01 August 2020 – It’s Saturday morning and I’m watching the Horror Channel on TV, which is showing previews of this week’s menu: marauding psychopaths, mutant zombies, witchcraft, aliens, severed limbs and demonic possession.
However, this catalogue of nightmares is wholesome and reassuring compared to the real stories which have dominated the TV news schedules over the past week or so.
We have the ongoing Covid-19 saga, which has killed about 46,000 people in the UK and 156,000 in the US. Boris Johnson was recently telling us that we could carry on socialising in pubs and restaurants, with a government subsidy offered to persuade people to dine out; but on Thursday night it was announced that restrictions would be imposed on residents in Greater Manchester and nearby districts, prohibiting visits between households.
About 4 million citizen-units are affected, many of them Muslims who were gearing up for a weekend celebration of Eid, with large family gatherings planned. And since the weather has been glorious, huge crowds have appeared on the beaches at Brighton and Bournemouth.
Three teenagers have been convicted of manslaughter following the death of a police officer who ended up tangled in a tow-rope attached to their getaway car. The three youngsters are career criminals from a traveller family, who went to great lengths to obstruct the police enquiry and intimidate jury members at the trial. The appalling details of this case, and the resulting sentences (less than 20 years) are described as being an insult to the memory of a public servant.
Meanwhile, the government has nominated several distinguished people for elevation to the house of Lords, among them Jo Johnson (former Minister for Science and brother of Boris) and Evgeny Lebedev, media mogul and socialite. We have to wonder how these assorted characters will improve the lives of UK citizens, and if they will insist on being paid their daily attendance fee.
02 August 2020 – It’s Sunday morning, and the news is full of speculation that new travel restrictions will be imposed on London to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The cabinet is also considering telling over-fifties to stay at home instead of socialising or going to work. And science adviser Graham Medley has provoked widespread alarm by suggesting that in order to reopen schools in September, it may be necessary to close all the pubs again.
03 August 2020 – A ‘major incident’ has been declared in Manchester, just days after residents were ordered to refrain from gathering in each other’s houses and gardens. We are being assured that this is simply a legal mechanism to enable local agencies to work together to coordinate their public health activities.
A Conservative MP has been arrested following allegations of rape, but his identity is being kept secret and he has not been suspended by the party. The chief whips have failed to take any action on behalf of the alleged victim, so she went to the police. Furious online debate ensued, with some people saying that he should be named and suspended (as would be the case with someone in any other profession) while others point out that this step would risk disclosing the identity of his accuser and putting her at risk.
05 August 2020 – For three weeks I have been suffering from lower back pain, one week bad enough to keep me off work and largely in bed. Before getting up, I raise my knees and rock gently from side-to-side to restore some mobility to my back. Then I use Voltarol cream (diclofenac 1.16%) and Naproxen tablets (250mg) to bring me to life before I can start work.
Yesterday a massive explosion destroyed the port area in Beirut, killing over 100 and injuring thousands of people. Video footage showed a series of small blasts before a huge blast occurred, creating a mushroom cloud and shock waves. The explosion was blamed on a warehouse containing over 2,000 tons of ammonium nitrate and destroyed most of the wheat supply for Lebanon which was being stored nearby.
06 August 2020 – The anniversary of Hiroshima, where the first atomic bomb was used in 1945 to bring the second World War to an end. Immediate casualties numbered about 140,000; a similar number of people suffered ongoing health problems due to radiation poisoning.
The UK government has announced a shake-up of planning law to enable construction of more housing. This has generated lots of debate about the merits of building projects. However, the entire UK economy is built on one basic idea, that housing is an asset which will always increase in value. Therefore, the supply of property must always be kept significantly below demand, to guarantee upwards pressure on house prices; and so there will certainly be lots of meetings and reports, but very little in the way of actual building work.
08 August 2020 – The recent news stories are about healthcare: the UK government recently ordered 50 million protective face masks for NHS workers, but when these eventually arrived they were found to be unsatisfactory because they had ear-loops instead of head-bands.
And by an amazing coincidence, the company supplying these items of PPE turned out to be Ayanda Capital, an obscure firm based in a tax haven, whose shareholders include some staunch brexiteers and close friends of our glorious leader Boris Johnson.
We also had the entertaining spectacle of 750,000 unused Covid-19 testing kits being recalled due to safety concerns. The kits were supplied by a firm called Randox, who are advised by Tory MP Owen Paterson. Randox must be a terrific firm, since they were awarded the contract for these kits without needing to submit a tender!
Randox was also the firm used by UK police forces to test blood samples in criminal cases, and it was found that the laboratories had been engaged in ‘data manipulation’…several prosecutions have been overturned and it is suspected that there may be thousands of unreliable test results waiting to be uncovered.