01 June 2021
Roll up, roll up! There’s nothing here to see, just a big fat zero, a rolling cipher, behold the empty bullring in the sky!
At long last, after fourteen ugly months with sick and dying people all around, we have at last seen an entire day when not a single Covid-related death has been reported. This means we can all relax and meet up with all our friends in the pub, hugging and kissing, sharing buffet meals, blowing candles out on birthday cakes, and generally casting off the tedious and unnecessary restrictions of the past year.
Until next week, when we see a rise in cases due to travellers coming back from their holidays in Spain and Portugal.
Boris is fond of spouting bits of Classical literature to give himself an air of culture and wisdom; I wonder if her would recognise the following quote from Plutarch?
“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailments of all republics.”
But Boris has previously spoken of his admiration for the rich, who he regards as being naturally more talented, more able, and more deserving than the poor; the clever cornflakes who ascend when the box is shaken (a dodgy metaphor, even for Boris) and attain the prime roles in a capitalist society.
In the news: Sir Kevan Collins was appointed by the government earlier this year to oversee the ‘catch up’ programme, which looked at ways to help children whose education had been disrupted by the pandemic and school closures. He spoke with hundreds of parents, teachers, and educational policy experts, and came up with a proposal to extend the school day (among other measures) which would cost about 15 billion pounds.
The chancellor and education secretary peered at this report and said ‘Splendid! Just what we need! Here’s 1.4 billion; see what you can get done with that, old chap.’
I’m sure Sir Kevan is enough of a realist to expect that his financial demands would be challenged; but a 90 percent cut proved too much, and he resigned from the post.
Sunday 06 Jun 2021
This morning the Horror Channel is showing ‘Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse’, a routine eco-disaster movie built from the leftover fragments of Stargate/Day after Tomorrow/Fifth Element/Knowing.
Here in the UK we are due to host the G7 summit next week, and it was announced yesterday that the finance ministers have agreed on a programme to start imposing tax on high-tech data firms. When this proposal was discussed in the Commons, every Tory MP voted against it; however, Chancellors Sunak and Javid have been bragging on Twitter about how responsible this government has been in spearheading the action.
Over the past few weeks we have seen a faintly absurd scenario, where the European Champions’ league final was due to be played in Istanbul, even though both teams (Chelsea, owned by a Russian oligarch, and Manchester City, owned by a middle-eastern oil sheikh) were British, and Turkey was on the ‘red list’ of restricted countries. Frantic discussions took place; would it be safe for thousands of football fans to travel to a country with an unknown rate of Covid-19 infection? Surely it would be more sensible to hold the match at a stadium in the UK?
Eventually a compromise was reached, with UEFA agreeing to transfer the match to Portugal, which had been added to the government ‘green list’ of safe destinations. The fans rushed to buy plane tickets and headed off to Porto, where they drank beer, danced with the locals, and started fighting with each other. The match ended with a one-nil win for Chelsea, the fans came home and then started getting text-message alerts to say that one of the passengers on their flight had tested positive for Covid-19.
So Portugal was then set to be transferred to the ‘amber list’, giving holiday makers just four days to rearrange their trip home in order to avoid the lengthy quarantine and expensive medical tests required. And after the general rejoicing last week (hurrah! Zero Covid deaths!) we now find that the daily death rate in the UK has started to rise again, making it less certain that we will be granted the 21 June release from lockdown that everyone had been promised.
Tuesday 15 June: After being advised for weeks that we could all look forward to the End of Lockdown on 21 June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared on TV last night to announce that the restrictions would remain in place for another four weeks. There is now widespread confusion about what we will be allowed to do; the rules on weddings have been relaxed so that the guest numbers can exceed 30, but everyone has to wear masks. Wedding receptions are famous for the dancing – by the happy couple, inebriated aunties, and energetic children; but indoor dancing is still prohibited under the new rules. People are advised that even dancing outdoors should be avoided for health reasons.
Thousands of businesses around the UK have been gearing up for the End of Lockdown, stocking up with merchandise and arranging for staff to return to work.
Large numbers of football fans have been travelling round the UK and Europe to watch their teams compete in Euro 2020, and we may see a surge in Covid infections in two weeks after these fans help to transmit the virus among their home communities.