He had a tremendous propensity for getting lost when driving. This was
largely because of his method of "Zen" navigation, which was
simply to find any car that looked as if it knew where it was going and
follow it. The results were more often surprising than successful, but
he felt it was worth it for the sake of the few occasiones when it was
The usual people tried to claim responsibility.
First the IRA, then the PLO and the Gas Board. Even British Nuclear Fuels
rushed out a statement to the effect that the situation was completely
under control, that it was a one in a million chance, that there was hardly
any radioactive leakage at all, and that the site of the explosion would
make a nice location for a day out with the kids and a picnic, before
finally having to admit that it wasn't actually to do with them at all.
No cause could be found for the explosion. It seemed to have happened
spontaneously and of its own free will. Explanations were advanced, but
most of these were simply phrases which restated the problem in different
words, along the same principles which had given the world "metal
fatigue". In fact, a very similar phrase was invented to account
for the sudden transition of wood, metal, plastic and concrete into an
explosive condition, which was "non-linear catastrophic structural
exasperation", or to put it another way - as a junior cabinet minister
did on television the following night in a phrase which was to haunt the
rest of his career - the check-in desk had just got "fundamentally
fed up with being where it was".