WIKIE the whale has learned to talk.

Well, she can sort of say “Hello” and “Bye bye”, which is more than some young people can manage.

Apparently, millennials, between 18 and 24 are finding it harder to talk to real live people face to face. They’re fine on their phones and social media but struggle talking to neighbours, strangers, people on the bus, or even each other.

At the same time bosses are increasingly saying that new recruits just don’t know how to talk to people.

The gift of speech is one of those things – plus something to do with opposable thumbs – that marks us out as different from animals and allowed us to take over the world. It means we could co-operate on hunting and great projects. If birds had the same skill, perhaps they could have built the Taj Mahal out of twigs and spit. Pigs could be eating man sandwiches for breakfast.

In this complicated world we need communication skills more than ever but are using them less and less. We can shop, book holidays, deal with banks and businesses, even check in for a doctor’s appointment without actually talking to anybody.

No wonder we’re losing the knack. If we lose our mastery over words and conversation and discussions, even at a simple level, then we’re sitting ducks for anyone who comes along and wants to brainwash us, which is seriously scary.

We make great efforts to teach our toddlers to talk and then give up as though the job’s done. No. We have to start all over again with our teenagers and encourage them to talk to people and not just to screens. If they hardly speak to people now, what on earth will they do when they’re 70, 80 or 90? If today’s loneliness epidemic is bad, those in the coming generations are going to be much much worse.

We need words and conversations and have to keep in practice. Communication matters.

Wikie the whale lives in a theme park in Antibes. If we’re not careful, she and her family will be taking over the world – and we’ll be the ones in the pool with a ball on our nose, doing tricks for tourists.

THE Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, in Sweden this week, apparently have some Ikea furniture at home in Kensington Palace. Do you think they lugged it off the shelves themselves? And did even they escape the store without buying tealights, tea towels and a jar of lingonberry jam?

YOU know we’re always being told how much better the French are? French women don’t get fat, their children are so well behaved, they are all so much more mature about love, sex, food, wine politics and everything, etc, etc, etc? Well, last week they had riots in French supermarkets over cut-price Nutella. Punch ups at the check out over saving two Euros on chocolate spread.

Not so superior now, eh Monsieur.

IN the enormous flat cap he wore at a point-to-point last weekend, former prime minister David Cameron was said to look like the glamorously wicked Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders. Actually, he looked much more like Andy Capp…