Bear in mind we live in a world in which CNN refers to women as ‘individuals with a cervix’; and we live in a world in which the US Democrats are so riddled with Woke fruitcakes that the only candidate they think capable of winning over floating voters is an elderly contender who doesn’t seem like he even knows what day of the week it is. Yes, it’s a strange place to be here on planet earth at the mo. As has been mentioned before, dubious coronavirus stats massaged to justify the Project Fear master-plan that Boris and his assembled mediocrities have no option but to pursue at the expense of common sense has saddled us with a situation most non-OAPs and the non-obese don’t need. But on it goes, defiant in the face of incoming chaos we can all anticipate – and I’m not talking about ‘a second wave’.

Localised ‘outbreaks’ have resulted in lockdown relaxation plans being postponed for another couple of weeks; the Government sneaked out a new batch of restrictions primarily applying to the north-west when it thought nobody would be paying attention late at night. Granted, I never have any great craving to visit casinos, ice rinks or bowling alleys – nor do I desire to attend wedding parties; but if I wanted to, I can’t – not until 15 August at the earliest, anyway. In other words, pressing the pause button when it comes to this particular easing of measures doesn’t affect me one iota; but I’ve no doubt it’ll affect plenty of far more sociable folks out there. The utterly pointless mandatory mask-wearing will be extended even further should anyone be entering a public space containing people they ‘do not know’.

But, venturing into more existential areas, I wonder how well anyone really knows anyone, anyway. The definition of friendship has been considerably warped by social media; I have 2.3K subscribers on YouTube, 124 followers on Twitter and 35 friends on Facebook, and with the odd exception I don’t know them anymore than they know me. Does being aware of what someone’s favourite album or TV show is count as knowing them? Or do we have to have been physically intimate with them? Does knowing people by sight alone count – or do we have to have enjoyed tea and biscuits in their front parlours for them to be safe to breathe the same air as? I ‘know’ the guy who lives in the ground floor flat in my house; I say hello if we bump into each other in the hallway; but does that qualify as knowing him? I’m sure there are people of my acquaintance who’d say they know me; but they only know what I choose to give them. I’ve learnt the hard way over the years that it’s best not to give too much. So, would they and I be able to stand in a museum without masks and be free from contamination because we ‘know’ each other? Er…no, because we’ll have to wear them from 8 August, regardless.

I cloaked the lower half of my face in my Dick Turpin scarf for the first time a couple of days ago; it wasn’t a very comfortable experience on account of long-standing difficulties I have with breathing through my nose; an operation around 30 years ago failed to improve matters, so I did feel a minor sensation of suffocation when donning this unwelcome sartorial encumbrance – and it was a warm day, which didn’t help. Okay, so I’m not traumatised for life; it wasn’t exactly like being subjected to water-boarding; but it wasn’t exactly a fun outing either. And it was made all the more bleedin’ annoying when I went into the post office; despite still having to provide my name and number in order to gain access, no other customer nor any member of staff behind the counter was wearing a friggin’ mask. I was made to look like the paranoid mug convinced covering my mouth and nose would save the NHS.

My local cinema has been closed ever since this shit kicked-off, so I can’t visit even in a mask and sit a safe half-dozen seats away from the nearest other punter. But, as with strolling into a shop, I can’t say I’d want to sit in a cinema with a stupid bloody mask on my face, anyway – nor any venue of any persuasion, quite frankly. It’s fair to say it kinda puts you off. There has been talk of exemptions from the rules, though one would have to prove it. I can’t help but think of John Hurt as Quentin Crisp in ‘The Naked Civil Servant.’ Crisp is cornered on a street by a couple of bored CID men during wartime; desperate to nick him for something simply because of his appearance, they demand to know why he isn’t doing his bit with Our Boys. He produces a piece of paper that proclaims he’s exempt from military service due to ‘sexual perversion’. Has it come to that? I wish there were a few more people still alive who lived through the restrictions of WWII on the home front and we could hear their comparisons between the privations of then and the privations of now. I suspect we’re getting it worse today than at a time when all our lives were genuinely threatened, but what can one do about it other than not bother going out?

A survey conducted by King’s College and Ipsos MORI found that just 10% of those answering the following: ‘True or false – the government only wants us to wear face masks as a way of controlling us’ replied ‘true’; the same percentage reckoned wearing said masks is bad for your health. So, it would seem the propaganda is still working; but, as I pointed out in the opening paragraph, this is not a moment when many people appear to be taking a step back to study the bigger picture. If the WHO declared everyone had to wear stovepipe hats as of 1 September, I’d surmise 90% of the population would do precisely that – especially if they’d been bludgeoned into believing it was their duty; even if Keir Starmer was photographed wearing one (which he would be), the herd would still buy it. And, of course, some have had to be told that putting masks on their pets isn’t good for the dog or the cat. They actually needed to be told this.

Lest we forget, we live in an world in which Sainsbury’s proudly declares via in-store placards that it stands with the LGBTXYZ community – though what this entails is less evident; I dunno – half-price fairy cakes? Ooh, cheap shot, perhaps; but when the corporate world has instigated ‘unconscious bias training’ in white-collar workplaces across the country to induce the Original Sin of racism in its non-BAME workforce, we simultaneously have a situation whereby an ad campaign organised by women’s rights agent provocateur Posie Parker that declares ‘I Love JK Rowling’ has been banned by Network Rail Scotland on ‘political’ grounds and because (according to their statement) ‘we do not allow advertising that is likely to support or promote one viewpoint over another’. Btw, Network Rail Scotland is one of a zillion companies that have opportunistically tacked the rainbow on their online logo – which is clearly not remotely political and in no way happens to be promoting one viewpoint over another. You couldn’t, as they say, make it up.

I watched a vintage John Betjeman programme the other day in which the beloved, late and much lamented poet visited a small Norfolk market town that looked as though it was preserved in Victorian aspic even in the early 60s. The programme was probably accused of pandering to a wistfully nostalgic notion of ‘Deep England’ romanticism at the time it aired, let alone now; but Albion – like the village green Ray Davies rhapsodised – has always really resided in the mind, anyway. I’m sure the Man in the mask would take that away too, if he could. But he can’t. Be thankful for the small mercies we still have. We need them at the moment.

© The Editor


I bumped into an old acquaintance I hadn’t seen for a while a few days ago; the current climate was naturally unavoidable as a topic of conversation, and some of what was said showed how a distinct scepticism has certainly crept into discourse now. He echoed reports that emerged last week when he spoke of a friend working in the NHS who’d confirmed the stats over Covid-19 deaths were definitely being doctored. One report I’d heard of even before this chat essentially stated that anyone finding themselves in hospital with the mildest coronavirus symptoms could depart with a clean bill of health, be run over and killed by a bus outside the building, and the death would then be registered as a Covid fatality. It’s difficult not to conclude that a high death doll is necessary in order to justify the more severe curbs on civil liberties, so a high death toll is therefore manufactured.

History suggests conspiracy theories tend to thrive whenever society is destabilised by events that seem inexplicable; such events invariably emphasise the powerlessness of the people to dictate their destiny, which is never reassuring. Add mistrust and suspicion of official explanations and it’s easy to see how this void of reassurance can give credence to any wild speculation in the craving to find meaning. Back in the days when God was credited with every calamity to befall mankind, the Almighty himself was immune from prosecution because he’d only ever act if provoked by man; therefore man – or woman – had to be punished in His absence. In the 17th century, God’s law enforcers often ended up at the doorstep of witches. By enacting the ritual of hauling any nominated spinster before a kangaroo court and inevitably proclaiming her guilt before executing her, the masses found a momentary means of regaining control of a narrative that had been stolen from them.

Widespread illiteracy amongst those not employed by the Church meant the controllers of knowledge had the power to weaponise the written word; if the people didn’t trust their leaders, they had no option but to trust God’s representatives on earth. Interpretations of ambiguous passages from the Holy Book could vary according to the context; but those in search of something usually found what they were looking for – as interpreters of all Holy Books continue to do. In an age of mass communication and far wider literacy, the controllers of knowledge may now be largely secular, but the weaponising of the written word is just as commonplace – and the room for wild speculation remains as potent as ever; ongoing conspiracy theories surrounding JFK or 9/11 are testament to that. And now we have a fresh source for the conspiracy theory industry as the extreme measures supposedly taken to combat a killer virus that may well have killed far fewer people than we’ve been led to believe are being questioned.

Yes, many of us were doubtful of how serious this virus was before lockdown, but the unprecedented actions of government made a few think again. For me, the suspension of the football season for only the third time in its 130-odd-year history was a significant signal that this was serious; after all, it had taken two World Wars to cause that before. And then Boris’s broadcast to the nation and the sudden transformation of every major UK city into a ghost-town – one came to the conclusion that this wouldn’t have been done unless there were sound reasons for it. The overnight construction of the Nightingale hospitals, the deification of the NHS, the abrupt solitary confinement of millions, the closing of school-gates, the deserted workplaces, the empty supermarket shelves, the socially-distanced queues of those desperately seeking loo rolls, TV shows reduced to Zoom chats, people with unlimited time on their hands and no idea what to do with it – but we were assured there were sound reasons.

Our glorious leaders have gained greater powers over the people than they could ever have imagined, and all without a shot being fired in anger. Of course, some corners of the country have tried to extend their control via legislation – the SNP’s proposed hate crime laws currently being scrutinised at Holyrood are merely the latest draconian efforts by an especially nasty little administration; but even Sturgeon’s tartan army couldn’t have expected to get away with the measures coronavirus has gifted them. This is for our own good, we are told. So we comply. As I write this paragraph, ‘Final Score’ is on the TV and the images are of Aston Villa players celebrating avoiding relegation; there must be over a dozen of them clambering over each other in a euphoric, hugging mass. Yet no supporters are allowed in the stadium to mirror their heroes’ behaviour; and when they do so outside the ground, they are condemned for breaking social distancing rules. None of those Villa players are wearing masks, yet we must when we go shopping and we won’t be acting like celebrating footballers in the aisles at Sainsbury’s either; we’ll be keeping our distance.

When my local florist reopened, I popped in because I’d missed the scent of fresh flowers. However, intending to pay by cash – i.e. ‘dirty money’ – was something evidently frowned upon; but it was cash or nothing. In my attempts to place said cash on the counter, I literally overstepped the mark and the shop assistant backed away as though I had a pistol in my hand. I’m not someone who gets off on scaring people; fear in the eyes unnerves rather than bolsters me, so I immediately retreated and did my best to stretch to the counter from the furthest distance I could manage. What might be called ‘all this palaver’ is enough to make me not bother going into shops at all; and if I didn’t need to eat, I probably wouldn’t.

The argument against my reaction is that I’m making a big deal about nothing, and that doing as you’re told via following the official guidelines means you’re saving lives. What lives, exactly? Surely not those with genuinely life-threatening conditions that are being denied necessary medical treatment because everything has been put on ice to accommodate the imaginary avalanche of coronavirus victims; in other cases, the avoidance of hospitals has been self-imposed due to the fears of catching that which we’re not allowed to call ‘the Chinese lurgy’ because that’s racist. I hate myself for thinking, ‘I bet there were some in Nazi Germany who were informed they suddenly had to wear the Star of David on their jackets and said it was no big deal ‘cause everyone else was wearing them’. But that’s the problem with a situation as strange as this; the reference points tend to tap into the outrageous claims of the dreaded conspiracy theory mindset and once you’re there, anything is possible.

Some of the statements to have grabbed clickbait headlines of late suggest certain public health ‘experts’ would be more than happy for even the minor relaxation of measures to be reined in and for the more severe ones to be reinstated for the foreseeable future. Talk of the end of the year or the middle of next year before any resumption of genuine normality can be achieved supports the plague narrative; and without that narrative, the justification for the last four months utterly evaporates. It’s no wonder many who derive their newfound public profile from it are continuing to pedal the propaganda. I’ll be honest, I don’t know what the f**k to believe anymore; I’m just as dazed and confused as everyone else on this flat earth. See what I mean?

© The Editor


I watched one of those remarkable interviews the other day, the kind that television used to specialise in back when programmes like ‘Panorama’ or ‘World in Action’ presented hard news stories to an audience of millions, the kind that vindicated the work put in by committed and thorough investigate journalists, the kind that used to make such a powerful impact that they would lead to a change in the law, the kind that once you start watching you don’t pause to put the kettle on because your attention is captured wholly for the duration. It was dealing with a relevant story that has affected thousands of lives in this country for decades – thousands of extremely vulnerable lives. Only, it wasn’t on television. It was on YouTube. And it wasn’t an interview conducted by an investigative journalist, but by two comedians. It aired on the Triggernometry channel, hosted by Francis Foster and Konstantin Kisin, and the interviewee was Dr Ella Hill, a Rotherham grooming gang survivor.

The fact the only place this interview could be found was on Triggernometry is either a damning indictment of the cowardice and prejudice of ‘impartial’ MSM news outlets and broadcasters or simply highlights that they are now as redundant as the print medium. This was an interview that should have been screened in a primetime slot on a mainstream TV channel – and would’ve been at one time; but it was never gonna happen in 2020. What Ella Hill’s emotive, moving and frankly horrific testimony offered was an eye-witness account of an appalling scandal that utterly trashes the contemporary narrative on issues of race; and the MSM – along with every other UK institution, corporation and higher education establishment – has invested far too much in this narrative for it to be contradicted by an uncomfortable truth.

This is a story loaded with two key elements that constitute the fundamental foundations of Identity Politics ideology – it has violence against women and it has toxic masculinity; it should have been immediately seized upon by the practitioners of that ideology and promoted as the outrage it is. But it wasn’t treated in the way one might imagine because the toxic males committing the violence against women were Muslims, a demographic ranking high on the Identitarian league tables of Oppressed Minorities; and the women – or girls – were white, and therefore not important. Only those with white skin can be racist, lest we forget, for racism can only be committed by the ‘privileged’ majority. Turns out it wasn’t a Hate Crime after all.

‘Racially and religiously-aggravated rape’ is Ella Hill’s own personal definition of the grooming gang raison d’être, ‘or network-based rape, very often of underage girls.’ She estimates upwards of half-a-million girls have been victims of this particularly repugnant crime over the past forty years, yet how long had it been going on before it broke over-ground? And remember how the MSM reacted when it did – choosing instead to give distracting airtime to frauds and fantasists spouting conspiracy theories of historical Westminster paedophile rings and soft targets like dead or decrepit 70s celebrities? Much easier to deal with than the fact that organised groups of British Muslims of Pakistani origin were sexually abusing what they regarded as subhuman ‘white trash’ and destroying the multicultural myth in the process. Ella Hill herself was sucked into this vile netherworld in her teens by an Asian boyfriend who subjugated her with physical and mental abuse once he began sharing her with the rest of the gang; even when she survived attempted murder at their hands and spent a week in hospital with her injuries, reporting the full story to the police on five separate occasions was met with the response ‘There’s nothing we can do.’

The toxic legacy of the Stephen Lawrence murder has swung the police forces of this country from one extreme to the other rather than having rebalanced the scales; the reprehensible refusal to help a physically, mentally and sexually abused young woman in the interests of preserving racial harmony – and because she was the ‘wrong’ kind of victim – is the natural outcome of this mindset. And by shutting up ‘for the sake of diversity’, it leaves the field clear for the opportunistic Far Right to weaponise the subject, thus placing it further beyond the pale of polite conversation.

In a society in which white people are now being encouraged to believe they are born with the Original Sin of racism, it’s no wonder such an outrage as grooming gangs has been allowed to fester unimpeded by inconveniences like prosecution and imprisonment. Grooming gangs show up Identity Politics as the sham it is, and its most fanatical advocates will not tolerate this. During the interview, Ella Hill admitted she’d been scared to take part in it, not down to fears of revenge attacks by those who abused her, but from the Far Left who hounded her off social media. ‘I get called a Nazi,’ she said. ‘I get called a fascist, I get called a bigot, I get called an enemy of Islam…and’ (perhaps evoking her abusers’ view of her as ‘easy meat’) ‘one of the things that really hurts is being called gammon.’

Of course, what the existence of this particular division of Islam in Britain does by indulging in such gruesome practices is to tarnish the entire ‘Muslim Community’, not to mention highlighting the ridiculousness of pigeonholing millions of people who happen to share the same faith as a one-size-fits-all demographic. If the Identitarian agenda didn’t insist on grouping together disparate individuals on the basis of skin colour, religion, sex, gender and sexual preference then the grooming gangs would’ve been rightly outed as the organised paedophile networks that they are; but because the powers-that-be have bought into the Identity Politics philosophy, all Muslims are therefore affiliated with grooming gangs due to all Muslims belonging in the same box – and over-publicising the scandal would therefore inspire hatred of, and violence against, all Muslims. Whose fault is this, then – The Far Right? Muslims themselves? I don’t think so.

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion wrote a tabloid piece about this subject a couple of years back and was forced to resign from Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet as a reward – as well as having to keep a low profile in the face of a hate-fuelled social media campaign against her. Fellow Labour MP Naz Shah described the article as ‘incendiary and irresponsible’ before reiterating the safe narrative that ‘90% of child sexual abusers are white men’. Meanwhile, the official Home Office report into grooming gangs remains suppressed and the police this week announced they were considering dropping terms such as ‘Islamic Terrorism’ and ‘Jihadists’ for fear of causing offence to ‘the Muslim Community’. One would imagine they should be more concerned with the offence caused by the crimes of such criminals.

‘The Black Lives Matter movement is frightening to me,’ said Ella Hill. ‘I was forced to bend the knee, I was forced to kneel down and kiss my perpetrator’s feet…I was forced to literally kneel at his feet as part of the abuse I received…and when I see the footballers kneeling, and when I see leading politicians kneeling, to me I’m seeing them kneeling to my perpetrators – and it breaks my heart.’ Considering the dreadful abuse she suffered and the injustices of that abuse going unpunished, it would be understandable if Dr Ella Hill was hell-bent on revenge; yet, she cites her Christian faith as her salvation and expresses astonishingly charitable forgiveness towards her abusers. Her interview is no easy viewing experience, but her refreshing humanity is genuinely uplifting in a climate that appears to have learnt nothing from decades of blind eyes being turned. It really is worth a watch, and Ella Hill’s beautiful spirit saves it from being an exercise in vicarious misery for the viewer. Hers is a story that needed to be told and one that needs to be heard.

© The Editor


It’s oddly disorientating, this new-improved isolation; it possesses all the components of the self-imposed isolation I’m more than familiar with, yet because it’s been enforced by a higher power, the options ordinarily available when the compulsion to break free overcomes me have been taken away. Ah, yes, but as long as you look like you’ve just stepped out of an operating theatre, you can still go shopping and the experience will be even more fun-packed than it used to be! And if you’re unable to do that, you can engage in faux-socialising via the Zoom ‘community’ from your very own front room; alas, this innovation overlooks the fact that what made socialising a refreshing alternative to the norm was that it forced you out of your very own front room. I engage with people online every day, but I don’t mistake that for socialising any more than I mistake masturbation for sexual intercourse.

Okay, so having the choice to venture beyond the four walls might not always have been fully capitalised upon by yours truly, but it was nice to have that choice, all the same. So what if I didn’t make the most of it? It was a curious comfort to know those myriad options were there should I ever need them; and now they’re not. Anyway, as someone whose home-space has doubled-up as workplace for years, it’s no surprise that work has constituted the majority of my time since the outside world lost its (admittedly limited) attractions; but even the workaholic needs rehab every few hours, and mine has provided this here blog with numerous intervals from the madness. And I return to one of those intervals today.

I thought I’d exhausted every viewing experience available on the shelf as a means of escaping the solitary confinement of these happy days, yet lo and behold, I last week unearthed a series I’d only watched the once, and that was the best part of five or six years ago. As a long-time lover of the works of Dennis Potter, the hours of off-air VHS recordings of his finest moments I used to own haven’t been properly replaced on DVD yet. I have the original 1976 BBC production of ‘Brimstone and Treacle’ (the one that went unseen for a decade), but that is one of his numerous one-off plays; Potter gradually enhanced his reputation as television’s most gifted dramatist via the episodic series he produced in the second half of his career, reaching a peak of both popularity and artistic excellence with the likes of ‘Pennies from Heaven’ and ‘The Singing Detective’. But these later examples of his uniquely imaginative and innovative storytelling techniques were possible because he’d proven himself capable of the serial format several years before.

In 1971, after contributing some of the finest and most original one-off plays to the ‘Wednesday Play’ and ‘Play for Today’ strands, Dennis Potter wrote his first series for the BBC, the six-part ‘Casanova’. The name of the infamous 18th century Venetian libertine has subsequently become a noun describing a certain type of man whose fondness for the fairer sex takes that other name-cum-noun that denotes the passionate lover – Romeo – to a somewhat more salacious level. Casanova would have ravished and robbed Juliet of her virtue in the same time it took Romeo to recite his speech to her when she was up on that balcony; and that’s the difference. The actual genuine historical figure who bestowed his name upon future men seeking to emulate his specialised skill lived to the ripe old age of 73, spending his autumn years in retirement from the ladies and penning his memoirs. This book, ‘Story of My Life’, salvaged Giacomo Casanova from the posthumous obscurity awaiting all those who were neither highborn nor artistic during his lifetime; published in the 1820s, a good couple of decades after Casanova’s death, the book serves as an authentic historical snapshot of the times in which Casanova’s life was lived, though most English language versions of the memoirs were bowdlerised and poorly-translated.

The first truly faithful English edition of the text appeared as late as 1966 and found its way onto Dennis Potter’s desk when he was a book reviewer for the Times. Intrigued by the potential of dramatising the exploits of such a fascinating, unconventional character, Potter decided to adapt Casanova’s adventures for television, though it took a good five years after the book’s publication before television censorship had relaxed enough for him to get away with it. Rather than writing a straightforward TV ‘biopic’, Potter instead took the bare bones and key events of Casanova’s life and created his own unique take on the man, giving himself considerable artistic licence as he made Casanova the personification of Potter’s own struggle with the conflict between the sacred and the profane. Themes that went on to become familiar Potter tropes are explored in greater depth here for the first time; in this respect, it doesn’t really matter that the author plays fast and loose with the truth; in the ambiguous character of Casanova, he has the perfect vehicle for his recurring concerns.

It was a brave choice to cast the 45-year-old Frank Finlay as the lead character in the series, though as Potter’s adaptation avoids portraying Casanova in his formative fornicating years and instead focuses on the events that led to his imprisonment on charges of affront and common decency at the age of 30, the casting is revealed as quite inspired. The narrative also carries us through to Casanova’s old age and a 45-year-old can better portray an elderly man than, say, a 25-year-old; Finlay convinces as the old, ailing Casanova as much as the arrogant, younger Casanova in the prime of his time as Europe’s master seducer – and his obsessive craving for seduction is clearly painted as something of an illness, a realisation that dawns upon him when his wrecked body can no longer serve its motivating force.

Bar a shot of Finlay’s bare bottom in the first episode, what flesh we glimpse in this series is generally restricted to naked breasts – and lots of them. But there are just as many heaving bosoms constrained within tight bodices as there are fully exposed boobs; and the former is a far more tantalisingly erotic sight than the latter. We tend to get the build-up to sex, but stop short of excessive ‘sex scenes’ as such. If anything, the clever way that Casanova’s bedchamber activities are presented conveys their hedonistic joy far more effectively by being sparing; yes, there’s the opportunity to be more explicit than had previously been the case on TV, but the editing is first-rate as it cuts from flashback to present day and back again. There’s nothing as remotely exploitative of the looser moral climate in ‘Casanova’ as there tended to be in some of the Hollywood movies of the period.

Naturally, Mary Whitehouse got a tad hot under the collar, but the fact the character was gaoled courtesy of accusations that she in turn then levelled against the BBC was an irony no doubt not lost on Potter. Indeed, watching the series fifty years on, the double standards of morality that governed the Church of Rome in the 18th century aren’t a million miles away from those that govern our very own century’s Church of Woke – and a figure like Giacomo Casanova would probably meet the same fate today as he met then. Dennis Potter’s ‘Casanova’ may not be spoken of in the same breath as some of his later, more celebrated works, but it was an important step towards them; and it holds up as an enjoyable and occasionally moving portrait of a debauched life in which any form of deeper, long-term meaning is sacrificed for momentary gratification. It is pointless to use the law to punish a man such as Casanova, for the only real victim when the serial seducing ends is Casanova himself.

© The Editor


There’s something uncomfortably reassuring about China and Russia being portrayed as evil ‘super states’ run by dictators reminiscent of Bond villains. Such images correspond to a traditional narrative that’s far easier to understand in these relentlessly confusing times, when so many threats to global stability are either anonymous (terrorism) or literally faceless (Covid-19). We know where we are when the bad guys are clearly defined and they represent an entire nation rather than being those stateless invaders failing to recognise borders such as an invisible virus or Jihadist organisations with secret cells dotted across the world. This week, the narrative has been upheld with accusations of cyber interference on the part of the Kremlin in the British democratic process and by the UK Government belatedly deciding Huawei poses a threat to national security if allowed to take control of the country’s 5G network. Both Moscow and Beijing have refuted the accusations against them, but – to paraphrase dear old Mandy Rice-Davies one more time – they would, wouldn’t they.

The fresh allegations re Russia concern what appears to be the official ‘hacking branch’ of the Kremlin called APT29, which almost sounds like a cuddly Soviet equivalent of R2-D2; I can visualise ATP29 resembling C-3PO’s little sidekick, only painted red and bearing the hammer & sickle on his tin chest. If only. Anyway, this professional outfit of dedicated cyber spies and agent provocateurs are the same unit accused of interfering in the 2016 US Presidential Election; this time round, they’ve allegedly tried to eavesdrop on the research into finding a vaccine for the coronavirus, not only here but in the States and Canada as well. If they’d wanted to know, surely it would’ve been more polite simply to ask? After all, we’re all supposed to be in this together, aren’t we?

To have the Russians and the Chinese as the bad guys again means we know where we are, even if the crimes they’re being accused of today are firmly rooted in the 21st century. Russia’s tech mischief also extends beyond the Kremlin’s in-house boffins to other Russian-based hackers who do this sort of thing for a living. These unnamed infiltrators were this week outed as having ‘sexed-up’ secret Whitehall documents that fell into Labour hands and gave Jeremy Corbyn the opportunity to make his claims about plans to sell off the NHS to the US during last December’s General Election campaign. Of course, nothing appears as-if-by-magic in politics; timing is everything, and to have the Foreign Secretary publicly naming and shaming the Russian state in this way comes on the eve of the publication of the so-called ‘Russia Report’.

The Novichok incident of 2018 – when the sealing-off of Salisbury probably acted as a useful training exercise for where we are now – seems to have triggered a more thorough response to growing concerns about a malignant Russian presence in British political life. This eventually prompted the compiling of information to form the core of a report into the case against Russia by the Intelligence and Security Committee, a cross-party group of MPs independent of Government. And the Government has been sitting on this report for over six months now. Yet the sudden rush of Dominic Raab to speak of Russian hacking when no public accusations have previously been made due to an absence of evidence implies the findings of the committee may indeed confirm the rumours and suspicions that have been flying about for a long time. But why the delay?

Earlier in the week, the Government’s attempts to interfere in the process were pretty blatant when they tried to hand the chairmanship of the Intelligence and Security Committee to…er…Chris Grayling. Yes, you can stop laughing at the back; we all know Grayling is unquestionably the most incompetent individual ever to stumble into running a Government department, with a track record of disaster unprecedented in Westminster history; but he’s a Friend of Boris. So, perfect man for the job of heading a supposedly impartial, non-partisan committee to scrutinise the findings of the intelligence and security services when a long-awaited report into the extent of Russian influence in UK politics is finally poised to see the light of day, a report that might have a few embarrassing things to say about the relationship between the Conservative Party and millionaire Oligarch donors. Additionally, Raab connecting Russia with Labour could be viewed by a cynic – heaven forbid – as a pre-emptive strike by the Government to deflect any findings that suggest the Russian connection is greater on the blue side of the House.

Some backstage manoeuvring by Labour and SNP members of the committee resulted in a ‘coup’, with the installation of Conservative MP Julian Lewis as chairman instead; and Lewis’ reward for blocking the Government’s choice was the removal of the party whip. In other words, if you’re not gonna play ball then I’m taking my ball back. Whether or not the extent of Russian interference is dramatically exposed, simply hinted at or disappointingly redacted when the report surfaces remains to be seen; but the Government’s actions this week certainly suggest it might make for an interesting read.

I know everything pre-Covid feels like a hundred years ago now, but some of you may remember the sacking of Gavin Williamson as Defence Secretary in May last year. Williamson was pressurised into walking the plank by Theresa May after he was blamed for the leaking of information from the National Security Council regarding the dangers of allowing China’s Huawei to run Britain’s 5G mobile network. Although Williamson denied he was responsible for the leak, the matter shone the spotlight on the relationship between the Chinese Government and Huawei, not to mention the stupidity of handing over the running of the entire system to a company suspected of acting in the interests of Beijing and its habit of eavesdropping on those using its technology.

Tellingly, it has required far more hostile measures taken by the US against Huawei to force the UK Government to make its mind up. This week it was announced equipment produced by the Chinese company will no longer be available to UK mobile providers by the end of the year and all 5G kit will have to be removed from networks by 2027. At the time of Gavin Williamson’s dismissal, the National Cyber Security Centre denied any sign of Chinese state activity in Huawei software, whereas now he NCSC has altered its opinion and has ‘significantly changed’ its security assessment of Huawei. Not before time, one might conclude.

Just like the wicked Cold War villains of old, both Russia and China are in a position at the moment whereby they essentially believe they can do what the hell they like and there’ll be no comeback. Russia can dispatch a couple of cathedral tourists to liquidate one of their exiled countrymen to have fallen foul of Vlad; China can tear-up the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong and suppress democracy in the same way they would on the mainland; and that’s not even mentioning the sinister Xinjiang re-education camps for Uyghur Muslims – sorry, I meant Radical Islamists – which are carrying on regardless of international condemnation. But, hell, if you want old-fashioned bad guys, I guess you have to take the rough with the smooth.

© The Editor


Quicker than you can say ‘Dah Diddly Quah-quah’, I opted for the dandy highwayman. Well, having a sartorial straitjacket imposed upon me by government was hardly going to see me abandon the habits of a lifetime and adopt herd mentality. I have a surfeit of scarves that generally tend to be aired in the winter months, but I decided to give one a summer outing as a stylish alternative to those crap blue plastic surgical masks ‘everyone’s wearing’. It’s the kind of object a writer for Vogue in the 1950s might have described as ‘gaily-embroidered gossamer-thin neckwear, an ideal evening addition to a chilly cocktail party on the September veranda’, but as much as I resent being told what to wear, it seems I’ll soon have no option when it comes to shopping.

Why shops will shortly demand such articles as mandatory wear when the donning of them in the newly reopened pubs and restaurants remains optional perhaps says a great deal about the half-arsed approach to Covid-19 of Boris Johnson’s administration. What we are currently witnessing is some pretty furtive bolting of the door on a stable that no longer contains a single horse. Aside from the clear message our beloved leader delivered on the eve of the lockdown, every piece of advice since then seems to have left the public in a ball of confusion as to what they can and can’t do when released from the confines of their homes.

Of course, once let loose from confinement, the respective social demographics react in different ways according to the MSM narrative – essentially, the Proles party and the middle-classes march; one bad, the other good. With that dependable bastion of law and order, the West Midlands Police Force, following the lead of the magnificent Met in appearing more concerned with arresting 12-year-olds for ‘racist tweets’ rather than preventing SJWs from flaunting placards and thus spreading germs in huge numbers, we cannot help but greet each pronouncement on social distancing with ever-increasing cynicism. What we have at the moment is neither one thing nor the other.

Yes, football’s back, but it’s bloody awful, played in empty stadiums with no atmosphere and hijacked by political causes that have as much to do with the beautiful game as tax-exiled millionaire racing drivers sponsored by autocratic Middle-Eastern regimes have to do with human rights. And shopping has gone from a dreary unavoidable outing to an even drearier unavoidable outing. In a way, I’m glad current circumstances have reduced daily shops to weekly ones; the thought of having to do it every day now is not one that fills my heart with joy. I couldn’t even gain access to the post office this morning without having to submit my name and number to a clipboard-clutching Jobsworth in the name of ‘track & trace’; I guess I had the last laugh in that no ‘government app’ can track & trace me on account of not owning a mobile phone; the Jobsworth in question was given my landline number, which will transmit info to Whitehall (or, more accurately Beijing) that I never leave my flat – which isn’t far from the truth, anyway.

Indeed, each imposition on our civil liberties in the name of protecting us from an epidemic I’m beginning to doubt even exists feels more and more like a Jobsworth’s charter; the pious, humourless forces of finger-wagging that have characterised, say, the anti-smoking lobby in recent years have been praying for a moment such as this, when their biased ‘expertise’ and claims of being an authority on public health have actually convinced our elected representatives that they should be entrusted with the kind of powers they could only previously dream about; and now they’ve been fully assimilated into mainstream government policy. I’ve no doubt one of the reasons why Boris Johnson’s administration has dragged its heels on implementing so many of these curbs on our freedoms in public has been down to its reluctance to come across as authoritarian; certainly in contrast to the hideously totalitarian SNP and our very own cuddly Labour Party, the Tories have given the public the benefit of the doubt. But they’ve been fighting a losing battle when all platforms broadcasting the ‘protect and survive’ mantra to the masses sing from a shared hymn-sheet.

My concern, which is not unusual for someone aware of a world before our oh-so wonderful century gatecrashed the party, is that once something is enshrined in law, those that enshrine it rarely repeal it. The statute books have a permanence about them that is quite unique in an era of built-in obsolescence and short-lived designs for life. Now that the powers-that-be have managed to emotionally blackmail the public into accepting draconian restrictions on their freedoms, why should they contemplate ever easing them? What we have now is normality-lite, a compromise no more satisfactory than the lockdown itself, and I’d rather not set foot in any reopened public space than make do with the excuse for them we’re being offered as better than what we had when every door was closed.

I was speaking to somebody yesterday – via Skype, of course – about the wartime generation, how they were denied the nice neat history lesson those of us born after the war have received from 1945 onwards. Due to understandable military sensitivity over divulging too much information, I would imagine anyone who wasn’t participating in the race to Berlin in 1944-45 didn’t necessarily know for sure when the end might be in sight. Yes, we know now that VE Day took place in May 1945 and hostilities effectively ceased for good with Hiroshima three months later; but those on the home front weren’t made aware in advance as to what day the Second World War would conclude. They weren’t provided with a date to look forward to as though the official end of the conflict was like looking forward to the Cup Final. Similarly, we have no idea when this current situation will end or when we can resume the lives we were leading before a virus that won’t kill most of us prompted the elected governments of the world to engage in simultaneous hara-kiri.

A second wave come the autumn; the prospect of another lockdown to bring to an end the sorry state of affairs being sold as the lifting of restrictions; the corrosive long-term effects of social distancing on the forming of friendships and the ability to interact in public; the lingering mental damage of solitary confinement – and an economic meltdown too horrific to contemplate. Boy, it’s certainly good to be alive at the moment. For those of us who have a small handful of social outlets that have all been taken away from us, this bloody tunnel could do with one or two lanterns en route to an end that is not remotely visible. Other people were viewed as fairly scary creatures before any of this happened; now they’re one notch up from rats carrying bubonic plague. Oh, well – could be worse. At least I’ve got my white privilege to be grateful for. That’s always been such a help.

© The Editor


It must be a relief being Ricky Gervais, still able to express a ‘controversial’ opinion yet be insulated from cancel culture by wealth; wealth is the one thing that can save you – so what’s new? JK Rowling may have become a recent target, but when a handful of anonymous authors sharing her publisher threatened to walk unless the Harry Potter scribe was dismissed, the publisher unsurprisingly stuck with their cash cow. The fact Rowling is a profitable industry in her own right spared her the fate awaiting those bereft of such a safety net, the less fortunate upon whom the pitchfork mob descends. No wonder so few dare speak out; there’s too much at stake – livelihoods to lose, hungry mouths to feed. Harder to sympathise with those who are in a position to stand up to the bullies but bottle it. They have no excuse.

Halle Berry, for example; she went for a part where she played a ‘trans’ character – cue outrage and then shameful withdrawal; cue grovelling, cardboard sign-slung-around-the-neck/hands-behind-back/please-forgive-me-my-sins apology before the Red Guard of Twitter. She’s a ‘Woman of Colour’, FFS; surely that itself should render her immune? Not so – the positions of competitors on the Oppression Olympics league table change on a virtually hourly basis, and one can’t expect a 53-year-old to keep up. Take this to the logical conclusion and picture reopened theatres staging a run of ‘Romeo and Juliet’; every night of the run features different actors playing the leads on account of them having to commit suicide for real in the final act. It wouldn’t happen, naturally, because acting is pretending, innit – like being a real woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman. Shakespeare did that kind of thing a lot, and all the girls were played by guys first time round.

Ricky Gervais this week admitted ‘The Office’ wouldn’t be commissioned by the BBC today. Imagine any genuinely funny BBC series of the past that would be, though. David Brent as a character was drawn from the real world; anyone who had ever worked in an office environment had met a David Brent, just as anyone who had ever done time had met a Norman Stanley Fletcher and a Mr Mackay – or anyone who had been in the Home Guard during WWII had met a Captain Mainwaring and a Corporal Jones. All the best sitcoms ever made drew from the real world. Even a character as mad as Basil Fawlty was famously based upon a genuine Torquay hotelier whose outrageous behaviour had captured John Cleese’s imagination when the Pythons had stayed at his hotel during location filming.

But the real world is no longer the basis of comedy produced by the BBC because the people making today’s excuse for it don’t live in the real world. They live in the Woke parallel universe they imagine is the real world because every member of their clique lives in it too. They’ve yet to twig that they inhabit a little bubble that the actual real world beyond it looks at with a shake of the head and utter bemusement. ‘Woke comedy’ is a misnomer because Woke is ultimately humourless. It can no more be funny than Matt Hancock can be taken seriously. Yet it continues to be thrust upon a viewing public whilst the comedy the viewing public actually finds funny is branded as beyond the pale; if it makes people laugh, it’s evidently problematic and therefore the audience has to be re-educated and its source of laughter denounced.

Somebody made the point recently that the BBC almost appears to be committing suicide rather than waiting for a Government to put it out of its misery. It certainly seems to be bending over backwards to destroy what remaining shreds of affection the public still have for it. The Antifa/BLM riot in Central London described as a ‘largely peaceful protest’; the now-deleted video in which a couple of posh white Woke women informed their pleb sisters how racist they all were (the so-called ‘Karens’ lesson); recruiting a drag queen to dispense advice to parents on how to educate their children on LGBTXYZ issues; playing down any Islamic angle of a terrorist incident whilst simultaneously bigging up a ‘Far Right’ angle; Emily Maitlis’ address to the nation on what it should think about Dominic Cummings; announcing £1000s to be spent on even more ‘BAME programming’ whilst axing regional output that people (AKA bigoted racists) actually watch – and that’s not even mentioning the relentless Identity Politics propaganda that has infected so much of the Radio 4 daytime output. Alas, this is what happens when the gene pool from which the BBC draws its employees is so narrow as to be practically incestuous. Auntie doesn’t so much need to be defunded as completely fumigated.

The dire ‘comedy’ output from the Woke fun factory rightly dies on its arse, but the approach has been different in other areas. Creatively bankrupt because it has nothing other than its Identitarian ideology, Woke has been unable to devise its own sci-fi or fantasy franchises and perhaps sensed all would be expensive failures if it tried; therefore, it took control of the existing ones – the superhero genre, ‘Star Trek’, ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Doctor Who’ – because it knew there was a devoted audience who would devour all product regardless. The fact that these franchises have swiftly turned to shit once touched by Woke has resulted in the devoted audience quickly realising it is regarded with utter contempt and then rapidly deserting its beloved franchises in droves; these movies bomb at the box-office and these TV shows provoke plummeting viewing figures. Woke has drained the fun from all of them because it’s a fun-sucking parasite, yet the problem is with the audience, apparently.

Personally, I don’t give a shit if you’re male, female, black, white, gay or straight – what matters is a) Are you a good person? b) Are you good company? and c) Have you got something original and interesting to say? Promoting poisonous dogma that pits people against each other and groups us all in boxes based on irrelevancies like race, sexuality and gender is an effective way to divide and rule under the guise of ‘diversity’ (another misnomer); but some of us are averse to being segregated by minor aspects of our personas that have no bearing on the people we happen to be, so this cancerous critical race theory-inspired groupthink has to be resisted. It’s hard, though, when it controls so many of the platforms that facilitate social interaction.

Whilst reluctant to venture into conspiracy theory territory, I can’t help but wonder if a certain virus was conceived to complete the control process. The post-lockdown excuse for a life is one in which our every move is monitored and regulated with the kind of Project Fear efficiency Stalin would have enthusiastically endorsed – from mandatory mask-wearing in public to social distancing, from providing bank details if buying a drink to limiting the amount of people we can meet and mingle with; the compliant comply whilst we who instinctively resist are quietly losing our marbles behind closed doors. And I think to myself…what a horrible world.

JACK CHARLTON (1935-2020)

Ah, Big Jack. 23 years at Leeds United, over 700 appearances for his only club, England debutante at 30, World Cup winner, the most successful manager of the Republic of Ireland ever, and not averse to the odd fag before a game – blunt and opinionated, but passionate and committed; a man from a different and superior era. I got his autograph when I was a kid, holding his pint of Guinness as he signed my match-day programme. He seemed huge, like a Geordie giraffe. At the time, he had already retired from playing and had a show on TV where he coached kids without the use of cotton wool; he shouted at them like they were fully-grown professional footballers; no doubt today their parents would sue Charlton for not telling their precious little babies they were all winners. Big Jack would never have taken the knee; he’d have taken out a few players with his knee, though. RIP.

© The Editor


Admittedly, there are perhaps far too many nights when this here medium keeps my attention, even if I intend to retire with a good book. Blame it all on bloody YouTube’s related videos bar and its annoyingly irresistible tag, ‘recommended for you’. Last night I was still watching old Queens Park Rangers games from the mid-70s at 3.00am; every time I sat through one Stan Bowles hat-trick scored on a pitch resembling Aintree the day after the Grand National, I spotted another one waiting in line for me. This happens a lot when you’re a night-owl and the allure of old football retains a particular magic absent from today’s excuse for it; at least players then could get on with the game instead of arriving with a shopping-list of causes requiring them to signal their virtue before eventually kicking-off. Ditto even cricket, as I gathered from its return to BBC TV yesterday; perhaps the Beeb only agreed to take the taking-the-knee highlights as the next phase of their plan to re-educate all the ‘Karens’ out there.

However, it is always my aim to end the day with a book, even if I sometimes leave it too late. It was never a problem when my much-missed feline companion dictated the evening schedule; she liked to be in bed by a certain time and she had a habit of staring me out around 2.00am if I was still reading. The unceasing vigilance with which she wore down my resistance simply by sitting beside the nearest lamp and fixing me with a glare that informed me she wanted the lights out never failed to prematurely curtail a chapter; but at least I was aware the earlier I began, the more reading time I’d have. After she passed away, nocturnal discipline became a little lax and I didn’t really get back into the habit of a bedtime book until I purchased a proper bedside lamp.

With my Edwardian bed designed along the lines of those in hospital-based ‘Carry On’ movies, a clip-on lamp seemed the best option. It gave me no excuse not to round off the day with a book and I have tried to break free from Brian Moore introducing one more vintage edition of ‘The Big Match’ at a reasonable hour ever since. Most nights, I manage it. Reading is one of three notable activities that the item of household furniture in question is the ideal location for – and probably the most underrated activity of the three, which is ironic considering it can often be the most rewarding. Last thing at night is the one time of the day that seems tailor-made for reading, when one’s head is cleared in preparation for sleep and there are no external distractions – no phone-calls, nobody ringing the doorbell, and (if lucky) no antisocial neighbours running through their audition for the Ministry of Sound. If there are any background noises, they can be especially selected to enhance the reading experience, perhaps the gentle tick-tock of a clock or maybe a quiet, conducive soundtrack in the distance.

Some – though not me – were fortunate to be told a bedtime story every night as a child, something that can forever associate books with bedtime in the mind thereafter; if spared this lesson, bedtime reading can begin with combing the pages of a comic via undercover torchlight and then inevitably progress to less wholesome ‘reading’ material. If one can make it to an actual book, however, it can prove an invaluable aid to sleep. Indeed, if inducing slumber is a perennial problem, reading before lights-out not only gives one something more stimulating to think about than the routine banal concerns that plague daytime, but it can also accelerate the gradual heaviness of the eyelids better than any sleeping pill. Personally, I tend to find I can surrender to sleep far easier if I’ve been reading before switching the lamp off than if not. And, let’s be honest, with so much shit polluting life ‘out there’ at the moment, what a relief it is to be able to escape into an alternate reality before the Land of Nod, one where none of 2020 is either relevant or even in existence.

Of all the books I’ve read over the past 20 years, the vast majority have been read during this precious window of the day. About six or seven years back, I sedately worked my way through ‘War and Peace’ over a period of around twelve months, and I think every line was digested with my head propped-up by pillows. I do sometimes read a little during the day, but the material is usually of the magazine or newspaper variety; when it comes to a book, it’s so much easier to give it your full attention when in bed. Moreover, as was the case with Tolstoy’s doorstopper, bedtime is the ultimate breathing space in which one can take one’s time; there’s no sense of having to rush or hurry the job up. A couple of pages or perhaps a chapter – it doesn’t matter; there are no deadlines. If a book running to over 1,300 pages takes a year to read in nightly instalments, so be it. Whoever said it had to be read in a month?

I find I switch between literary genres with each book, depending on how long the last one took to read. If I’ve just read a heavyweight novel, the next one will probably be a more lightweight autobiography; after that, I might read a collection of short stories and maybe then another novel and so on. I’m currently at the back end of ‘Boswell’s London Journal, 1762-1763’, the day-to-day jottings of Dr Johnson’s celebrated biographer, and a text that lay undiscovered for almost 200 years until unearthed and published in the 1950s. As with most diaries penned by a gifted writer, it provides a unique and authentic insight into the times in which it was written. This is early Georgian London as seen through the eyes of an alien – Boswell was a Scot at another moment in British history when the Union was going through one of its more fragile phases; the Jacobite Rebellion had only taken place less than 20 years previously and its ramifications were still being felt by Scots south of the border.

Boswell’s journal not only paints the atmosphere of the capital as it was in the early 1760s with wondrous vivacity, but his portrait of a man-about-town hobnobbing with other fascinating characters and occasionally paying the physically painful price for a bit of rough and tumble with a whore makes for a damn good read. Being able to end each day in Georgian London by proxy is certainly a better way to bid farewell to said day than enduring the less engaging place where one actually happens to be; and one can only get that in bed. That other refuge for reading – the lavatory – has its merits, though all can depend on the duration of the bowel movement; not that we all haven’t succumbed to pins & needles if the reading material has proven hard to put down; but magazines that can be snatched in dribs and drabs are more complementary to the toilet library than the book. The book belongs to bedtime.

I used to have a sensible system whereby I never owned a book I hadn’t read. When I finished one and it was time for another, I’d pop to the local Oxfam and nose around the shelves until I found something I fancied. However, in recent years I’ve been bought a lot of books for birthdays and Christmases and am still working my way through the ones I have. I don’t do badly, though; it’s surprising how many books one can read in a year as long as the bedtime routine is upheld. As far as the persistent insomniac with a penchant for extremely late nights goes, it’s the best bedtime routine there is.

© The Editor


Anyone who remembers a time when ‘Coronation Street’ was one of the finest sitcoms on British television will recall the comic double act of Stan and Hilda Ogden; the late addition of Scouse shirker and scam-merchant Eddie Yeats as the Ogdens’ lodger gifted the dynamic with a further layer of hilarity, giving lazy layabout Stan a partner-in-indolence for poor, weary Hilda to endure. One memorable moment came when Eddie promised Hilda he could acquire for her that most desirable 70s household appliance for keeping up with the Jones’s – a colour television set. Sceptical Hilda doubted Eddie could deliver, but was prepared to go along with it. Unsurprisingly, when Eddie turned up with his ‘colour telly’, it was simply a sheet of coloured Perspex he proceeded to stick on the black & white screen of the Ogdens’ set, one that turned the monochrome picture either green or red, depending where the viewer was sat. Hilda was immediately unimpressed, whereas easily-pleased Stan informed her ‘it’s better than nowt.’ Hilda sighed and declared the phrase would probably end up inscribed on her headstone. Better than nowt.

The most extreme lifting of lockdown measures to date comes into effect today – as if you didn’t know. This is the so-called ‘Super Saturday’, but the definition of ‘super’ is open to interpretation; anyone thinking it means a return to the old normality could well be disappointed, for this is a compromise that is essentially better than nowt. Yeah, like football being played in empty stadiums and co-opted by political sloganeering nobody thought to look at the small-print of in the rush to virtue-signal is better than nowt. The news that pubs, restaurants, cinemas and even hairdressers are to reopen, albeit observing social distancing rules, at least sounds like an improvement on what those who regularly patronise such venues have had to put up with these past few months; but none will provide the same kind of experience they did before.

Just as that dour puritan rag the Guardian has wagged its middle-class finger at irresponsible youngsters choosing to illegally dance the night away off their tits rather than pull down a racist statue for a good old-fashioned Marxist cause, get ready for Fleet Street furtively seeking images of red-skinned, pot-bellied plebs swigging the real ale of Olde England like there’s no tomorrow come Monday. One might almost mistake the anticipated gallery of excess as evidence that the English had abstained from alcohol for three months. Lest we forget, however, these new freedoms for the common man – for which we must all be grateful – come with an in-built warning from that intimidating East End gangster-masquerading-as-Health Secretary, Matt Hancock: ‘You could end up behind bars if you break the law,’ he declared. Ooh, a nation is really scared.

I suspect the new rules will be initially observed by customers as the cautiousness that has governed social interaction since March will make re-entering these locations a strange outing many might embark upon tentatively; ditto owners of businesses eager not to have them closed down for not following guidelines. But how long will either punter or proprietor be able to keep it up? I expect the rules to be enforced whilst the novelty of reopening lingers, though old habits will no doubt resume sooner than later; after all, the compulsory wearing of masks on public transport has already become lax, from what I’ve been told by someone who has started using buses again. This person informed me she has watched people board said vehicles sans-masques and the driver hasn’t batted an eyelid. I would imagine strict social distancing in the hospitality sector will restrict the usual taken-for-granted freedoms to begin with, but I doubt this can be maintained for much more than a week or two.

Human beings congregating in social surroundings tend to instinctively flock together; all the venues opening their doors again today generally aim to cram as many customers in as they can, so it’s difficult to imagine them sticking to the same ‘one at a time’ policies we’ve become accustomed to supermarkets employing during the lockdown – at least until they’re told otherwise, anyway. Crossing the street to avoid the contaminated breath of a passing pedestrian is one thing, but the unnatural separation being maintained at all times when indoors simply cannot last if these places are to return to their former status as desirable destinations. If not, most will stay at home to eat and drink in conditions more conducive to relaxation.

There’s also the small matter of making a profit for the businesses concerned, something that is harder to achieve when numbers are limited due to the cordoning off of space normally reserved for the punter. I can’t quite imagine what cinemas will be like under these new guidelines; I guess they could well put paid to the usual shenanigans reserved for the back row, though I wouldn’t know anything about that myself. There seem to be similarly unattractive delights in store re all the other places, with pubs sounding the least fun environments of all. The prospect of mixing and mingling is part of their appeal, and if that’s what you like, it doesn’t seem like you’ll get it on Super Saturday, regardless of the economy-salvaging duty being hyped-up by Rishi Sunak.

Of course, bar the return of weddings both north and south of the border, this lightening of the lockdown applies exclusively to one section of our disunited kingdom at the moment – England (with the honourable exception of Leicester). The First Minister of Wales has pleaded with thirsty Welshmen not to cross into England and indulge in a pub-crawl. Whilst this almost feels like a throwback to the distant days when setting foot on heathen soil for a Sunday pint was a Cymru tradition on account of all pubs in Wales being closed on ‘the Lord’s day’ until 1961, the fear is that the instant anyone from Wales gets pissed in England and breathes the same infected air as the English, they will then immediately catch the coronavirus and carry those pesky germs back to the Valleys – and presumably kill the sheep.

Today it’s the return of everywhere people go to forget about the rest of their lives; but the rest of their lives remain in limbo as the workplace for most has yet to fully reopen. It looks like the majority of schools will stay shut until September too, something that isn’t helped by the dominance of left-leaning teaching unions that seem more keen on picking a fight with the Government than the education of the nation’s children. So, we’re not quite there yet. I reckon those who venture through the open doors today may well come away thinking – like Hilda Ogden long before them – that ‘better than nowt’ isn’t quite good enough.

© The Editor