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On Tuesday, June 14, 2022, Nigel Farage interviewed a 102-year-old D-Day American veteran in London.

This must-watch exchange took place on Farage’s Talking Pints segment of his GB News show:

Steve Melnikoff took a Cunard cruise to the UK, accompanied by a younger man who helps him out on a daily basis.

Melnikoff said that, on the cruise ship, he spent his evenings ballroom dancing and had the photos to prove it.

It was amazing to see how young this man looks at 102. He’s just days away from his 103rd birthday. He has no age spots and his skin is remarkably smooth.

Despite all the major things going wrong in the Western world today, older people look decades younger than they used to.

When I was growing up, people aged 50 and over definitely looked over the hill, no matter what their social class. We can no doubt ascribe better health care as a contributing factor to prolonged youth.

Another example of prolonged youth are the three Carry On female stars who reunited at a London restaurant on Sunday, June 12. The Daily Mail has a photo of them and reports:

The films were known for their saucy innuendos and drew millions of fans to cinemas in their heyday.

But former Carry On stars Jacki Piper, Valerie Leon and Anita Harris played it straight as they got together for a night out. The trio shared memories as they were pictured in a restaurant by their friend Barry Langford.

Miss Piper, 75, held onto 78-year-old Miss Leon’s arm as they posed alongside Miss Harris, 80. Miss Leon and Miss Piper starred in 1970’s Carry On Up The Jungle while Miss Harris played a nurse in 1967’s Carry On Doctor.

They look fabulous, not a day over 55.

But I digress.

Returning to Steve Melnikoff, he said that the first thing he noticed in landing on Omaha Beach was the cold weather. Farage pressed him on what he really thought. Melnikoff replied that he might have been afraid, but he couldn’t remember exactly.

Melnikoff said that he never talked about the war until decades later. It was the same with the soldiers with whom he served. He explained that, after the war, Americans were too busy working in factories in post-war rebuilding efforts.

Melnikoff was shot in the throat by Germans. Luckily, the shot missed his larynx. His comrade was fatally wounded and he managed to dress his friend’s wound as best he could while waiting for help. Melnikoff was flown to England to recuperate in hospital. He has a big love for Britain as a result.

Farage asked Melnikoff what his greatest achievement was. Interestingly, he said that taking advantage of the GI Bill, through which he earned a bachelor’s degree, improved the next three generations of his direct descendants, all of whom have university degrees. Well done!

He began returning to Omaha Beach around the Millennium and has made a few trips since. As for war memories, in the 1980s, he reunited with the man who was his sergeant. They met once a week for lunch and remembering their service together. The lunches stopped only when the sergeant died.

Melnikoff said that his secret to ageing was to always have a purpose in life and something to do. He said that he has a good genetic makeup and a positive outlook. His favourite pastime is golf. During his working life, he owned his own business.

Listening to him, one realises that he is sharp as a tack, unlike Joe Biden, whom he did not discuss.

Unlike Biden, one thing Melnikoff cannot be accused of is showing signs of dementia:

One thing that does concern Melnikoff is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which he says reminds him of events in 1939 that led to the Second World War. This shorter clip is especially worth watching:

I wish Steve Melnikoff a happy 103rd birthday — and many happy returns!

It happened, but it happened two years too late.

A third Telegraph journalist has come out against Joe Biden.

Earlier this month, Tim Stanley declared that Trump made the right assessment about Russia.

This week, Nile Gardiner asked whether Europe has finally awakened to the truth about Joe Biden.

Two days later, on March 30, 2022, Allister Heath wrote ‘Joe Biden is president in name only but the US establishment refuses to admit it’.

Heath details the chaos of the White House at home and abroad. Emphases mine below.

First, there were his pronouncements about Putin and Russia from last month to the present:

His embarrassingly downgraded role became obvious last week when he suddenly veered off-script during his keynote address in Poland, ad-libbing of Vladimir Putin that “for God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power”. It was a dramatic escalation, a clear and simple message that no reasonable person could possibly misinterpret, and yet the White House appeared not even to ask him for permission before “clarifying” his statement. Biden’s people – who are supposed to work for him, rather than the other way around – immediately denied that he was calling for regime change. They claimed, within seconds of his speech, that the words he uttered didn’t actually mean what he obviously intended them to signify.

They were undoubtedly seeking to protect Biden from himself, and to look after US interests, by cancelling an intervention that could have provoked a furious Russian reaction. But it was an astonishing moment none the less, demonstrating that Biden’s role is now largely ceremonial: this is a collegiate administration, with an all-powerful Democratic Cabinet and federal bureaucracy. What Biden says should not be taken too seriously. He is not the fount of power, and has a habit of blurting out what colleagues might have been discussing in private.

Time and again in recent days, the President’s pronouncements have been “walked back” by those really in charge. Most notably, he wrongly told members of the 82nd Airborne Division that they would be “going to” Ukraine soon; he said America would respond “in kind” were the Russians to use chemical weapons.

His worst blunder came when he claimed prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that “it’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and then we end up having a fight about what to do and not do”. He was then asked whether he was “effectively giving Putin permission to make a small incursion into the country”. Biden’s answer sent an even more catastrophic message to the Russians: “Good question. That’s how it did sound like, didn’t it?”

Heath notes that the American media are, unsurprisingly, giving Biden a pass:

the president isn’t really presiding andAmerica’s constitution is once again in deep crisis. It is a scandal.

Mainstream commentators were grumpy at the White House denials, but refused to ask the obvious questions about the president’s series of gaffes or to demand an investigation into why this may be happening. Had this been Trump, there would have been calls for the Cabinet to at least consider invoking the 25th amendment to the US constitution relating to whether a president could be considered unfit to remain in office

There is no excuse for failing to scrutinise and hold to account any president, regardless of party.

Then there are Biden’s Afghanistan disaster as well as his intent to turn back the clock with Iran:

On foreign policy, he is seeking to turn the clock back to the time when he was vice president. Biden is proposing a disastrous surrender to Iran on the nuclear issue, and even to remove the Revolutionary Guards’ terrorist designation. His withdrawal from Afghanistan was right in theory but catastrophically executed, and helped signal to rogue regimes that the US had gone soft.

Biden has done no better domestically. He began rolling back Trump’s successes as soon as he was sworn in.

Now he is considering a radically left tax plan for Americans — taxing unrealised capital gains. Scary. This would affect many middle class taxpayers:

Biden’s shocking weakness also helps to explain the disastrous drift of US policy in all other respects. He was supposedly elected as a reasonable centrist, a liberal rather than a woke activist, a traditional Democrat rather than a neo-socialist.

Yet on economics, his latest tax proposal is far worse than anything Jeremy Corbyn dreamt up. Biden wants to tax unrealised capital gains, something that has never been attempted before in this way. He wants to tax wealthy Americans – in reality, not just billionaires but many other entrepreneurs and investors without whose contributions the US economy would collapseon the basis of the paper increase in their fortunes. This would be a recipe for economic meltdown, a brain drain, capital flight and a massive recession.

Heath concludes that radical advisers behind the scenes are running the show:

The fact that Biden is in office, but not in power, has given his party’s hardliners free rein to wreak havoc. His presidency is turning out to be a catastrophe for America, and a calamity for the rest of the world. For how much longer will we have to put up with this travesty?

There’s no way back for the time being.

It is hard to imagine that voters preferred Joe Biden to Trump and his ‘mean tweets’ in 2020, but there we are.

Mid-term elections cannot come soon enough. All being well, Republican control will pave the way for further victory in 2024.

Over the past month, Neil Oliver has had some exceptionally good Saturday night programmes on GB News.

While his shows are a must in my household, for those who haven’t been tuning in, his shows over the past month have contained even more insight than usual.

This video is from February 26, 2022, the week when Russia invaded Ukraine:

Oliver’s editorial begins at the 5:00 point. He rightly wonders what the invasion is really about. He says that he cannot rely on mainstream media to tell the truth.

However, he also discusses the situation in the West and says that we do not realise how exceptional our era of individual liberty and freedom over the past few decades has been.

He points out that we are taking it for granted.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has seen Western governments become authoritarian. He points to Justin Trudeau, who condemns Putin when he himself has had the bank accounts of protesting truckers frozen because they protested against mandatory vaccinations. Oliver says that the sheer hypocrisy of it all is stunning.

He also lambastes the leaders in New Zealand and Australia for authoritarian measures during the pandemic, making the point that, given mankind’s natural inclination towards dictatorial policies, Western leaders are happily following along. Therefore, we need to keep an eye on what they are doing and call them out accordingly.

He says that we need to get serious: stop worrying about identity politics and pronouns. Instead, we have our freedoms to defend.

At the 21:00 point, he interviews a journalist to discuss what is really happening in Ukraine. The journalist said that China is also a player in this situation. Although it looks to most people as if Russia and China are enemies, they have a common goal: to bring down the West.

At the 23:00 mark, welcomes Sebastian Gorka to give his views.

Gorka says that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine would not have happened had Joe Biden not pulled out of Afghanistan last year. He says that President Trump would have managed Afghanistan much differently and that, consequently, the Ukraine invasion would not have happened.

Gorka also brings up energy independence, which Trump initiated in the United States and warned Europe about in 2017. (Everyone laughed. They’re not laughing now.) Gorka said that it was ‘moronic’ for Biden to reverse Trump’s energy policy in the US.

On Biden, I was heartened to see another article in The Telegraph which has been critical of him.

On March 28, the paper’s Nile Gardiner asked, ‘Will Europe finally wake up to the truth about Joe Biden now?’

He writes (emphases mine):

It is amateur hour on the world stage from the Biden Presidency. His visit last week to Europe was a train wreck, from his bizarre press conference in Brussels to the ad-libbed final words of his speech in Warsaw. 

At times Mr. Biden looked dazed and confused, struggling to command his sentences, and drifting into incoherence. The messaging was muddled, forcing even the president’s top officials to disown their own leader’s comments.

In 20 years in Washington, I have not seen a White House more disorganised, incompetent or mismanaged, in both the president’s and vice president’s office. It has a distinctly Monty Python-esque feel to it. Having visited the Trump White House on multiple occasions, and met with the former president several times, I can attest it was a model of efficiency compared to what we’re seeing now.

On no fewer than three separate occasions, Biden’s own staff had to clarify or even refute the words of their commander in chief. Biden officials had to explain to the world’s media that he was not calling for US troops to go into Ukraine, that the United States would not respond to Russia with chemical weapons if Moscow used them, and that the Biden administration was not seeking regime change in Moscow. These are big misstatements, not minor gaffes, with major global ramifications, and a direct impact on the war in Ukraine

There is a major lack of discipline in messaging from the Biden administration, and clearly deep-seated divisions as well among policy staff. Biden himself has been stung by the charge from political opponents that he has been weak over Ukraine, as well as by sinking poll numbers, and is trying to overcompensate with tough rhetoric on Putin. His own aides are trying to rein him in. As a result, confusion reigns

By contrast:

Donald Trump used to come under heavy fire from the French, Germans and European elites at Nato summits, and his message was not always popular. But he was far more effective than Joe Biden at getting results, increasing defence spending, and shaking up the complacent status quo in Europe

True!

As Neil Oliver says, our leaders are not up to scratch.

Furthermore, we, the general public, must also stop being complacent about civil liberties and our Western freedoms. As we saw in the pandemic, our leaders can take them away instantly, without any qualms. Restoring them will take much longer.

For anyone wanting a break from politics and coronavirus, Jay Rayner’s restaurant reviews for The Guardian — okay, The Observer (Sunday edition) — are fantastic.

Rayner is also one of the critics on MasterChef in the UK. The man speaks the way he writes, so I can hear him as I read.

He also has a musical quartet, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in February:

Occasionally, he adds a few historical notes to his reviews, such as the one from October 2020 that he wrote about The Windmill in London. The Windmill is known for its pies (photos at the link):

There are certain food items that make everything better. A well-made pie is one of them. The Windmill, a pub in London’s Mayfair, now serves very well-made pies. In the days following my dinner there, I kept thumbing open the photograph on my phone and gazing upon their steak and kidney pie, with its glazed suet pastry case, lightly crimped around the edges. It looked like a promise, fully kept.

Rayner then gives us a potted history of pastry (emphases mine):

There was a time, many centuries ago, when pastry was used only as a lid on stews, or as a case to protect cuts of meat from the flames in the hearth. It would be discarded or fed to the pigs or, if the big house was conscious of its obligations, given to the poor. By the late medieval era we were putting fats into pastry and making it distinctly edible. Follow that golden thread all the way through history to this brilliant piece of steak and kidney loveliness.

After we emerged from the 2021 lockdown in April that year, Rayner shared with his readers his experience of being unable to go out to eat. He rediscovered his cookbooks and followed the recipes:

He overcame his fear of making pastry. Excellent.

Several of the comments following his article discuss pastry problems and how to avoid them.

This one is quite helpful on avoiding shrunk pastry and soggy bottom crusts:

A good book to get is “Leiths Baking Bible” – it’s quite a technical book as it’s based on their cookery school.

But it does give good insights into different pastry, cake and dough recipes. With a good “What has gone wrong when….” section after each method.

Shrunk pastry is usually a result of not resting it before cooking – rest then trim. Soggy bottoms are generally not blind baking for long enough or not glazing the pastry with an egg wash if using liquid fillings. Although it can help to do tart cases on a solid oven tray that has been pre heated before the dish with the pastry is placed on it – it boosts the cooking at the base of the tart.

Rolling out the dough from the edges can also cause pastry to shrink. Here‘s how to do it properly; roll from the centre:

In my experience shrinking happens when you stretch the pastry whilst rolling (stands to reason that it would then try and bounce back). Try and roll gently from above and don’t force it.

Another warns against adding too much water and not using the right kind of butter:

Could be you are adding too much water. That makes pastry tough. Also, use real butter, not the garbage currently masquerading as such in many supermarkets. High lipids content from butterfat, not buttermilk, which has too much water. If you melt a pat in a pan and get a watery smear, it’s bad butter. You want a pool of gold, a bit of froth on the edges and the unmistakable aroma of real, creamy butter.

On that topic, the most expensive brand of butter is not necessarily the best. I learned that in the US and have found the same to be true in the UK with some name brands.

Although Président (French) and Lurpak (Danish) are excellent, the expensive, famous British butters, similar to America’s Land O Lakes, are quite watery. When I lived in the US, I used my favourite supermarket’s own brand with reliable results. Here in the UK, I occasionally buy supermarket own brand, too, if I cannot find Président.

Finally, should one use a food processor for making pastry? Some purists say that pastry should be made only by hand. I beg to differ.

This comment explains how to make it in a food processor:

First put in the flour, then (I think this is crucial) add frozen butter, small chunks at a time till it resembles fine bread crumbs. Very slowly add cold water till the dough forms all together. Voila, it works every time for short crust….

However, it is important to give the pastry time to come together in the processor. I have never had to add more than a tablespoon of ice cold water.

I use cold butter straight from the fridge. It is essential to cut the butter into small cubes before adding it to the flour.

When it comes to pastry, a food processor can be a life saver along with using the exact ingredient measurements.

I hope that these tips and hints help the pastry-shy to give it a try.

Last week, GB News, thanks to Nigel Farage, scored a world exclusive with an interview of Donald Trump, who has not been on television outside the United States since he left office in January 2020.

GB News is available to view worldwide. I suggest their YouTube channel, which has not only live streaming but also full episodes of most of their shows.

Here’s the full show from Wednesday, December 1. The 30-minute interview with President Trump at Mar-a-lago in Palm Beach is shown in two parts:

Others interviewed include Trump’s former speechwriter Stephen Miller, ex-press secretary Sean Spicer and CPAC chairman Matt Schlapp as well as two Democrats advising Joe Biden.

Unfortunately, the 30-minute interview of Trump is no longer available.

The first half of the interview is about the 2020 election. Highlights follow.

Trump talked about his January 6 rally and the violent incident at the Capitol building:

Asked by GB News presenter Nigel Farage whether it was ‘a mistake to have that rally on that day’, Mr Trump said: ‘The insurrection took place on November 3rd, that was Election day, and before and after, that was to me the insurrection and the January 6th was a protest.’

The 45th President went on: ‘I have spoken to very big crowds. I have never spoken in front of a crowd that size, nobody ever talks about that.

‘And then unfortunately some bad things happened, but also the other side had some very bad things happen.

‘And add this, I offered 10,000 and suggested 10,000 national guardsmen… or even the military, because I knew the crowd was going to be massive, because I knew the anger that took place over the election being rigged and I understood that, I understood it better than anybody.’

‘And Pelosi and these people turned it down. We would have had tremendous security but they turned it down.’

Trump lamented the current status of the United States:

I think it’s at the lowest point it’s ever been at.

I don’t think it’s ever been in a position like this.

We’re not respected anymore.

Trump did not say for certain that he would be running again in 2024. Pundits say he is awaiting the outcome of the 2022 mid-term elections, but he gave Farage a few hints:

Speaking to GB News presenter Nigel Farage, Mr Trump was asked why he would consider ‘going back into hell again’ and re-enter mainstream politics.

The 45th President responded: ‘If you love the country you have no choice – it’s not a question.

‘I love our country. I brought the country to a level it’s never seen before.

‘Then we had Covid come in and then I brought it back, came up with vaccines that you’re using, we’re all using, the world is using, saved tens of millions of people throughout the world in less than nine months.

‘It was supposed to take 12 years… they were expecting it to take 12 years and everyone said it wasn’t going to work and they worked incredibly well.

‘We’ve done an amazing job.

‘This is a wonderful, beautiful life, but I like that [politics] too because I’m helping people.

‘That’s why I did it.’

Mr Trump further indicated his intention to try and regain office in 2024, saying: ‘I think you’ll be happy in the future too, because that’ll be your next question.’

Nigel Farage responded: ‘Well I know you can’t answer that question because it would start the campaign clock ticking.’

To which Mr Trump replied: ‘That’s right.’

The second half of the interview was about British politics and the Royal Family.

Farage asked Trump about Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s green policies. Trump is not a fan of windfarms and thinks that Boris has moved to the left:

Nigel Farage informed Mr Trump about the Prime Minister’s comments that he wants the UK to become the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind’, to which Mr Trump replied: ‘I think it’s a shame.’

‘I’m surprised that he would allow that to happen because you’ve got one of the most beautiful countries in the world and you’re destroying it with all these wind turbines all over the place.

‘In Aberdeen they built this ugly wind farm in the ocean. It’s so disgusting to look at it – it’s a shame.

The former President continued: ‘I think it’s a shame what’s happened in Scotland, in [the] UK, all over the place. You take a look.

‘I think Ireland’s been better about it, if you want to know the truth.

Despite Mr Trump’s assault on the Prime Minister’s support for wind energy, the former President still spoke warmly of his relationship with Boris Johnson: ‘I like him, I like him. I get along with him, I’ve always gotten along with him.

However, he told GB News he felt Mr Johnson was erring away from conservative values, noting: ‘He’s gone a little on the more liberal side.’

Trump also thinks that pursuing a Net Zero policy is mistaken:

The former President then attacked the Westminster Government’s pursuit of net zero.

‘In your country [the UK], which I do know something about… I see what they’re [the Westminster Government] doing and I think they’re making a tremendous mistake.’

Then Farage asked him about the Royal Family, beginning with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, better known as Harry and Meghan:

Donald Trump has accused the Duchess of Sussex of being “disrespectful” to the Queen and the royal family.

… the former US president also said he thinks the Duke of Sussex has been “used horribly”.

Speaking about Meghan, Mr Trump said: “I’m not a fan of hers. I wasn’t from day one. I think Harry has been used horribly and I think someday he will regret it.”

He added: “I think Harry’s been used and been used terribly.

“I think it’s ruined his relationship with his family, and it hurts the Queen.”

In response to comments from GB News presenter Nigel Farage about Meghan using Duchess of Sussex headed writing paper to lobby members of Congress, Mr Trump said: “She is trying do things that I think are very inappropriate.”

He had high praise for the Queen and said he really enjoyed meeting her in 2019 while he was president:

Former President Donald Trump says he has been watching the Queen ‘very closely’ after a ‘tough year’, but hopes she is ‘not too ill.’

In a world exclusive interview for GB News, the 45th President told Nigel Farage that the Queen is ‘a fantastic woman’ who is ‘respected by everyone.’

Mr Trump recounted his interactions with Her Majesty whilst President: ‘I was supposed to spend like a half an hour with her [but] I ended up being there for much more than an hour.

‘Everyone said “oh that’s so rude” but I said “no but she liked it and I liked it I’m not going to be rude”.’

He went on: ‘We had a great time together, we then had an evening the likes of which you rarely would see.

‘She was really laughing and smiling, we got along great, we talked the whole night.’

Mr Trump continued: ‘She is a great, wonderful woman… and respected by everyone.

‘And no scandal, no anything, think of it.

‘She’s done this for more than 70 years and she’s never had a scandal about herself.’

Mr Trump met the Queen in June 2019, during a state visit, and again in December of the same year during a Royal family reception at a NATO summit hosted at Buckingham Palace.

His love for the Queen began with his mother, who had emigrated from Scotland in the 1930s:

He said of his mother: She was really somebody who respected the Queen, she loved the Queen.

‘Anything with the Queen, when they were doing anything ceremonial… she was glued to the television.

‘She had great respect and love for the queen.’

Trump denied former press secretary Stephanie Grisham’s claim that Prince Charles bored him:

Nigel Farage asked Mr Trump about claims from his former Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham, that he found the Prince of Wales ‘boring’ during a private dinner hosted by the Queen.

 

The former President responded: ‘No I wasn’t bored, I like Charles, I thought he was good.

‘No, he’s an environmentalist, he talked about the environment most of the meeting, which was fine.

‘I understood that was the purpose of the meeting and he was telling me his views.

‘I was not bored at all, no, I think Charles is a wonderful person.’

Sean Spicer gave an upbeat interview, facing off against the Democrats’ Eric Guster about a second Trump term in the White House and his Twitter account:

Dan Wootton’s show followed Farage’s interview.

Wootton asked him if Trump had said more than what was shown on television. Farage demurred, saying that he does not discuss private conversations:

Wootton is clearly in the tank for Trump’s 2024 candidacy, should it happen:

His fellow conservative panellists, however, were far less enthusiastic.

It was good of The Times to cover the interview early Wednesday morning before it aired that evening.  Most mainstream newspapers, especially The Telegraph, have taken pot shots at GB News since it launched on Sunday, June 14.

Guido Fawkes also plugged the interview:

Guido also recapped the highlights the following day:

The interview was a huge ratings success for GB News, the best since their launch night:

Guido’s accompanying post says that GB News trumped (!) the BBC during the two-hour special (emphases in purple mine):

Unsurprisingly, Farage’s interview with Trump last night was box office for GB News. Figures seen by Guido show the interview pulled in Farage’s highest ever viewer count, and the largest GB News viewership since its original opening night. For two whole hours between 7pm to 9pm, GB News beat the BBC’s average by 155,600 viewers to their 118,200, with Sky News some distance behind on 60,500. The interview reached 208,500 just after 7pm and held steady for the next hour. Nigel’s certainly earning his fee…

Nigel Farage has been great for GB News. I rarely miss his show, especially the revelatory Talking Pints segments.

Thanks go to President Trump and the other interviewees for taking the time to give Britain — and the world — an excellent two hours of television.

Please, someone, stop Project Fear.

Last week, a new coronavirus variant, B.1.1.529 — initially named Nu and now changed for whatever reason to Omicron — hit the headlines, having been discovered in South Africa.

How worried should we be? I’ve been ignoring the news hysteria pumped out by Britain’s main channels and have been focusing on the views of scientists who have offered good information in the past.

A senior scientist in vaccine research and development advises ignoring the media hysteria:

The scientist notes that full vaccination rates in South Africa are very low:

There is no need to panic, especially before Christmas. Note that the chairwoman of the South African Medical Association says the symptoms are ‘extremely mild’:

We cannot extrapolate whether ‘cases’ will spike in countries where most of the population is fully ‘vaccinated’. According to another scientist who tracks viruses, it could be that the variant will not take hold quite as easily or with devastating effect:

Sir John Bell, an adviser to the UK government, agrees that the symptoms are like that of a cold. Our T-cells can probably deal with it:

Read further on for what this means for travel and our civil liberties.

First, here is confirmation that Nu was renamed Omicron in the Greek alphabet:

It seems that a Greek letter — Xi, coincidentally — was skipped:

Omicron is under the microscope not because of overflowing hospitals but rather genomic monitoring by clinicians:

As with the other variants, Delta included, Omicron would have been discovered months before now:

In fact, despite what the WHO says, the World Economic Forum (WEF) reported on it back in July:

Now for the bit on travel and our civil liberties.

As expected, travel restrictions to and from six African countries are now in place in Britain

Travel to and from South Africa and five other southern African countries was banned from noon on Friday. Malawi and Mozambique are expected to be added to Britain’s travel red list imminently and there is acceptance in Whitehall that further bans are likely while scientists attempt to assess whether Omicron evades vaccines or spreads faster.

Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, described travel bans as “precautionary” and said it might be possible to lift them once the variant had been better assessed.

Travel industry bosses warned that the introduction of the red list was a “hammer blow to consumer confidence” in before the peak winter sun window.

… and in the United States. It’s okay when the Democrats do it, but not when Trump did it in 2020:

https://image.vuukle.com/bc54e186-eef4-45e2-afa4-a98d98408671-a5d7cc88-d773-4816-bb46-14fcf94c773a

No doubt politicians will attempt to restrict our movements but, as this pathologist explains, human activity has little to do with viral transmission, which appears to be caused by seasonal activity:

Keep that in mind if there is a push for England to implement Plan B for the winter months. Plan B includes vaccine passports, something we have been able to evade, unlike Scotland and Wales (both socialist-governed nations):

On that subject, here is a coronavirus passport poster from Ireland. The Irish government now refers to freedom as ‘privileges’:

Journalist Julia Samuel reminds us of what the situation looked like a year ago. Remember when the vaccine rollout was nearly ready and we were told we would get our freedom back? One year on, and the Government is telling us that we will now need boosters. Who thought then that we would have vaccine passports? Northern Ireland’s Assembly will be voting this week on whether to have them and where:

Julia Samuel says that the Government now considers freedom to be on loan and can be rescinded whenever our notional leaders see fit:

I deeply deplore this state of affairs but am not surprised by it.

Meanwhile, vaccine efficacy has raised a few questions. Last week on RMC (French talk radio), the mid-morning show had a heated discussion as to whether the vaccines were working.

Gibraltar has had huge problems with new cases, yet 100% of its population is fully vaccinated.

On November 17, The Express reported that The Rock has cancelled Christmas:

The Rock has urged people to “limit mixing as much as possible”, in new guidance published last Friday. The Gibraltar government has also cancelled all functions across departments, including Christmas parties, in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.

Ministers have not yet ordered the public and businesses to follow suit, but the decision had sparked anger in the hospitality sector …

Gibraltar, which has a population of around 33,000, also boasts an impressive rate of vaccination.

Gibraltar has administered 94,019 vaccine doses – meaning most of its citizens have received three jabs …

The Government of Gibraltar has nevertheless reiterated masks should be worn in shops, hospitals and public transport.

People are also encouraged to meet in outdoor spaces, where possible, despite winter drawing in.

At that point, two people were hospitalised, with one in intensive care.

Malta has the same problem in case rises. Unlike Gibraltar, many of these people are ending up in hospital:

On the other hand, a study from Northwestern University near Chicago has reported that the booster has dramatically increased antibody levels:

In a nutshell:

Data from England appear to corroborate the same findings, with lower hospital admission rates for older people:

The peer-reviewed study appeared in The Lancet (yes, I know):

This is the effect of booster shots:

The only question now is how long the 93% and 94% efficacy lasts. The public will soon tire of getting covid booster shots every six to eight months, that is for certain.

In the meantime, we must continue to keep a gimlet eye on our governments, especially where civil liberties and our God-given freedoms are concerned.

I will cover England’s restrictions in a separate post.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers. I hope that their day is full of food and fun.

This is an important day, recalling the first Thanksgiving in Massachusetts featuring English Pilgrims and the indigenous people who taught them how to plant and grow regional crops.

Alternatively, some prefer to celebrate the first Thanksgiving in Florida decades before.

Whatever the case, the day is also apposite for giving thanks to God for personal blessings, past and present.

This summer, I spent a lot of time reflecting on the trajectory of my life and those many blessings from the past that made my present days possible. It was a prayerful exercise, full of remembered pleasant surprises from the past. As I looked back, it seemed to be God’s plan for me. How thankful I am.

Those weeks of reflection while doing gardening were a useful exercise. They also helped to lift the gloom of lockdown prior to England’s mid-July reopening. I still feel elated.

The other day, I wrote about Grant Harrold, The Royal Butler.

My post ended with an autobiographical video about his life:

He describes the trajectory of his life, from being a youngster who persuaded one of his teachers to allow him to start an after-school drama club in Scotland. At that time, he wanted to be an actor but also a butler.

After he finished school, he gave tours of a Scottish estate. From there, he went on to work for the then-Duke and Duchess (now Dowager Duchess) of Bedford, in England. A few years later, he became butler to Prince Charles. He ended up being a guest on television shows, not only in Britain but also the United States and Australia, discussing various aspects of etiquette. His demonstrations of afternoon tea have been particularly popular. Clearly, he has achieved both of his childhood ambitions.

Grant Harrold’s life appears to have the hand of God upon it, even if he did not say so.

Currently, The Royal Butler gives courses on etiquette, both in person and online. He ended his video by saying how grateful he was to the people along the way who made that possible, beginning with his schoolteacher who allowed him to set up a drama club three decades ago.

Each of us has much for which to be grateful. Thanksgiving Day is a good time to reflect on our many blessings.

COP26 ended last weekend.

The great Glasgow conference ended with an agreement to phase ‘down’ coal rather than phase ‘out’ coal.

This left COP26 chairman Alok Sharma MP (Conservative) in tears.

More on that below.

Let’s start at the beginning of the year and work from there.

Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg declared early in April that she would not be attending COP26:

The budding epidemiologist (irony alert) said that the conference should be cancelled until global vaccination rates had risen.

Odd that she did not mention carbon emissions from 30,000 prospective attendees, which the Global Warming Policy Forum did in May, strongly suggesting that the conference take place virtually. Guido Fawkes said that having done so would have saved British taxpayers £200m.

The UK Government stuck to the plan, however. A spokesman said:

We are working on the basis of COP26 being held in person this November, while closely monitoring the covid situation.

The summit team is working closely with all partners and exploring what different scenarios might mean for COP26 and how we plan for that, whilst putting the health of the participants and the local community first.

We are not looking to postpone the summit.

During COP26, Greta led a rally in central Glasgow, attracting hundreds of fellow admirers in the streets.

Mixed messages from No. 10’s COP26 spokeswoman

On April 20, No. 10 decided to scrap the plan for American-style press conferences which Downing Street’s spokeswoman Allegra Stratton was supposed to lead. Stratton became the Government’s COP26 spokeswoman instead.

What a mistake that was.

On July 27, she told Britons not to rinse their plates before putting them in the dishwasher. Good news for plumbers, then:

The next day, she — working for a Conservative government — advised Britons to join the Green Party:

This seemed to be an attempt to walk back her dishwasher advice from the day before.

Guido Fawkes wrote (emphasis in the original):

In an unexpected turn of events, Boris Johnson’s COP26 spokesperson Allegra Stratton told The Independent that people should “join the Green Party” if they want to tackle climate change. When asked why organisations were critical of her advice to consider not rinsing plates“ before putting them in the dishwasher, Allegra responded by saying:

“When people say to me, ‘What can they do?’, they can do many things, they can join Greenpeace, they can join the Green Party, they can join the Tory Party.”

A highly quotable if somewhat unusual endorsement… 

On August 2, Stratton explained to Times Radio why she still drove a diesel car rather than buy an electric one (emphases mine, unless otherwise stated):

I have a diesel Golf. It’s third hand and I’ve had it for 8 years. I don’t drive it very much because I live in London, and it wouldn’t be right. I cycle, I’ve hurt my leg at the moment, but usually we cycle or get on the bus or walk most places. The car we use to go to granny’s and grandad’s who are  mostly 200, 250 miles away. I should be moving to another car, before I hurt my leg I was thinking about getting another carMy son would really like me to buy an electric car. I think it is the idea that right now, if I had one, any of those journeys to my dad in South Scotland, my mum in Gloucestershire, my in-laws in the Lake District and my Gran in North Wales, they’re all journeys, that I think would be at least one quite long stop to charge. And my kids are seven and four and I don’t fancy it just yet. That’s not to say that very soon, that technology, the charging points, we’re already seeing an increase in numbers, we’re seeing the cost come down, and we are seeing the range go up. So the direction of travel is great, and is swift. So I am optimistic that at some point, like so many families around the country, I’ll go for it. But right now, I have hurt my leg and I’ve been told I can’t drive ...You know, sometimes when you’ve got a four year old in the car, they’re asleep, and you just want to keep going to get there, because you know, if they wake up, you know, they’ll want the loo, they’ll want food, they might be feeling carsick and so on. So you want to be in control of that journey ... And included in that might be that the stop times for recharging improve so much that it’s half an hour.

Stratton gave all the best reasons for not buying an electric car.

Commenting on Stratton’s quote, Emily Carver, Media Manager at the Institute of Economic Affairs, pointed out:

Of course, when polled, the majority of the public support addressing climate change. Who wouldn’t want a greener, more sustainable planet? However, as is the case with so many policies, it is far easier to support a rosy abstract goal than it is to face its real-life consequences.

Furthermore, very few in the media mention the African slave labour involved in mining cobalt for car batteries in general:

How did Stratton get a position as press secretary then Britain’s COP26 spokeswoman?

Breitbart provided some clues:

Stratton became the first official White House-style press secretary for the prime minister last year. She is a former journalist who had worked with establishment outlets The Guardian, the BBC, and ITV. Despite spending £2.6 million on furnishing a press room, the government scrapped the plans in April, moving Stratton to the role of the Cop26 spokeswoman, with the conference taking place in November of this year.

The Times claimed in May that Johnson appointed the former journalist at the insistence of his then-fiancée Carrie Symonds, herself a keen environmentalist.

The newspaper of record alleged the hiring took place despite the interview panel recommending against it, with leaked remarks calling Stratton a “risky appointment” and voters allegedly preferring Ellie Price, the panel’s first-choice candidate.

“The PM said it would make his life too difficult. Carrie won’t accept it if it’s anyone else. He said, ‘I’ve promised this to her’,” a Whitehall source told The Times, with a second source saying: “Boris said Carrie would go bananas if she didn’t get her way.”

In 2020, Stratton worked for Chancellor Rishi Sunak. In January 2021, TCW told us that Stratton is married to The Times‘s James Forsyth, who also works for The Spectator:

It’s time for the journalist James Forsyth – who also writes a column in the Times – to reveal the truth about Sunak’s plans. Forsyth and Sunak are close friends. They attended Winchester College together in the 1990s. Sunak was best man at Forsyth’s wedding and they are godparents to each other’s children. In April 2020, Sunak hired Forsyth’s wife, Allegra Stratton, to be his media chief (though it’s not clear if this job was ever advertised and I don’t remember any of the above being declared publicly). Since then she has moved on to be No 10 press secretary.

The conference, the hypocrisy

Guido Fawkes looked through Government contracts for COP26 to see what taxpayers’ money was financing.

The filming costs were exhorbitant:

The government has splashed a whopping £36,083,135.81 on a production services contract with Identity Holdings Limited which includes a supply of production and media services.

Glasgow teemed with prostitutes for the first two weeks of November. So much for women’s rights and the Left’s virtue signalling moral compass.

Guido reported:

The 25,000 delegates who have flooded into Glasgow have brought protestors by the thousands and, according to Guido sources, untold sex workers from around the world who are advertising their services online. In the interests of research for this story Guido has been doing research on various “adult work” websites which filter by city. According to one of the website operators, business has really hotted up, with the number of hookers advertising their services tripling from the normal three hundred or so in the city, to upwards of a thousand

Former Labour MP David Miliband told BBC’s Newsnight that the cost of net zero would be at least £100t of ordinary people’s money:

For whatever reason, a Green councillor from Brighton not only attended the conference, but flew to get there:

On November 9, Guido wrote (emphases in the original, the one in purple mine):

Why it is really necessary for a local council leader to attend a UN conference Guido doesn’t know given they have absolutely no locus or input into the COP process. To make matters worse Brighton’s Green council leader has been caught with his fly open and forced to apologise after jetting to COP26 in Glasgow. Just days after Caroline Lucas moaned Rishi’s Budget was a joke because of its tax cuts on domestic flights…

Councillor Phelim Mac Cafferty took a plane from London to Glasgow, a 460-mile journey after which he made a speech at a protest march led by Greta Thunberg on the importance of cutting carbon emissions. He also chair’s Brighton and Hove council’s carbon neutral working group. According to the LNER website, the train journey from Brighton to Glasgow would have created 26.68kg of CO2 – Cafferty’s plane journey created 169.94kg…

Having been found out, the councillor issued a grovelling apology to a Brighton newspaper, The Argus.

In sharp contrast, former Scottish Conservative MP Ruth Davidson spotted the Royal Train at Carlisle station:

Meanwhile, Vietnam’s security minister Tô Lâm left Glasgow to journey to London for an eye-wateringly expensive gold leafed tomahawk steak at the newly opened Salt Bae Knightsbridge restaurant.

Guido has the video …

… and a post about the Communist enjoying a taste of capitalism:

And where had he just come from prior to his luxury dining experience? A flower-laying exercise at Karl Marx’s grave…

This absurd spectacle should surely call into question the millions the UK’s given to the corrupt, communist state. Since 2001, £481 million of UK taxpayers’ cash has been given in aid to Vietnam, and they are set to get another £7 million bung in 2021/22. Based on the video, Guido calculates the three steaks alone cost the table £2,550…

His colleagues back home are clearly displeased. The #SaltBae tag on Facebook was blocked in Vietnam to prevent people seeing the video –  something the social media giant is now investigating. Presumably if he is sacked for his typically corrupt communist antics, he can expect a golden handshake and a gold-plated pension…

One supposes he flew there and back.

Green MP Caroline Lucas has been a stickler for wearing masks in the coronavirus era, but look what she did at COP26. She dropped her mask:

The Daily Mail reported that Joe Biden had an emission problem of his own which left the Duchess of Cornwall highly amused. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is on the left, with Camilla on the right:

Brand Scotland

More than halfway through the conference it became clear that Glasgow’s hospitality sector was not reaping the post-coronavirus benefits that COP26 promoters promised.

On November 10, The Times reported (emphases mine):

While hotels across Glasgow are fully booked to accommodate the thousands of delegates, the hospitality trade is understood not to have seen any uplift in trading since the event began on October 31.

There are even suggestions the event has led to a reduction in trade for some operators. Footfall in the city centre is said to have been affected as people try to avoid the demonstrations.

There is also thought to be a number of delegations which have stayed outside of the city, with Edinburgh hotels among those which are busy.

Oli Norman, whose Ashton Properties owns venues such as Brel and Sloans, said he had heard of some publicans and restaurant owners who have seen their trading fall by up to 50 per cent, and added: “It should have signified a resurgence in the local economy but if anything it has been a damp squib.”

Dan Hodges from the Mail interviewed self-employed Glaswegians in Easterhouse, a poor district away from the city centre:

Thomas is disillusioned with COP26. ‘I’ve missed my chance,’ the Glaswegian barber tells me. ‘My friend rented his flat at two grand a week. He’s making £6,000 and using the money to jet off for a holiday.’

I’m in Easterhouse, a few miles from where the global elite are gathering to save the world from itself. But few of them have ventured out to what was once the most deprived housing estate in Scotland. ‘I’m not sure why,’ Angus, the local butcher, laughs. ‘Perhaps Joe Biden got lost on the M8.’

What does he think about calls for us all to go vegan to protect the planet? ‘Well, I’m a butcher,’ he replies. ‘And my dad was a butcher and my grandad was a butcher. I grew up on pig’s feet soup. So I think people round here are still going to want to eat meat.’

Angus’s views could be ascribed to self-interest. The same can’t be said for local cabbie Andy. He’s made a small fortune shuttling delegates between Glasgow and Edinburgh at £120 a time. ‘Sorry, but the whole thing is a pile of crap,’ he tells me. They’ve been driving round in big convoys telling everyone else to get the bus.

‘It all feels like a millionaire’s party.’

While a Scottish government minister caught coronavirus at COP26 …

… First Minister Nicola Sturgeon did her best to market at least one Scottish product, Irn Bru, a popular soft drink. She gave some to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

Sturgeon also marketed herself through a series of selfies:

This short yet amusing video tells the story perfectly:

One senior Scot noted Sturgeon’s contradictory position on mask wearing:

Sturgeon had no policy mandate at COP26. She was invited only as Scotland’s political leader. It was a courtesy.

Still, as such, one can understand why she wanted selfies with world leaders. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for her, even though she denied it:

How it ended

Not surprisingly, much socialism was on display at COP26.

Harry Wilkinson discussed it with Tom Harwood of GB News on the last official day, November 12. This was an excellent interview:

China and the United States signed a bilateral deal thought to be a big deal. We’ll see. That said, India is the second greatest polluter after China:

Nicola Sturgeon wants a ban on nuclear fuel in Scotland, but if she does ban it too soon, the nation will not have the energy supply it needs:

In the end, coal would be phased down rather than phased out. This is because too many developing countries need it to supply energy to their citizens.

Britain’s COP26 president, Alok Sharma, nearly broke down in tears, explaining why to Times Radio:

It was an emotional moment. I understood the disappointment. And six hours sleep in 3 days probably didn’t help.

The Times reported:

Before he banged down the gavel on the pact, the tearful Sharma told delegates: “I apologise for the way this process has unfolded. I am deeply sorry.” The representatives of 197 countries at the summit responded with a standing ovation …

Sharma said the summit had kept “1.5 alive” but added “its pulse is weak” and described it as “a fragile win”.

Nonetheless, he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that the agreement is a ‘historic achievement’:

Even Angela Rayner, the Labour MP who recently referred to ‘Tory scum’, praised Sharma for a ‘tremendous job’:

Sharma received many more compliments in Parliament early this week.

Those interested in combating climate change — largely impossible, in my opinion — should know that COP26 picked up from the Paris Agreement to flesh it out with specifics and COP27, to be held in Egypt in 2022, is thought to go even further with better pledges from participating nations.

What is ‘luxury wellness’?

Posh spas and rehab centres, available only to the wealthy.

Let’s open the door and find out more.

Villa Stéphanie Spa & Wellbeing, Baden-Baden, Germany

When it comes to spas, wealthy women already look beautiful, so one wonders how much extra lingering beauty a week-long stay at one actually produces.

On October 2, 2021, the Daily Mail published an article about Victoria Beckham’s stay at Villa Stéphanie Spa & Wellbeing in Baden-Baden, Germany (emphases mine):

The retreat – which is described as an entire house dedicated to the world of spa – on its website, offers rooms starting from €270 a night (£231) and massages from €170 (£145). A seven night programme starts from €4,000 (£3,430) per person.

That means treatments are added on to the base price.

The article has several photographs from Mrs Beckham’s Instagram account. The photos look as if she were asking, ‘Don’t you wish you were here?’ Of special note is the one with Dr Harry Koenig, who tailors treatments to individual needs:

Showing off her slim figure in a black tank top and accessorising with a black cap, Victoria told fans: ‘So we are here in Baden-Baden in Germany having our annual checkups, MRIs… gosh checking literally everything. It is absolutely incredible.’ 

The former Spice Girl said she was also taking the opportunity at the lavish retreat to ‘detox and have infusions and go for lots of amazing hikes’. 

Victoria shared a photo of herself clad in khaki sweats and embracing Dr Harry Koenig who tailored all of their treatments at the retreat based on their test results …

Victoria shared photos of an egg white omelette with sliced avocado and a dish of fresh salmon and vegetables, and said she’s learnt a lot about food and diet’ that has now ‘influenced’ how she eats at home.

Also detailing the more expensive treatments on offer, Victoria shared a photo of nurses Ellen and Sophia bringing her tray of ‘daily vitamins and amino acids’.

She also opted for a ‘heavy metal chelation supplement’ which is said to aid in detoxification and protect the liver and kidneys, daily IV drips, and a hyperbaric oxygen treatment. 

Victoria also used the opportunity to flaunt her own skincare line as she showed off her radiant and makeup-free visage during a beauty treatment, and shared stunning footage of herself hiking through the Black Forest surrounding the retreat. 

This woman needs none of that, because she barely eats when she goes to a restaurant:

It comes after last week Victoria’s revelation that her favourite meal of all time is salt on whole grain toast left fans in disbelief.

Speaking to Ruth Rogers on the River Café’s Table 4 podcast the fashion designer admitted she was a restaurant’s ‘worst nightmare’ because she was happy with just a slice [of bread] with a sprinkling of the seasoning. 

Ugh!

Judith Woods of The Telegraph wrote a great article about the Beckhams’ stay at the retreat:

When Victoria Beckham gave us a sneak peek into her recent physical MOT at a lavish spa retreat in Baden-Baden, it was hard to decide which delicious treat we envied most.

Was it her daily personalised IV drips? The artisan-crafted egg-white omelettes? Or the hyperbaric oxygen treatment? Yum. Or maybe it was the presence of husband David, who was also getting his annual once-over? Because nothing screams enduring love more loudly than his ’n’ hers MRI scans followed by a hearty hike in the Black Forest.

Here she is, face scrubbed and smooth as a preternaturally girlish 47-year-old milkmaid, snuggling up next to Dr Harry Koenig, the handsome silver fox who tailored all her treatments.

Meanwhile:

Back in Britain we struggle even to catch sight of a GP, who are second only to HGV drivers and slaughtermen in their scarcity. Yet here was Mrs B with a buff Bavarian medic all to herself, personalising every esoteric infusion and rejuvenating elixir. This isn’t just wellness: this is luxury wellness. Actually, scrap that. This is exclusive, bespoke, ultra-luxury wellness.

We discover how much a week’s stay can actually cost:

At up to £19,000 a pop for a week’s stay, that is one shock and awe shellac. And let’s not forget the integrative holistic medicine and the “vampire facelift”, where the client’s own platelets are injected under the skin along with a hyaluronic acid filler.

On the Beckhams, Woods concludes:

Sorry to be blunt but this sort of high-end “Because I’m worth It” intervention really isn’t for amateurs.

In the competitive wellness stakes, the Beckhams pretty much ace it. Just as engagement ring metrics traditionally equate purchase price with strength of ardour, so do modern lavish spa treatments convey exactly how much self-love a celebrity possesses.

Goop at Sea, floating spa

Woods tells us about a spa cruise scheduled for 2022 that is attracting American women on the celebrity circuit:

Happily, celebrities really do excel at leading by example. Why, Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow has entered into a pact – sorry partnership – with Celebrity Cruises and will set sail round the Med next summer in a venture dubbed Goop At Sea.

Aimed at the sort of person who uses “juice” as a verb, this gorgeous floating spa will feature “trailblazing healers and transformative workshops for mind, body and soul” along with personal butlers, a private restaurant and an exclusive lounge.

Woods rightly points out that female celebrities already look good. These spa visits are a pampering top-up:

Ageless and wrinkle-free; not young per se but not old. Therein presides the spa delusion; civilians imagine that they will emerge relaxed, rested and youthful, just like the beautiful people.

Except they were already beautiful before they handed over their Amex cards. It’s their day job. A-listers have no problem being stripped down and rebuilt like a Formula 1 car every so often; it counts as red-carpet running repairs in a profession where optics matter more than anything else.

Agreed.

It is far better and cheaper to book an appointment with a licensed aesthetician, especially in the UK, as they can provide a wide range of beauty treatments and detoxes.

Gentlemen, if these are what the lady in your life wants, get her a gift certificate for a half-day session for Christmas. She will love you even more for it.

Paracelsus Recovery, Zurich, Switzerland

On the rehab side of things, The Telegraph‘s food critic William Sitwell noticed he was having a few physical problems at the age of 51:

… I don’t like sitting down and I’m scared of food. Lower-back pain and acid reflux are now rendering me nervous at the prospect of eating out, uncomfortable doing it, in pain writing about it, and in fear at the physical consequence of it.

The Telegraph treated their treasured food critic to a three-day stay at Paracelsus Recovery in Zurich. The clinic:

promises a ‘safe haven’, with ‘individualised treatment programmes that are designed to address a client’s unique set of needs.’

I’m dispatched by The Telegraph, which is fortunate because regular clients at Paracelsus are high-profile, high-net-worth individuals, and the price tag for a week’s admission is £75,000

Sitwell tells us that many of the clinic’s patients enter a three-month programme. Incredible.

Before going, he spoke with Paracelsus’s founder and CEO, Jan Gerber, who told him:

‘We’ll give you your own apartment with views over Lake Zurich. You’ll have a housekeeper who will cook and clean for you as well as a team of 10 of us caring for you,’ he tells me. ‘We’ll conduct an array of assessments: physical, emotional and biochemical. We’ll identify areas of concern or ones to watch, and with treatments, therapy, yoga and massage we’ll implement a programme. Our aim is to add quality years to your life.’

‘These are first-world problems, right?’ I say. ‘That may be true,’ he replies, ‘and we work with a lot of financially privileged people, but that doesn’t mean they don’t experience very real emotional or physical pain. What we do here is super complex. Are you willing and able to help us open your can of worms? Don’t worry, our responsibility is not to go to places where we leave the doors open.’

The clinic is used to dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. Sitwell went in order to resolve his food issue:

I really love to eat and also hate it – gives me a little wind in my sails. I am worthy of a brief visit. Paracelsus, here I come.

The article comes with photos of his stay, which are well worth looking at.

The clinic’s managing partner Pawel Mowlik, a German, met Sitwell at Zurich’s airport. A chauffeur drove them into the city centre:

Whisked out of the airport and into the clinic’s Bentley Flying Spur, we are soon in the city centre and turning into a nondescript car park behind an apartment block.

Luggage taken care of, doors held open, we go through an entrance with no signage. ‘This place is very discreet and highly confidential,’ says Mowlik. ‘We have the very famous – the richest people, heads of state – and no one needs to know that they are here.’

The apartment was fully kitted out, with a separate area for a live-in therapist:

My apartment is airy and light, with lake views, a large bedroom, comfortable sitting room, kitchen and dining area and my own therapy room. Behind the kitchen is another bedroom and bathroom. ‘That’s for a therapist to stay,’ says Mowlik. ‘We can provide that 24/7 if need be. We sent a therapist back to the Middle East with one client,’ he adds, ‘and they stayed out there for five years.’

The housekeeper, Elizabeth, is there to unpack my things.

Founder and CEO Jan Gerber was already there to greet his new patient:

We sit down to discuss my schedule. Across three days I’ll have an intense programme of clinical, psychiatric, fitness, lifestyle and nutritional assessments as well as yoga, psychotherapy, physical training, intravenous therapy, something called bioresonance and then a presentation of results by the team.

Gerber told Sitwell that coronavirus has exacerbated every type of mental health problem.

Chaperones are de rigueur, in case a patient tries to escape. Gerber’s mother:

Christine Merzeder, is the senior clinical coordinator. She will chaperone me from meeting to meeting. Mowlik, it turns out, will chaperone me for anything else.

I mention a swim in the lake. ‘A lovely idea, we can go tomorrow at 8am,’ he says …

I note that the physical assessment and training are at a private gym. ‘Is it far to walk?’ I ask. ‘It’s a simple route,’ says Mowlik. ‘I will show you… and then bring you home.’

The super rich need a crafty chaperone, and this one knows how they think. By his early 20s Mowlik, working for a Zurich-based hedge fund, was earning up to £2 million a month. He began splashing it on private jets, alcohol, drugshe checked into Paracelsus and liked the place so much he later became a partner. Clients can relate to him, and he’s quite handy at finding new recruits, too.

Paracelsus isn’t any ordinary rehab clinic:

‘Being famous and wealthy can be a very lonely place,’ says Mowlik. ‘You can’t trust anyone, you find yourself exploited and that can be a vicious circle that brings separation from people. Which can lead to depression and medication with substances. We exist because such a person can’t go to an average rehab.’

‘Did you know that the incidences of addiction among the wealthy are much higher – maybe five-fold – than the average?’ states Gerber.  ‘And it is relative. Pain is very real for the person who feels the pain. In fact it can be harder for someone who is famous and very wealthy to find empathy. Emotionally we are all human, we all need love and social interaction.’

Gerber also argues it is vital the rich and powerful can get confidential help. They can have a lot to lose if the public learns of their difficulties.

‘If a head of state or famous entertainer is unwell, that can have a very large effect on their family network or across their business empire: a head of state with a nation in crisis, a lead actor in a major production…’ he explains. ‘So what we do here is a big lever to heal the world.’

He adds that his therapists need to understand the reality of being rich. ‘We call it affluent neglect,’ he says. ‘There are children brought up by nannies and sent to boarding school.’

Sitwell underwent a battery of physical tests, from blood to stool to urine and more:

I’m wired up to a Metatron, which scans my body for inflammation, I have a portable heart monitor attached to my chest, a live-monitoring glucose implant on my upper left arm, they take blood from my veins, blood from my fingertips, I have strict timetables to deliver urine and stool samples.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Thilo Beck was Sitwell’s therapist, asking him all about his recent life history:

he teaches me the fascinating concept of the observing self, watching the theatre of life as it progresses. ‘The next time you feel angry, pause for a second and consider the idea that you’re noticing yourself becoming angry… You are the driver of your bus; your anxiety and fears, the parts you don’t like, are parts of you. They are your passengers, stroke them, soothe them, be proud of your bus and drive towards your values.’

Nicole Züllig, a psychotherapist, conducted a separate session on trauma:

‘I specialise in trauma,’ she tells me. ‘I have discovered that most people have unresolved trauma.’ It sounds like Prince Harry’s been in this chair, I think to myself, recollecting his habit in the press, for example, of describing partying antics in his 30s as not ‘fun’, but ‘unresolved trauma’.

Where is that trauma, that loss?’ she asks. ‘I look for that very deep loss. We have a tendency to put it away in anger, to deep-freeze it, we must get it out of the freezer, thaw it and deal with it…

‘So tell me about your relationship with your mother.’

Sitwell described his beautiful mother in glowing terms. The article has a picture of her holding him as a boy.

Züllig asked him how he felt, and he replied, ‘Guilty’ for having spoken to someone about her behind her back.

Then came the real issue, his schooldays, including at Eton, which were not his best days:

As I talk, I laugh at various moments. ‘Why are you laughing?’ she asks, appalled.

‘Because I think it’s funny,’ I reply.

‘Funny?’ she exclaims. ‘You think this is funny? It is not funny. It is tragic. You were abandoned. This is trauma. You must take this trauma, understand it and thaw it. You must not laugh to avoid it.’

‘Whatever,’ I mutter. Soon I’m chatting about my more recent work; a few big awards, books, television I ponder how I’ve turned out compared with the boy at Eton aged 16, having failed the annual exams, officially labelled in front of 600 of my peers as a General Total Failure.

And I sob. Züllig has done her work and is on hand, brandishing tissues. ‘How does this make you feel?’ she asks. ‘Exhausted,’ I reply.

Sitwell fell asleep during his yoga session, after which he received a deep massage, which he described as ‘rigorous’.

Another session involved physical training at the Dolder Grand spa, in the city’s grandest hotel:

Mowlik lurks outside to prevent any attempt at escape. Later, as I lie on a sunbed for a moment, I look to the plunge pool to my right – and jump with fright as Mowlik emerges from the water.

Sitwell rode in the Bentley there and back.

When he returned to the clinic, Dr Manuel Riegner gave Sitwell the results of his physical exams. On the one hand, he has a ‘biological age of 29’. On the other hand:

I have high levels of mercury and uric acid, low levels of zinc, and a very concerning, almost negligible, level of iron. ‘No wonder you feel fatigued,’ he says.

Nutritionist Priscilla Sanchez gave Sitwell diet and eating advice, which included omitting milk and most carbohydrates as well as cutting down on alcohol:

Then I’m strapped to an intravenous drip, fed amino acids, vitamin C and a detoxmix, given two weeks’ worth of supplements, and told I must have an infusion of iron back in the UK, urgently.

Then it was time to pack his bags and leave:

I have a last swim in Lake Zurich, the water and distant sight of the Alps soothing my mind. ‘Time to leave,’ says Mowlik, coming up for air beside me.

He doesn’t leave my side until I’m through departures at the airport.

Once at home, Sitwell stuck to the eating and exercise plans and had not experienced any of his old symptoms.

But something equally important also happened — a sense of gratitude:

Three days of gratuitous self-reflection and I realise I’m so lucky to have the family I have, the wife, the kids, the home, the friends, the most utterly fabulous job writing about my most favourite subject.

Good for him. I have read this article a few times and enjoyed it more every time.

————————————————————————–

Well, that’s it for an introduction to ‘luxury wellness’, something few of us will ever experience.

As I write, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on holiday in Spain.

He, his wife Carrie and their young son Wilfred left for Lord Goldsmith’s holiday villa after the Conservative Party Conference ended on Wednesday, October 6.

It is a well-deserved break. His stay in Cornwall in August lasted 24 hours before he had to return to Downing Street to deal with the fallout from Joe Biden’s abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Despite Britain’s crises of fuel and food, he needed a break before Parliament resumes next week.

However, a pivotal personal event also occurred during this time: the death of his mother, Charlotte Johnson Wahl, whose funeral was held on September 28.

A Remainer campaigner sent a nasty tweet asking who was in charge of the Government:

Boris’s sister replied:

Boris has not taken any bereavement leave until now.

However, with every lamented death comes new life. Carrie Johnson will be giving birth again in a few weeks’ time, which will be a consolation to the Prime Minister.

Budding artist

Charlotte Maria Offlow Fawcett was born in 1942 in Oxford to Frances (née Lowe) — ‘Bice’ — Fawcett.

Her father, James Fawcett, was a barrister. Three decades later, Sir James Fawcett assumed the presidency of the European Commission for Human Rights.

Years later, Charlotte described her childhood family and friends as ‘rich socialists’. She never voted Conservative, although she told Boris that she did vote ‘Leave’ in the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Charlotte’s mother, Bice, was close friends with a woman from another prominent family, Elizabeth Pakenham. Elizabeth and her husband had a baby girl, Rachel.

In a tribute to her friend which she wrote for The Times, Rachel Billington said (emphases mine):

In May 1942 our mothers, Bice Fawcett and Elizabeth Pakenham, both had babies in Oxford and walked our prams side by side. Her family, the Fawcetts, were clever, artistic and international; the Pakenhams were political and literary. Charlotte and I were fat little girls together, waving our Peace in Europe flags and trying to keep up with our siblings. She ended up with four siblings, while I had seven. When both families were in London, I was jealous of music in her house and the sense of an intellectual world beyond my grasp. And she was jealous of my rumbustious life, with a house in the country and horses. Not that she had any wish to ride.

Rachel Billington says that Charlotte attended Catholic school and said her prayers every night, kneeling at her bedside. This religious education might well have imparted the wisdom she gave to Boris, who remembers her talking about ‘the equal value of every human life’.

The Fawcetts moved to the United States for a time. Billington recalls:

When her family went to live in America and her youngest brother acquired an American accent, I realised she inhabited a wider world.

The family returned to England. By then, Charlotte was interested in painting and pursued her artistry at Oxford, the university that Billington also attended. Charlotte was reading English:

At Oxford, her intensity was reflected in her small college room where the objects were ordered as if already in a painting. She was painting and drawing complicated faces and patterns. Her essays were remarkably short and there was never anything regurgitated from “further reading”. She discovered her views from the text and from her imagination.

Meeting Stanley at Oxford

Charlotte met her first husband, Stanley Johnson, at Oxford.

In a 2015 interview, she recalled how they met at a university dinner:

… she told Tatler magazine in 2015: ‘I was engaged to somebody called Wynford Hicks, who was extraordinarily beautiful to look at but actually quite boring.

‘Anyway, [after the dinner] Stanley sent me a note asking if he could come to tea and go for a walk. 

‘So a few days later we went for a walk and he suddenly said, ‘Love is sweet. Revenge is sweeter far. To the Piazza. Ah ha ha har!”, which made me laugh so much I fell in love with him.’

When he earned a scholarship to study in America, Charlotte accompanied him. They married in 1963 and their first child, Alexander Boris, was born a year later.

Billington explained his middle name. Stanley and Charlotte were on holiday in Mexico City at the time:

The name Boris, incidentally, arose when they ran out of money at the airport on the way to New York where Charlotte was to have the baby, and an impatient passenger in the queue offered to pay what they needed. “That’s terrific,” Stanley said gratefully, “We’ll call the baby after you if it’s a boy. What’s your name?” “Boris,” answered the gentleman. In fact it is our prime minister’s second name; while he was at Eton Alexander was dropped in its favour.

However, Boris is still known to his nearest and dearest, Billington included, as Al or Alexander.

Charlotte painted a portrait of her son as a young boy, who grew up with shoulder-length hair:

The casually dressed, floppy-haired boy looks up from his painting. He is relaxed but serious, his complexion fair.

The Johnsons returned to England for a time. Charlotte and Rachel resumed their friendship:

Nothing seemed impossible to this glittering couple and Charlotte returned to resume her degree with Stanley and Alexander while also pregnant with her daughter Rachel. Through these perambulations and my own, Charlotte and I remained close; I was Al’s godmother and later Charlotte was my eldest son, Nat’s. Friendship was very important for Charlotte and she had the kind of loving warmth that made even newer friends bond to her for life. And tell her their stories and listen to their jokes and laugh. Lots of laughter.

It seems likely that Charlotte named her daughter Rachel in honour of her friend.

Charlotte completed her degree at Oxford as the first married female undergraduate at her college, Lady Margaret Hall.

Ruined marriage

Stanley received a transfer back to the US to work at the World Bank in Washington DC.

Billington was also in the US, working for ABC television in New York.

She remembers meeting up with her friend, the mother of four:

With the Johnsons living in Washington, where Stanley was working at the World Bank, enjoying a highly sociable life, plus now having four children, it seemed extraordinary that Charlotte’s painting life could continue. Yet when I visited from New York where I was working for ABC TV, she still had the energy to go down to Rehoboth Beach [Delaware] and bebop with the rest of us.

In the 1970s, the Johnsons’ marriage began to break down once the family returned to London.

The Mail alleges:

Mrs Johnson Wahl had an unhappy marriage to Boris’ father Stanley, who was accused of breaking her nose in the 1970s.

Charlotte’s mental state disintegrated, to the point where she had to be admitted to the Maudsley Hospital in London.

Billington visited her:

… suddenly I was visiting my brilliant friend in the Maudsley Hospital suffering from the problems that pressure and an obsessional nature can bring, properly called obsessive compulsive disorder. While the children ran round in the garden, Charlotte and I talked and I discovered that every day she was painting for hours at a time. Eventually, nearly 80 paintings were exhibited in the hospital, terrifying pictures of people in despair, agony or just misery. Yet also implying hope in the vibrant beauty of the colours and quite often a kind of wry humour, as if saying, “This is my life at the moment.”

The Times obituary notes:

She had already become “extremely phobic . . . terrified of all forms of dirt”. Eventually she had a breakdown and spent eight months at the Maudsley hospital in south London as a patient of Hans Eysenck, the influential psychologist.

While Charlotte was in the Maudsley, Stanley was transferred to Brussels. He took the children with him.

Charlotte discussed the difficult marriage in a 2008 interview:

“My husband and I were not making each other happy, to put it mildly. It was ghastly, terrible,” she told the Daily Telegraph in 2008, tears filling her bespectacled eyes. “The children used to come over from Brussels to see me in hospital. They’d run down the passage and it was sickeningly painful because then they’d go away again. It took me a long time to recover.”

Once Charlotte recovered, she was able to move to Brussels and, during holidays, welcome guests at the family farm in Exmoor in Devon. Billington remembers her stays with the Johnsons:

As Charlotte recovered, the family moved to Brussels, but when they were in England I would join them in the house on Exmoor that Stanley inherited from his father. It was a glorious cold comfort farm, but friends, if they survived the long pot-holed driveway, were fed hugely and taken on challenging treks that usually included river swimming and mountain climbing. Well, hills. It was hard for Charlotte to paint there, yet the pictures of her children and her friends’ children prove she was still managing. I have three from that period.

The renowned journalist and author Tom Bower has written a biography of Boris, The Gambler. The Mail‘s obituary of Charlotte recaps how Stanley treated her:

A biography of the Prime Minister claimed her marriage became ‘irredeemably fractured’ due to her husband’s ‘neglect and philandering’.

The Gambler, by Tom Bower, alleged that doctors spoke to Stanley ‘about his abuse’ while the couple’s children were told a car door had hit their mother’s face.

The most shocking claim was that in the 1970s Stanley hit the Prime Minister’s mother in a domestic violence incident that broke her nose and left her requiring hospital treatment.

Mr Bower describes Stanley’s first marriage, to Mr Johnson’s mother Charlotte, as violent and unhappy, quoting her as saying: ‘He broke my nose. He made me feel like I deserved it.’

It was claimed that the incident took place in the 1970s when Mrs Johnson Wahl was suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder and had ‘flailed’ at Stanley, who broke her nose when ‘flailing back’.

Stanley, now 81, is said to have deeply regretted the incident and denied he had been violent on any other occasion

By the end of the decade, the couple separated. They divorced in 1979.

Billington lived five minutes away from Charlotte, once she separated and could really throw her energies into painting:

After her separation from Stanley, paintings poured out from her flat at the top of a large building in Elgin Crescent in Notting Hill, London, happily just five minutes’ walk from me.

The Mail says Charlotte refused financial support from Stanley:

After moving to a flat following her divorce, she refused to accept money from her ex-husband and made a living selling paintings. She later recalled she was ‘very hard up’.

Dr Nick Wahl, second husband

Charlotte found happiness with her second husband, Dr Nick Wahl, an American professor. They married in 1988.

The Times obituary tells us how they met in 1982 and summarises their life together:

… she met Nick Wahl, an American academic. “We were at a dinner party in Brussels given by [the diplomat] Crispin Tickell and Nick asked could he see my paintings,” she told Tatler. “He was on a trial separation from his wife. There was an immediate connection. I flew out to see him and he came to see me. There were an incredible number of crossings of the Atlantic.” They married in 1988, by which time her youngest son was in his final year at Eton, and lived on Washington Square, New York. Wahl died from cancer in 1996 and she returned to London, settling in Notting Hill in a flat that, according to one visitor, resembled “an Aladdin’s cave with exotic carpets, a dolls’ house, flowers, cherubs on the wall and oil paintings everywhere, including several of the flaxen-headed children”.

Billington recalls those years:

That was a great period of creativity that was reinforced by her marriage to Nick Wahl and a double life in London and Washington Square, New York where Nick was professor at the university. It gave her a chance to play with the Manhattan skyline and the sardine tin of the subway to dazzling effect, sometimes on giant canvases. In London, she modestly remarked, “I just paint what I see”, but Elgin Crescent had never looked so dramatic. My son Nat snapped up one, which I visit just to see what she made of a fairly ordinary London street.

As her beloved children grew up and made their own paths, and she no longer had the constant responsibilities of motherhood, I saw a painter at the peak of her powers. Now when I visited Manhattan, we ate out for every meal, feeling young and independent, both of us with four adored children, but free to do what we wanted. She painted, I wrote, and of course Charlotte had a whole lot of fascinating New York friends.

Unfortunately, around the time Charlotte met her second husband, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. That was in 1982, when she was only 40 years old.

Her quality of life diminished until 2013, when she underwent state of the art treatment in London.

The Times obituary says:

A cocktail of drugs helped to slow the progress of the disease, but the quality of her life was impeded. “The worst thing is a terrible stiffness,” she said. “When you want to walk you can’t — you freeze and your feet become attached to the ground.” In 2013 she achieved something of a medical breakthrough when Ludvic Zrinzo at the National Hospital in Bloomsbury introduced two electrodes into her brain and linked them to a battery in her chest. “It means I don’t jerk any more and I can go to the cinema and the theatre again. It’s bliss,” she said.

Political opposites

The Mail‘s obituary states that Charlotte was amazed to be the mother of four children who are all Conservatives:

She was described in a 2015 article in the Evening Standard as ‘left-wing’.

Boris Johnson’s sister, Rachel, said in the article, about two-party families, ‘We are a very mixed-race family politically and my father tends to marry socialists.

She later described her mother as ‘the only red in the village when we lived on Exmoor’And she herself once admitted that she had never voted Conservative, despite two of her sons being Tory MPs.

She told the Radio Times in 2015: ‘I find it extraordinary that I should have married a Tory and have four Tory children.

‘I’ve never voted Tory in my life. My parents were very socialist – rich socialists with three cars and two houses, but they were socialists in the days when that happened’

Along with Boris Johnson, she was also the mother of former Conservative MP Jo Johnson, journalist Rachel Johnson, and entrepreneur Leo Johnson.

The Prime Minister’s son Wilfred was her 13th grandchild. 

Charlotte had several exhibitions of her paintings, and she sold many. She was also commissioned to paint celebrity portraits, which were equally well received.

May Charlotte Johnson Wahl rest in peace. Hers was a life well lived. Most importantly, she was able to overcome adversity.

Sources:

Boris Johnson’s mother Charlotte Johnson-Wahl dies “suddenly and peacefully” at the age of 79, Daily Mail (includes family photos)

‘Charlotte Johnson Wahl was my best friend’, The Times

‘Charlotte Johnson Wahl, the prime minister’s mother, dies aged 79’, The Times

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