Almost a year to the day after the catastrophic fire storms that devastated the midlands last winter, government aid for those who suffered losses is ready to be paid out. Several points arise. First, a year seems an inordinately long time for aid to reach the victims of a disaster of such magnitude. It may be granted that in nature some things regenerate with remarkable speed, so that the assessment of truly long-term damage may itself be a long process. On the other hand, for many people, especially those left homeless or who were already poor and lacked the resources to compensate for their losses themselves, these have been 12 long months of severe hardship. It might be thought that in the distribution of aid to suffering people, a caring government could move itself a little more quickly.