Drama, drama, drama!
Back in 2013, David Cameron launched an election campaign which included a promise to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.
Last Thursday we had the national vote, and initial results suggested that a small majority of voters were in favour of staying put. However, later during the night it became apparent that the vote had swung the other way and on Friday morning we woke up to discover that the UK had decided to leave Europe.
David Cameron announced his resignation, and said that his replacement should be in place at Number Ten in time for the Tory party conference in October.
Stock markets plunged; the Bank of England declared that it would use up to 250 billion pounds to maintain financial stability.
The EU President said that if the UK wants to leave, then it should start immediately severing all links with the European bloc, rather than waiting two years. However, someone has set up an online petition as a precaution in case the result wasn’t satisfactory, and this is now being used to challenge the referendum since there wasn’t a clear 60:40 majority.
And Jeremy Corbin has sacked Hilary Benn, prompting resignations from eight other members of the shadow cabinet.
A lot of news coverage recently has involved flying cars and driverless cars, expensive high-tech marvels of technology being developed by firms such as Google and Honda.
I am always reminded of that occasion when I had to drive to work in November 1995. We had suffered a few days of bitterly cold weather, and I woke up to find a 7-mm thick layer of hard ice on the windscreen. I spent ten minutes with a wooden spoon carefully breaking this carapace before gingerly setting off to work.
The nine-mile journey to work took me about two hours; when I arrived there, I found that none of the delivery wagons had been able to make it on the icy roads, so we were unable to take in raw materials or send out the finished goods which had been made over the previous two days.
We love journeys, and travel, and vehicles…but we never stop to think about the significance of our journey. I wonder how many people spend two hours each day driving when all along, there are other people (who could do the same job) living just a couple of miles from work.
On that cold November day it would have been just as useful for me to stay at home in front of the television, drinking soup, instead of spending four hours on the road simply in order to check the viscosity of a two-litre sample of paint.
Here in Manchester we have lots of impressive architecture. A few years ago we had a splendid sculpture called ‘B-of-the-Bang’ which was erected (two years over schedule) next to the Manchester City Etihad football stadium. This magnificent spectacle appears in a large coffee-table book called ‘Making’, which features all the major works of Thomas Heatherwick. The three-page section devoted to ‘B-o-t-B’ ends with a modest paragraph saying “It was devastating when the project developed a technical problem and was taken down in 2009, four years after its completion, by Manchester City Council.”
This bland statement overlooks the issue of the cost of the project (£1.7m) and the fact that large metal spikes began falling to the ground, posing a certain degree of danger to the passing public.
Journal entry, 25 April 2020: Donald Trump – the US President – regularly gives rambling, incoherent press briefings in which he reminds us how wonderful he is and how much better the American economy is faring under his expert guidance.
A couple of days ago he treated us to an absolute corker of a conference – he had been made aware of recent research showing that the novel coronavirus-19 could be deactivated by contact with UV light or disinfectant solutions.
He then said something like; ‘Perhaps we should look at whether this can be applied inside the body’ which prompted a torrent of sarcastic comment. He didn’t actually say that people should rush out and start drinking bleach for breakfast; but it is hard to think of any other possible way to interpret his throwaway remark.
Back in 2016 the UK voted to leave the EU, and there were furious debates in Parliament – we decided to leave in March 2018, then in March 2019, then in July 2019, then in October 2019, and finally at the end of January 2020.
To commemorate this splendid achievement, I went to buy a copy of the papers. The Independent carried a couple of pages about the recently discovered virus which had caused mayhem in China. They reported that we had so far identified two cases in the UK, and quoted a leading virology professor who said that it was unlikely that there would be a widespread problem of transmission here, since we had a testing and tracing process in place.
Yesterday there were another 768 deaths reported, bringing the UK total to 19506.
A few months ago we all enjoyed concocting wild, ambitious plans for what we would do if we ever won four million pounds on the lottery jackpot. Nowadays we imagine what we will do if we are ever allowed to leave the house and go shopping in town.
And it has emerged that Dominic Cummings, the sinister puppeteer behind Bojo and his conservative cabinet, has been allowed to attend science policy meetings – a few years ago he published a few blog entries describing the mayhem that would be caused by an epidemic of flu