It’s Saturday morning, and the Horror Channel is showing AE: Apocalypse Earth, an exuberant collision of Star Trek, Predator, and Planet of the Apes.
Am currently suffering an awful hangover after spending yesterday with J and A – the four of us went to Sinclair’s, the Lowry, The Goose and Centre Stage and ended up drinking 5 bottles of white.
Latest Covid figures:
US: 42.8 million cases, 690.7 thousand deaths
UK: 7.37 million cases, 134.98 thousand deaths
Across the UK we are seeing supermarket shelves with gaps caused by delivery problems – some people have claimed that their local shop is completely bare, like the set of a zombie film. My own Tesco has a few gaps where the tinned soup and breakfast cereals should be; I also noticed that the fresh veg are not all that fresh, with grey furry spots visible on the carrots.
In Afghanistan, the new Taliban has announced that the school system will be restored – but for boys only. And in the US state of Texas, a newly-passed law will ban abortions carried out where any foetal cardiac activity can be detected – about 6 weeks after conception.
And then this week the lovely Boris embarked on his cabinet reshuffle; faced with a glittering array of talent, he finally decided to appoint Zahawi as Education Secretary and Nadine Dorries as Culture Secretary. Dorries, you will recall, is a neanderthal Christian who believes that good girls say no, and who said that she allowed all her office assistants to use her own personal password to access her computer at work. Her corny romantic paperbacks will probably end up on the GCSE English syllabus next year.
The government has been widely criticised for plans to remove the £20 weekly uplift which was added to Universal Credit payments during the pandemic. Welfare secretary Therese Coffey dismissed these complaints during a TV interview, saying that ‘people will only need to work a couple of hours extra to make up this money.’ Not true, old girl; if you are on UC, then every pound you earn leads to a 65p cut in your benefit payment, so to secure an extra £20 you would need to earn an extra £67, or about eight hours’ work.
On other matters, the government appears happy to flip-flop and discard agreed policy. On 5 Sept, the BBC reported that:
“Vaccine passports in nightclubs and other indoor venues in England will be required at the end of this month, the vaccines minister has confirmed.
Nadhim Zahawi said it was the right time to start the scheme for sites with large crowds as all over-18s will have been offered two jabs by then.”
But a week later, we heard that:
“Plans to introduce vaccine passports for access into nightclubs and large events in England will not go ahead, the health secretary has said. Sajid Javid told the BBC: “We shouldn’t be doing things for the sake of it.”
The UK is also suffering from a shortage of affordable housing, and a recent white paper proposed that planning regulations should be relaxed to enable more homes to be built – giving a total of 337,000 new homes built per annum.
Naturally, this provoked a seizure among residents in leafy suburbia, who sent angry letters to their MPs and booted out the Conservative candidate from the safe seat of Chesham and Amersham. In the new cabinet, Michael Gove has been appointed Minister for Housing, and he has let it be known that the proposed planning reforms will be scrutinised at great length. Gove also needs to deal with the problems of flammable cladding and the leasehold scandal.
Oddly enough, a few weeks ago, Gove received a £100k donation from property developer Zac Gertler. He who pays the piper…
19 September: It’s Sunday morning, and the Horror Channel is showing ‘Stormageddon’ a high-octane eco-thriller about extreme weather, cyborgs, and defence computer systems: Day After Tomorrow meets James Bond and the Terminator movies.
Meanwhile, in the real world we have a real problem with carbon dioxide – not an excess, but a shortage. The gas is used to preserve fresh food and to anaesthetise livestock prior to slaughter; the impending lack of this material threatens the supply of food for UK families in the run-up to Christmas.
We are also seeing scare stories about a rise in the wholesale price of natural gas, which will feed through as an increase in the cost of domestic fuel along with all those commodities which use gas for heating (tinned food, steel, glass, textiles, ceramics etc).
The UK has set up a new global defence pact with Australia and the US, offering to supply nuclear-fuelled submarines – much to the annoyance of France, which had previously agreed a contract for diesel subs.
Architecture is essential
We need somewhere to live, to breathe, a place to read
A room to keep our space and to relax, a place to work, to contemplate
The joining up of unexpected lobes, where
Orbitals appear to occupy the textured cells
In which the larvae grow towards the dawn
And wings get woven from the thinnest silk,
All primed with fluorinated lecithin; it kills me
When I think of all those days
Before the buildings started to take shape.
Somewhere in the office of the architect
The vertical and horizontal lines are neatly stored
In two adjacent cabinets. Our ideas need
To be allowed to germinate and grow
In darkness; our buildings need to open up
The cabinet of dreams that each man hides.