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.
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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.”
Hailing from the frozen north, I remain delighted when I find any reference to the fine city of my birth. So, imagine my joy when I discovered the idiom ‘death and taxes’ was first penned by Christopher Bullock in his 1716 comedic farce ‘The Cobbler of Preston’: ’Tis impossible to be sure of anything but Death and Taxes.’
Deep down I think I quite like Dominic Cummings and in the past I have certainly enjoyed several of his more caustic quips where he has undeniably spoken truth to power. A longstanding purveyor of the political dark arts, he didn’t beat around the bush when calling David Davis “thick as mince” and as “lazy as a toad”. To my mind he kinda hit Jacob Rees Mogg and the ERG squarely on the proverbial bonce by simply stating they were “useful idiots” to his Vote Leave cause.
The NHS has never been more in the spotlight than of late. And it’s completely understandable, essential perhaps, that in a situation where tens of thousands of people have died that we compare and contrast different countries’ approach to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our oft-pronounced belief is that the National Health Service is truly world-leading and the envy of all but does this stack-up in reality?
Can you believe Ridley Scott’s epic, Gladiator, is twenty years old this month? At that time swashbuckling sword-and-sandals movies had become an outdated homoerotic joke, ironically with the NRA’s Charging Charlton’s Ben Hur leading the fray. But then came Russell’s Roman renaissance and the joke was on us: Chariots! Colossus Colosseum calamities! Rippling man-flesh! Tigers! Tridents!
Tiny hands Trump has never hidden his contempt for China and, in renewing his attacks wrt its handling of the coronavirus crisis, he seems intent on raising the international temperature between the two powers. By claiming to have seen direct and “enormous evidence” that Covid-19 is both man-made and was leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Trump is now clearly drawing trade battle lines to be fought by pandemic proxy.
With toilet rolls now back on our supermarket shelves and the long arm of the law no longer necessary to keep us in strict queuing order, talk of food rationing has perhaps slipped from our after-dinner conversations but, with a long-term and underlying fear of fragile supply chains, how long before it returns?
What was the first song you ever learned? It could have been ‘Bah-Bah Black Sheep’, perhaps for the urbanites ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’ and were the climate-change-aware millennials throwing themselves under ‘The Wheels on the Bus’? Whichever it was, there’s a strong chance ‘Ring-a-Ring o’ Roses’ is up there with the best of them. The tune, like all great rhymes, is maddeningly catchy and stays with you for life.
Don’t laugh but I’ve been reading a lot of Jack Reacher of late. I’m now on my fourth of the lockdown and can confirm that Tripwire is up there with the best. Unsurprisingly, neither I nor any of my pals are Reacher-like in any physical sense but there are similarities. My friends are, in the main, funny, witty, super-smart and great fun to be around, and in the absence of meeting up for a pint, a squash match, cycle or swim, pulp-fiction’s Jack Reacher in self isolation is doing it for me.