Even before the whistle has been blown to signal that start of a new season and before the first contentious VAR decision is called into question, the recent Greek tragedy of Harry Maguire’s court case has brought football back centre-stage with a bang. Mind, with the Charity, er, Community Shield taking place today it’s actually only been off our screens for a barely believable 138 hours.
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Before upending himself on that cleverly disguised exam-graded banana skin, permanently-hard-done-by Education Secretary, Gaff Williamson, surreptitiously announced that Tony Blair’s well-intentioned social-mobility inspired target of 50% university attendance, would be unceremoniously dropped. And not a moment too soon.
When I began putting my thoughts down for this missive, a quote from the writer Harper Lee came to mind: “You can choose your friends, but not your family.” Nothing could be more true, both at home and especially at work and I’m pretty certain The Don must be rueing the day he alienated both these camps.
Would you choose the fish taco starter over the roasted butternut squash, or chicken liver pate instead of cauliflower soup, if you knew the different calorific content of the particular choices? Seventeen-and-a-half stone Boris Johnson certainly seems to believe so as calorie-labelling on the menus of restaurants and takeaways is the cornerstone of his all-new twelve week attack-strategy on the nation’s weight problem.
I’ve mentioned previously that I do like the cut of Keir Starmer’s jib: neat, trimmed, precise, perfunctory, measured. It’s patently obvious this is how Sir Kier likes it to be and a very definite style has emerged since he assumed leadership of the Labour party. He undertakes all tasks, from asking detailed queries of Bumble Boris at Prime Minister’s Questions to the sacking of Rebecca Long Bailey, with the minimum of fuss. Short, sharp and to the point. All good and undoubtedly an impressive start but is it enough?
This is going to surprise you. Last year the government did a beautiful thing and they did it for all the right reasons. Eschewing a barrow-full of tax receipts for the Chancellor’s coffers, they surprised everyone concerned, myself included, in reducing the fixed-odds-betting-terminal (FOBT) gambling stake from a maximum of one hundred pounds a spin to a relatively meagre two-quid.
For months now the debate has raged over whether Sweden was right to avoid the strict pandemic lockdown restrictions implemented by most other European governments, including our own. Now, with each country’s Eurovision scoring in and counted, does Sweden’s unique approach to coronavirus represent a shining example for the rest of the world or a cautionary tale?
Like many, I have some difficulty in translating the potential increases in global temperatures with my own experiences and expectations. When I read that the planet may warm by as much as four degrees over the coming generation, I can’t help but think that’s barely equivalent to a twist of the boiler’s thermostat or a woolly jumper staying in the drawer during the deepest, darkest winter.
During recent TV interviews ahead of the further long-telegraphed relaxation in the government’s rules, several ministers have urged us all to ‘get out there, get shopping and start spending’, explicitly implying it was nothing less than our civic duty to do so. Only, there were few things I wanted to do less.
As Fairport Convention’s Richard Thompson reminds us: “Meet me in ‘The Station’, don’t be late. I need to spend some money and it just won’t wait. The wide boys are all spoiling for a fight, so take me to the dance and hold me tight. I want to see the bright lights tonight.”