Dr FosterUnless you happen to be six or seven-years-old – and I’m guessing you’re not – you’ll have lived through enough hot summers to know heat-waves are usually followed by thunderstorms. Indeed, there’s nothing quite like an outburst of summer rain at the end of a sweltering day for washing away the stuffy mugginess and cleansing your parched person after weeks of exhausting temperatures. Even 1976 – yes, even 1976 – saw the drought and the ladybird invasion and ‘Save it!’ stickers and street-corner standpipes eventually consigned to a lifetime of future anecdotes from those who were there when the heavens opened. Thankfully, we don’t live in a country stuck with the one climate all year round, so we’re all aware of the usual pattern when we’ve experienced an occasional bout of extremely hot weather. I wish someone would alert the MSM to this fact. Sometimes it seems their hysterical headlines are penned by those very six or seven-year-olds whose memories don’t stretch back far enough to recognise an annual pattern when it happens.

According to ‘journalists’ suffering from this particular strain of arrested development, ‘The UK’s heat-wave is predicted to come to a dramatic end this week!’ In an unprecedented move, weather forecasters apparently predict it’ll give way to thunderstorms. Fancy that. Now, for those averse to the kind of temperatures the country has been basking in for the last few weeks, the inevitable rainfall will come as one hell of a relief, but it’s highly unlikely they’ll be as shocked by this news as the headline-writers appear to imagine. And if the remarkable revelation that a hot spell will be followed by heavy showers isn’t enough to stoke the requisite panic in the reader, the Project Fear narrative our media seems addicted to informs us that floods are on the way! From the apocalyptic portrait of Britain as some sort of scorched earth African desert that could provoke a finger-wagging ‘told you so’ from Little Miss Thunberg to the unleashing of forces requiring the swift building of an ark, we swing from one crisis to another with barely a Pinter-esque pause for breath in between.

If one were to be a tad more generous towards the headline-writers, one might attribute their open-jawed surprise re the way weather works to a more familiar short-term memory loss. I guess it is fairly commonplace once you’ve lived long enough; by the time we get a year away from the previous summer, for example, I can barely remember if it was a warm one or a wet one last year. I can recall a few exceptionally hot days around six years ago, but only because the heat is attached to an especially vivid memory unrelated to the climate of the moment. Other than that, I see the stats for the UK’s highest temperatures on record and (unless it’s 1976), I would’ve struggled to put a date on said scorchers anyway. Of the top ten hottest days ever recorded in Blighty, all-but three have come this century, with a day from this very summer – 19 July in Coningsby, Lincolnshire – now having deposed 25 July 2019 in Cambridge as the official winner. And it seems only right to reveal the temperature in old money: 104.5 ºF – which is extremely bloody hot. Do you remember it being a hot summer in 2020, 2015, 2006 or 2003, though? I can’t say I do, but they were some of the other years figuring in this top ten, even if we’re only dealing with isolated days rather than a uniquely prolonged dry spell like 1976.

Anyway, as a nice man at the Met Office has explained, the welcome rains won’t cure the drought that has led to the standard hosepipe bans in the sweatiest corners of the country. This is on account of the fact that ground rendered so dry by constant exposure to the kind of heat the red-faced folk of Coningsby endured last month will struggle to absorb the anticipated downpours. A good deal of the water will not therefore soak into the soil and will instead run off it, leading to flash floods. Not a nice prospect for those riverside towns and villages accustomed to a rude awakening whenever this type of rain sends their neighbouring waterways redirected through their living rooms, yet this is not a nationwide crisis yet. Some parts of the country will still be baking in Fahrenheit temperatures of the upper 80s, whereas others will receive the ‘dramatic’ thunder and lightning we’ve been promised. Eight locations in England have now been officially designated drought areas, meaning images of wildfires and shallow reservoirs can carry on being run by news outlets. The insufferable humidity that usually serves as a prologue to a summer storm will be with us, so the experts say, and then rain will stop play. Of course, if investment in infrastructure was a by-product of privatisation, perhaps there wouldn’t be the outrageous amounts of water reserves lost through rotting pipes that have left water companies so ill-prepared for the current crisis, but that would mean depriving directors of their hard-earned bonuses, so we shouldn’t judge them too harshly.

With the coming of the UK’s very own monsoon season, Project Fear has ramped-up the drama by prophesising power-cuts, along with bus and train cancellations. After all, the imminent ending of a story that has generated so many of those hysterical headlines this summer needs to be superseded by another, lest the people slide into complacency and forget the end of the world is nigh. I guess the rains will keep the MSM going until the long-awaited Winter of Discontent is with us – and there’s a shilling for the first person to spot a ‘coldest winter since 1963’ headline. Naturally, this winter simply has to be the coldest since 1963 in order for the cost-of-living crisis story to reach its correct apogee from the perspective of the media. We’ve already been warned gas power stations may be switched-off before we get there as part of an emergency strategy to prevent 70s-style blackouts come the winter – an operation that goes by the suitably dramatic name of a ‘war-game’ plan. Not that any of this reduced power will be reflected in lower energy bills for the customer, mind.

Mercifully, the UK isn’t as dependent on Russian gas as, say, the Germans fatally are; but a hands-across-the-ocean approach to sharing energy with some of our European neighbours could cost us. Interconnectors link Britain with France and Norway, giving Brits top-ups from both nations when the UK network is running low. News that the Norwegians might be forced to ration such exports isn’t encouraging, and some in the industry have claimed the UK’s onshore storage amounts to gas that will span no more than 10 days. Predictions of the kind of energy-saving blackouts that anyone over the age of 50 will recall from candlelit childhoods are being touted, with one insider suggesting a possibility of limiting the use of gas and electricity to barely six hours a day. An ‘unplug-at-home January’ – as it’s been referred to – is the perfect element to add further colour to the forthcoming Project Fear winter narrative we can look forward to. Throw the recession into the mix and there should be enough to keep the MSM going till next spring, if we haven’t all frozen or starved to death by the time it comes around.

What to do? Well, standing for Parliament could be one way to survive the energy apocalypse. Over the past three years, taxpayers have forked-out £420,000 to cover the cost of heating the second homes of honourable members, with 405 MPs claiming energy expenses since April 2019, according to a report by Open Democracy earlier this year. One of those MPs was a certain Ms Truss. No wonder people are taking notice of the findings of this report now more than they did when it was published in the spring. Hot on the heels of Climate Change and Covid and lockdowns and Monkey Pox and a global recession and a summer drought, the MSM has been spoilt for choice, and it looks as though they’ve got plenty more to work with to ensure many a sleepless night. Where’s Nick Ross when you need him?

© The Editor





SummerNo, I haven’t melted away like a budget supermarket ice-pop, though a 7-day absence might lead to that assumption when one takes into account the latest extension of Project Fear. Monkey Pox clearly wasn’t enough to stoke a revival of the Pandemic panic favoured by the MSM, so an especially roasting heat-wave appears to justify the compulsory fear-mongering tactics; in fact, I’ve been waiting for that ever-dependable soothsayer of hysteria Neil Ferguson to pop up and tell us how many thousands are going to die. We’ve certainly had enough heat-waves every occasional summer this century to be accustomed to the routine and we’re not as dumb as our lords and masters imagine. Those out there – not me, I hasten to add – who enjoy baking in sunshine are more than likely to apply the requisite amount of sun-cream to their flesh, and schools that remain open probably won’t have children dispatched at the gates by parents who’ve knitted them woolly pullovers to keep out the chill. Care-home staff members have been advised to spray their dehydrating elderly inmates with cold water as they would their window-box flowers – and what is the recommended sword & shield protection against summer Armageddon? A bottle of water, sun-cream and…er…a hat.

Whilst 1976 – yes, it was inevitable that would be mentioned – is still the most continuously hottest summer ever recorded, the single hottest days in UK history that made the record books took place in 2003 and 2019 respectively; not that you’d know this when the Met Office now measures heat-waves using a system that has only been in place since last year; no wonder this summer is receiving the ‘hottest ever’ accolade, along with a suitably apocalyptic ‘red heat warning’ element. Even a Met Office meteorologist who designed the new map and its inferno-insinuating colour scheme claims his baby has been doctored by the media to fit the current narrative, saying the map was ‘just the latest example of a vocal minority trying to spread misinformation in response to the Met Office’s science-based weather and climate forecasts’. His explanation for the change of colour from muddy green to scarlet on the said map was that it enabled the colour blind to appreciate an increase in heat when the shading alters more severely; he also claimed the colours don’t correspond with the temperatures provided, with the former intended to depict the far higher temperatures commonplace in Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian Subcontinent.

So, yes, be careful out there; but don’t be scared to be out there; you might be mistaken for a chicken – like Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss. Both bottled out of a third TV debate of No.10 hopefuls for fear that their entertaining bickering might paint a poor picture of the Party for viewers at home. They clearly don’t realise that most reckon the brand has been irreparably damaged enough by their predecessor, so a couple of Boris’s former team exchanging a few terse words is hardly going to make the electorate rush to the nearest Labour Party offices in disgust. Besides, only a tiny percentage of those witnesses to a minor spat in public will have a say in who wins the Downing Street keys, anyway, and the contenders have already been depleted further in the absence of a third debate. The mild-mannered Tom Tugendhat will have to reserve his references to having been on the frontline in Afghanistan and Iraq for the backbenches in future, as he and his war stories were eliminated in the latest round of voting yesterday. That leaves Sunak, Truss, Penny Mordaunt and rank outsider Kemi Badenoch as the last four before the numbers are whittled down to two.

Sunak, peddling the casual ‘call me Dave’ tie-free look, almost established a new catchphrase in the second televised debate, considering how many times he prefaced a speech with ‘You know what?’, though it has yet to ascend the cultural apex of ‘I agree with Nick’. Liz Truss’s evident ineptitude meant she failed to even try to come up with a catchphrase, though her right arm hovering in the ex-Chancellor’s direction every time she made what she regarded as a valid statement would serve as a visual pointer for any budding Janet Brown, I guess. I wasn’t surprised by Rishi’s slickness or his Blair-like insincerity; he came across as a kind of Bob Monkhouse without the late comic’s famous joke book to fall back on. But Liz Truss was even worse than I imagined beforehand, reminding me more of Theresa May than Margaret Thatcher, with a weak speaking voice and an unconvincing way of selling herself that was uncomfortably reminiscent of Mavis from ‘Coronation Street’. I can only think that her inexplicable popularity amongst some members of the Conservative Party is down to her being seen as a ‘continuity candidate’ for those who lament the forced exit of Boris. It’s certainly nothing to do with her woeful sales pitch, and it’s entirely feasible that one more pitiful performance on TV would have exposed her limitations even further. No wonder she pulled out at the eleventh hour.

Penny Mordaunt gave what could generously be called a competent showing over the two debates we got, neither making a big impression nor making a fool of herself. The main obstacle between her and Downing Street is the ongoing campaign being waged against her by supporters of the two favourites, particularly her backtracking on the Trans issue. Having gone on record in the past uttering the infamous phrase ‘Trans women are women’, Mordaunt is now in reverse gear, denying statements that have been resurrected in the public arena as a means of demonstrating she’d be another PM saying one thing one day and saying the complete opposite the next. At least Kemi Badenoch challenged her on this subject during the second debate, and when Kemi was given the chance to speak (which didn’t appear to be as often as the other candidates) she impressed. It would be a breath of fresh air were she to overtake the other three and capture the keys to No.10, but despite recognition of her as one to watch, perhaps her bid has come too early in her career to cross the finishing line at this moment in time. If she managed it, it would be the real break with the recent past that Tom Tugendhat repeatedly emphasised as a necessity for winning the next General Election, but the odds seem stacked against it right now; and the Tories may well pay the price at the ballot box in 2024 for not taking a gamble on Kemi Badenoch.

As it is, Boris’s successor won’t be crowned until the autumn, anyway, as the PM won a vote of confidence in the Commons last night by 349 votes to 238, giving the Government a majority of 111. It means he’ll remain Prime Minister for the next seven weeks, serving out his premiership like a lame duck President in the final months of his second term. The five-hour debate in the Commons was fittingly ill-tempered as Boris attempted to big-up his record in office, extending the highlights that were edited during his resignation speech a couple of weeks ago. Still exhibiting the brazen denial of what actually curtailed his residency at No.10 – i.e. himself – Boris even looked to the future with the same gung-ho bullshit. ‘After three dynamic and exhilarating years in the cockpit,’ he waffled, ‘we will find a new leader and we coalesce in loyalty around him or her. And the vast twin Rolls-Royce engines of our Tory message, our Conservative values, will roar on – strong public services on the left, and a dynamic free market enterprise economy on the right, each boosting the other and developing trillions of pounds of thrust.’ It’s a wonder a fleet of Spitfires didn’t soar over the Palace of Westminster at the climax of his speech.

Oh, well; a third televised Tory leadership debate might have provided a brief distraction from the ‘red heat warning’, if only for the likes of me to write about it afterwards; but what we saw in the two debates more or less confirmed everything we suspected about the leading candidates, anyway. And we have no more influence over who’ll be our next PM than we do over how hot it is.

© The Editor





‘Forces of anarchy, wreckers of law and order: Communists, Maoists, Trotskyists, neo-Trotskyists, crypto-Trotskyists, union leaders, Communist union leaders, atheists, agnostics, long-haired weirdos, short-haired weirdos, vandals, hooligans, football supporters, namby-pamby probation officers, rapists, papists, papist rapists, foreign surgeons, head-shrinkers – who ought to be locked-up; Wedgewood-Benn, keg bitter, punk rock, glue-sniffers, Play for Today, squatters, Clive Jenkins, Roy Jenkins, up Jenkins, up everybody, Chinese restaurants…’

The famous rant from ‘The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin’ by Reggie’s unhinged ex-army brother-in-law Jimmy (a man forever experiencing a ‘bit of a cock-up on the catering front’) is counteracted by Reggie himself, who points out the kind of people Jimmy’s proposed right-wing private army will attract – ‘Thugs, bully-boys, psychopaths, sacked policemen, security guards, sacked security guards, racialists, paki-bashers, queer-bashers, chink-bashers…rear-admirals, queer admirals, vice-admirals, fascists, neo-fascists, crypto-fascists, loyalists, neo-loyalists, crypto-loyalists.’

The figures of hate may have changed in forty years, but an equivalent rant could easily be penned today, whether one’s parting is on the left or on the right. The level of anger and awareness of his own impotence in changing the world for what he perceives to be the better that’s implicit in Jimmy’s rant forces him into contemplating a doomed military coup, albeit an unspecified idealistic one he knows hasn’t a cat in hell’s chance of success; but he’s willing to give it a go, anyway, because there’s nothing else keeping him alive but hatred. It’s the sole emotion that makes him feel anything anymore. He’s been laid off by the army, the only profession he ever knew; he’s redundant and looks around at a society he doesn’t recognise, and hatred is the one thing he’s got. That at least retains its relevance.

There are a good few people in society today whose passions are fuelled by hatred in the absence of anything else, propelled towards extreme actions by the media message (or holy book) they decide supports and validates their viewpoint. There are many more that mercifully baulk at extreme actions but nevertheless focus on what they regard as the source of their misery with an intensity that is as illogical as it is understandable. John Lennon’s bitter recollection of the petty arguments that marred the ‘Let it Be’ sessions – whereby a bum note by one Beatle is responsible for why another Beatle’s life is lousy – highlights a simplistic blame game that appears to be the default mindset of many right now. Angry people in North Kensington blame government; angry people in Birstall blame immigration; angry people on London Bridge blame western civilisation; angry people in Finsbury Park blame Allah.

The gloomy prognosis of Maajid Nawaz, co-founder of the Quilliam Foundation counter-extremism think-tank is that both far-right and Islamic extremists threaten a virtual civil war if events of the past month are allowed to escalate further. ISIS-inspired or sponsored attacks are designed to polarise and Nawaz predicts they’ll continue to do so unless certain fundamental issues are addressed; and if trying to address them is greeted with cries of racism or Islamophobia (usually from non-Muslims on the left for whom Muslims are their pet Victims) then we ain’t get gonna get anywhere. ‘The desire to impose Islam and the desire to ban Islam are simply two ends to a lit fuse that can only lead to chaos,’ says Nawaz.

It doesn’t help that it’s so bloody hot at the moment either. Excessively warm weather doesn’t itself provoke chaos, but it can exacerbate simmering tensions; it did in 1976 at the Notting Hill Carnival, just as it did in Brixton and Toxteth in 1981; and, lest we’ve already forgotten, a host of cities across the country in 2011. All occurred during the uniquely claustrophobic cauldron of an urban English summer, when people are denied the need to breathe that the wide open spaces of rural areas afford their residents. The current heat-wave comes at an extremely perilous and unstable moment in this nation’s modern history.

The tragedy at Grenfell Tower, the indecisive General Election result, the weekly terrorist atrocities, the Brexit negotiations, the perceived indifference to austerity by those untouched by it – all ingredients in a combustible recipe that has the potential to boil over; and bringing in COBRA to keep an eye on the kitchen won’t necessarily turn down the temperature. Let’s hope we’re in for a cold spell, then.

ISIS destroying ancient monuments in Syria and a Momentum stormtrooper burning two-dozen copies of the Sun on social media may be worlds apart, but both are demonstrations of the same self-righteous arrogance and forcible imposition of a belief system that criticism of is forbidden. After the last terrorist incident – though I am losing track of them now, to be honest – I wrote a post I opened with a quote from Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919): ‘Freedom is the freedom to think otherwise’. That quote should be scrawled on campus walls, inscribed on the first page of the Koran, and carved into the front door of 10 Downing Street. The majority of people in this country probably agree with the sentiment, but those that don’t have the loudest voices. And they’re angry.

BRIAN CANT (1933-2017)

Only three weeks ago I penned a post in tribute to childhood giant John Noakes and mentioned how Noakes’ memorable persona was in the ‘daft uncle’ tradition so prevalent on children’s television in the 1970s. A name that cropped up in this post was that of Brian Cant; and now Cant too has gone. He was the same age as Noakes – 83 – and was held in the same affectionate esteem by those of us who watched him as kids.

One of the longest-serving presenters of ‘Play School’ – for a staggering 21 years – Cant also starred in its more madcap Saturday afternoon incarnation, ‘Play Away’, for 13 years; but it was narrating Gordon Murray’s ‘Trumptonshire’ trilogy of ‘Camberwick Green’, ‘Trumpton’ and ‘Chigley’ that earned his reputation as the owner of golden vocal chords that remain music to the ears of anyone for whom those magical little shows were pivotal to the pre-school experience. Along with Oliver Postgate, Richard Baker, Arthur Lowe and Ray Brooks, the voice of Brian Cant is one guaranteed to instil serenity in a way few pharmaceutical indulgences can.

We need our daft uncles more than ever right now, and they’re leaving us. It’s shit growing-up.

© The Editor