Sunday, 16 February 2014


"The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is an 18th Century poem by Goethe. We are most familiar with it through the classic 1940 Disney animation Fantasia though apparently there is a 2010 version I have not seen.

  An old sorcerer leaves his apprentice in charge of the workshop for a brief period of time. Weary with his chores the apprentice begins to uses his amateur magic powers to force objects to do his will, recruiting them into his service as labour-saving devices. Soon however he begins to realize that he cannot control the forces he has awakened and the workshop descends into chaos as the multiple brooms and buckets he has inadvertently created assume a life of their own and begin to swamp the workshop, wreaking havoc. The poem finishes with the master's return to restore order.

 We are now being told that the floods in Somerset are directly attributable to decisions made years ago to cease the dredging of the local rivers so that wetland nature reserves would be formed without expensive intervention. "Just add water" they apparently quipped.

Well, the water has now been added and we see the consequences. 

 I am often reminded of the Sorcerer's Apprentice when our elected representatives pass legislation on our behalf. We have yet to see what forces -be they hydraulic or social- will be unleashed by those tampering with things that they do not understand. Of one thing I am quite certain, our representatives themselves will not be able to contain the consequences. 

Those of us who see this can only pray for the soon return of the Master.