It’s still with us

It seems it won’t go away. But, like everything else, this too must pass.

The question is: when.

I’m sure you’re as fed up with it all as I am. Stuck indoors (because of my age group) except for very short walks or time spent in the garden.

The people I feel sorry for are all those many in high-rise blocks with small families; no access to the outdoors for any of them, expect via a flight of stairs or a lift, if they’re lucky. No wonder people keep on likening it to being in prison. It must be very like that.

But it will pass; we just have to be patient and read as many books as we can, when we’re not watching old films on television, or trying to finish the multi-piece jigsaw puzzle (hard) that we started ages ago.

 

So, it’s going away

The outbreak of coronavirus is on the wane in the UK, or so we are told by our government.

But what is it, really? For me, it’s like a mist that’s been slowly drifting across the country. Sometimes you can see it clearly, creeping up on you; at others it’s almost invisible it’s so thin on the ground. And its appearance changes where you are. It’s not so  easy to see it in prosperous well-off areas, and easy to see in already economically hard-hit places like the Midlands, the North West and North East of England – though it looks as if it reached near-epidemic proportions in the London area, perhaps because of the high density of the younger population and the number of vulnerable elderly people living there.

But here in Devon, where most people seem elderly, it can hardly be made out; especially when – like me – you’re in that age-group that’s been told to stay at home. I have rarely been out – other than to sit in the garden with my beloved wife – since sometime in March. That’s a long time! So much so, I hardly know what Budleigh Salterton and the surrounding area actually look like. Oh, we’ve been out once – on one of our fine days – but only for a short drive to the Bicton Park area, with my wife doing the driving. And that’s it.

Still, I’ve read a number of books, and been able to get on with my Open University history course and learned quite a lot. So, it can’t be all bad.

But I do wish it would go away!

If it won’t last forever, then what

Coronavirus must have a lifespan. It can’t last forever.

However, its consequences could be far-reaching. We cannot go back to how things were,  with an endless fixation on economic growth in the Western World. The planet will not sustain it, and we shall all be plunged into catastrophe on a biblical scale.

Don’t just take my word for it. There are plenty of others who think the same way.

Thankfully, we have begun to rely less on fossil fuels, which must run out sometime, and we have seen that a sense of community – rather than the sense of ‘me’ – has taken hold, at least in the UK.

All this leads me to believe that we shall emerge from this so-called ‘crisis’ in better shape to deal with the future than we were before it emerged.

I hope so, anyway. But if the politicians in suits are left to their own pocket-lining devices, I doubt it. Their outlook and beliefs will last forever.

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A blessing in disguise

If there is one benefit the Coronavirus pandemic – and the subsequent lockdown – has granted us, it is that of isolation.

It has allowed us occasional bloggers some time. So we are able to say what we like, when we like. Which can’t be a bad thing.

At present, the important thing seems to be the daily Downing Street briefing which – in the absence of the Prime Minister – seems to be performed by any minister who happens to be handy. Hancock one day; Raab the next; Sunak on another. What are the Foreign Secretary and the Chancellor doing there?

So far, we’ve only seen Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, once at the time of writing this.

Coincidence? I doubt it. Patel did once said that all immigrants should be sent home, unless they could earn a decent wage within a week or so. Not for nothing has she been described as the Mistress of Smirk. She constantly seems to have an expression on her face that seems to say: Look at me. I’m in the Cabinet and you’re not.

At this rate, there will be a vacuum of power at the top of the Tory party, and we shall see a new leader of that odious bunch of self-regarding twats sitting round the Cabinet table.

What a blessing that would be. So long as it’s not Gove.

A game that’s been rotting for ages

Footballers seem to be getting it in the neck during these coronavirus days. Some are prepared to take a wage cut; others aren’t.

When some of them earn (?get?) as much in a week as some people get in a lifetime, it’s hardly surprising there’s a difference of opinion.

But what does anyone say about the poor supporter? Nothing much. At least, nothing much that’s worth listening to.

There are 22 players on the pitch, trying to win a game between 11 and 11. And there’s a referee and at least two other ‘officials’. Yet there could be as many as 55,000 watching on from the stands, and no one seems to listen to them.

Footballers are both sportsmen and entertainers. But to be paid what they are to entertain as many as 55,000 is absurd. It’s out of all proportion. A man or boy on the terraces can only dream of the riches afforded to one of his favourite players. Yet he – or even she – gets no voice at all.

It has ever been thus, sadly. Footballers have always been heroes, doing something that the rest of us wish we could do.

But surely, in these straightened times, the players could remember what they are doing? Playing a game so that others can watch them, not taking home wads of cash for a comparatively easy week’s work. They should think about what it must be like to be a toolmaker, or to work on a production line doing the same thing hour after hour.

Then, perhaps, we might see something that hasn’t been rotted by money, and a game that is played for its own sake not for wads of cash.

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Who’s he like now?

The more I think about him, and the more I read about both men, the more I think Boris Johnson begins to resemble Henry VIII. The same bombast; the same: ‘Look at me. Nothing is important except me’; the same devil-may-care attitude – ‘What the hell, I’ll go and play this afternoon” – and the same lack of interest in the common people.

When was the last time Boris saw a boarded up shop front in a high street or a ‘For Sale’ sign outside some out-of-town business premises or another?

When, for example, was the last time he visited one of the country’s many flood-hit areas? Even Jeremy Corbyn has managed to do that and, despite still being the leader of Her Majesty’s opposition, he isn’t much of a ‘somebody’ these days. Once his time is truly up, and the Labour Party has a new leader, he really ought to go back to the back-benches where he could always snipe at something or another.

In the meantime, we’re stuck with someone akin to King Boris. The only thing that marks him out from Henry VIII is that he doesn’t wear a funny hat, a doublet and hose and doesn’t have a male heir – at least, not one that we know of. All he has is an unknown successor, from either wing of the Houses of Parliament. Thank goodness we can vote on that. I don’t think it matters much at this stage who it is, so long as they are able to restore Parliament to something it used to resemble; a debating chamber where the nature of our country could be discussed and decided upon.

As it is, we’re left in a kind of Boris Land, not knowing what the country will look like in a couple of year’s time.

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So this is the new year

Well, it’s started well enough. Almost like any other. Loads of mind-boggling stuff on the telly. Too much drink around the place. Arguments already developing over the outcome of the UK’s election and the true nature of Brexit, and politics in general. The lot, really, just like any other new year.

Except this is a new decade, and we somehow seem to expect more than if it were just any old year that’s just starting. 1966, say. Or 2013. Of course, we didn’t know England would win the football World Cup in 1966. And I can’t even remember if anything significant happened in 2013. But they both shared a beginning, as did every other year that history has recorded.

The question now is: what will this year be like, and how shall we view it at its end?

I certainly hope we won’t be looking back and remembering that an important Iranian general was dead before the year was a week old, killed in a planned American air strike. No doubt, the media will be quick to remind us. If we should all live long enough to see the end of this year and the beginning of the next.

20/20 vision is a wonderful gift, but 2020 forecasting is a mug’s game.

At last …

The British people have voted. The general election result is known. But what are we to make of it?

What we do know beyond all reasonable doubt is that the Conservatives, led by Boris Johnson, now have absolute control over Parliament. That suggests an extended period of austerity rather than a much-needed spend and borrow programme as set out in the Labour manifesto. I know which I’d rather have!Ballot Paper Cross 2

Of course, we don’t know for sure what an administration under Johnson will actually do. But, if the pundits and opinion-formers are to be believed, nothing Johnson’s administration does will go far towards healing the broken feeling that is so evident across much of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Are our country roads’ potholes to be fixed? And what about the dropped drains to be encountered almost everywhere? Will my car have to suffer many more knocks and blows to its suspension?

Will someone tell us what’s going to happen to our National Health Service? Will parts of it be sold off to some private enterprise so that they can make money out of it? Or will the new administration find some way of making the whole thing viable instead of ‘in crisis’, as we are so often told it is?

What’s going to happen to our schools, many of which are a disgrace to anyone who believes that a fair education can lead to a fair, well-paid career?

And what about our police force? It seems to be very short-staffed at the moment, all over the country. I can’t remember the last time I saw a local policeman or policewoman ‘on the beat’.

As to the nation’s social services, they seem stretched beyond belief. People are sleeping on the streets of our cities, because there is little or nowhere else for them to go. Others are suffering from severe deprivation because the system cannot cope with their physical or mental health problems.

As you can see, the election result seems to raise more questions than answers, all of which are relevant to a broad society that includes the less-well-off as well as the comfortable rich.

I live in a retirement area, so I probably won’t see much of the horror that seems about to be perpetrated on our nation. My pension and investments will shield me from the worst of it all. But I can’t help feeling that we – the liberal-minded community – are in for a rough ride over the next little whiles.

Let’s hope that Boris proves to be more of a “one nation” Tory than his recent election performance suggests.

Let’s also hope that he is less in the pocket of what looks like his hard-right cabal.

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What’s he up to now?

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Boris Johnson. Now there’s a name to conjure with.

He wants to be Prime Minister, again. This time by winning the public vote in the election on December 12. And he has a chance.

However, if he goes on being seen as he is here – on a visit to a crisp factory in Northern Ireland – he has to do better than play the fool. Which he is – on current form – good at doing.

He doesn’t even seem serious in Parliament, describing one MP’s remarks as ‘humbug’. And he has the temerity to prorogue Parliament whenever it suits him, and for as long as he deems fit.

Don’t vote for him.

Mind you, the alternative doesn’t look wonderful. Corbyn has the air of a misplaced schoolteacher; a man who would just about be at home in front of a roomful of 15-year-olds.

The answer, in my opinion, is either vote independent or vote for no one at all. In other words, DON’T VOTE.

 

I’ve never seen anything like it!

The scenes in Parliament when Boris Johnson made an appearance after he’d returned from America were awful.

MPs shouting at each other. The Speaker almost unable to control them. Some jumping up and down from the benches, waving their fists and wagging their fingers at the others on the other side of the House and yelling. It was, to quote one of the more excitable of them, “disgraceful”.

I’m all for a properly representative Parliament – one that reflects the true nature of the people of Great Britain – but not for one that behaves like a group of people gathered in a pub for an argument. And all of them – well, most of them – dressed as if they were going to church. It’s as if putting on a suit will make them respectable. Jacob Rees-Mogg has a lot to answer for.

And all the while Boris (whose suits look as if they were made for someone else and whose hair looks as if it should be growing on a blonde Dennis The Menace) has a stupid expression on his face which seems to suggest that, once his ‘turn’ is over, he’ll revert to being a serious person again. If that’s possible.

I’ve no idea who should take Johnson’s place. Gone are the days when more thoughtful men like Ken Clarke could hope to take charge and be the figurehead for a well-behaved bunch of people.

As it is, all of it beggars belief.