Even as I was writing of my puzzlement at Bill Leonard’s attacks on FOXCAN’s aspirations for the Oxford Canal Terminus, the mighty presses of the Oxford Times were churning out his next motiveless missive.
It has lots of apparently technical stuff about heights and widths and about what would or would not have been practical for boatmen to achieve. My attempts to understand it all were thrown by Leonard’s sudden switch within the same paragraph from width measured in metres to height measured in feet, which made me wonder if he has confused the two. Perhaps that explains why, despite his yards of letters on the subject, he has not managed to explain his apparent assertion (or, at least, the logical consequence of his apparent assertion) that boats could not have used the terminal over the 150 years or so that it existed. Presumably the photographs which show the contrary were part of a long-running conspiracy passed through the generations.
Conspiracies need motives of course. The motive ascribed to FOXCAN by Mr Leonard this week (as distinct from those of previous weeks) is “hatred of the car”. Of course, why did we not think of that before? Hugh Jaeger, FOXCAN’s PR officer, is a motor-cyclist. Motor-cyclists hate cars. That’s why Mr Jaeger devotes himself to resurrecting a Georgian canal basin – because he rides a motor-bike.
Once you start looking at the whole proposal through the eyes of someone with Mr Leonard’s grasp of logic, you can see conspiracies everywhere. You need to read the letter to catch the full absurdity of it, but Mr Leonard’s own premises suggest that FOXCAN is motivated as much by dislike of women drivers as by motor cars in general. Leonardo da Vinci designed a canal in 1504 – given what we now know about da Vinci, what more evidence do you need of a conspiracy?
That’s sorted out FOXCAN’s motivation anyway. What about Mr Leonard’s motives? I remain unclear why he is so bitterly opposed to the plans to resurrect the Oxford Canal Terminus. How can someone give no clue as to his reasons for going over the same ground over and over again in terms which are largely incomprehensible?
The web site for Mr Leonard’s Oxford tours provides the clue. His business consists of taking tourists round a 1km circuit of the city. The only qualification he recites is that “I speak clear English”. I can well see how someone whose work life involves going round and round the same small patch, and who is so unsure of his ability to communicate that he has to boast about his diction, might spend his leisure hours going round and round the same subject, struggling to convey his views crisply in a medium in which his ability to speak “clear English” is of no use to him.
Come on Mr Leonard. You have told us (as this week’s version anyway) that FOXCAN supports the canal basin because they hate cars. That may be patent nonsense, but at least it is clear and succinct. Can you tell us in equally clear and succinct terms why you oppose it? I am damned if I can work it out.