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Before reading this, here are Parts 1, 2 and 3 of a series on coronavirus and lockdown.

It seems that the British silent majority were largely fine with obeying the rules that Boris Johnson’s government set until the end of May.

By then, they began asking questions about the duration.

During the first two months of lockdown, they understood that the reasons were not to put too much pressure on the NHS.

However, as Boris and his ministers are taking only ‘baby steps’ (Boris’s words) to release us, many wonder what the real plan is.

Rightly or wrongly, suspicion is rife:

There is also the question about the NHS and the need for treatment outside of COVID-19.

Those of us who watch the daily coronavirus briefings from the government can’t help but notice the messaging, especially from Health Secretary Matt Hancock:

I missed this little titbit from the coronavirus briefing on Friday, June 5. Hancock said, ‘As the NHS reopens’. Hmm:

Yet, Britons are still missing out on non-coronavirus NHS treatments that are urgent:

I couldn’t agree more with this next observation from Prof Karol Sikora:

Then we have the unknown consequences of Big Data intrusions into our lives:

This is now climbing up the chain to stain Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the champion of his soi-disant ‘Government of the People’:

The goalposts have clearly shifted since Boris’s stonking victory in December 2019:

Lockdown has now gone on too long:

Despite what the government and scientists say on the weekday coronavirus briefings, other statistics find their way through the established narrative:

Yet, part of the blame also lies with the proportion of the British public who are afraid of re-engaging with society the way they did before lockdown:

Those who are afraid can stay at home. Let the rest of us get back to real life.

This London Assembly member from the Brexit Party is spot on. Lockdown must end:

Social distancing will end up being a killer, too:

One hopes it doesn’t come to this:

One wonders whether there is such a thing as conservatism any more:

Or is the WHO driving this? They must think we are stupid. Perhaps we are:

We will never be in a risk-free, virus-free world.

Ending on Boris, for now, this is something I missed. Then again, I don’t listen to BBC Radio 4. Even if I had, I would have thought that Boris’s father Stanley was voicing his own views, not his son’s:

Boris is still better than his Labour counterparts — Jeremy Corbyn (then) and Keir Starmer (now).

However, his polling will take a dive unless he restores what he called the People’s Government.

More tomorrow: coronavirus and the June riots.

Finding out on the evening of Sunday, April 5, that Boris Johnson had been admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital in London with coronavirus was unsettling. This was soon after the Queen’s address on coronavirus aired.

Earlier in the day, he tweeted:

On Monday, from his hospital bed, he did a bit of work and tweeted:

However, he developed breathing problems and staff transferred him to intensive care.

By Maundy Thursday evening, despite the government’s daily updates on his health, I was getting worried. Three days in intensive care was a long time. Fortunately, an hour after alarm bells rang in my head, news emerged that he went back to a regular ward. What a relief.

On Easter Sunday — as many Britons predicted — he rose from his hospital bed and was released from St Thomas’. He was driven to the Prime Ministerial residence, Chequers, where he will recuperate. His fiancée Carrie Symonds joined him later and will stay with him. She is expecting their baby in a few weeks’ time.

Boris, looking distinctly peaky and sounding rough, gave us a five-minute update and a fulsome thank you to the NHS, naming two nurses whose care particularly impressed him. One is a young woman from New Zealand and the other is a male nurse from Portugal.

I like the fact that Boris was in a suit, white shirt and tie:

Since then, he has not tweeted. No doubt Carrie is ensuring he gets the rest and relaxation he so needs at this time.

Days before he went into hospital, when he was self-isolating with coronavirus in Downing Street, Boris deputised Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab as his stand-in:

This was confirmed on Monday, April 6:

Raab, boxing enthusiast though he is, sounded uncharacteristically — yet understandably — shaky when he made the announcement that Boris had entered the ICU. He looked as if his eyes were welling up. (Also see YouTube):

I worked in London when Boris was the capital’s two-term mayor. He set up strong teams and delegated to them, so we can be sure that what Raab said that evening is true:

Not everyone approved of the Prime Minister’s choice of deputy. ITV’s political editor Robert Peston was one of them:

Across the Channel in France, someone thought that Boris’s transfer to intensive care was ‘karma’ for trying out herd immunity (l’immunite de groupe):

Raab was tested for coronavirus on March 11, the day Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered the budget, during the time when MPs were still packed together like sardines on the benches. (Social distancing measures were put into place days earlier, although Rugby Union’s Six Nations matches were still going on and the Cheltenham Festival took place a week later. Once we went into lockdown on March 23, all public gatherings were banned.)

Sunak is on the left in the picture standing at the despatch box. Liz Truss is sitting next to Raab:

But I digress.

On Tuesday, April 7, Raab presided over his first cabinet meeting. He regained his usual self-confidence:

Later that afternoon, Raab headed the daily coronavirus briefing. He looked assured once more and said that Boris is ‘a fighter’:

The media took particular interest in reporting on Raab’s walks to No. 10. This is from Wednesday, March 8:

This was the week that Dominic Raab built a fan base. Chancellor Rishi Sunak built his the day he delivered the budget.

Raab did an excellent job during a difficult week and continues to shine:

Boris Johnson has received many cards and letters over the past week from well wishers all over Britain. He has made us happy in his premiership, especially because he believes in and genuinely loves Britain. The general public deduces that, because he loves Britain, he loves us, too.

James Kirkup was a journalist for the Telegraph for several years. He is now Director of the London-based Social Market Foundation and writes for UnHerd, a thought-provoking online magazine. On April 15, he wrote an interesting editorial for UnHerd, ‘Why did Boris Johnson survive?’

It’s an odd title, and, on that basis alone, I almost didn’t read it, but I did, anyway.

It is about the public’s perception of Boris (emphases mine):

It all flows from a very basic question: why did Boris survive? How people answer that question will say a lot about politics and determine how Britain changes — or does not change — when we finally put coronavirus behind us.

Some will describe a battle of personal heroism, of grit and determination. Even when the PM was in the ICU and his fate was, frankly, uncertain, many people were talking of his toughness, his vigour, how his strong character and boundless appetite for life would equip him to “fight” the virus and win.

Kirkup says that he does not like such language. Hmm. Interesting. Boris was once a newspaper journalist before becoming editor of one of Britain’s oldest magazines, The Spectator. Now he looks set to become one of our all-time great Prime Ministers. That career trajectory alone tells us that Boris has grit and determination. Yes, he is a fighter.

I am certain that Boris, just as he did in his Easter Sunday video above, will continue to credit the NHS for saving his life. He knows he needed help. He found out that he could not fight coronavirus on his own.

Kirkup tells us about Boris’s make up as a person:

He’s very interested in the “great man” theory of history — that way of understanding the world that attributes grand events and trends to the actions of a few heroic individuals. He loves the classics with their heaven-born heroes smiting each other hip and thigh in defiance of gods and fate. His hero is Pericles, the “first citizen of Athens”. He chose politics over journalism “because no one puts up statues of journalists”. He wrote a biography of Winston Churchill, the best-known great man of British imagination: he won the war, didn’t he?

The Mail on Sunday had two excellent articles about Boris. One was about him as a person and the other documented his battle against coronavirus. Both appeared on Saturday evening, when Boris was still recuperating at St Thomas’.

This is a summary of Harry Cole’s story, which I will excerpt below. The nurses and medics below are not from St Thomas’ but a hospital in Nuneaton, which voted Conservative last December:

Let’s look at Tom Bower’s potted biography of Boris Johnson first: ‘Getting sick? That’s for wimps! Boris Johnson has always ignored illness, says author TOM BOWER’. He is writing a biography of the Prime Minister.

The article has rare photos of Boris, including from his schooldays at Eton.

Bower begins with this:

Brought up to ignore illness and dispense with the need of doctors, many will suspect that Boris’s current plight owes much to his natural recklessness. Believing in the survival of the fittest, he was taught that Real Men are never ill.

Infused by willpower and belief in his infallibility, he undoubtedly brushed aside medical advice with the same ebullience that has always been his way – until he was forced to go to hospital last weekend.

Six days ago, the media were rapidly assembling obituaries – fearing the worst. For 48 hours, the nation held its breath.

Many asked, how could a Prime Minister have allowed himself to get so close to the edge?

The fact is that such brinkmanship was simply another chapter in the rollercoaster life of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

Bower has included an excellent photograph of Boris as captain of the Eton wall game team in 1982. If that isn’t the face of determination, I don’t know what is.

He tells us:

Chronically competitive from childhood, spent with three siblings, he perfected his bulldog iron will on the playing fields of Eton, a school renowned for its brutal expectations. Both at rugby and Eton’s uniquely physical Wall Game (which, aptly, to the uninitiated seems to have no rules), Boris led the charge, breaking bones and egos with one sole objective – to win.

People think Boris is a buffoon, but far from it:

… he owes his political achievements to the ability to perfect brilliant camouflage. Acting the bumbling English gentleman buffoon, he has deployed charm and wit to escape sticky corners and save himself from disaster. Equally, his comic performances – enjoyed even by his critics – have concealed his fierce intellect and ambition.

I have witnessed countless people predict Boris’s downfall many times, yet repeatedly his resilience has been the force for his resurrection, be it from his sacking from his first job, his dismissal from the Tory front bench, or his failure to win the race to succeed David Cameron as Prime Minister.

He loves the ladies and has been married twice. Carrie Symonds will be his third wife.

When married to his first two (photos in the article), he continued to play the field, about which the article has more.

I met him many years ago and can see why his innate charm, schoolboy appearance and natural wit mixed with a bit of humility wins women over. Bowers says:

Absolution is always at hand.

As for his bookishness, Bowers gives us the inside scoop:

First encouraged by his grandfather, Boris reveres Homer’s Iliad where heroes are more virtuous than the gods because mortality compels them to develop the supreme virtue of courage.

At Eton, Boris also found a hero – Pericles, an Athenian who, with charisma and shameless populism, pleased the crowds to win constant re-election.

Blending the influences – Wooster, Molesworth, Just William and Pericles – in school debates, Boris developed a unique oratorical style mixed with humour. ‘Humour,’ he would say, ‘is a utensil that you can use to sugar the pill and get important points across’.

Martin Hammond, his Eton classics master, despaired about his pupil’s ‘effortless superiority’, excelling without apparently much effort. ‘I think he honestly believes that it is churlish of us not to regard him as an exception,’ wrote Hammond, ‘one who should be free of the network of obligation which binds everyone else’.

Spreading his huge talents thinly, Boris mastered the art of ‘winging it’ – engaging in every activity, which meant missing deadlines, falling asleep in class and often spouting claptrap.

And yet he won a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford.

On his arrival there, all the gossip was about ‘this amazing person just up from Eton’. With his mop of blond hair and raffish clothes, he became the unrivalled star at the Oxford Union debating society. Not only was he, at just 18, already being mentioned as a future Prime Minister but he also forged a relationship with Oxford’s ‘most beautiful woman’, Allegra Mostyn-Owen.

There’s a photo of the two of them together at Oxford. She became his first wife.

He became the president of the Oxford Union debating society — a true achievement:

Inevitably there was huge envy, particularly when he was voted Union president at his second attempt, having learnt that to win he had to pretend he was a liberal.

In truth, Allegra (later his wife) says: ‘He wasn’t a libertarian. He was a Thatcherite, spouting trickle-down nonsense.’

This customary politician’s deception has been portrayed by critics as evidence of his dishonesty.

However, Anthony Kenny, former head of Balliol, says: ‘So far as I know, he told no actual lies, but his strategy recalls Talleyrand, the French diplomat who never told a lie and deceived the whole world.’

Loyally, Allegra insists: ‘He never lies. He just has his own attitude to the truth.’

Do read the rest.

As for his hospital stay, Harry Cole has a cracking read: ‘”The NHS saved my life”: Boris Johnson pays tribute to hospital medics …’

I was right to have been worried.

It begins:

Boris Johnson came close to death as he desperately fought coronavirus in an intensive care unit, his friends revealed last night

After rallying, the Prime Minister told them that he owed his life to the doctors and nurses at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, adding: ‘I can’t thank them enough.’ 

Cole tells us:

As Mr Johnson continued his recovery last night, friends finally conceded just how desperately ill he had been by the time he was taken into intensive care on Monday. 

He was so unwell that he believes he owes his life to the care he received from the NHS. 

For days after it was announced on March 27 that the Prime Minister had tested positive for the coronavirus, Mr Johnson’s symptoms were described as ‘mild’

But after struggling through the 9.15am Covid-19 ‘War Cabinet’ meeting on April 2, the PM conceded that he could not shake his persistent cough and temperature and would not be ending his seven-day isolation as scheduled the next day

In frank talks with both his doctor and his private secretary, Martin Reynolds, insiders say he agreed to a significantly reduced workload and was sent to his bed

A Government source described Mr Johnson as ‘resistant’ to the idea of going into hospital for fear of it looking like he was receiving preferential treatment, but Downing Street last night insisted that he acted on the advice of his doctors.

It was agreed on April 2 that he would remain in self- ­isolation above No11 with his symptoms reviewed on Saturday morning

However, Ministers, aides and friends now say privately that he should have gone into hospital much earlier. ‘It was clear he was in a terrible state all week,’ said one

Boris is not the first PM to have gone to hospital during his tenure. Tony Blair had a heart scare in 2003 and went to Hammersmith Hospital, in west London.

At St Thomas’:

The protocol set out how the PM would use a secret entrance and take a designated route along sealed corridors and lifts to a private ‘magic room’ on level 12. A secure computer system would be used to ensure his medical notes were inaccessible to all but a tight group of experts

By Saturday April 4, the check-up quickly established that Mr Johnson’s condition had worsened. Mr Reynolds ‘cleared the PM’s diary completely’, but by the following afternoon it was clear there was no choice but to take him to hospital

A source said Mr Johnson was conscious when he arrived, but ‘very, very unwell’. 

He was put on oxygen via a tube through his nose within ten minutes of arrival

Concerned by the possible public reaction to the PM’s incapacitation, Downing Street described his admission as a ‘precautionary step’ for tests, adding that Mr Johnson would be receiving a ministerial red box so he could continue to work from his hospital bed. 

In reality, his condition worsened throughout Sunday evening and Monday. An added complication was the poor mobile phone reception at the hospital, coupled with a warning to Mr Johnson not to use the public wi-fi for security reasons. 

That is exactly what I thought about his condition at the time!

Doctors rang Carrie Symonds early Monday evening:

Carrie Symonds received the call from her fiance’s doctors that she had been dreading

Despite the ­oxygen treatment, she was told that Mr Johnson was not improving and the likelihood of him having to be put on a ventilator in intensive care was quickly growing. It was ominous news. 

A study of some 1,400 patients by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre found that more than half of Covid-19 patients who are admitted to intensive care died

Anguished, yet prevented from being by his bed, Ms Symonds wrote her husband-to-be a love ­letter, attaching a scan of their unborn child. Meanwhile, aides and doctors faced the logistical problem of moving the PM to the intensive care unit, which was on a different floor from his room. 

Meanwhile:

Back in Downing Street, staff were left in stunned silence by the news. 

‘It was terrifying how fast things happened. I couldn’t believe it,’ one senior official said. Having already spoken to the PM, Mr Reynolds alerted Buckingham Palace and Mr Raab was summoned to No10, where he was briefed by Cabinet Office bosses Sir Mark Sedwill and Helen MacNamara on the PM’s condition and on his new duties

Meanwhile, the PM’s spokesman James Slack prepared a public statement and a BBC camera crew sent to film an address by a visibly shaken Mr Raab

An official said: ‘It was one of those nights where all there really was was prayer.’

About the drugs President Trump referred to:

As Mr Johnson fought for his life on Monday night, a bizarre – and undignified – public relations battle was being played out through the switchboard of St Thomas’ hospital

‘We had the drug companies contact his doctors at the hospital in London, and they’re talking right now,’ US President Donald Trump told Fox News – wrongly, as it turned out. 

The White House had contacted the hospital but, in fact, had been politely directed toward to Foreign Office rather than to Mr Johnson’s team. The Americans were not alone – China was offering drugs as well

‘The switchboard went into meltdown,’ an NHS source said

‘First the White House rings and offers to send drugs to treat the PM, then a series of Chinese firms call on behalf of their government also offering to send drugs.’ 

None of the offers was accepted. ‘We’re confident the Prime Minister is receiving the best possible care from the National Health Service,’ No10 said curtly on Tuesday morning

One of Boris’s friends says he should have entered hospital much sooner:

One friend said last night: ‘Those who care about Boris and have known him for a very long time and could say to him “Mate, you’re unwell you need to look after yourself” have been frozen out by the No10 gang

‘And it seems they were too frightened to stand up to the PM when he needed advisers the most. ‘That can never be allowed to happen again.’

Agreed.

It was an alarming Holy Week. I prayed for Boris and thought about him often. The worst part of it is, all of my suspicions were correct!

‘They’ say that one should recuperate (i.e. do next to nothing) a week for every day spent in intensive care. My calculations tell me that Boris will be at Chequers for three weeks.

May the good Lord restore our Prime Minister to full health and then propel him towards greatness. Britain needs him now more than ever.

There is a fascinating thread on Guido Fawkes, posted on Sunday, March 29.

The subject of the post is cabinet minister Michael Gove saying we don’t need ventilators from the EU, but the comments are on Britons’ personal coronavirus experiences.

I found them vastly more informative and interesting than Big Media’s panicky news. I hope you do, too.

Unfortunately, Guido’s new comment system does not have hyperlinks to comments, so I cannot provide direct links.

A dash denotes a single comment, even with an additional paragraph.

I purposely didn’t edit the comments too much in order to preserve their spontaneity.

Emphases below are mine.

PPE, ventilators and the EU

These days, PPE stands for Personal Protection Equipment, not the degree known as Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

This pertains to Gove’s comments in Guido’s post. A few of Guido’s readers discussed France. One had sources:

On March 3, France confiscated all protective masks made in the country. “We will distribute them to healthcare professionals and to French people affected by the coronavirus,” French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter. On March 6, the French government forced Valmy SAS, a face mask manufacturer near Lyon, to cancel an order for millions of masks placed by the UK’s National Health Service.

In general, however, re the EU:

We wouldn’t get any ventilators. They’d be sent straight to the other member states.

We would pay for them, though.

More about ventilators on the Continent. I think the first comment comes from a lady in the Netherlands:

– Too right. Netherlands has 1110 ventilators, it has as of today over 1k in icu and not a sniff of any new ventilators being provided, in fact they had to fight tooth and nail to purchase gloves and masks, they managed to purchase just over 620k of them last week from outside the EU and Dutch companies who wanted up to 300% on top of the usual costs, the Dutch companies not the ones outside, including a Dutch crowdfunding initiative that purchased over 200k of them on top of the 620k these are the only medical supplies to have arrived, unless I’m mistaken they are both EU members and party to the EU ventilator scheme. The EU can’t even share basic supplies amongst its members … much needed ventilators, Germany and France even refused to send medical supplies stating their needs could be greater, not where “could be” when Italy asked for help. Note the only help currently acceptable to mutti [Angela Merkel] is for all member states that accrue financial debts over and above the EU budgetary allowance is to sign financial agreements the same as Greece did, in other words so that Germany and the IMF benefit on interest accrued on bonds, even the Spanish, and Polish governments, some Dutch MEPs are publicly declaring the lack of help coming from Ursula [von der Leyen] of any kind, note the border issue of the Greeks is disappearing from headlines at a rate of knots at the same time.

Salvini called the EU “a nest of snakes and jackals” the other day, that Italy would “get past the virus and say goodbye to the EU without thanking them”. An understandable sentiment.

Meanwhile, back in Blighty:

Mr Dyson probably could, he has an engineering center of excellence (both design and manufacturing) down there in Malmsbury, and also a mothballed production facility that until recently used to make high quality goods out of injection-moulded plastic components and electric motors. With resources like that in this country, I don’t think we’ll be short of ventilators for long.

The Italians are pissed off that Germany is refusing to sell them any ventilators, maybe we’ll soon be in a position to help them out.

More testing = more coronavirus cases

The number of coronavirus cases is increasing in many countries, because they, including the UK, are now being able to test for the virus (emphasis in the original):

– The latest data from the German Robert Koch Institute show that the increase in test-positive persons is proportional to the increase in the number of tests, i.e. in percentage terms it remains roughly the same. This may indicate that the increase in the number of cases is mainly due to an increase in the number of tests, and not due to an ongoing epidemic.

– Actually a proportionate increase in cases would be nearer to proving that the virus was everywhere anyway.

Coronavirus deaths

As of Sunday, March 29 (emphases in the original in this section):

– 2433 new cases and 209 new deaths

– Of ALL the UK Coronavirus fatalities to date, ONLY 13 had NO pre-existing conditions.

Without being insensitive, the vast majority of the fatalities to date would probably have died from “typical” seasonal ‘Flu anyway. Obviously, things could rapidly change if people ignore social distancing, but we aren’t at crisis levels for the moment.

Other deaths

Coronavirus notwithstanding, sadly, other people leave this mortal coil, too:

How many other deaths today?

– About 50,000 deaths a month is the average I believe. About 12,500 a week.

– Meanwhile other people die in less than acceptable circumstances.

A neighbour’s mother was ill in hospital and visiting was not allowed. She was discharged to a nursing home last week, where she died yesterday. Her daughter was unable to visit or comfort her. She died effectively alone in the company of presumably masked and protected strangers.

This is not humane.

The weekly death toll gets rather confusing, because some are referencing flu/respiratory deaths per week, while others are looking at the bigger picture:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EUSFPnoXgAAAEh8?format=jpg&name=large

See more here.

Dr Neil Ferguson

Dr Neil Ferguson OBE (!) of the dodgy Imperial College London numbers on coronavirus — as well as for the equally dodgy strategy on the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak — came in for criticism. This is the best of the comments about him (emphases mine):

What was never reported after the disastrous foot and mouth case modelled by Ferguson, were the depressions and suicides by farmers who not only had to watch whole herds of healthy cattle being slaughtered but losing three or four generations of their family farms. Many ended up selling to rich property developers to survive and thousands more turned their farms into industrial units.

Why wasn’t Ferguson sacked? How did he manage to survive to work on the Swine Flu … and again on Covid19?

Just goes to show the public sector are never accountable and always protected. At least Mr Trump is from a business background and knows how to disseminate good advice and bad advice wherever it comes from.

Potentially dangerous lockdown

If this lockdown extends far beyond Easter into late spring or early summer, Guido’s readers fear problems not only for Britons’ health but also for the economy. Their fears are not misplaced:

– There are many doctors saying the results of a long lockdown will be far worse than any mortality rate from this virus.

– And the tragedies arising from the ensuing economic depression will dwarf both of them put together.

– Exactly. I’m in the ‘over 60’s’ bracket but would rather risk getting a fec kin bad case of flu than see a lifetime of work pensions and savings go down the swanny because of some unhealthy eaters from China.

I agree. I’m not wasting 6 months of my life at my age under house arrest.

What, the ‘lockdown’ that the government tried to warn everyone not to do too early so that we weren’t asking the people to do too much for too long, but that the media wouldn’t listen and screamed like spoilt brats until they got their way?

That lockdown?

That leads us nicely to the next section.

BBC

BBC reporters are everywhere, not only across Britain but around the world:

– It is very important to stay at home. I know because we have just been told by a BBC reporter standing outside the Palace of Westminster.

– Have you ever wondered about all the ‘reporters’ wondering around in places like Lombardy etc. without any protection…Are they immune?

– Yes, the ghastly Mark Eaton was doing that last week. Walking the streets of London, stopping people and demanding to know why they were walking the streets of London.

It is OK for him though because he thinks he is important.

BBC news continues its Trump Derangement Syndrome:

– When will the BBC stop saying that the USA is the country with the fastest growing number of infections and deaths? It’s a bloody continent!

– They won’t stop, the BBC is anti US/UK and although the US isn’t a continent its scale and population make it comparable to Western Europe which has a far bigger problem.

– So true. If you check on some of their reporters (Twitter etc.) you will see that there is an obsession with Trump but little interest in some of the despots elsewhere. Are they afraid of the repercussions?

Andrew Marr, presenter of the BBC’s Sunday morning news show, came in for particular criticism. No surprise there:

– Marr has an anti-government agenda that is clear to everyone I hope. How this guy is still working is beyond me.

– He is a Marxist with an anti government agenda. The only surprise is the BBC has not made him Director General yet.

– There’s a fine line between questioning the government to find out information and questioning to discredit. Marr is in the second camp.

Socialist celebrities

Most people are fed up with wealthy socialist celebrities:

I’ll tell you why I’m a socialist: poverty. Poverty is what makes you a socialist. When you know poverty then you know about how we have to take care of people.” Actor Brian Cox.

Actually Brian, I’ll tell you why I’m NOT a socialist: poverty. Poverty is what results from socialism. When you know poverty then you know about how we have to take care of people and as history and experience shows, socialism is not the answer. I will go further and suggest you are actually a believer in a mixed economy which is underpinned by a healthy capitalism required for creating the wealth necessary for the public services you and me both desire. You are not really a socialist, you just don’t understand.

Someone replied:

If Cox is so keen why doesn’t he go and live in the socialist heaven of Venezuela rather than the capitalist hell of New York City?

Actors aren’t the only ones, either:

Same with singers (‘Bonio’ springs to mind). Just sing yer song and shut yer gob. Your fame does not make you an expert and your loud pronouncements are meaningless in the scheme of things.

Hospitals

There were many interesting anecdotal reports about hospitals. I have separated the A&E comments into a separate section.

This one came from Scotland:

Are we getting the true news about how the NHS and nurses/docs are coping? I see a lot of interviews and quotes from medics saying they are making life and death decisions due to ‘lack of equipment’.

However last Thursday I had to take my good lady into Aberdeen Royal Infirmary for a rather serious examination (she has risk of cancer down below). Apart from a guy at the main entrance making sure everyone used the hand gel, once at the ward we were allocated I had to wait outside in the main corridor and beside the 6 lifts in a colour red zone. One of the wards in this zone is ICU and further down the corridor it was into the Sick Childrens Hospital section. However it amazed me to see how much the nurses/docs/porters didn’t seem to have any concerns about walking around the corridors, mobile phone checking, 5 into a lift, porters not wearing protective gloves, leaving wheelchairs without wiping down the handles etc. Before anyone gets on to me I am not criticising those people just the media panic. As far as I could tell, apart from the multi storey car park being less busy with visitors the hospital was to all intents and purposes ‘as normal’.

As I say don’t berate me for posting this and I rather like the way all those staff were laughing, joking as they always do but it did seem a different world in there than what I expected.

Someone replied, saying the media were not interested in hospitals operating as usual:

There are over 300 hospitals in Scotland with 8 in Aberdeen and 11 others in the surrounding county. There are 1245 cases in Scotland (4 per hospital if shared out equally) and chances are that they would likely try and isolate COVID19 patients as much as possible so whilst the number of cases are fairly low I imagine they would try to place the COVID19 patients in as few hospitals as possible so it could be that there weren’t any CV cases at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

That will be different to London (over 5,000 cases) and the Midlands (2,500 cases) where I know that the number of cases far and away outstrips the number of vacant beds that those NHS regions reported last quarter end (Dec 31).

So I very much think it depends on whether you are in a hotzone or not and if you are not you can guarantee the national media just ain’t interested. There is no news in ‘business as usual’ in the middle of a crisis

PS You’re right its good that there is still significant normality out there and presumably the lock down will see a fall off in certain types of hospitalisations but the media are never going to try and sell that narrative. Good news is no news.

Ventilators

Ventilators came up for discussion:

I don’t think the public have understood how long you stay on a ventilator with this SARS2. It is 2-3 weeks, not the 2-3 days with normal winter ailments.

You go on to a ventilator with this she hit you’re 50/50 at best with perma damage.

– … people who need to go onto ventilators for this virus would have to for other reasons as well.

– If you go onto Conservative Woman website there is an interesting article about Matt Strauss saying that ventilators are the least necessary thing. The people who have to go onto a ventilator because of Covid19 would already need it.

Long term forced ventilation has issues of its own.

A&E (Accident & Emergency) wards

There were reports about quiet A&E wards.

This one came from one of the Home Counties, just outside London:

I might have said this once or twice before- but my wife works in A&E (for a hospital that was recently in the news) and it is very quiet in there and there is no shortages or panic.

The hospital in question is set up for the worst.

But at the moment they are dealing with the usual real emergency cases and very few suspected cases.

That is not to say some have supposedly died from Covid- but the 21 year old didn’t- despite press reports (which the Guardian has since removed). Kudos to them for once.

Here’s another from somewhere else in the UK:

My wife passed me this posted on her Military Wives Facebook group by an NHS Paramedic member of the same group. It makes amazingly good sense…

Small rant… Having spent at least 12 hours per day for the last 8 out of 9 days in and out of A&E I have noticed one thing. The waiting rooms have been MASSIVELY less busy than normal.

There is a major health emergency going on and suddenly everyone can manage to deal with their little booboo themselves. Whilst I, as a paramedic, am extremely grateful for this, please as a nation get a grip and realise this is what you should have been doing anyway for years.

You would have saved the NHS literally billions of pounds, so once this hell is over please continue to be a brave little soldier and deal with these non-emergencies yourselves!

WELL SAID & HOW TRUE

Are A&Es empty because of fear or a sudden dawning of common sense?

Most of the departments of my local General Hospital are quiet which allows their staff to be redeployed where needed. The specialist A&E a few miles up the road is also reporting almost a complete lack of people attending with trivial injuries and the ambo service aren’t getting the usual 80/20 split of unnecessary/justified 999 calls. Could it be that the time wasters are actually getting some common sense?

Here’s the reply:

Unfortunately, no.

The muppets are more frightened of being with other people than their headache.

Another account rolled in:

I can substantiate that. Over the last couple of weeks I had to go to the hospital for pre-arranged but necessary scans. On both occasions the A&E waiting area was virtually deserted apart from staff.

Truth:

The amount of money wasted on hypochondria in the NHS is huge.

Supermarkets

Online deliveries have not improved since the panic buying nearly a month ago. This holds true even for the elderly, whom, the government says, supermarkets have prioritised:

A mate of mine who is over 70 enquired last weekend about a home delivery from either Sainsburys or Tesco (I forget which one) and was told it would be delivered on 19th April. He said no thanks and drove to the shop himself.

Shelves seem to be restocked. A return to normality — for now:

We went shopping in Aldi Friday morning 8am, 30 people in the queue ahead of us but we all went straight in at 8. Bought everything we wanted including a small joint of beef, perhaps people have stopped panic buying at last. But if the Govt bring in more restrictions on movement expect the panic buying/hoarding to take off again.

Another Aldi customer concurs:

Likewise at Aldi, Whitby last Thursday, and everyone behaving sensibly.

Elsewhere:

Just been out to M&S and Lidl. Both fully stocked.

A few have installed a one-metre distance between customer and the person behind the till. Others have installed perspex shields:

Much easier to clean perspex shields and they are further away from the cashier. It’s better solution than face a mask for that particular purpose.

On the lighter side …

There were a few jokes, too.

We had tennis …

– I just got back yesterday after going to my mate’s funeral. Sadly he got hit on the head with a tennis ball. It was a great service.

– Are your tennis racket jokes free or do they come with strings attached?

… a plumber with a marital problems …

He went home recently and said to his wife, It’s over Flo.

… and the lockdown:

Wife: Are you going to sit on that sofa all day?

Me: No, I shall be sitting on the other sofa shortly.

Conclusion

I shall conclude with this comment:

If the MSM hadn`t created the panic, the authorities wouldn`t have had a population willing to have their civil liberties curtailed.

I fully agree.

Please be very careful when listening to the news and reading newspapers. There was no need, no need at all, for a shutdown or the Coronavirus Bill.

Watford, England, a quick ride from London, was the setting for the 70th anniversary of NATO.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was the host and, despite a few squabbles, everything went well.

Watford residents were probably the most consterned, not to mention inconvenienced.

On November 13, Hertfordshire Police began warning about the residents’ inability to circulate fully between Monday and Wednesday this week. The BBC reported (emphases mine):

Police in Hertfordshire are suggesting people work from home to avoid disruption caused by a meeting of world leaders in Watford next month.

Heads of state will congregate at the Grove Hotel on Wednesday, 4 December as part of Nato’s 70th anniversary summit.

Several roads and footpaths will be shut and the Grand Union Canal will be closed to both boats and pedestrians.

The force said it aimed to keep the impact to an “absolute minimum”.

The meeting is part of the London anniversary summit which Nato said will be “an opportunity for leaders to address current and emerging security challenges”.

Hertfordshire Constabulary has been liaising with the Metropolitan Police and other agencies to take measures to “minimise the impact on the community”.

Closures will be in place for all, or some, of the time between 06:00 GMT on 2 December and 20:00 GMT on 4 December but there will be access for emergency and essential services.

I heard from someone who has friends there that Watford ‘looked like a war zone’ with concrete bollards at the end of certain streets. Thankfully, it’s all over now.

On Monday, December 2, the Watford Observer reported on the road closures in town and included photos of security at The Grove, where Bilderberg met a few years ago in June. The Grove was once home to the Earls of Clarendon. Today, it is a pricey hotel and conference centre with a golf course.

One Observer reader commented:

I hope Herts tax payers aren’t paying for the extra security. The Bilderberg meeting cost us half a million.

The skies were busy:

As Conservative Party leader, Boris is in the midst of an election campaign. Voting day is Thursday, December 12. Therefore, given President Donald Trump’s universal unpopularity here, journalists believed that Boris would minimise his appearances and private meetings with him.

President Trump had his own concerns, as Democrats continued impeachment hearings on December 4:

This week it is the turn of the House Judiciary Committee:

Returning to NATO, The Sun has a good summary of the participants in and schedule for this year’s summit.

Boris interrupted his attendance with a few election campaign appearances:

This is a great photograph from Wednesday, December 4:

Before the summit began, The Spectator encapsulated the contentious tone that French president Emmanuel Macron had established:

This week is seminal for Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron. Boris, in Watford, is hosting one of the most important Nato summits for years. Its significance is not because it marks the Alliance’s 70th anniversary, but because of President Macron’s ‘disruptive’ and trenchant criticism of the Atlantic Alliance as close to ‘brain dead’, which has touched a nerve. The French President went on to reiterate his remarks at an Elysée press conference, with a visibly uncomfortable Nato Secretary General, three weeks later. Macron attacked the ‘strident and unacceptable disconnection’ from world threats during the last two Nato summits as being ‘uniquely devoted’, in his sarcastic words, ‘to finding solutions to how to lighten the United States’ financial costs’. All this, says Macron, while major strategic questions such as relations with Russia, Turkey and ‘who is the enemy?’ remain unanswered.

The Trumps arrived early Monday morning at Stansted Airport in Essex, not far from London. The Daily Mail has several photos of the Trumps’ arrival.

Ambassador Robert ‘Woody’ Johnson hosted the couple at Winfield House in Regent’s Park, the US ambassador’s palatial residence. American heiress Barbara Hutton had the neo-Georgian mansion custom built in 1936. After the Second World War, she sold it to the US Government for one dollar.

This was the scene on Monday night as the Trumps returned to Winfield House after a reception at No. 10 Downing Street. Amazingly, an NHS lorry just beat the motorcade. The ongoing false accusations of Labour against Boris planning on ‘selling the NHS’ to the United States made this all the more ironic:

President Trump has been rightly exercised over the refusal of nearly all NATO nations to pay their share, leaving the US to largely foot the bill:

In January, NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg agreed with Trump’s strategy:

Even James Mattis, who left the Trump administration as he and the president did not see eye to eye, admits that his former boss has improved NATO:

On Tuesday morning, the US president hit the ground running, beginning by co-hosting a breakfast at Winfield House with Jens Stoltenberg for principal NATO leaders and cabinet members:

He gave an extensive interview afterwards, covering 17 topics. Sky News has a good summary, some of which is excerpted below.

On the upcoming British election, he said:

On the NHS, he said:

I have nothing to do with it. Never even thought about it, honestly.

I don’t even know where that rumour started.

We have absolutely nothing to do with it, and we wouldn’t want to. If you handed it to us on a silver platter, we’d want nothing to do with it.

On Jeremy Corbyn:

I know nothing about the gentleman.

On France and, indirectly, Emmanuel Macron:

Nobody needs NATO more than France.

France is not doing well economically at all, they are struggling. It’s a tough statement to make when you have such difficulty in France.

You look at what happened with the Yellow Vests, they’ve had a rough year, you can’t go around making statements like that about NATO. It’s very disrespectful.

That’s why I think when France makes a statement like they do about NATO that’s a very dangerous statement for them to make.

On upcoming US and French taxes:

Well look, I’m not in love with those companies – Facebook, Google and all of them, Twitter – though I guess I do pretty well with Twitter on the other side – but I’m not necessarily in love with those companies. But they’re our companies, they’re American companies, I want to tax those companies.

They’re not going to be taxed by France. So France is going to put a tax on, it was totally out of the blue, they just had an idea, Emmanuel had an idea, let’s tax those companies, well they’re American companies. I’m not going to let people take advantage of American companies because if anyone’s going to take advantage of American companies it’s going to be us, it’s not going to be France.

And so we’re taxing, as you know, we’re taxing their wines, and everything else and we have a very, very big tax to put on them. Plus we have a tax going on on Airbus and that would be a good thing for Boeing but we’re only going to do that if it’s necessary.

But they’re American companies. I don’t want France taxing American companies. If they’re going to be taxed it’s going to be the United States that will tax them.

On North Korea and Kim Jong-Un:

Likes sending rockets up, doesn’t he? That’s why I call him rocket man.

We have a very good relationship and we’ll see what happens. It may work or not. But in the meantime, it’s been a long time. President Obama said it’s the number one problem and it would have been war. You’d be in a war right now if it weren’t for me.

If I weren’t president, you’d be in a war right now in Asia. And who knows where that leads? That brings in a lot of other countries.”

On Mr Kim, he added: ‘You know my relationship with Kim Jong Un is really good but that doesn’t mean he won’t abide by the agreement we signed. You have to understand, you have to go look at the first agreement that we signed. It said he will denuclearise. That’s what it said. I hope he lives up to the agreement but we’re going to find out.’

ZeroHedge had another remark from the US president on his French counterpart:

‘I do see France breaking off. I’m looking at him and I’m saying he [Macron] needs protection more than anybody and I see him breaking off, so I’m a little surprised at that,’ Trump said.

Returning to the NHS, here’s a video of Trump saying he’s not interested:

Labour supporters continue to circulate an old video saying he is. If the video you see does not look like the one immediately above, then it’s old — and obsolete.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall welcomed the Trumps to Clarence House for tea.

They then went to Buckingham Palace, where the Queen hosted a reception for NATO leaders:

The Daily Mail has extensive photos of both the reception and tea at Clarence House.

I cannot help but feel sorry for Her Majesty being squashed by Jens and Boris. Why could they not have given her some breathing room?

During the reception, Justin from Canada made his views known about Trump. He later admitted that he was talking about his meeting with the US president, which ended up being 40 minutes late because of the extended press conference:

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, also in attendance, hoped to corner Trump to tell him not to engage in any trade negotiations regarding the NHS. In the event, Corbyn was on one side of the room and Trump on the other. They never met.

Meanwhile, several dozen radical protesters demonstrated outside:

Then it was on to No. 10, where Boris hosted a reception for NATO leaders. Some news reports said that Boris wasn’t there to greet them, but other news accounts said that he had been delayed by ten minutes in returning from Buckingham Palace.

In any event, since when does the Prime Minister personally open the door? It’s always a policeman or woman who handles that.

The Trumps looked ill at ease when they arrived, despite a choir singing Christmas carols in the background. Had they already found out about Justin from Canada’s hot mic moment at Buckingham Palace?

On Wednesday morning, Trump arrived at The Grove for the final day of the summit:

It is said that the president left early. He was there for the photo op. Perhaps he simply cancelled a second press conference. What more did he have to say?

The US president had his own hot mic moment that day:

In another NATO hot mic moment, President Donald Trump was recorded saying it was “funny” when he called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “two-faced.”

Interestingly, Boris’s key adviser, Dominic Cummings, was spotted sitting on the sidelines that day:

No doubt the residents of Watford were happy to see the sun go down that day, heralding a return to normality for them:

The summit went well, as the Estonian and Dutch prime ministers respectively tweeted:

President Trump was happy, too:

Back in the UK, later that day, questions for Boris still persisted about the NHS:

Politics aside, our Prime Minister can be pleased with his role in hosting the 70th NATO summit, which took place without incident.

On Tuesday, November 19, 2019, ITV showed the first debate of the election campaign.

Supporters of smaller political parties criticised ITV for inviting only Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, but, in reality, only one of the two will be Britain’s next PM:

At that point, a week before Remembrance Day (hence the poppies), the Liberal Democrats’ Jo Swinson was confident she had a real chance at becoming PM:

Although Conservatives believed Boris should have been harder hitting on Labour policies, he probably pulled back because a) this was early in the campaign and b) he wanted to help convince undecided or low-information voters that Conservatives have the better policies.

Afterwards, ITV News reported on the highlights (emphases mine):

In the opening exchanges, the prime minister warned the UK faced more “dither and delay” under a Labour government.

He said a vote for the Conservatives would be a vote to finally “get Brexit done”.

“If you vote for us, we have a deal that is ready to go. Approved by every one of the 635 Conservatives candidates standing at this election,” he said.

As soon as we can get that deal through Parliament, as we can in the next few weeks, we can get on with the people’s priorities.”

But Mr Corbyn retorted that he could not deliver on what he was promising.

“That idea that the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’ deal can be dealt with and finished by the end of January is such nonsense,” he said.

“What he is proposing is a trade deal which will take at least seven years to negotiate whilst at the same time saying he will negotiate a special trade deal with the European Union.

“The two things are actually incompatible.”

Also:

Mr Corbyn’s shifted focus onto the NHS, claiming the service would be part of trade negotiations with the US.

Mr Corbyn accused the prime minister of conducting “secret meetings” with the US about the NHS and a future trade deal.

The Labour leader said: “What we know of what Mr Johnson has done is a series of secret meetings with the United States in which they were proposing to open up our NHS markets as they call them to American companies.”

To this claim, Mr Johnson replied: “I’m amazed how often this comes up.”

Mr Johnson insisted: “This is an absolute invention, it is completely untrue, there are no circumstances whatever that this Government or any Conservative Government would put the NHS on the table in any trade negotiations.”

That was the week after Prince Andrew’s disastrous interview on the BBC, which had aired the previous Saturday evening. Moderator Julie Etchingham asked the two leaders about the monarchy. I have highlighted what the PM said, because it has been often misquoted since:

Asked if the monarchy is fit for purpose, Mr Corbyn simply replied: “It needs a bit of improvement.”

Mr Johnson answered: “The institution of the monarchy is beyond reproach,”

Ms Etchingham then asked if Prince Andrew is fit for purpose.

Mr Corbyn highlighted how sympathies should be with Jeffrey Epstein’s victims, which Mr Johnson echoed.

Boris never said the monarchy was beyond reproach, meaning individual royals. He remarked on the institution itself.

Corbyn, who has been repeatedly accused of downplaying anti-Semitism in his party, which, oddly, has been rampant since he took over as leader in 2016, brought up Jeffrey Epstein. As everyone following the scandal knows, his surname is pronounced ‘Ep-steen’, but Corbyn deliberately pronounced it ‘Ep-shtein’, putting real emphasis on it.

The former editor-in-chief of The Independent, Simon Kelner, wrote an editorial about it for the i paper, ‘Conscious or not, Jeremy Corbyn’s mispronunciation of Jeffrey Epstein’s name matters to British Jews’. Too right it does:

The question, which we can be sure will never be answered, is this: did Corbyn do it, consciously or unconsciously (they’re both as bad as each other, by the way), to make Epstein sound just a little more sinister and foreign and, relevantly in the context, more Jewish? It’s hard to come up with an answer that doesn’t make the Labour leader appear either malevolent or incompetent. Given the wall-to-wall media coverage devoted to the scandal over recent days, it stretches credulity to suggest that Corbyn hadn’t heard Epstein’s name pronounced correctly multiple times.

it was a very emphatic delivery – is something else entirely, and Corbyn had to go out of his way to summon up the mittel-European pronunciation

I am more of a pedant than I am an anti-Semite hunter, but my synapses were twitching on both counts. I have a high threshold for anti-Semitism, and I have never thought that there was a prima facie case against Corbyn in this respect. In fact, I share some of his views on the politics of the Middle East. But this definitely pulled me up short. Having just watched his epically short-tempered interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Channel 4, which was filmed in 2015 but went viral this week, it made me wonder whether Corbyn might just be, to borrow [the BBC’s] Eddie Mair’s epithet about Boris Johnson, a nasty piece of work.

While the mispronunciation of Epstein’s name may not be viewed by the majority of viewers as overtly anti-Semitic, it definitely had a nasty edge. No one is offended on Epstein’s behalf (that would be ludicrous), but if I found it offensive, many, many other Jewish people would have found it more so

Whether I am reading too much into a slip of the tongue is open for debate. But what is not in question is that Jeremy Corbyn should be doing all he can to persuade Jewish voters that, on anti-Semitism, he doesn’t just talk the talk. And what he did here was, apart from anything else, very bad politics.

More on this follows below.

Members of the audience were allowed to ask questions:

The debate ended with a hypothetical question from an audience member about what Christmas presents the two leaders would give each other:

Before their closing remarks, the prime ministerial hopefuls were asked what Christmas presents they would buy for each other.

Mr Corbyn said: “I know Mr Johnson likes a good read, so what I would probably leave under the tree for him would be A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and he could then understand how nasty Scrooge was.”

Responding, Mr Johnson said: “I would probably leave a copy – since you want a literary reference – a copy of my brilliant Brexit deal.”

Pressed by host Ms Etchingham to give a non-political answer, Mr Johnson said: “Mr Corbyn shares my love of plants and trees. I think maybe some damson jam,” to which Mr Corbyn said: “I love damson jam.”

At that point, Boris walked over to Corbyn and invited him to shake hands. It was a spontaneous moment, and it’s a pity that ITV did not report on it. Viewers could see Corbyn backing away from Boris with his outstretched hand. After seconds of hesitation, he extended his own for a limp handshake. Boris’s was much heartier.

What did the general public think? Interestingly, the result was similar to that for the Brexit referendum, which was 52% to 48%:

Leaders of the two main parties take part in debates like tonight’s, in part, to try to win over undecided voters.

A YouGov snap poll suggested 51% of Britons believed Mr Johnson won the debate compared to 49% for Mr Corbyn.

Those who answered “don’t know” were removed from the result, with YouGov adding the figures are so close as to be within the margin of error.

ITV’s political editor Robert Peston told news presenter Alastair Stewart that Jeremy Corbyn needed this debate to present a positive game-changer for Labour, who were trailing in the polls then and continue to do so now. Peston said that it was a draw. People who want Brexit done will vote for Boris. People who are worried about the NHS will vote for Corbyn:

Tom Harwood, who works for Guido Fawkes, said that Labour missed a trick with their claim that the Conservatives would ‘sell the NHS’ to President Trump:

Interestingly, our EU negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier, noticed another of Harwood’s tweets — and ‘liked’ it:

Dear me. Whatever next?

Well, the Labour-supporting newspaper, The Mirror, did not exactly go overboard in favour of Corbyn’s performance. Then, again, Prince Andrew was still making the headlines:

At the weekend, the polls remained static. More than one person thought this was because of the anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. They are the only other political party other than the extreme British National Party to be investigated for it. Shameful:

One week later — Tuesday, November 26 — Corbyn appeared on the BBC for an evening interview with veteran broadcaster Andrew Neil. He looked tired, ‘low energy’ (to borrow a Trumpism) and cranky. Neil took him to town on anti-Semitism, forcing him to admit nearly everyone in Britain would be poorer under Labour as well as false claims about the Conservatives wanting to sell the NHS to Trump:

It was generally agreed that, only days after Prince Andrew managed to give one of the all-time worst interviews on television, Corbyn managed to rival him:

This is how bad it was:

These were some of the newspaper headlines on Wednesday:

Andrew Neil began by asking Corbyn if he thought a particular statement about ‘Rothschild Zionists’ was anti-Semitic. Corbyn refused to say, until after the fourth time Neil repeated it:

Guido Fawkes said (emphasis in the original):

Jeremy Corbyn had to be asked four times before admitting ‘Rothchild Zionists run Israel and world governments’ is an anti-Semitic trope. This’ll undoubtedly put the minds of 80% of British Jews to rest…

Corbyn offered no apology for the anti-Semitism in sections of the Labour Party. This video is subtitled:

Andrew Neil grilled Corbyn on taxing everyone more, not just the wealthy:

Neil exposed the fact that Labour’s costings make no sense. Where’s the money coming from? The reply is not an actual Corbyn quote, by the way:

Labour supporters accused Neil of interrupting Corbyn, but:

The Sun has an excellent summary of the interview:

The next morning, ITV’s Piers Morgan picked up Corbyn’s daft comment on ISIS:

The interview got very good ratings:

With regard to the NHS, Neil scored points there, too.

Even Barry Gardiner, the erudite, effete veteran Labour MP — technically a Labour candidate, now that we are approaching the election — couldn’t defend his leader to Andrew Neil with regard to his questionable statements about the Conservatives wanting to sell the NHS to the United States. This interview took place 24 hours later:

Guido Fawkes commented:

The second excruciating Andrew Neil interview Labour has had to go through took place last night, when Shadow Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner was shown up over Jeremy Corbyn’s blatant fibs to the electorate. Labour are banking on people not being bothered to read the 451 pages they produced. Unfortunately for them, Guido has

With this and snapping at a journalist for mentioning anti-Semitism, Gardiner has not been having a good media round…

Those interested can follow Guido’s link in his first paragraph to see the documents in question.

Jeremy Corbyn is talking a lot of nonsense not only on the NHS but everything else his party proposes.

One thing is for certain: so far, he has been a gift to the Conservatives.

July 5 is a red-letter day with regard to inventions and initiatives from the 1940s.

Could all that nicotine have helped move the West along in new and inventive ways in the postwar period? A case could surely be made.

NHS

Britain‘s National Health Service was born on July 5, 1948:

When health secretary Aneurin Bevan … launched the NHS at Park Hospital in Manchester (today known as Trafford General Hospital), it is the climax of a hugely ambitious plan to bring good healthcare to all. For the first time, hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists are brought together under one umbrella organisation to provide services that are free for all at the point of delivery.

The central principles are clear: the health service will be available to all and financed entirely from taxation, which means that people pay into it according to their means.  

The NHS isn’t perfect but it is still the best universal health care system in the world, bar none.

The bikini

July 5 is also the birthday of the bikini. The year was 1946.

Men love it, women feel insecure in it and the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, banned posters of it on the Underground as one of his first mayoral acts.

A century ago, swimming costumes were wool chemises (long shirts) or long tunics and bloomers.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the style became one of a sleeveless top with shorts or bloomers. Sometimes this was a one-piece.

In 1946 two French swimsuit designers made fashion headlines.

Jacques Heim designed the first two-piece with a bare midriff. Heim called it l’atome — after the smallest known particle of matter — and advertised it as the world’s ‘smallest bathing suit’. It was a bra-type top with a pair of frilly briefs.

However, Heim’s swimsuit was eclipsed by Louis Réard’s bikini, named after Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. On July 1, 1946:

the United States had initiated its first peace-time nuclear weapons test as part of Operation Crossroads.[9] Réard hoped his swimsuit’s revealing style would create an “explosive commercial and cultural reaction” similar to the explosion at Bikini Atoll.[10][11][12][13]

Of course, women wore skimpy two-piece outfits in the days of the Roman Empire.

However, the advent of Christianity put paid to revealing or form-fitting clothes for women for centuries. Even in the 19th century, women taking a bath in private often wore a lightweight cotton or linen chemise to preserve their modesty. Occasionally, historical dramas show such scenes. But I digress.

More revealing two-piece swimsuits rode the crest of a wave as suntans became more popular. Coco Chanel was the first to enjoy catching the sun in the 1920s on cruises in the South of France and popularised the practice. Prior to that, no self-respecting woman allowed her skin to darken. That was something field workers did by dint of their work. Hence the popularity of broad-brimmed ladies’ hats and parasols.

By the time Heim and Réard’s designs came along, suntans were the in thing. Women wanted more sun, not less. One-piece suits were much briefer and the skimpy two-pieces were a logical progression.

Réard’s bikini was so controversial that no model would wear it for photo shoots or public appearances. He finally hired a burlesque dancer, Micheline Bernardini, who happily wore it.

The bikini was so popular that, by the early 1950s, mayors of European coastal resorts attempted to ban its presence on beaches and the Vatican condemned it as being ‘sinful’ after Miss World used it in their 1951 competition. The pageant committee quickly replaced the garment with evening gowns beginning in 1952.

The more outrage, the greater the popularity. The rest is history.

It is interesting that Heim was a haute couture designer by profession and that Réard was an automobile engineer!

Jacques Heim

Heim (1899-1967) was the son of Polish Jews who had fled to France. Born in Paris, Heim worked in the family fur firm. He took the business over in 1923 and switched to designing clothes. During the Second World War, he managed to escape capture by giving the front of house role in his shop to a Gentile.

Behind the scenes, Heim was active in the Resistance. When Charles de Gaulle assumed the presidency, he appointed Heim as Mme de Gaulle’s couturier. Heim’s other famous clients included Mamie Eisenhower, Sophia Loren and Queen Fabiola of Belgium.

Interestingly, in 1956, he designed a bikini for Brigitte Bardot, pictures of which created a sensation around the world. So, she was wearing a Heim design, not a Léard.

After Heim’s death, his son took over the firm and sold it two years later, in 1969, to the bridal firm Pronuptia.

Louis Réard

Réard (1897-1984) was born in France.

His mother had a lingerie firm in Paris. Although he was a mechanical engineer by training, he took over her business in 1940. On holiday in St Tropez, he noticed women rolling up the legs of their swimsuits to get a better tan.

After Heim came out with l’atome, Réard decided to make his design much briefer and more aesthetically pleasing. In July 1946, the aforementioned Micheline Bernardini modelled the bikini at the Molitor swimming pool in Paris. Bernardini received 50,000 fan letters from men all over the world. She moved to Australia to pursue her career. There she married an American serviceman and moved with him to the United States. She worked as an actress until 1970 and is alive today.

Réard then managed to combine bikini and automobile design.

He opened a bikini shop in Paris and sold his designs there for 40 years. His sales pitch was that his designs could be pulled through a wedding ring.

In the early 1950s, he commissioned car specialist Chapron to build a ‘road yacht’ by converting a Packard V8 into a yacht-type vehicle. The vehicle was not amphibious, however, for a few years it was part of the Tour de France and various parades in France. Not surprisingly, bikini-clad girls adorned it.

In 1980, Réard retired. He and his wife moved to Lausanne, Switzerland, along Lake Geneva. He died four years later at the age of 87.

Cluedo

Image result for cluedo gameDid you know that Cluedo was invented to help pass the time in bomb shelters during the Second World War?

Cluedo is a hybrid of ‘clue’ and ludo, which is Latin for ‘I play’.

Anthony E Pratt (1903-1994) came up with the idea for the board game in 1944. He was a munitions worker in Birmingham and devised the game, which he called Murder!, with the help of his wife Elva.

After the war, in 1947, the Pratts sold the game and its patent to Waddingtons. Because of postwar shortages the game — which the company renamed Cluedo — did not go into production until 1949. Waddingtons licensed the game that year to Parker Brothers in the United States. The American version is Clue.

Although Pratt’s objective was to distract those in bomb shelters from the horrors outside, Cluedo became famous as a way for children to learn to think and reason whilst having fun.

Cluedo is not entirely Pratt’s original game. Waddingtons made changes to it upon purchase, and Parker Brothers further adapted it for North Americans.

The latest news on Cluedo, published on July 5, 2016, is that housekeeper Mrs White — whom Pratt had designed as Nurse White — will vanish in favour of Dr Orchid, a PhD well versed in plant toxicology. She is Dr Black’s adopted daughter.

Please note that I played Clue only once in my lifetime. I lost miserably. It was obvious that my schoolmates played it much more frequently, which is necessary in order to grasp the strategy. Feel free to comment on the game, however, be aware that I cannot respond for that reason.

Anthony Pratt

Anthony Pratt had longed to become a chemist in his youth. Unfortunately, he had problems with his eyesight which curtailed his education.

He was also a gifted pianist.

During the Great War, he was apprenticed to a chemical manufacturer in Birmingham. His lack of formal qualifications in chemistry found him resorting to a career as a musician. He gave piano recitals in country hotels and on cruise ships.

During the Second World War, Pratt worked in a Birmingham plant that manufactured components for tanks. As the work was routine, Pratt had time to formulate Murder! He was also keen on mysteries by Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie which helped him hone the concept and the characters. No doubt he chose the country hotel setting from his days as a pianist. Elva, incidentally, designed the game board.

In 1947, Pratt met Norman Watson, the managing director of Waddingtons, through a mutual friend, Geoffrey Bull, who had designed Buccaneer. By that time Pratt was working as a civil servant for the Ministry of Labour.

In 1953, Waddingtons offered Pratt a cheque for £5,000 — £105,800 in today’s money — for the overseas rights to Cluedo. As the Pratts had a baby daughter, they happily accepted the offer.

The family moved to Warwickshire where Anthony and Elva opened a tobacconist. When Elva’s health began deteriorating, the couple moved to Bournemouth on the south coast. There they began letting holiday flats. Pratt later worked as a solicitor’s clerk and retired in 1962.

By 1980, the Cluedo patent had lapsed and the Pratts returned to Birmingham. Anthony continued his love of music and mysteries. Elva died in 1990 and Anthony died of Alzheimer’s in 1994. Both are buried in Bromsgrove cemetery in Worcestershire.

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