Welcome to another edition of WWG NEWS!

HM Government doesn’t often send me a text message on my mobile phone, but I got one today. It referred me to https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus which re-iterated the PM’s message of Friday last: Stay At Home. It also gave a long list of links to various benefits and sources of recourse in the case of hardship, plus the availability (or lack of it) of other official services such as justice, housing and suchlike local services.

Three of my favourite programmes on BBC Sounds are Digital Planet, Science In Action and From Our Own Correspondent. From the first of these, I heard about the world’s bananas being threatened with their very own pandemic, and how there is an app to help African farmers identify resistant varieties. Now, for most of us, bananas are long, yellow and bent, but they don’t have to be. I used to buy a particularly tasty small red banana in the supermarket in Plainsboro, N.J.

There are about 1,000 types of banana, but there’s only one you generally see on sale in England: the Cavendish (see picture), aka Nature’s Own Junkfood. It is such a familiar sight you’d fancy it came out of the Ark with Noah. But it’s only been popular since my boyhood in the 1950s or 1960s, when it was selected to replace a similar looking but better flavoured variety called Gros Michel, or “Fat Mike”. Poor old Mike fell victim to Panama Disease and its large scale cultivation discontinued, though I hear it can still be found in the Far East.

Well, it’s happening again. Panama disease is ravaging the plantations of Cavendish across the world, threatening to send us all back to the Apple Age. But never fear: the hunt is on for a new resistant variety to fill the banana-shaped gap in our fruit-snacking proclivities. Whichever of the 998 possible candidates is eventually elevated to Banana-In-Chief, you may be sure of this: it will look exactly like the Cavendish but have even less flavour. Because as far as the Great British Public is concerned, if it’s not long, yellow and bent, it’s not a banana.

This Thursday, the Poetry Group is trying to meet in cyberspace, being banned till judgement day from face-to-face contact by the Government. This will pose challenges, because it will entail sending me poems in advance, to broadcast to the Group by an unfamiliar method yet-to-be chosen. See Sending a written contribution to the Editor for a guide as to how you might go about this demanding task.

Ian Clark
Chairman, WWG