RANT OF THE MONTH:
Nothing to write home about
This letter was written by my father after a night raid on London in 1941: “We all went back up and the high street was gone: nothing left of the main stores and from the library to the Post Office it was all gone, nothing, just nothing was there.” Over the last year we bombed Debenhams and countless small shops, levelling the collective High Street – for what, and for why? There’s no letter worth writing about the blitz of 2020-21.
Trumpet the retreat to 2020
When will the right-wing press stop apologising for Donald Trump and making claims for some sort of positive legacy? Trump’s ego has proved as precious – not in a good way – and fragile as a Ming vase. He is a self-pitying hypocrite blaming others for what the hypocrite did to himself: lost; being a fear mongering politician complaining about Project Fear; and a so-called idealist who ignores reality, and complains when it sinks in. If Trump’s reality is that he is still President, he should go back to 2020 and stay there, where he belongs. It was a shitty year. It was his year. Here in 2021, we need leaders with courage, accountability and responsibility. If Trump wants to join us he has to first accept that he was wrong and seek redemption. Maybe he can find it where others have and take up gardening. Better still, try cultivating some kindness, and watch it grow through reciprocity. There is no room for the old Trump in 2021, but we can always squeeze in a redeemed Trump. We just won’t hold our breath waiting.
Sarah Morrison, High Wycombe
Lockdown’s lazy journalism
Modern journalism is often poorly researched, but under lockdown it seems worse than ever. Clearly many journalists are stuck at home and reduced to finding all their information on the internet and accepting it without question. Unfortunately, they are not all getting their information from the same online sources, leading to substantial inconsistencies, even within the same edition of a paper. To cite just one example in January, an article in a leading broadsheet claimed President Biden’s relationship to Captain Christopher Biden, who served in India in the 19th century, boded well for future British-American relations. And yet, several pages earlier, an article reported that it was unlikely Biden was closely related to the said Captain, and besides Biden himself believed his ancestor was called George. A couple of weeks earlier, a major tabloid gave three different figures for the length of the Brexit trade deal with the EU in as many pages, and ubiquitous references to the Government’s vaccination targets are often stated with significant differences within the same journal. Can I suggest journalists take advantage of the “if you need to work, go to work” rule and get out there and do some genuine research and reporting? We all have access to Google, even here in deepest Devon.
Jon Westwood, Sidford
On your bike, Boris
The public became aware in January that the Prime Minister travelled seven miles to take a bike ride at the Olympic Park. The PM’s excursion seemed particularly galling after two women were fined earlier the same month for driving five (not seven!) miles for a walk. It took place when the pandemic was arguably reaching its most critical point. Quite apart from it being questionable as to why he needed to travel that far – or indeed any distance (a bike being a mode of transport afterall, so why not just ride it there and get even more exercise?) – it seems that, yet again, Johnson sees himself as above the rules and his privileged position means he does not have to worry about trivial matters such as reducing contact with others in order to curb the spread of the virus. If he can’t at least set a decent example, he should just leave.
James Hingley, London
Covid’s hypocritical oafs
When it comes to Covid-19 it is hard knowing what to be angriest about: the endless botched, futile attempts to eradicate an endemic virus with a 99.6% survival rate; the ease at which we’ve discarded a millennium’s worth of hard fought liberties; our society’s unsettling
disregard for our children’s education; the way the Government casually switches strategy between “blame the public” to “scare the public” to “threaten the public”, without ever once considering “trust the public”. All those make me simmer with fury, but what has me properly riled up is the hypocrites. The vocal, smug grandstanders who think that these ever-changing knee-jerk, often mind-boggling
barmy, laws must apply to everyone apart from them. From the moronic visitor to the beach in Bournemouth, who’s shocked by the amount of visitors to the beach in Bournemouth, to the “It’ll build character” armchair hard men who have never had their own youth stolen (and I never once heard my Grandad who actually fought in a real war ever say “build character”), to the super enthusiastic lockdown news anchors who can’t even keep up with the most basic lockdown rules, to the celebs loudly demanding ever stricter measures whilst quietly skipping off for a fortnight in Antigua, to the middle class lap-topping WFHs who petition for harder and deeper
restrictions on society, whilst getting the weekly Waitrose shop delivered directly to their doorstep. My suspicion is that the more outwardly zealous the lockdown enthusiast the more likely they are to breach the rules themselves. Like many Brits I’ll forgive incompetence but there’s a special place in Hell for the hypocrites.
Gavin Griffiths, Stratford-upon-Avon
Petty officials unmasked
One group to benefit from the lockdown culture of the last twelve months is the legion of petty, often self-appointed, officials and counter staff who trumpet their fake yellow jacket authority to us, the public. In the deserted town centre, a little brass band plays to a crowd of ten souls, two of whom are “Covid Stewards” presumably looking to determine if the other eight spectators secretly know each other and may have to be dispersed under the rule of the day. Maskless, I bought a coffee and the barista, (the barista!!) asks “do you HAVE a mask?” At £4 for a coffee I was already short of breath. There is an underground group who don’t wear the mask, don’t quarantine, and don’t blog all day fretting about whether they have too many people in their mandated social bubble. They move as quickly and silently as possible to minimise visibility. They are called working people!
Shanice Janiqua by email
What is it about social media that brings out the vileness in people? Is it some misguided notion that no one can come knocking on their door? (I say misguided as anyone using their real name can easily be tracked down using a bit of Google and determination.) Having been off Facebook for over a year, I recently logged on out of curiosity. The first post I saw was a comment by an ex-colleague telling someone, “sorry, even your mother having Covid isn’t as important as the survival of the environment. This pandemic is Mother
Nature’s way of ridding herself of the cancer that humanity has become.” You might think this is just some madman, someone who lives on the fringes of society, but no: this is a 56 year-old man who has a career, has many friends, has travelled, and lives in a big city. If someone like him can make such incendiary, hurtful comments to someone whose mother is in hospital, there isn’t much hope for anyone else. Social media has its good uses, but it has also brought out the very worst in people. While I believe in freedom of speech, I don’t believe anyone has the right to be so scathingly hurtful, especially when they can still make their point without attacking. While social media giants are banning ex-presidents and fake news, it’s about time they did something about people like him. Perhaps a divisive leader is easier to single out than the millions of people spreading poisonous hatred.
Hal Ghazi, London
Of the English winter, Lord Byron wrote in Don Juan: “Ending in July, / To recommence in August”. Had the 19th century’s great poet-activist lived among us, these same words would instead have begun an epic poem (Don Juan Mata, anyone?) on the theme of our national game, more perpetual than beautiful. One of the most lamentable indirect consequences of the pandemic was the temporary suspension of the 2019-20 football season. Setting a dangerous precedent, Lord Byron’s formerly sacrosanct English summer was tarnished by the insufferable presence of football for the first time. The resulting epic has composed itself: by the finale of this summer’s confusingly named Euro 2020, fans will have been treated to more than a year of uninterrupted footy. Goals, each somehow more meaningful than the last, will be scored and conceded; endorphins will be secreted with abandon; inarticulate ex-players-turned-pundits will red-bloodedly cheer on their former clubs under the guise of serious punditry. This orgy of excitement will be too much for many. At this season-and-a-half ’s end, a seething mass of exhausted fans will sob, groan and cry: “please…I can’t stomach another thrilling 0-0 draw.” But the relentless footballing machine does not pay heed. Three weeks later, it splutters into action once more. Normality is resumed; the finer details of Burnley v West Brom are expectantly pored over.
Thomas Allinson, London