Shuggie Bain

Shuggie Bain was the surprise Booker Prize winner last year. I was intending to read it so when I was lent a copy at the weekend I got stuck in. I’ve finished it now and I think I need therapy.

This has to be the most depressing book ever. Shuggie is the youngest child of a large family in post-industrial Glasgow. His mother is a drunk and his father is a serial adulterer and abuser who moves his family to Pithead, a hopeless dead town outside a closed-down pit, before shogging off to live with his new woman. This story starts miserably, carries on hopelessly and ends in a slough of despond. Shuggie is gay and everyone knows it; he gets it in the neck from everyone at school and all the neighbours. The family are poor enough without the drink but if his mother gets hold of the benefits book it all goes on booze and Shuggie goes hungry. Even so, the hopelessness might be bearable if there was some sort of community but the neighbours are awful to each other; the women stand around gossiping maliciously and slagging each other off and the men only come by when they want something – usually sex. Even the one or two decent men in this seem doomed to impotence. The two older children get out as soon as they can – the daughter marries and moves to South Africa and the other son decamps to a bedsit in Glasgow, leaving Shuggie alone to try and save his mother from herself. He fails of course; she dies, and Shuggie ends up hanging out with a lesbian girl who is his only friend as they both try to save her mother who is now on the game.

I couldn’t find one thing to like about this book. It was a story of unrelieved grimness, of dirt and grime, of skidmarks on pants and snot on armchairs; a story of mouldy bread and damp carpets; in short, an endless litany of disgust. It reminded me a little of We Need to Talk About Kevin, though without the murders; it also put me in mind of Orwell’s description of the shifts that poverty puts you to and how hard it is to look decent when you live in a shithole. I’m not saying it was a bad book but it depressed me so much I really do think I’m going to need therapy.

Kirk out

Line of Duty. Warning – Contains Spoilers

After all that! After all the expectation, after all the hype and the trailers and the podcasts, after all that had gone before, the twists and turns, the misdirection – I was expecting a huge, multiply-orgasmic explosion of revelations, gasp after gasp, plot twist after plot twist, from the final episode of Line of Duty. Instead what we got was a damp squib. To find out, after all this time, H – or the fourth man – wasn’t some criminal mastermind posing as a respectable senior officer, wasn’t the Chief Superintendent or the smug woman who took over from Hastings – wasn’t, in fact, Hastings himself (Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the wee donkey, but that woulda been a twist!) but was in fact sad incompetent little Ian Buckles who was being used as the fall guy, was a bit of a let-down. His interview was a series of shrugs and ‘no comments’ – there were no major reveals, no car-chases or shoot-outs, nothing in fact resembling a climax. It was as if the curtain rose on a pile of charred embers and at the end of it all we were told that systematic corruption within the force was never pursued and hence never discovered. I was disappointed; I’d looked forward to it for so long and after all the build-up it was a real anticlimax.

Ah well. Onwards and upwards… life without Line of Duty was always going to be that little bit harder and I suppose the ending made it easier to bear. But that doesn’t prevent it from having been one of the best TV dramas in – well, probably ever; in this day and age, a programme that makes you concentrate every second in case you miss something vital is a rare gem. There’s too much ‘wallpaper TV’ – and I’m not talking about the Prime Minister’s apartment. What I particularly hate are the programmes which give you two minutes of clips showing you what the programme’s about when a single sentence would do; not to mention those which tell you what’s going to happen next time which thankfully Line of Duty never did. It had too much respect for itself.

When that landmark was passed, I watched the rest of Philomena, a great film based on the scandal of the Irish church selling the babies of ‘fallen’ women. Martin Sixsmith, played by Steve Coogan and introduced by Philomena everywhere as ‘Martin Sixsmith, News at Ten’, helps Philomena (Judi Dench) to find her lost son who was taken from her by the nuns and sold to American parents. It’s a shocking story, most of all because of the cruelty and hypocrisy of the nuns who could have reunited mother and son but lied and covered up the truth until it was too late. And after that I sat through a harrowing play about child abuse during the Troubles in Northern Ireland and even though I put on an episode of Motherland afterwards to take the taste away (this series has grown on me and now I love it) but the trauma stayed with me when I went to bed.

I’d had plans to go for a walk yesterday – the day before I discovered a beautiful bluebell wood – but those plans were scuppered by the weather so in the end I just went to Sainsbury’s and stocked up. In the rain.

Kirk out

Ch-ch-ch-changes

David Bowie knew a thing or two about life. I was never a great fan; never painted my face with a lightning bolt or donned the outlandish gear (I was nowhere slim enough to carry it off anyway) but I do respect him as an artist. He knew that the only constant in life is change. Everywhere you look things are changing – growing, dying, being born, getting lost.

Leonard Cohen knew a thing or two about life as well, and loss is one of his major themes. Losing hope, losing love, losing your voice (when he went into the Zen monastery near Los Angeles he was known as the silent one; nobody knew who he was.) At Mount Baldy the monks meditated for up to eighteen hours a day and walked through the snow at 2 am to get to the meditation hall. I’m lucky if I manage eighteen minutes; I suppose walking through the snow at 2 am must have had its attractions for someone who’d spent the last thirty years in hotels, but it’s not for me.

Turn and face the strange is Bowie’s line. Greet it, welcome it, invite it in. Make it a really hot cup of tea – because there’s nothing certain in life but change. You think you’ve got it all set up, everything’s in place and you know where you’re headed – and in a heartbeat it can all go. ‘Gone, gone, utterly gone,’ as Richard Rohr puts it.

I used to be prone to nostalgia. Ah, those were the days… but nostalgia can be quite dangerous. It can keep you trapped in a past that probably never even was what it was. There are times when I yearn for the politics of the seventies, but then I remind myself that the seventies were also a time when sexism, racism and homophobia were normal, everyday occurrences. We can only live now and remember that now may be a time we look back on with nostalgia. What will I remember fondly about this time in my life? Impossible to say, but I’m sure there’ll be something. Meanwhile I fondly remember Bowie – and Leonard Cohen.

Kirk out

No Such Thing as Sociology?

I had the impression that sociology wasn’t much studied nowadays, but a cursory google search found more than a hundred courses, most of them sociology combined with other subjects but still. It was very much in vogue when I was at uni and I’m sure it’s a very interesting subject but sadly for my projected blog post, it’s still alive and well: I was going to have a rant about how, now that there’s no such thing as society, we’re not encouraged to study it either so there’s no such thing as sociology. But there you go. One thing I know is out of vogue is the study of philosophy – or so I thought, but a trawl of the nation’s universities brings up a hundred places you can study it. So what is really going on here and why do we never seem to hear about these subjects?

I’m fairly certain that in society as a whole philosophy is not much valued. I mean, when you work in the money markets what use are the novels of Plato? – to paraphrase the boring guy in Four Weddings and a Funeral. What use is it to spend three years of your life questioning the meaning of existence? I actually did some philosophy, though more or less by accident, when I studied French literature; Sartre and Camus straddle the boundary between literature and philosophy so you can’t do one without the other.

There’s a story told about the famous philosopher Socrates. He was walking one day with a pupil when a man came up to him and said, ‘What’s the point of philosophy?’ Without answering the man, Socrates immediately turned to his pupil and said, This man wishes to profit from learning. Give him a penny.’ Socrates had instantly divined that when the guy said ‘what’s the point?’ he was really asking, ‘Can I make money from it?’ and answered him accordingly. So what is the point of philosophy? Is there any point? Does it have to have a point? What’s the point of a new-born baby or a cloud that sheds no rain or a flower in the middle of a concrete slab? When it comes down to it, what’s the point of anything? And what do we mean when we say ‘What’s the point?’ What are we really asking?

On the whole I think we’re asking, what does it contribute to the world, by which we mean to society. What use is a flower growing in the middle of a patch of concrete? You could argue that it gives us hope in the midst of despair but what if nobody sees it? What’s the point of it then? What’s the point of a new-born baby? Yes, it gives the parents joy but you can’t eat joy, can you? And yes, it will grow up to be a useful and productive member of society and take care of its parents in their old age, but that’s way in the future. What’s the point of it now?

Some parents seem to take that attitude to their babies, farming them out to nannies and packing them off to school until they’re old enough to take care of themselves. Some societies take that approach to women, that all we’re good for is to provide children and do all the messy jobs men don’t want to do. The point of a woman is her function; the point of a baby is as a potential adult.

Balls. The point of everything is itself. And the point of philosophy is to study that.

Kirk out

We Are Not a Muse

There’s only so much you can do as a writer to make things happen. Some days all you can do is sit with pen and paper and wait for the Muse to show up. You write a sentence or two, sigh, gaze out of the window, look back at the paper, try not to feel completely useless and rack your brains for something that will bring inspiration. Should you read something? Go for a walk? That sometimes helps…but in the end all you do is check your phone for the zillionth time and give a deep sigh at the absence of anything helpful.

Still, I can take some comfort from the news that Johnson is in deep trouble. For all his allies try to smooth it over, it’s not going away; the BBC are sticking by their story about the bodies, presumably because they believe their source is more reliable than Downing Street. It’s reassuring to know that the BBC can still hold the government to account and have not been entirely weakened by the revolving-door system of journalists taking positions as government advisers. John Humphrys must be doing his nut; the rottweiler of the Today programme must be blenching at this cosy relationship.

Speaking of Humphrys, he did his last stint on Mastermind last night, a job he’s held for an astonishing 18 years. It must be difficult to read the questions fluently and quickly without tripping over your words, and I often wonder who writes them; I guess they must have specialist writers for each subject. Last night was the final, in which we got to find out about the contestants’ backgrounds; two of them admitted to being highly competitive including one woman who had been voted off The Weakest Link a few years ago and wanted to expunge that shameful memory; she regularly cycles 100 miles a day and never lets her children win at games. The other was a company directer who runs marathons in the Arctic. Now I may be the idlest of couch potatoes but such competitiveness ain’t healthy – if only because you suffer so much when you lose. Neither of these people won, and the woman looked utterly devastated. The best attitude is to look on it as a fun challenge and not mind so much if someone else wins.

So farewell then, John Humphrys, and thank you for reading the questions so fluently and presiding so benevolently over the Black Chair. Not so Jeremy Paxman; though I enjoy his slightly waspish avuncularity and occasional bursts of admiration for contestants’ cleverness, it wasn’t so clever of him to say, as he did the other day, that any fool can read the news. It just caused me to think that if that’s the case, any fool can read out University Challenge questions.

Not cool, Jeremy.

Kirk out

Johnson’s Days are Numbered

I think that, the way things are going right now, Boris is on his way out. So far he’s been Mr Teflon; mud has been thrown – mainly by himself – but it hasn’t stuck. But I predict that pretty soon he will make one gaffe too many and that will be that. It may even be something small that undoes him, but so was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. The day of reckoning is coming, and soon; the question is, who will we be landed with instead?

There’s an unappetising line-up here. Worst-case scenario would be Priti (‘bring back hanging for all refugees and protestors’) Patel. Next on the scale of awfulness is Gove. I can’t see Gavin Williamson making much of an impact on the race to No 10 but Hancock and several other front-runners would all be equally dire. And then we have Sunak. What to say about him? There was a moment back in 2020 when he almost looked personable and in a dim light almost appeared to have socialist leanings; but once you turned the light on and there were revelations about his wife’s massive wealth which he concealed, thus probably breaking the Ministerial Code (but who cares? Ministers break that every day) he looks just as corrupt and sleazy as the rest of them. But whoever eventually wins this race I think it’s only a matter of time before Johnson is done for. It’s not only everything he’s done so far; it’s the latest accusations by his former favourite Dominic Cummings (blimey! Don’t ever get on the wrong side of that guy) including the allegations about renovations to his flat and now even the Daily Mail has turned against him: today’s headline reads ‘Let the Bodies Pile up in their Thousands’, something Johnson is reported to have said as a scenario he’d prefer to a third lockdown. Whether true or not, what’s interesting is that the Daily Mail has had enough; and when the Mail deserts a far-right leader you know they’re in trouble.

Daily Mail front page

So whether it’s days or weeks I think it’s inevitable now. The Tories always get rid of their leaders smartish and without any compunction at all – as soon as they become a liability, that’s it. Off they go.

In other news, I’m happy to report that I had the first dose of the vaccine yesterday. I was unreasonably anxious about it but it went fine in the end. Today I’m experiencing fatigue and joint pain but no other side-effects.

Kirk out

All Right, You’ve Asked for It

Responses to yesterday’s post were very kind and basically said, carry on doing what you’re doing. So I shall.

I’d like to begin by considering George Floyd’s murderer. We can call him that now because he has been convicted of murder, as indeed he should. But what struck me all along apart from the sheer wanton brutality, was the man’s name, Derek Chauvin. Chauvin is French for prejudiced, as in male chauvinist, and I can never help wondering in these cases if there’s a connection between the name and the character.

Does a name make any difference to who you are? Would I be the same person if I were called Rosemary or Petra or Delilah? I can’t imagine being called anything but Liz (if this puzzles you check out the page Why Sarada?) But while Sarada was a name I chose, I only partly chose Liz, cutting it down from my birth name Elizabeth as soon as I hit puberty. Nobody calls me Elizabeth nowadays, on pain of – well, a pretty stern ticking off.

Last night I was watching a film about my namesake Liz Taylor. Burton and Taylor is an interesting biopic, focusing on the time after their second marriage and divorce when they collaborated on Noel Coward’s Private Lives. The film points up the difference between Richard Burton, who was a consummate actor, and Taylor, who was a star. Men seem to have found her endlessly fascinating but I think I’d have had no patience with her at all, always turning up late with armfuls of shopping and a gaggle of pointless yapping dogs. On the whole I think I prefer actors to stars.

So my question to you today is, who are the greatest actors around at the moment, whether on film, stage or TV? Pick one male and one female. I’m going to go with Benedict Cumberbatch and Keeley Hawes .

Kirk out

Complain, Complain, That’s All You Do

First post back after a long break and where to start? I was feeling like The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year, except that a year didn’t seem long enough; it was all I could do to drag myself downstairs and summon the energy for my first proper coughing fit. But now I’m better, it’s given me a new-found respect for people with ME. I don’t know how they cope.

I spent much of the time watching TV. I caught up with the whole of Keeping Faith; not a bad series except that it was hard to fathom people’s motives. Evan was a lantern-jawed, expressionless man who did terrible things for no reason and Faith spent most of her time gazing moodily into space before screaming out a huge steaming pile of heavily-accented invective (I needed subtitles for most of it) and rushing off to apply a fresh layer of lipstick. It was fun to watch though and Celiac Imrie was delightfully villainous as Faith’s mother. It all ends in a bloodbath and a barbie on the beach.

But! Compare and contrast with the astonishing Line of Duty. Can that series get any more stonking? I spent the whole of March catching up with previous series and I’m now like the rest of the population, reduced to one episode a week, six days spent gagging for the next.

This is TV drama at its best. Other than that I’ve been avoiding most of the OTT Prince Phillip coverage; once you’ve heard one Nicholas Witchell statement you’ve heard them all – and besides, I didn’t like the man, though it seems churlish to say so. It is amusing though to hear people try to recast his racist gaffes as the jokes of a man ill-at-ease, not to mention explaining away his Alpha Male instincts. But that’s always the way with the royals.

What amused me most were the 116 people who took the trouble to complain to the BBC about how easy it is to complain. Off with their heads, say I. It may seem hard Ma’am, but I do think a little bit of choppy, choppy…

Oh yes, we’ve been watching Blackadder as well.

Kirk out

Today’s Guest Blogger: OH on Radioactive Kids

Quaker Oats have nothing to do with the Quakers, as in Society of Friends. Some time ago there was a trend to brand certain products with stereotypical characters, such as Captain Crunch, Matey, the Robertson jam golly and there was also a picture of a Native American man with a war bonnet on the side of some packet or other, possibly flour? Some of these were frankly racist – Robertson jam in particular springs to mind here – and whereas the Quaker on the porridge oats box may not represent an ethnicity, it coöpts the image of traditionalism and simplicity the real Quakers may have in the mind of the public and seems also to associate it with the likes of other groups such as the Amish and Mennonites, who are seen as eschewing modern life for a more rustic approach. However, there was never any association between the Quakers and Quaker Oats.

There are of course many Quaker companies, including for example Cadbury’s and Fry’s. I went to school with someone in the Fry family, who were very rich, but he was very down to earth and just a general all-round good bloke. I went to a party at his house once and it was enormous, and this is in rural Kent, so that gives an impression of how wealthy they really are. The situation traditional Quaker families find themselves in today reflects the similar position some Jewish families are in: because they were excluded from many of the mainstream professions such as the Church and armed forces, not being Anglicans, they made their own way in the world and often had little choice but to start their own businesses, and consequently some of them did get very rich. This is not to say that there aren’t very poor Quakers today as well, just as there are Jews, but the existence of these large companies ultimately owes itself to this exclusion. On the whole, the Quakers seem to have lost control of the undertakings, which is what usually happens when a company is floated on the stock market, and they become unethical in various ways of which I can’t imagine Quakers ever approving. This observation about wealth, though, is not meant to be a criticism of Quakers or Jews. It’s just an observation of how the history of religious persecution sometimes has unexpected positive consequences.

My own childhood was characterised more by Scott’s Porage Oats than Quaker, which possibly has stereotypical issues of its own, though maybe not. The image in that case seems to indicate that Gaels will grow up big and strong, and it’s a very masculine image in quite a positive way. There was a third popular brand of oats though which was definitely inferior. I get the impression it consists of the dust that’s swept up when the oats have been removed but I expect it’s just ground oats or something. Continuing the tradition of misspelling which seems to delight the porridge industry, this was known as Ready Brek, and marketed as “Central heating for kids”. At the time I found this off-putting because I felt the word “kid” had dismissive connotations, and in fact I still do so and I know my own “kids” did as well in the ‘nineties and ‘noughties. Anyway, it was famously advertised like this:https://www.youtube.com/embed/SVAvA6fP8Xw?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-gb&autohide=2&wmode=transparent

And famously parodied like this:https://www.youtube.com/embed/Wk0WzCtF0yY?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-gb&autohide=2&wmode=transparent

(both of these will be removed on request).

Only if you don’t know, Windscale, since conveniently renamed Sellafield, was a nuclear facility in Cumbria which almost went critical in 1970 and generally had a bad reputation.

Back to Quaker Oats. The above is an obvious joke, but unfortunately seems to be a case of art unwittingly imitating life. Shortly after the end of World War II, the company, in partnership with MIT, fed children at a “special school”, as we used to call them over here, radioactive porridge. Of course, in a sense everything is radioactive, and more so today on the surface of this planet than it used to be due to nuclear testing and other activities, so we’ve all eaten radioactive porridge, but this particular porridge was adulterated with radioactive isotopes of iron and calcium, as was the cow’s milk added to it, to demonstrate that it was absorbed more efficiently from porridge than other sources. However, this wasn’t pure research. It was done for use in advertising the product. And unsurprisingly, it did indeed show that, because it wasn’t really a proper experiment in the sense that it was breaking new ground or establishing a new discovery which wasn’t already considered probable. It was more like the kind of experiment children at school might carry out in a biology or chemistry lab, i.e. nothing really novel and conducted for different purposes. This was also done without informed consent from the children or their parents. Having said that, the maximum radiation dosage each child would’ve received from this would be about 330 millirems, which is the kind of dose one would receive from living for a few months in some inhabited parts of the planet which have somewhat radioactive rocks and minerals such as Cornwall or Aberdeen. However, this is a false equivalence because of the mode of decay involved. I’m guessing that calcium-48 was used, which exhibits beta decay as opposed to alpha. Alpha particles are easily stopped by the skin but can cause damage if the elements which produce them are inhaled, ingested or injected. Being calcium, the dose would have continued for quite some time and will still be irradiating today because it will be in the bones and teeth and if it was that isotope it has a half-life of around 64 billion aeons, which is about fifteen billion times Earth’s age. On the one hand this is good news because it won’t be as radioactive as a material with a shorter half-life, but it does also mean there would be a long-term steady source of beta particles in the bodies of these children, now adults. The risk from such a low dose is very small, but that’s not really the point.

By the time these “experiments” were carried out, 1946-53, the initial honeymoon period ionising radiation had enjoyed shortly after its discovery had been over for decades, and we were firmly in the era of global fear of the A-bomb, although it was also almost the era of the Ford Nucleon, a nuclear-powered car which never reached the market, and there did seem to be more trust in nuclear power at least, as opposed to nuclear weapons, at that time. Nonetheless I wonder if that fear was the reason for the lack of information to the parents. The issue is not so much of real risk as lack of informed consent, and the fact that the “studies” were conducted on children with learning difficulties. That seems much more incriminating than the mere fact that it was done, because if the real risk is that low and it could be sold easily to parents, there seems to be no reason why this shouldn’t have been done in a mainstream boarding school, for example. It’s a similar argument to the one against the fluoridation of drinking water – it isn’t about the real health risk so much as about civil liberties. I’m not going into the issue of fluoridation here though.

But this raises a difficult issue. There are plenty of procedures which carry risks unknown to the general public. In terms of radiation, one of the biggest of these is actually a barium enema, which uses unusually high doses of X-ray radiation because the image has to be obtained through the very thick and mineral-rich pelvis. There is no mention of this in the information given to patients who undergo this investigation as far as I know. There certainly wasn’t in the late ’90s when I had it done. There are of course plenty of other risks, usually covered in consent forms which people don’t read. Besides this, there are a couple of other cases which I had personally always taken for granted but to which other people seemed to take exception. One of these was the scandal at Alder Hey when children’s organs were routinely retained post mortem. Up until this came up, I had always assumed this was common knowledge – that this is what hospitals did. I’m not saying it wasn’t wrong, but this has created a problem for research. The other odd, child-related scandal that springs to mind is the practice by undercover police officers to adopt identities based on documents derived from people who had died as children and had a date of birth close to their own. Again, this has upset the families of many people who did die young (and that category includes me) but until the reaction I didn’t realise that this, too, wasn’t common knowledge. I suppose one normalises things and values change, although this, as usual, makes me wonder how much of what I now perceive to be acceptable would turn out not to be if I thought about it in a particular way.

Informed consent, however, is a problem with a public which is poorly-informed in other ways. If there were more general scientific literacy, and in fact it extends further than this because the identity adoption issue above is not a scientific one, this kind of deception would be harder to excuse. Not that there is an excuse now, but I would expect the mental process with Quaker Oats was that if the parents of non-disabled children had been asked, they wouldn’t’ve given consent, and the question then arises of why this would be. It also raises another spectre: what attitude did these parents actually have towards their children? It took me a while to pick up on this implication, but I suspect Walter White’s attitude towards his son in ‘Breaking Bad’ is not based on unconditional acceptance of his son, disabled or not, and I just wonder whether the parents in this non-fictional situation might have likewise have given consent had they known, not because they weren’t worried about the effects of the radiation but because, and I’m sure this isn’t usually true, they actually loved their children less because they had learning difficulties. Of course I don’t know this, but I have in mind two things here. Firstly, it’s bafflingly common for fundamentalist parents to disown queer children, which strikes me as connected to the idea of an idealised image of how they wanted their children and grandchildren to be rather than loving their children directly. I can only think this is connected to an authoritarian parenting style, but I’ll listen to anyone who disagrees with me on this. Secondly, there’s the attitude, which sadly charities like Autism Speaks seem to encourage, that children on the autistic spectrum are less than ideal, put a strain on the parents’ relationship and need to be “cured”. This seems to be coming from the same kind of place.

Quaker Oats don’t seem to come out of this very well. Not only have they used the image of a Quaker to generate some kind of folksy artificially wholesome aura around their product, but they have also acted historically with remarkable disregard for the wishes of the general public. Having said that, I would also hope that the public takes it upon itself to keep abreast of accurate information and assessing its quality. This has led to such problems denial of anthropogenic climate change and the various issues with the Covid-19 pandemic. And the other thing, which surely hardly needs saying to most people, is that you really are supposed to love people for themselves and not for your image of them, but I would hope this is a small contingency, at least nowadays.

Have You Got Beetees?

Looking back over the last week I realise that I haven’t posted the link as promised to the Jo Berry interview. She, you will remember, was the daughter of an MP killed in the Brighton bombing who made friends with the bomber in order to effect some reconciliation. So here’s the link and I totally recommend giving it a watch.

In response to yesterday’s post on malapropisms OH came up with an overheard conversation where someone was going to ‘die of beetees.’ So keep your thinking caps on and send me your favourites. In other news, there is no other news except to say that I’m feeling exceptionally tired lately. I can’t blame it on lack of sleep – except that in some perverse rule of inverse proportion I often feel more tired when I’ve slept well than when I don’t – so I think it’s the fact that we’re coming to the end of winter. And what a winter! Most of it has been spent in lockdown (we were in Tier 4 before Xmas so lockdown hardly changed anything) we’ve had snow and ice and cloud and rain and now I’ve JUST ABOUT HAD ENOUGH. I too long for a holiday but my heart sinks when I hear of people booking flights for the summer – since Johnson posited the date of June 21st hordes of people seem to have taken that as the green light to book a holiday; very chancy if you ask me – but I despair sometimes of our ever getting to grips with climate change. It’s as if they watch David Attenborough, then open another tab and book with EasyJet. If we don’t stop flying climate change will get worse and worse and the tipping-point Attenborough warned us of will come and then what will we do? The government talks green but acts – well, whatever the opposite of green is. Since they’ve been in office they’ve approved a third runway for Heathrow (pity the poor people under the flight paths) given the go-ahead for a new coal mine and agreed a tunnel under Stonehenge.

On the other hand I can’t really blame people for wanting to get away. If you’re a key worker or someone cooped up in a flat or if you’ve been struggling with working and schooling from home it must be incredibly tempting to just jump on a jet and head off to a beach somewhere warm.

*sigh*

Ah well, at least we’ve discovered some Dennis Potter on Channel 4 – they have Karaoke and Cold Lazarus. And OH informs me that the opposite of green is magenta.

Don’t forget those malapropisms.

Kirk out