Cautious caveats are a MSM prerequisite when reporting the passing of a pre-Woke pop cultural icon today. The BBC News website was naturally required to pay tribute to Sean Connery, whose death at the age of 90 (yes, hard to believe, I know) has been announced; but it also had to stick to the post-MeToo BBC ‘toxic masculinity’ agenda. Therefore, the site’s ‘tribute’ included such Bond era disclaimers as ‘The action scenes are still thrilling; but the sex bordered on the non-consensual’ and ‘Thankfully it’s been a while since 007 slapped a woman on the backside and forced a kiss’. Yes, we’re sad he’s snuffed it, even though he was a horribly misogynistic symbol of the patriarchy as viewed through the stony-faced prism of the century without irony. Personally, I found Connery’s Caribbean tax-exile cheerleading for the SNP far more offensive (not to say hypocritical) than his portrayal of a cartoonish character created before the male of the species was emasculated by the feminisation of the arts, but maybe that’s just me.

Connery’s death comes at the end of a week that has seen a swift succession of deaths of men whose marks were made in a different era – Frank Bough, Bobby Ball, Nobby Stiles – and one cannot help but feel the begrudging necessity of the mainstream media having to mark these deaths when none of them were transgender People of Colour is an inconvenience to the revolution. At least they’re all gone now, eh? But it means jack shit, anyway; by the time Sean Connery returned to the Bond fold following George Lazenby’s one-movie interregnum, he already looked out of shape and irrelevant, bearing the kind of shabby toupée even Frank Sinatra would’ve rejected. 1971’s ‘Diamonds are Forever’ is arguably the worst 007 outing for Connery (nobody acknowledges 1983’s woeful ‘Never Say Never Again’) and it was evident the world had moved on – as had the man himself.

1971 was the year that saw the release of both ‘Shaft’ and ‘Get Carter’ – next to those two, the creaky ‘Diamonds are Forever’ looks like a period piece done for no other reason than spinning the money for a franchise sorely in need of a contemporary reboot. The Bond series was waiting for the knowing, eyebrow-raising archness of Roger Moore to place it firmly in its own cinematic universe of unreality as a means of surviving the nasty new decade, whilst Moore’s predecessor had the nous to be looking elsewhere. 1974’s surreal and disturbing ‘Zardoz’ is far closer to the confused spirit of the early 70s, as is 1972’s ‘The Offence’, the film that brought Connery back down to earth as a Scottish CID man investigating the rape of a young girl whilst struggling to keep a lid on his own unhealthy urges. Both should be held up as examples of an actor willing to spread his wings. Sean Connery was deconstructing his popular image on celluloid half-a-century before the so-called ‘intelligentsia’ caught up with him.

By the 1980s, Sean Connery was established as the kind of old-school leading man who always played the same character, whatever the movie. The likes of ‘Robin and Marian’, ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ and ‘Time Bandits’ are rightly recognised as evidence Connery could be versatile if required, but they didn’t put enough bums on seats to justify the undoubtedly hefty fee the star received to appear in them; therefore, Connery was smoothly assimilated into that pantheon of Hollywood A-listers, happy to grace any old shit with his heavyweight brand if it paid well enough. And that’s essentially where he remained before deciding to retire from the silver screen in the early 2000s; what else was there left for him to do? Anyone who can simply sit down and enjoy a classic Bond movie on its own terms cannot fail but appreciate nobody did it better, to paraphrase a later theme tune by Carly Simon.

I guess for many outside of the Woke bubble, the passing of one of this country’s genuine cinematic giants comes as a brief respite in the relentless assault on the senses courtesy of the pro-lockdown propaganda. In a way, it’s almost a relief to hear of a death that has no connection with something we’re being unconvincingly persuaded is worth destroying society for in order to temporarily stem the unavoidable tide of. Stay safe, stay miserable, save lives, kill yourself. The threat of another futile nationwide lockdown looms as Johnson, Sturgeon, Macron and Merkel lower their respective drawbridges and plunge Europe deeper into the Dark Ages that the complementary forces of Radical Islam and BLM/Antifa/ER/SJWs have already laid the ground for. God only knows how future historians will summarise this era, but when it comes to Blighty I think we can probably safely say the scale of the disaster to come will surpass the respective misfires of Chamberlain and Munich, Eden and Suez – even Blair and Iraq.

I don’t credit Johnson with sole responsibility as PM, for it’s not as if he’s been isolated as a deluded voice in the wilderness amidst a wave of strong and stable opposition to any move made by his administration. The same elite that fought tooth-and-claw to prevent the Brexit verdict being enacted has no party affiliation and has pressed long and hard for a return to the measures that made life such fun in the spring and summer because they’re alright, Jack. Yes, even that self-appointed spokesperson for the lower orders, the Labour Party, has inexplicably come to the conclusion that the one sure-fire way to punish ‘Tory Scum’ for denying free meals to children of the poor is to guarantee the poor remain on the breadline by preventing them from earning a living or living a healthy, fulfilled life. Keep them down and then they can be weaponised as a useful grenade to toss from one side of the House to the other. Honestly, I wouldn’t piss on any of them if they were on fire.

Echoing some of the sentiments I made in the previous post when describing a brief immersion in nature, I draw some solace from a wonderful site I visit regularly by the name of ‘Brain Pickings’. Not only has it proven to be a useful source of birthday/Christmas gifts in its promotion of overlooked books that deserve a far wider audience, but it routinely reminds the reader of how past authors and poets have confronted the crises of their own eras – something that can be a useful bulwark against ours. In the latest post, the 19th century wordsmith Walt Whitman was quoted. ‘After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love and so on,’ he said, ‘what remains? Nature remains; to bring out from their torpid recesses, the affinities of a man or a woman with the open air, the trees, fields, the changes of seasons – the sun by day and the stars of heaven by night.’

I received a further sample when engaged in my weekly Saturday morning outing walking a friend’s dog this morning; mixed with my admiration of the dazzling shades of yellow on offer at my feet, I mused with discernible envy on the basic requirements of our canine companions – food, shelter, walk, and that’s all you need. No existential dilemmas, just TLC; give a dog that and they never forget; they instantly decide you’re their best friend for life. Maybe their lives being so short liberates them from the encumbrance of the vaster and bigger picture of mankind that can be such an obstacle to the kind of internal tranquillity that has so far been impervious to the encroachment of the Surveillance State into our every thought. So far, I say. The way things are going, we can’t take anything for granted anymore. You only live twice, after all.

© The Editor


You grab what you can these days. This morning, I was momentarily mesmerised by colours – rich, pulsating, vivacious colours eternally immune to the latest tawdry vagaries of mankind, colours that keep providing free entertainment whatever happens to be going on around them. Dependable and reliable, they’ll always be there in the autumn, regardless of what we and our elected idiots deem important; to pause and study these transient, organic works of art is a worthwhile exercise, if only as a necessary reminder that there’s more to life than this. Of course, October morphing into November is the time of the year in which Mother Nature’s immortal garden is at its most exquisite, offering a greater range of the rainbow’s wide variety than during any other season. Not intending to ape Monty Don, I was engaged in something that has become an increasing rarity of late – an outdoor venture that didn’t require entering a retail outlet as a central aim of the excursion. This meant I was spared having to cover the lower half of my face and every step left me free to breathe my surroundings.

I strayed farther afield from the usual hunting grounds and ghosted through gated communities like the late, great Martin Peters used to ghost through opposition defences. Incidentally, these are the kind of neighbourhoods that tend to be home to provincial footballers who may never be selected to play for their countries but can nevertheless boast the kind of monthly take-home pay most need a full year to earn. Big houses representing all suburban styles of the past 100 years or so could be sighted behind high hedges and walls – Victorian, Edwardian, Tudorbethan, and the archetypal 21st century castle of the self-made man, lacking any semblance of taste, aesthetic appeal or class when the only architectural way is Essex; there was something for everyone as long as you’ve got the wads to become the freeholder, and that rules out everyone most people know, I guess. I may have once pictured myself as a Howard Hughes-like figure patrolling the battlements, but I remain firmly in my designated scuffed shoes as the urchin with his nose pressed against the alluring window.

There’s a certain timelessness to such places; the suburbs were frozen around half-a-century ago, and though the hidden-from-view residents may change (if at a more gradual pace than anywhere else), the absence of contemporary Reggie Perrin’s has had no discernible impact on the visual stasis which streets like these slipped into back when Sunshine Desserts had yet to go bust. The urban environment and its irredeemably ugly pavement furniture alters on a regular basis – usually going from bad to worse; but the suburbs still look much the same as they did when I was a child. In this purely visual respect, they tend to generate a comforting continuity apparently impervious to the march of time. They are the last survivors of a different age, clandestine portals to the past clinging on in clusters of leafy bubbles dotted around the fringes of densely-populated conurbations. Clocks go backwards and clocks go forwards, tick follows tock and so on – and the suburbs are still standing.

The only indication of the here and now I received on my travels today was a post box that had an official-looking sticker on it that proclaimed not only was it ‘prioritised’ but it also supported the NHS. A post box with a social conscience – you don’t get that on yer average council estate, eh? I felt compelled to clap for it, but resisted the temptation. Bar the odd student going from A to B, most faces I spotted in snatches as brief as that of the odd squirrel darting across branches looked like they were aged between 60 and 70 – the socially-mobile generation reclining in the now-unimaginable fruits of their distant labours. For some reason – the demands of grandchildren, perhaps – goalposts figure highly in the glimpses of sunken gardens on the other side of the divide separating queen’s highway from private kingdom. I remember, many years ago, ‘Blue Peter’ visited Elton John’s house and he had a full-sized football pitch in the grounds of his estate; it seemed like the sort of extravagance only a millionaire could indulge in, but now even those who are paupers next to Elton can emulate such extravagance, albeit on a smaller scale – just as they once peppered their miniature greenbelts with gnomes.

Perhaps goalposts in the garden are the only real addition to the suburbs’ exterior decor in recent years; otherwise, it’s as you were. In fact, it is maybe the uniquely unchanging and unmistakable uniformity of Suburbia that is its secret weapon; it has a canny camouflage that enables the visitor to pass through without even noticing what he’s passing through, familiar to the point of invisibility. I’ve no doubt been guilty myself on endless occasions, though now I notice – and appreciate – such surroundings more and more, probably because each successive day seems to detach me further from ‘the modern world’ and its rapidly diminishing checklist of attractions. In the same way my indoor life of the last six months has lived off a menu of comfort food for eyes and ears – whether watching ‘The Sweeney’ or listening to Julie London and Peggy Lee – my outdoor life, for what it is, has been rationed as bite-sized portions of automated and ultimately joyless shopping on one hand and rare meanderings like today on the other.

In the great scheme of things, my morning amounted to absolutely nothing; but at least I had a moment in which I ground to a halt and simply looked at all the shades of green and brown and orange and red around me and felt briefly connected to something – what, precisely, I don’t really know. I guess it was a momentary plugging-in to that sense of basic wonderment we have with nature as a child, one we lose the longer we live and the more blasé we become with what’s around us so that it sheds its initial magic. One receives a routine reminder whenever seeing a toddler out with its mother as it points dramatically at a snail on the ground, announcing its presence as though the modest mollusc is the most amazing sight those infant eyes have ever set upon; the unimpressed parent has seen a hundred snails and hurries the child along, incapable of being transfixed in the same way. I played the parent to my own child once my moment had gone by resuming the walk home; the moment swiftly drifted from my consciousness as I edged away from the tranquil vortex of the suburbs and returned to the petrol-scented cacophony of a congested thoroughfare

So, back to a world in which those who govern certain corners of the kingdom decide what and what aren’t ‘essential items’ whilst others advocate applying Hate Crime laws to private conversations, where tampon manufacturers refer to their customers as ‘people who bleed’, and where a crumbling superpower forces its people to choose between a crass bully and a geriatric sex-pest to lead it towards tomorrow. If those are the options, who can really blame me – or anyone – for finding something of value in the extraordinary ordinary?

© The Editor


Prone as I am to watching the odd foreign-language drama series as an alternative to some of the dreary offerings churned out by our home-grown broadcasters, I stumbled upon a new German one the other night. I was probably drawn to the programme on account of it starring Sofia Helin, who played one of TV’s most original and unforgettable characters in recent years, Saga from ‘The Bridge’. Anyway, the story is set on either side of the Berlin Wall in the mid-70s and concerns an East German spy sent beyond Checkpoint Charlie to seduce a Western intelligence operative and hopefully acquire some vital information for the GDR as well as getting his leg over. It captured time and place really well in its slightly grubby, bruised-fruit colours and general air of despair, though it’s becoming increasingly impossible to watch anything concerning the Stasi and not draw contemporary parallels with the ‘free society’ we’re lucky enough to call our own in the here and now.

There was one character in it who appeared to be a State-employed caretaker in one of those archetypal Brutalist housing complexes that sprang up across the post-war East German urban landscape like concrete mushrooms. He’s first spotted standing on the rooftops with a pair of binoculars, focusing in on a TV aerial allegedly pointing towards the West and able to illicitly pick-up ZDF broadcasts. When he knocks on the door to alert the householder that this is against the law, she protests the wind blows the aerial in the wrong direction and then sends him on his way with a derisive ‘Haven’t you got anything better to do?’ He doesn’t reply, but the viewer knows he hasn’t indeed got anything better to do. He’s just another minor cog in the surveillance state, keeping an eye on the populace to ensure they don’t betray the founding principles of the GDR. Ditto the sinister schools inspector who patrols the corridors and peers in through classroom windows to ensure teachers aren’t veering from the script. One is immediately aware everyone in this series on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain is completely conscious of their every move being monitored and documented, constantly having to watch what they say for fear of reprisals. Imagine living like that.

A seemingly throwaway line relating to an unfortunate pubescent girl poised to begin the gruelling training that will eventually result in her being on the East German swimming team for the 1976 Montreal Olympics referred to her receiving an ‘ideological education’ as part of the process. Straight away I’m thinking of British kids in 2020 exposed to the corrosive cancer of Critical Race Theory in their curriculum, sneaked-in by teachers who themselves were indoctrinated at university and whose fellow former students have already introduced ‘unconscious bias training’ into the corporate world. When even a pussy-whipped halfwit like Prince Harry has caught the bug, you know this malignant philosophy has embedded itself deep, despite the admirable denunciation by Kemi Badenock (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Equalities) in the Commons last week, making it clear the ‘white privilege’ narrative has no place in British schools. This insidious ideology may not be official state-sponsored policy, but if it’s not nipped in the bud in time it soon will be – especially if Starmer’s authoritarian excuse for an Opposition ever grabs power.

Not that we require a Labour Government to strengthen the worrying parallels with the GDR; the Tories, along with all the devolved administrations in the UK, are doing a sound enough job as it is. Britain’s own ‘Surveillance State’ was coming along in leaps and bounds even before Covid-19 intervened, but since then it has been presented with the perfect excuse to extend its powers as the ‘don’t kill granny’ storyline enables it to spread its nosy tentacles into every facet of private life with the minimum of public resistance. Digital technology may not be much use in testing – despite the billions handed over to useless companies whose qualifications for the task appear to be how much they’ve donated to the Conservative Party – but when it comes to tracking and tracing, one can be sure we’re being very effectively tracked and traced; and policemen who clearly have nothing else to occupy their time are happy to be dispatched as enforcers of unprecedented, astronomical fines for anyone daring to question the wisdom of the new normal. And despite their numbers being so depleted these days, the police have nonetheless been bolstered by the recruitment into the ‘Covid Marshal’ ranks of every Jobsworth busybody long yearning for an official badge to vindicate their self-importance.

In Soviet Scotland, the miserable population has a ‘Digital Christmas’ to look forward to as the strict rules keeping family and friends divided look set to be extended into the festive season. Jason Leitch, a man boasting the unnerving job title of ‘National Clinical Director’ has warned that large family get-togethers are ‘fiction for this year’. For anyone who recognises chatting to someone on Skype or Zoom is a poor substitute for being in the same room as the person on the other end of the line, this essentially means Nicola Sturgeon has achieved what no British political figure has managed since Oliver Cromwell; mind you, his administration closed theatres and all other palaces of entertainment as well, so maybe it didn’t even require the cancellation of Christmas north of the border for the Lord Protector’s policies to be successfully revived. And, remarkably, it doesn’t take long for any of this to be normalised either; what would have been unimaginable less than twelve months ago is already accepted and largely unchallenged. Giant tampons covering the lower half of the face are now socially compulsory on any outdoor excursion requiring setting foot in a shop – and to think I laughed at the first person I saw wearing one at the beginning of the year.

However, the undisputed winner of the competition between the devolved administrations to see who can emulate North Korean democracy is Wales, which has essentially become sealed-off from the rest of the country; few are being allowed in or out, and anyone venturing into England to stock-up faces a hefty fine upon their return; just to make sure, police are patrolling the border and have free rein to snoop in shopping bags. No, I can’t quite believe this is happening either. Wales is, of course, the only corner of the kingdom governed by the Labour Party, and it perhaps gives us an impression of how things might have been nationwide had Corbyn won the last General Election. Churches, pubs, gyms, hair salons and hotels have all been forced to close their doors during the 17-day (yeah, right) ‘firebreak’ lockdown as books, clothes and sanitary towels are deemed ‘non-essential’. ‘This is not the time to be browsing around supermarkets looking for non-essential goods,’ declared Wales’ very own staggeringly arrogant Lord Protector, Mark Drakeford, as the State outlaws individual personal judgement and assumes the role of arbiter of what is and isn’t important.

But, of course, if a discredited charlatan like Neil ‘massage the Staats’ Ferguson is still being given a platform to air his Doomsday fantasies, what can we expect? Lest we forget, this is a man who predicted 50,000-150,000 would die of Mad Cow Disease in 2002 – actual deaths: 177. He warned 200 million would die of Bird Flu in 2005 – actual deaths: 282. He prophesised 65,000 would succumb to Swine Flu in 2009 – actual deaths: 457. With a track record like that, why on earth is this joker still being listened to? Well, I guess he and his ilk are providing the scientific support to legitimise the erosion of civil liberties and freedoms that the pro-lockdown fanatics need. And it does seem that pro-lockdown Vs anti-lockdown is the latest manifestation of the seemingly limitless tribal polarisation that has become the norm ever since the 2016 EU Referendum – or ever since the Brexit verdict pushed pre-existing divisions over-ground. If we were thought we were a disunited kingdom in the last years of the 2010s, we didn’t have a clue what the 2020s had waiting for us.

© The Editor


Added to ‘strong language’, ‘adult scenes’, ‘scenes of a sexual nature’ and ‘scenes some may find upsetting’ is a new inclusion in the lengthening list of paternalistic, post-watershed warnings that precipitate the screening of a drama aimed at grown-ups – ‘discriminatory language’. I’ve heard it applied twice this past week, on both occasions before a repeat of a TV play made over 40 years ago. The second time was for ‘A Hole in Babylon’, a 1979 entry in the ‘Play for Today’ strand based upon the true-life Spaghetti House Siege of 1975, in which a trio of black gunmen botched an armed robbery at a Knightsbridge Italian restaurant and spent six days in a cellar with hostages. The play was written by a black wordsmith and the leading cast members were all black. Even viewers back in 1979 would hardly have been expecting ‘Love Thy Neighbour’; but their equivalents today are obviously so sensitive that any authentic terminology from the actual times is guaranteed to send them running to their safe spaces. In fact, the only derogatory word I heard in the play was ‘wop’.

If the play was remade in 2020, every black character in it would be a noble victim rather than the multilayered human beings of 1979, and every white character would be to the right of Nick Griffin; such dramas are, of course, made by people who weren’t even born then and are prone to sweeping assumptions as to the reality of time and place. If today’s TV travels back to the 18th or 19th centuries, the Woke logic increases further as, away from living memory, modern multiracial Britain is transplanted to every period of history as proof we have always had 21st century levels of ‘diversity’ and all white people were just as horrendously racist then as they all evidently are now. The recent BBC2 series ‘Harlots’ is an enjoyable if somewhat soapy saga set in the whorehouses of Georgian London, though the only male characters in it who aren’t sadistic, unpleasant bastards are, of course, black. Virtually every white man in the cast – bar ‘the gay one’ – is a candidate for the worst human being who ever lived.

Of course there were coloured faces in certain British cities several hundred years ago – especially ports; and there were gay folk as well; and a few who pretended to be the opposite sex; and some straight white men who actually wanted a more tolerant and equal society by abolishing slavery and giving women the vote. But the natural ‘otherness’ of the non-white or non-heterosexual minorities made them stand out rather than blend in, and their individual stories are fascinating as a result; yet we don’t get that from historical drama today because it imposes a fantasy ideal on the reality that reduces all characters to bland contemporary caricatures. To rewrite history and present it as a Guardian columnist’s cartoonish impression of 21st century Britain is a profoundly dishonest distortion of history that’s as unrealistic as Raquel Welch being chased by dinosaurs. And that’s just if a drama is set in the past. Set it in the present and each character is even more of a two-dimensional archetype as every black character is there to represent their race, every gay character is there to represent the LGBT community, every woman is…yeah, we get it. Please put the sledgehammer down.

This is why – for all the appeal of a one-off, non-serial drama – it would be a bad idea to revive the likes of ‘Play for Today’ in 2020. It would probably be awful and be everything it was routinely accused of being back in the day. BBC4 recently screened a documentary about the series on account of this year marking its 50th anniversary and has repeated a handful. Taking over from the celebrated, if often controversial, ‘Wednesday Play’ of the 60s, the rebranded strand soon established itself as a showcase for some of the finest TV writers of an era abundant in them, giving many whose only visit to a theatre was to drag the kids to a Christmas pantomime a weekly cutting-edge theatrical production in their very own living rooms. And whilst ‘Play for Today’ gained an unfair critical reputation as being a Socialist Speaker’s Corner, peppered with grim kitchen-sink polemics on the class struggle, it had a far wider range of offerings than that.

Dennis Potter was a regular contributor from the start. His 1974 offering, ‘Joe’s Ark’ is a moving story of a student played by Angharad Rees of ‘Poldark’ fame who returns home to die when she contracts terminal cancer and is jealously guarded by her God-fearing father (played by Freddie Jones); 1979’s ‘Blue Remembered Hills’ has the genius premise of a group of rural WWII children played by an adult cast, and whilst funny is also tragically poignant in its portrayal of how children can be as cruel to each other as adults can; and, lest we forget, there is the infamous ‘Brimstone and Treacle’, produced in 1976 but withdrawn on the eve of transmission and not screened for a decade. This too is rich in black comedy, for all its undoubtedly dark themes as Michael Kitchen plays the Devil in human form infiltrating a repressive suburban household where he essentially f***s the mentally incapacitated daughter of a middle-aged married couple back to life.

If there was a tendency to overdo the subject of working-class life in ‘Play for Today’, so what? At its best – i.e. when the writers actually hailed from the working-class – it did so in a way that was brutally honest, funny and not necessarily about ‘the class struggle’, which was why the audience responded to the truth of it. These plays showed ordinary people dealing with ordinary problems, such as Colin Welland’s marvellous 1973 entry, ‘Kisses at Fifty’, in which Bill Maynard leaves his wife and grownup children to embark on a relationship with a barmaid; or Peter Terson’s ‘The Fishing Party’ from 1972, starring Brian Glover heading a trio of Yorkshire miners on a weekend’s break in Whitby; or Alan Bennett’s 1975 play, ‘Sunset Across the Bay’, a warm, elegiac tale of an ageing couple leaving Leeds for retirement by the seaside. None of these lived up to the stereotype of the series, and neither did Mike Leigh’s unforgettable 1976 outing, ‘Nuts in May’.

Leigh and his then-wife Alison Steadman returned to collaborate the following year on a ‘Play for Today’ production that continues to irk some critics whilst remaining hugely popular with audiences, ‘Abigail’s Party’. Anybody who grew-up in an aspirational working-class neighbourhood in the 1970s immediately got the joke. ‘Abigail’s Party’ is the upwardly-mobile working-classes spreading their wings and winning promotion to the lower middle-classes by aping the mores and mannerisms of what they see as their social betters; they’re the generation who would soon have a champion in Margaret Thatcher. However, the left-leaning middle-classes are the ones who regard ‘Abigail’s Party’ as a sneering assault on their mythical, romantic image of the oppressed working-class, those noble savages who are fine as long as they know their place and – to use a ghastly modern term – ‘stay in their lane’.

Even a good decade into its run, ‘Play for Today’ could still deliver some unexpectedly original goods, such as the time-travelling oddity starring Peter Firth, ‘The Flipside of Dominick Hide’; there was also the memorable ‘Billy’ trilogy, starring James Ellis and a young Kenneth Branagh – hardly the only drama of the era set in Northern Ireland, but one of the very few in which the Troubles were not the reason for being there. By the time the curtain finally came down on ‘Play for Today’ in 1984, the single play – which had been a mainstay of TV schedules since the medium’s earliest days – was seen as a spent force and has rarely reappeared since. Given the box-ticking, ideological agenda that has effectively turned home-grown TV drama into little more than the ‘model plays’ of the Cultural Revolution, perhaps it’s just as well.

© The Editor


At times like this, stats matter; just ask Neil Ferguson – though he prefers to study Staats, that being the unintentionally comic surname of Antonia, the married woman who paid him an illicit visit during lockdown and cost him his SAGE post. Whilst Prof. Ferguson seems to have a habit of plucking figures out of the air to justify his expert status, the Office for National Statistics yesterday issued some stats that don’t chime well with lockdown cheerleaders. One wonders what the response of Andy Burnham might have been to them – or, more poignantly, the owner of the Liverpool gym whose decision to resist shutting up shop and destroying his livelihood was met with an armed police presence. According to yesterday’s findings, there is precious little evidence of the much-vaunted ‘second wave’ and if the three-tier system as well as the so-called ‘circuit-breaker lockdown’ need stats to support their deployment as weapons of the State, the latest ONS figures make a mockery of everything the MSM and both sides of the House are relentlessly promoting as the only way.

According to the ONS findings, deaths in the UK are merely 1.5% above the five-year average and are following a standard trajectory for the autumn. In the week ending October 9, deaths attributed to the coronavirus rose from 321 to 438 in seven days, though overall deaths were just 143 higher than the five-year average; in fact, there were actually 19 fewer overall deaths than the same week in 2019; these figures imply the expected increase in respiratory fatalities has failed to materialise. Dr Jason Oke of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University said ‘Covid-19 plus influenza/pneumonia deaths are at 1,621 this week, while five-year average flu and pneumonia for this week is 1,600.’ Yet again, the way in which the stats assembled to validate the Government’s coronavirus measures are compiled is thrown into question – there have been 59,000 registered UK deaths ‘involving’ Covid-19, though there’s a difference between deaths ‘involving’ the virus and deaths ‘due’ to it.

These findings will probably not be broadcast loud and proud as the lead story on mainstream news bulletins; they do somewhat defuse the drama that the BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4 get off on when discussing a subject that has dominated the news virtually all year. And as the ONS releases these stats, Wales and Northern Ireland are sealed-off from the rest of the UK again, whilst over in the Irish Republic – which has averaged a Covid death rate of one a day for the last three months – a six-week lockdown begins today, with all non-essential shops closing their doors, pubs and restaurants reduced to takeaways, and nobody allowed to venture more than three miles from their homes. It would seem an Irish friend of mine who has this week returned to Blighty from the Emerald Isle got out just in time. Of course, none of this is exclusive to the British Isles; similar scenes are being enacted in various countries on the European mainland, including Belgium and the Netherlands; meanwhile, honorary Eurovision contestant Israel is going through the same.

If only we’d all followed the example of New Zealand and its saintly PM Jacinda Ardern; an isolated country with a population smaller than that of Yorkshire closed its borders at the beginning of the pandemic and they remain closed, even if life within the walls of the nation has emerged from lockdown with a comparatively clean bill of health. Well, it’s no great surprise this extreme exercise has left New Zealand with a clean bill of health – even if the country’s economy is already following a more familiar pattern to the rest of the world. It goes without saying that New Zealand, which depends heavily on tourism, will have to let visitors back in at some point soon – and we all know what will happen then. Other nations – ours included – may be accused of kicking the Covid can into the far distance with every lockdown, but New Zealand’s approach has to be the most foolhardy attempt so far at sacrificing future problems for short-term political gain. Ms Ardern best bask in the glow of her recent electoral triumph while she can; it ain’t destined to last.

Back home, veteran Labour MP and former underpants-clad Gaydar member Chris Bryant has referred to any scientists disputing the wisdom of lockdowns as ‘crackpots’; at the same time, the economic legacy of Lockdown Mk. I has even caused the Bank of England to realise bears shit in the woods and the Pope is Catholic. UK unemployment could rise above the Bank’s predicted 7.5% peak, according to a member of its Monetary Policy Committee. He made this shock-horror prediction as redundancies stand at their highest for eight years – with the rate of unemployment hitting 4.5 % in the three months leading to August. During the economic crash of 2008-9, 3.3 % of the workforce lost their jobs; back in the 90s recession, the figure stood at 3.8 %. However, the Great British unemployment yardstick remains the 1980s, when the collapse of traditional heavy industry pushed jobless levels to 6.6 %.

In fact, I recently heard a fascinating documentary on Radio 4 which was a rare beast indeed by having nothing to do with Identity Politics; instead, it compared the stories of an unemployed adolescent of 2020 and a middle-aged man who was a teenager in the 80s. The latter’s experience when recalled sounded like an episode of ‘Boys from the Blackstuff’, but would have rung true for anyone who was released from the classroom into the dole office during that dismal period. It served as a much-needed reminder that things – economically – have actually been worse than they are now within living memory (as long as one happened to have been born before 1980). I guess the real worry at the moment is that we may not be there yet, but the derelict industrial wasteland Yosser Hughes nutted his way through 40 years ago could well be our ultimate destination again before all this is over.

I know it’s something of a stuck record and I really do try my best to write about other stuff between each Winegum Covid summary – basically, anything that has bugger-all to do with the coronavirus and can hopefully take your minds off it when reading as much as it does me when writing. As long as I’m taken away from this depressing narrative for the duration, it’s a minor achievement. But if it was just me holed-up in my den having to wrestle with the usual demons, I’d at least be equipped with the standard tools that I always call upon to provide a temporary fix. Where this differs is the impact it has had on respite from that tussle. My 14-year-old niece is marooned in Bolton and her Greater Manchester postcode means she can’t visit during the impending half-term; and one of my oldest and most rewarding friendships that was previously a weekly meet has now lapsed to one encounter in the last six months. Those are just my own little things – little when it comes to the bigger picture, but the abrupt loss of which has been pretty devastating to me personally.

Yet, we all have these little things; join them together and we can see one hell of a patchwork quilt of social bereavement spreading across the country like a…well…a virus. When the dust has eventually settled and some semblance of normality has asserted itself, one cannot help but wonder which will be responsible for the greater long-term damage to the delicate fabric of this country – Covid-19 or Lockdown ’20.

© The Editor


I guess it’s the last thing the authorities needed right now – with the threat of one more national lockdown in the air, they could’ve done without a senseless murder in another country rousing thousands and bringing them onto the streets to protest and risk pushing up infection rates. Of course, you won’t have been able to avoid it on social media, what with the tech providers imposing a suitably fitting image upon their users, one that is an obligatory profile picture for a day of mass solidarity with the deceased; and, naturally, sportsmen and women are mirroring the mood by observing a moments’ silence with a symbolic bowed head – ‘taking the head’, I think it’s called; and Sainsbury’s will undoubtedly express solidarity too. Oh, wait a minute – for a moment, I forgot none of this is actually happening. No, somehow the barbaric beheading of a History & Geography teacher outside his school in Paris on Friday hasn’t generated an international response. Fancy that.

This is a story the New York Times (which is now so Woke it makes the Guardian resemble ConservativeHome) reported with the headline: ‘French Police Shoot and Kill Man after a Fatal Knife Attack on the Street.’ In case, you weren’t aware, the man who wasn’t shot and killed by the French Police was 47-year-old Samuel Paty; he’d had the gall to show his students the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Muhammad during a lesson on freedom of speech, something he’d made clear beforehand. He’d offered the Muslim members of the class the opportunity to abstain if they so wished, though his lesson still provoked an angry response from some parents who took to the internet to ramp up the pressure inevitably heaped upon a teacher working in a country that has been Europe’s most secular nation for the best part of 200 years. Misinformation was spread to the point where Paty was accused by one parent – whose daughter apparently wasn’t even present in the classroom – of displaying a ‘naked image’ of the Prophet.

Monsieur Paty’s murderer was revealed as an 18-year-old refugee who had been a resident of France for barely six months and seemingly had no connection to the school at all; he must have been scouring social media on the look-out for local infidels and happened to stumble upon his target. He turned up at the school in a Paris suburb as it was emptying for the day, asked exiting pupils to point out the guilty man and, from all accounts, launched an unprovoked attack on the teacher that climaxed with decapitation. The French themselves got over beheading people after the Terror, but it seems the spirit of Madame Guillotine is alive and kicking in some of the more enlightened overseas souls France has been generous enough to offer a home to. It’s certainly a novel way of embracing the culture of one’s chosen country, even if it is a couple of centuries out of date; but at least he was trying to fit in.

The murderer, Moscow-born Abdullakh Anzorov, went on to fire at police with an air rifle and also wielded a knife, prompting them to shoot and kill when they cornered him – hence the rightly outraged New York Times headline. This particularly appalling murder has taken place at a moment of heightened tension in France’s relationship with Islam, just as 14 people are currently being tried in connection with the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre; it’s only a fortnight ago that two employees of a TV production company were stabbed in the same location by a bright spark who thought the satirical magazine was still based at its former offices. France’s anti-terrorist prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said Samuel Paty had been ‘assassinated for teaching’; it’s hard to disagree with his additional statement that the murder was an assault on the principle of freedom of expression. The western world is experiencing a lot of that at the moment, though the brutal methods of doing so that were employed in Paris remain a mercifully rare manifestation of it.

The man who committed the crime clearly viewed western culture and values with hatred and contempt, which is a very chic hallmark of the far left right now, visible in its daily pronouncements and denunciations; and as the far left has been the instigator behind this year’s heavily-publicised campaigns against these values, campaigns that have received the backing of tech corporations, institutions, mainstream media and academia, perhaps it’s no great surprise that there has been no organised protest over the Samuel Paty murder beyond France. The far left may be at pains to condemn the killing, but the ideological motivation isn’t a million miles away from the relentless chipping away at the cultural inheritance of the west we’re bombarded with day-after-day, one where everyone and everything is racist and evil, where the original sin of whiteness demands its sufferers are re-educated, and the Woke ‘Mein-Kampf’ that is ‘White Fragility’ is recommended reading material whilst JK Rowling books are burned. It’s not too hard to join the dots between the extremes.

The far left are also amongst the prime lockdown cheerleaders; as some wag said the other day, lockdown suits them because it translates as middle-class people being paid to stay at home while working-class people deliver everything to their door. Therefore, who cares if this year the UK has seen the closure of 11,120 shops on a high street that was already in decline even before Covid-19 intervened? It would appear some are doing alright, Jack. The authoritarian streak and casual ambivalence over the ongoing erosion of civil liberties that has unfortunately become symptomatic of the left probably wouldn’t object to the new ‘digital health passports’ currently being tried and tested either. Permission to enter another country could henceforth depend upon whether one has submitted to a vaccine that will miraculously overcome the obstacles that generally require a good five years or more to overcome during the development of such a substance. Maybe there also won’t be any concerns that those told to self-isolate through NHS track & trace could have their details shared with police, who will have access to that private information. Ah, well – all for our own good, eh?

When we live in a world in which Twitter is guilty of blatantly suppressing quite important revelations regarding the son of the man who is hoping to be voted into the White House next month, it’s increasingly difficult to take anything at face value anymore. Mind you, his opponent has spent the last four years so brazenly twisting the truth to fit his own surreal agenda that the pattern is already well-established as the way forward on both sides. It’s been refreshing to see some of our regional mayors over here at least challenge the Covid narrative, but what can the likes of Andy Burnham really do other than publicly state his opposition? Yes, it does seem a tad unfair that when London seemed threatened by the coronavirus back in the spring the whole country was willing to shut up shop, yet when a similar situation arises in the north, only the north has to close down. At the same time, trying to avoid a repeat of last April is understandable, especially when the damage that did is becoming more apparent.

Okay, so none of this on the surface seems to have much of a connection with horrific events in Paris last Friday; but as was mentioned in a comment I made on the previous post, looking back five years to the first few ‘Telegram’ missives reminded me of how nothing has really changed since 2015 when it comes to Radical Islam on western soil. The first-ever ‘proper’ post covered the murder of 14 people by two ISIS sympathisers in San Bernardino, California as well as the non-fatal stabbing of three commuters at Leytonstone Tube Station by an individual who declared ‘This is for Syria’. I wonder, five years hence, if anyone (including yours truly) is still here, whether or not I’ll be looking back to 2020 and musing on the fact that we thought the first lockdown was bad – as we live through our eleventh? Plus ça change, as they say across the Channel.

© The Editor


‘Five years, that’s all we’ve got’ – so prophesised David Bowie on the apocalyptic opener to his breakthrough album, 1972’s ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’. Five years was also the length of the sentence handed down to ‘habitual criminal’ Norman Stanley Fletcher in Ronnie Barker’s classic sitcom ‘Porridge’ – as the judge reminded viewers in his speech to the condemned man in the opening titles of each episode; voiced by Barker himself in the requisite sonorous tones, the speech concluded with the unnerving last words, ‘you will go to prison for five years’ – cue the chilling slamming of cell doors. Not the most joyous beginning for a half-hour comedy, but at least ‘Fletch’ must have gained early release on parole, as the series ended two years short of his sentence. Five is an intriguing number, though – as most enigmatic odd ones are; Enid Blyton knew that, as did Motown and the Dave Brubeck Quartet; even a crap boy-band of the late 90s got it – as did a crap TV channel that appeared at the same time. Jazzy prog-rockers Soft Machine called their fifth album ‘5’ – and then there’s David Bowie…

Bowie’s version of a five year sentence sets the scene for the arrival of the singer’s exotic alter-ego as the impending end of the world looms large; the track is laced with deliciously black imagery, including such unforgettable lines as ‘A cop knelt and kissed the feet of a priest/and the queer threw up at the sight of that.’ The subject of much debate at the time – and lyrics printed on LP inner sleeves were regarded as poetic riddles back in the early 70s – the song’s ultimate meaning is essentially ambiguous and can be moulded to fit the listener’s own interpretation. Taking it literally is pointless, as we all know the world didn’t end in 1977; but the fact Bowie opted for five years – rather than, say, the more expansive ten – gives the song a sense of fearful urgency in which its various disparate characters react differently to the sudden expiry date on their lives. A full ten years contains a degree of breathing space; five years has little, so you have to squeeze in as much as you can.

A five-year period can contain a staggering amount of creative purple patches: between 1971 and 1976, David Bowie released six albums of new material – including Ziggy’s saga – as did his equally prolific contemporary Stevie Wonder; between 1964 and 1969, The Beatles released eight albums of new material, whereas their equally prolific contemporary Bob Dylan released seven in the same timeframe. Go back just over 100 years before that, to when the written word was the dominant artistic statement, and take five years from literature’s golden age: the half-decade from 1847 to 1852 saw the publication of ‘Agnes Grey’, ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘Dombey and Son’, ‘Mary Barton’, ‘Vanity Fair’, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’, ‘David Copperfield’, ‘Moby Dick’, ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ and ‘The Communist Manifesto’. Enough landmark works there to fill a ‘proper’ decade.

Travel back a little further and we find one solitary wordsmith – as far as we know – embarking on a stellar career with an astonishing burst of creativity. In the five years between 1590 and 1595, William Shakespeare is credited with writing all three instalments of ‘Henry VI’ as well as ‘Richard III’, ‘The Comedy of Errors’, ‘Titus Andronicus’, ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’, ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’. ‘Richard II’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ are also believed to have been started – but not completed – in 1595. That’s a pretty impressive run by anybody’s standards, let alone within five years. Shakespeare scholars are not the type of people to pluck such estimates out of thin air, and one can confidently assume a chronology was assembled with fairly intensive research.

Even for those whose lives aren’t measured by artistic output, a five-year period can house enough events to define a life. If we look back on especially eventful periods we’ve lived through, ones marked by that catalogue of life-changing moments familiar to the many, such as embarking on a career, moving home, marrying, siring offspring etc., these tend to occur close together and within a relatively short space of time – like five years. For example, between 1996 and 2001, I myself moved home three times and the cast of characters constituting my world chopped and changed at a rapid rate, probably more than at any other time since I’d been at school. Looking back, a hell of a lot of living – and, in some sad cases, dying – was condensed into those five years, and if it had all been prophesised beforehand, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.

Gazing into a crystal ball has rarely been less attractive than at the moment, mind; quite frankly, given the opportunity I think I’d pass. If this non-year has taught us anything it’s that the future isn’t always worth waiting for. Perhaps if crystal balls could show what’s gone rather than what’s to come, maybe they’d be more intriguing; the past – even the recent past – has a habit of being as unfathomably unreal and unpredictable as the future. Anyone who has ever perused old diaries unread since they were written can often struggle to recall half of the events documented; I remember digging out some diaries from less than ten years before when researching my book, ‘Looking for Alison’, and I genuinely couldn’t remember so much of what I’d written about actually happening – as though some gremlin had spent many a mischievous night rewriting the daily entries as I slept just to f**k my head up.

It’s possible the absence of recall when revisiting journals of a recent vintage wasn’t so much a by-product of age, but an indication of the speed at which life had been lived in the five years since the last line I read had been penned. Blurs are hard to catch and preserve in amber-coated memory. Lest we forget, it’s an accepted phenomenon that time appears to pass faster as the years going by start to pile up, just as it does for the busy man occupied by an activity whilst simultaneously moving at a snail’s pace for the bored man twiddling his thumbs. Be that as it may, why take five? Why not? Let’s be honest, the number 5 makes a refreshing change from the number 19 at the moment, anyway. And guess what – this very blog turns five in December; those of you who were present at the birth may well be hard-pressed to believe we’ve been here that long, but that’s time for you – or five years.

Even if some of the subjects discussed in the earliest posts remain perennial bugbears or have simply become much worse, there are certain aspects of life in 2015 that seem so dim and distant from the perspective of 2020 that it’s difficult to discern they were that recent. My opinions may have altered on some subjects (and rightly so, for rigidly immovable opinions are rarely the sign of an inquiring mind); but I’ve not retrospectively altered anything said in any past post to fit a current point of view – unlike Dominic Cummings with his online jottings (allegedly). Sure, a lot of horrible things happened in 2015 – as they always do; but how can 2015 not seem like a great place to be when lined-up alongside 2020? In 2015, the rocket-ship on the launchpad was Apollo 11; today, it’s Apollo 13. Bowie’s ‘Ziggy’ prologue would have had an unsettling relevance had he written it in 2015 instead of 1972, so one doesn’t even have to fall into the trap of becoming misty-eyed over some faraway year from decades ago when confronted by the God-awful here and now; five years will do.

© The Editor


John Lydon once retrospectively referred to Bill Grundy as a very important member of The Sex Pistols ‘for one night only’ – and one night was all it took for his membership to deliver the goods. Following the Thames TV presenter’s live teatime altercation with the band in December 1976, they were dropped by EMI whilst he was suspended by Thames and swiftly dispensed with. Even if you weren’t around at the time, the incident has long been the stuff of legend and most are aware of it, so I won’t go into too many details. Nevertheless, it’s worth remembering that though the scandal lifted The Sex Pistols and the whole Punk subculture from underground cult to national phenomenon overnight as well as effectively ending the career of a man who was already fighting a losing battle with the bottle, the Met didn’t get involved. Those irate members of the public outraged by effing and blinding emanating from their tellies as they tucked into their egg & chips spurned dialling 999 in favour of deluging the switchboard of ITV’s weekday London franchise-holder, the party they actually held responsible. There were no police charges brought against Bill Grundy.

At the very dawn of the 1970s, one of Ken Russell’s typically outlandish and OTT musical documentaries for the BBC, ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’, had caused such uproar that the Estate of the composer it featured (Richard Strauss) so objected to Russell suggesting their man was a Nazi sympathiser that they took out an injunction preventing the Strauss soundtrack being played in the film, thus scuppering any future repeat screenings. Mary Whitehouse, on the other hand, didn’t appear to have any problems with the Nazi aspect, merely the sexual imagery; she even mooted suing the GPO for providing the electric cables through which this filth could be transmitted into the nation’s households by the BBC. However, despite the uproar, there was also no police involvement. Where am I going with this? Well, guess.

I don’t know why anyone aware of the man’s past would be surprised, but I’m guessing those who are surprised simply don’t know much about his past. I’m talking about our favourite showroom dummy, Sir Keir Starmer. Yes, fresh from taking the knee, the Labour leader has once more exhibited his anti-democratic, anti-liberal and unabashed pro-authoritarian credentials before the fools who think he’s doing a good job just because he’s not Jeremy Corbyn. When interviewed by Nick Ferrari on LBC, the question of the Darren Grimes Met investigation came up. Remember, in his role as DPP Starmer vigorously pursued the case against Paul Chambers, the man who responded to a cancelled flight by joking online that he intended to blow Robin Hood Airport ‘sky high’; this was a case the CPS was prepared to drop until Starmer the crusader for justice overruled it. And we’re not even mentioning his enthusiastic pushing through of the post-Savile ‘Victim’s Law’, the consequences of which hundreds of families across the country are still dealing with to this very day.

Asked by Ferrari if Darren Grimes should be the subject of a police investigation, Starmer replied in his best post-unconscious bias training, Dalek squawk – ‘There’s got to be a level of tolerance, of course, but there is a point, there’s a line that can be crossed, and it’s very important that when it is crossed that there is involvement and in some cases, prosecutions.’ Yes, Starmer is so desperate to be seen as being on ‘the right side of history’ that he will say anything his team of advisors programme into his robotic speech patterns; but here he is actually being true to himself, for I wouldn’t have expected Sir Keir to have expressed any other opinion on the subject than the one he gave. This reply was utterly in keeping with his attitude towards freedom of speech and policing the internet that he displayed when Director of Public Prosecutions – and to reluctantly give him credit, at least he mentioned the Grimes case; apparently, the BBC hasn’t mentioned it once, completely ignoring it altogether. That’s impartiality for you.

Hot on the heels of that, Starmer then issued his first clear opposition to the Prime Minister’s latest muddled coronavirus policy – the so-called ‘three tier’ plan that grades danger levels and leaves some parts of the country (mainly north of Watford) sealed-off from everywhere else. Naturally, this will do wonders for the Conservative Party’s appeal in its ‘Red Wall’ seats, though when it comes to lockdown Liverpool, Boris was hardly a beloved figure anyway. Having so far nodded along to the majority of the Government’s approach to Covid-19, the Labour leader decided it was time to strike out and put forward his own personal plan. He has called for a ‘temporary’ national lockdown lasting up to three weeks. Great idea, Keir; what do you intend to do when the three weeks is up, I wonder?

Mind you, his timing was brilliant. Andrew Hayward, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Or SAGE, to get all Bond-like) has already condemned the PM’s three-tier master-plan in favour of a full-on lockdown – or so-called ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown – to control the pandemic, because that obviously works. Anyone feel like all of this is beginning to take on the feel of an old fairytale or an Aesop’s Fable? It’s like all these supposedly intelligent individuals are running around trying to catch a cloud to put in their pockets or something. And, irony of ironies, the WHO – no, not the one with Pete Townshend and Keith Moon, but the World Health Organisation – now appears more in synch with the outlook of the Great Barrington Declaration.

In an interview with Andrew Neil, Sir David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation’s Special Envoy on Covid-19, declared ‘We in the WHO do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus.’ So, the WHO, which from the very beginning has been regarded by world leaders – especially Xi Jinping (not so Trump) – as the go-to authority on what to do with the coronavirus, no longer believes eternal lockdowns are the answer; but a member of SAGE and the leader of the Labour Party know better and want the cycle to continue till the end of time…sorry, I meant ‘three weeks’. Yes, the three-tier idea is just as futile as every other dead rabbit Boris has pulled out of his top hat; but three-tier opponents seem to suggest if all else fails, simply close the country down again and hide away until it goes away – which, of course, it won’t.

That recognised hub of open, diverse opinion and a friend to every viewpoint, Facebook, today announced it was clamping down on any sign of ‘anti-vaccine’ sentiments, which will no doubt please another dominant corporation like GlaxoSmithKline as it invariably gets ready to mass-manufacture and rush-release a vaccine whilst excitedly working out how much it’ll be charging each individual country for the privilege of using it. Yes, the relentless drilling into the people’s heads of the official line continues apace, building on the damage already done. A YouGov poll published yesterday found that 40% of the Great British Public felt the PM’s three-tier brainwave didn’t go far enough; 15% thought it had gone too far; and 19% reckoned it got the balance ‘about right’. Forty percent think Boris’s new policy hasn’t gone far enough?! How far do they think it should go, then? Well, let’s ask Keir Starmer. Just don’t forget to recharge him before you press the button to receive a reply.

© The Editor


Long-term loyalty to a brand can blind the customer to its faults because the customer doesn’t see it for what it is now but what it used to be then. It’s like a favourite band whose albums have got progressively worse, but you still buy them because you own all the others – or when it belatedly hits you that the TV series you’ve been watching most of your life is actually bloody terrible and you only stick with it because it’s part of the furniture; were it a new show, you’d recoil from it, so why are you still watching – just because it used to be great? Well, yeah. That happened to me with ‘Coronation Street’ a few years ago, and if I ever catch a snatch of it now it looks like every bad Aussie soap ever made rolled into one – and ‘Hollyoaks’. Likewise, when the mainstream media ceases to be the go-to source when you want to know what’s happening out there, coming back to it after an absence will probably vindicate your decision to abandon it. I wouldn’t know that personally, however, on account of not having gone back.

If this year’s events have done anything for the MSM, they could well have broken the back of the camel with a hefty bale of straw. 20-odd million tuned in to Boris’ lockdown announcement back in March – perhaps the final swansong moment of the nation turning to television for such information. I don’t know the viewing figures for TV news since then, but I should imagine ratings are falling with the same speed at which coronavirus cases are allegedly rising. From everything I can gather – and from my own personal perspective too – trust in the traditional providers of info has tumbled the longer this situation has gone on. People either seem to feel the BBC, Sky, ITV and Fleet Street are nothing more than mouthpieces for the Ministry of Truth, broadcasting the official line and failing to do their journalistic duty by questioning or challenging it – or people simply don’t believe a word of what they’re being told anymore because they can’t relate the media message to what they’re seeing with their own eyes when they’re out and about. And who can blame them? Real life and media life are living in parallel dimensions to each other.

There certainly appears to be a narrative in place where Covid-19 is concerned, and we’re not being exposed to any other when it comes to traditional mediums of communication. Part of that is probably down to the so-called ‘Westminster Bubble’ whereby journalists and broadcasters are wholly ignorant of the real damage being done by on-off lockdowns in the midlands and the north, let alone Scotland. Indeed, the First Minister’s popularity amongst them undoubtedly reflects an absolute ignorance of the Covid disaster the SNP has presided over in Scotland; all the London media wants from north of the border is the anti-Boris who can do no wrong as long as she pitches herself against the Tories and bigs up her own performance without anyone bothering to issue any counterclaims. Overlook the fact that the Scottish Government are proving to be the most authoritarian and reactionary administration ever to hold power in these islands since the abolition of Absolute Monarchy; at least they’re not useless Boris and his dim chums.

No longer buying a paper or watching news bulletins, ‘Newsnight’ or ‘Question Time’ means there’s one alternative. Okay, the internet can be something of a Wild West when it comes to information, with every crackpot conspiracy theory to be found if you want it. But balancing that out are numerous sites offering reasoned, sensible and questioning debate and discussion on the topic none of us can escape – like TV used to do and no longer does. Having said that, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have their own methods of policing the narrative, only they do so in a sneaky manner, ‘shadow banning’ anything they feel contradicts the policy they’ve chosen to impose upon users – and ‘shadow banning’ effectively means users aren’t alerted to a particular opinion contrary to the consensus; it might still be there, but you have to embark upon a lengthy needle/haystack search for it. There was an instance of this early on in the pandemic when a couple of reputable medical men dared to air an alternative viewpoint on YouTube and were rapidly removed, presumably because their dangerous opinions didn’t adhere to the established emotional blackmail of ‘save the NHS’. Now I read that some providers have attempted to similarly hide the words of wisdom emanating from a trio of professors who have issued their own manifesto for dealing with Covid-19 – one that doesn’t involve lockdowns. Largely shunned by a MSM lacking all self-awareness of its own irrelevance, this has been an entirely online announcement, so shadow banning it is something we should all be concerned about.

On paper, the Great Barrington Declaration makes a lot of sense and it comes from people who know what they’re talking about. Dr Sunetra Gupta is an Oxford University professor and an epidemiologist whose specialist subjects on ‘Mastermind’ would include infectious diseases, immunology and vaccine development; Dr Jay Bhattacharya is a professor at Stanford University Medical School – also an epidemiologist as well as a physician, health economist and public health policy expert; and biostatistician Dr Martin Kulldorff is another professor – this time of medicine at Harvard University, with expertise in infectious disease outbreaks and vaccine safety. In other words, this trio with impressive credentials aren’t Neil Ferguson, the worst ‘do as I say, not as I do’ expert who commands inexplicable attention, a man whose accuracy in predicting the future is up there with Mystic Meg.

The Great Barrington Declaration was kindly forwarded to me by a friend last week and I was thankful due to the fact that I might otherwise have missed it. Just having someone with unimpeachable expertise in the relevant field actually say out loud that lockdowns aren’t working is such a refreshing change from everything we receive on a daily basis from the usual suspects. In political terminology, the Declaration could be regarded as a ‘cross-party’ affair, stating as it does from the first line, ‘Coming from both left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating results…with the working-class and the younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden.’ As it goes on to say, ‘Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.’

This breif, concise statement recites an entirely logical check-list of how our glorious leaders are sowing the seeds for future disaster and offers up sensible, well-thought out ways and means of dealing with the virus far better than we’ve managed so far – in other words, herd immunity . In fact, one could come away from the Declaration and view it as simply stating the bleedin’ obvious, and in many respects that’s exactly what it does. The difference is it’s been said by the actual experts for once, albeit the kind of experts governments aren’t listening to as they become increasingly sozzled on the power they never imagined they’d have over the people. The people made the necessary sacrifices because they bought into the narrative; but now they’re being told that’s not enough and they need to make more and more and more. And this will simply go on forever unless the propositions put forward in the Great Barrington Declaration are acted upon. Mercifully, it would appear the World Health Organisation has finally admitted lockdowns aren’t the answer and has spoken positively of the Declaration. Not before time too. Anyway, read it for yourself before your local closes its doors again…

© The Editor


Anyone raised on a Cold War TV diet of ‘Callan’, ‘The Sandbaggers’, or ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ will have realised early on that one easily identifiable hallmark of the ideological conflict that distinguished Us from Them was the concept of a free press or at least the freedom to express an opinion contrary to the consensus of the ruling class without fear of State censure. Viewing the wrong side of the Iron Curtain from afar, we in the West became accustomed to the consequences facing those from the East who dared to veer from the party line. As a precursor to Vlad’s unique liquidation policy, the likes of exiled Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was silenced as a critique of his country’s Communist government on the streets of London in 1978, when a poisoned umbrella tip applied to his leg in a bus queue curtailed his broadcasts on the BBC World Service as well as his life. That was an extreme example of the punishment dished out to rebel journalists from totalitarian regimes; if they were lucky, they might get off with a show trial and an indeterminate sentence in a Gulag. Yes, that was one way in which we could draw a clear line between Us and Them. That didn’t happen here.

What’s often forgotten in all this, however, is the clever way in which the powers-that-be of the Eastern Bloc justified their harsh treatment of ‘dissidents’ to their own people. They didn’t just remove prominent figures from the streets and offer no explanation for their abrupt disappearance; they went to the trouble of providing a reason they imagined would suffice, albeit of a kind not dissimilar to how China justifies the mass arrest and imprisonment of Uyghur Muslims in effective concentration camps today; the CCP brands those prisoners undergoing re-education as ‘Radical Islamists’, just as anyone questioning the wisdom of Moscow-sponsored administrations was branded an enemy of the State and a threat to national security back in the day.

Over here, any foolhardy souls contravening the Official Secrets Act could always face severe penalties, but so touchy were the security services during this period that the odd journalist would be plunged into hot water should they say certain things out loud. An infamous 1976 feature in ‘Time Out’ titled ‘The Eavesdroppers’ committed the cardinal sin of actually naming GCHQ at a time when even the existence of MI5 and MI6 was publicly denied; penned by British-based American journalist Mark Hosenball and Brit Duncan Campbell, the furore that followed saw both threatened with deportation on national security grounds, though only Hosenball was successfully forced to leave the country as a result of the article; Campbell instead suffered life under MI5 surveillance. During the Cold War, the ideological battle-lines were clearly drawn between East and West, but the ideological differences of the 21st century are less geographical and tend to share the same uneasy soil.

A Conservative commentator mainly active online – as are many in these days of increasingly partisan current affairs reporting within the MSM – Darren Grimes is not the most obvious candidate that springs to mind whenever one thinks of libertine radicals; but news was announced yesterday that our proudest bastion of fair-play policing, the Met, is investigating Mr Grimes on the grounds of ‘stirring up racial hatred’. I thought they got down on their knees before those guilty of such an offence? I must be mistaken. Anyway, this accusation stems from an infamous interview Grimes conducted with the reliably cantankerous and combative historian David Starkey at the height of BLM protests during the summer.

Already well-known for his outspoken opinions that perhaps often only seem so because everyone else in the public eye is either coached within an inch of their media lives or is mindful of damaging their career prospects, Starkey delights in provoking hostile responses, though even he may have come to regret some of the things said in the Grimes interview – albeit not as much as a star-struck Grimes may now be for not reining Starkey in a little and failing to challenge him once. Starkey’s punishment was to lose academic posts at Canterbury Christ Church University and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge as well as his publishing contract with HarperCollins, whereas Grimes – who didn’t actually say anything ‘contentious’ during the interview – is now being summoned under caution by the Met to answer for his heinous crimes.

There are far more subtle ways and means of making a valid point about these troubled times than the glib, clumsy approach Starkey chose to take, but it would seem Grimes is more at fault for daring to air the interview warts-and-all. The official Scotland Yard statement reads, ‘On July 4 the Metropolitan Police Service was passed an allegation from Durham Police of a public order offence relating to a social media video posted on June 30. The matter is currently being investigated.’ Grimes’ response? ‘At a time when many in our country are facing uncertainty and financial hardship,’ he said, ‘I cannot imagine a more contemptible way for the Metropolitan Police to abuse taxpayers’ money and the trust of citizen than by investigating this vexatious claim.’

What makes Grimes more vulnerable than he would have been way back when old-school ‘libertines’ invoked the ire of the establishment during the Cold War is that the battle-lines now aren’t between East and West or young and old or even left and right, but between those indoctrinated in the unforgiving segregationist dogma of Identity Politics – which our leading institutions are all completely in thrall to – and those who adhere to the archaic rule of everyone being equal in the eyes of the law. Under normal circumstances, the likes of reactionary posh-boy journo Toby Young would hardly be portrayed as a radical voice, but it’s a measure of how far we’ve moved from genuine fair-play that someone such as Young heads an undoubtedly necessary organisation like the Free Speech Union to intervene on Grimes’ behalf; as Young pointed out, are similar Met investigations being carried out into the Sky News presenter whose interview with rapper Wiley produced several anti-Semitic comments around the same time as the Starkey confrontation that proved so incendiary?

Of course, the establishment has always promoted the interests of the few over the many – usually because the establishment tends to comprise several similar groups sharing the same worldview, usually at odds with that of the many. We merely have a different set of ideological dos and don’ts governing that establishment in 2020 to the ones we had 40 or 50 years ago, and everything from airing common-sense truisms to outright provocation aimed at the establishment’s cherished value system is guaranteed to prompt reprisals in the current climate. It helps the establishment that the divisive polarisation of the culture wars means Darren Grimes will elicit little sympathy or support from those on the other side who, though they may regard themselves as opposed to any form of State censorship, will be extremely flexible if only ‘the enemy’ ever feels the full force of the establishment. But it doesn’t matter where your political allegiances are situated in a scenario such as this; assuming only the Darren Grimes’s of this world are liable for a Met investigation is a naive ostrich approach to what is a worrying and serious threat to free speech in this country. Think they’ll stop at him if they succeed? Dream on – and don’t forget to wear a mask while you do…forever.

© The Editor