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Blog Number 36 [4th July 2020]

A coincidence? The choice of 4th July for the grand reopening of UK plc? Wait a minute. Not UK for we have a disunited kingdom these days. Where’s Scotland? Not a question for Grant Shapps as he probably wouldn’t know. His expertise is elsewhere, on the A15, which he can bang on about for hours. No, where’s Scotland at this great moment? Fuming. Hell hath no fury as Nicola scorned, and scorned she was, since in a rare moment of consistency, the government failed to consult Scotland yet again. Wales too, leaving only Northern Ireland, who jumped the gun and opened pubs and bars first. But come back to the 4th July. Independence Day when a certain colony threw off its shackles and went it alone. Hmm, what’s the message there, you think? Ask Nicola. She’ll tell you.

The word ‘omnishambles’ has re-appeared, a good candidate for the Word of the Year. Do you want to go abroad? Yes? Okay, there will be a traffic light system for countries we can visit, green for ‘go’, amber for ‘wait’, and red for ‘no way, Jose’, announced Grant Shapps, and you won’t have to go into quarantine when you come back. This assumes people will want to come back. The next day a list of countries appeared without any traffic light system. They include Aruba, Bonaire, New Caledonia, St Pierre and Miquelon, French Polynesia, places that, frankly, I had no idea existed. Others were more familiar, Germany, Spain, France, Portugal. Hold on, not Portugal. Too dangerous. What? We have 6 times as many Covid-19 infections than Portugal does. Dangerous for us or for them? Would Portugal want us Brits, sorry, Englanders? Yes, it seems and more so now that we have blacklisted them. They are fuming. You could of course fly to Malaga, get your rental car and head west. I’m reliably told that will get you to Portugal. 

But do you really want to go abroad? It’s a question I ask M.

‘I’d prefer to go to M & S,’ she says. ‘They have better cherries than Sainsbury’s.’

‘That’s your priority, is it? Ripe cherries?’

‘Frankly, yes.’

Though I am not as partial to cherries as M I have to agree. The last thing I want to do is to get on a plane where most of the air is recirculated and you are surrounded by strangers, masked or otherwise, for a couple of hours or longer. Not everyone feels that way. A photo appears in the papers of a leering, blonde haired masked man just arrived at Athens airport. Looks suspiciously like Bojo but turns out to be another Johnson, Stanley, father of our world beating PM. He’s not waited for Grant Shapps’ traffic lights system. He’s gunned the accelerator and gone through red, ignored the FO’s advice not to travel except for essential reasons, and utterly selfishly decided he needed to infection proof his Greek villa asap so he can rent it and get some dosh. What’s the phrase it makes you think of? Yes, that’s it. Like father, like son. 

So here we are, about to embark on the next phase of the omnishambles that passes for government policy, loosen the lockdown and provoke another spike in Covid-19 infections resulting in more illnesses and more deaths, until another lockdown has to be introduced. The pubs are open again from 6 am today! Some of them at least. Others are more circumspect. The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, tells us he can’t wait to go to the pub again. I’ll give a fiver to anyone who spots him in one. He has the cheek to tell us it’s our bounden duty to go out to bars and restaurants and spend, spend, spend. How must that sound to those who are on or below the breadline, or to those who have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced, or to many contemplating a very uncertain, perilous future? Then Bojo says we should clap for the capitalists now, for our wealth creators, which would be okay if so many didn’t take their wealth elsewhere to avoid paying taxes. Actually, it’s not okay. Not remotely. It’s sickening. It was a spontaneous movement started by a Dutch woman to clap for the front-line workers in the NHS and social care. They risk their lives daily and many have died. What do the so-called wealth creators risk? Commonly, other peoples’ money. And we should clap them? What breathless arrogance even to suggest it.

To those, not many on this list admittedly, who thought Boris Johnson was a good egg, time to rethink. Frankly, he is not even a curate’s egg; there are no parts that are not rotten. John O’Gaunt’s pelting farm is here. This sceptered isle leased out. It’s an omnishambles, a word that Will could have invented. Boris Johnson is the Falstaff of our age, hanging on a tripwire swinging uselessly, while the country goes to the dogs beneath him. And like Falstaff he cares not a whit for anyone but himself. 

Antidote 36

On the subject of the Bard, the RSC has Shakespeare available online including six dramas,, and some lovely readings of the sonnets,

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