself why you, as a British taxpayer,  are paying into a huge money pot to launch thirty, that is twenty-seven plus  three spare satellites, to serve as an alternative G.P.S. system? Because you, along  with the other 350 million residents of the nations who make up the European  Union, are doing exactly that. You, or rather the European Space Agency, on  your behalf, are spending mind-boggling sums of money shovelling test-vehicles  into orbit, and preparing to spend even more mind-bending sums of your cash on  the launch rocketry, receiving stations and operating personnel; all so that  Europe can say “We have one as well!” The boast of the Europeans, by the way,  is that they will be making a profit; on an estimated total cost of £21 billion.

I bet you feel really proud right about now, don’t you?