ONS: Flu and Pneumonia Have Killed More People Than Covid Since June
Influenza and pneumonia has contributed to more weekly deaths than COVID-19 since the middle of June, new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.
Just 78 people died of coronavirus in the week ending September 4th – the latest for which death registrations are available – the first time the figure has fallen below 100 since lockdown began in March.
Just one per cent of deaths now mention coronavirus on the death certificate compared to 12.8% which mention influenza and pneumonia, making those conditions nearly 13 times more deadly.
The numbers of overall deaths has also plummeted well below the five-year average for England and Wales, with 1,443 fewer deaths in the most recent weekly figures.
This is a bit awkward for the Government. The day after its new draconian “Rule of Six” regulations are introduced, the ONS reveals there were fewer deaths in the week ending September 4th.
Worth reading in full.
Noel Gallagher: Sceptic of the Week
The NME has written a furious piece about Noel Gallagher, the rock star, who has said he refuses to wear a mask in shops.
Noel Gallagher has said he refuses to wear a face mask while shopping, in defiance of laws which were introduced earlier this year.
Appearing on The Matt Morgan podcast, the former Oasis singer described the use of face coverings as “bollocks”, after they were introduced in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus.
“The whole thing’s bollocks. You’re supposed to wear them in Selfridges, yet you can f***ing go down the pub and be surrounded by every f***ing c**t. Do you know what I mean? It’s like, ‘Oh actually, we don’t have the virus in pubs but we have it in Selfridges?’,” Gallagher said.
Wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth is mandatory by law in all shops and supermarkets in the UK, although exemptions are in place for children under 11 and people with health issues.
They are also compulsory on public transport, with Gallagher recalling how he refused to wear a covering on a recent train journey to Manchester.
The podcast is well worth a listen. The bit when Gallagher explains why he refused to wear a mask on the train is gold. He makes exactly the same point James Delingpole did on Sunday in his piece about why the mask-wearing rules on planes are such nonsense.
Like I was going up to Manchester the other week and some guy’s going, “Can you put your mask on?” On the train. And he said, “Because the Transport Police will get on and fine you £1,000, but you don’t have to put it on if you’re eating.” So I was saying, “Oh right. So this killer virus that’s sweeping through the train is going to come and attack me but is going to see me having a sandwich and go, “Leave him. He’s having his lunch.”
The podcaster he’s talking to tries to justify the policy, but Gallagher just says “bollocks”. “The science says they’re pointless,” he says. When the presenter disagrees and says he “read something earlier” saying masks are effective, Gallagher cuts him off: “F*** off. You only read things that reinforce your own opinions.”
A worthy winner of Sceptic of the Week.
Stop Press: The podcast is no longer available on YouTube – but of course.
A Nation of Bedwetters
Unfortunately, Noel Gallagher is an outlier. YouGov has just published some depressing polling: a whopping 69% of Brits – and a majority of all age groups – say they would support a 9pm curfew on pubs and bars to help reduce COVID-19 cases.
As Julia Hartley Brewer asked on Twitter, what the hell has happened to this country? We used to be in favour of… you know… fun.
You can see the polling here.
An MP Writes…
A reader wrote a letter to his MP, Sir Gary Streeter, questioning the scientific basis for the Rule of Six and saying he wasn’t minded to follow it, or to wear a mask. This was the reply he got. Bedwetting MP of the week?
Dear Mr Martin,
Thank you for your email which I am afraid wins the prize for being the most irresponsible communication I have had this year.
We have suffered over 42,000 excessive deaths in this country due to this virus and no doubt it is partly being spread by irresponsible people such as yourself. I urge you to reconsider as the second spike threatens another wave of serious illness and death as we approach winter. You will be aware that the police have increased powers to ensure that social distancing is enforced.
Stop Press: Another contender for Bedwetter of the Week has hoved into view: David Nabarro, one of the WHO’s special envoys on Covid, who testified before the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Commons yesterday. The summary on AOL is quite something:
The world is still at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and it will take some time to work out how to deal with it, an expert has told MPs.
David Nabarro, who is one of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) special envoys on COVID-19, told the Foreign Affairs Committee the present situation is horrible and grotesque.
He said the outbreak is worse than any science fiction movie, and appears to be getting nastier as cases reemerge in Europe.
Worse than any science fiction movie? So worse than Contagion, in which a rogue virus wipes out the human race? Sorry for the spoiler, but come on!
SAGE Knows All About the False Positive Rate
We got an excellent email yesterday from one of the regular commentators – DocRC. He was an NHS GP for 25 years and now works in sports medicine. He’s done some sleuthing and discovered that SAGE knows all about false positives, although it isn’t clear whether the information has been shared with Matt Hancock.
I read the letter in today’s update written by the Trafford GP to her MP Graham Brady. In it she said she had been trying in vain to get information about PCR false positive rates and cycle thresholds out of the local health bureaucrats. I too have corresponded in vain with a local (Cambridge) Pathologist who couldn’t or wouldn’t answer the same questions. Then this morning a friend who used to be the Medical Director of a biotech company reported drawing a blank from a contact in Oxford’s Immunology Department. The twin questions of false positive rates (especially at low prevalence levels) and cycle thresholds (the number of cycles they run the PCR tests before deciding whether it is positive or negative) are absolutely key to understanding the published figures of “cases”. Actually, I could add a third one which is the percentage of those tested who are symptomatic.
My friend, the ex-Medical Director has just come up trumps. He has found a paper by two people who work for NHS England which says:
“The UK operational false positive rate is unknown. There are no published studies on the operational false positive rate of any national COVID-19 testing programme. An attempt has been made to estimate the likely false-positive rate of national COVID-19 testing programmes by examining data from published external quality assessments (EQAs) for RT-PCR assays for other RNA viruses carried out between 2004-2019 . Results of 43 EQAs were examined, giving a median false positive rate of 2.3% (interquartile range 0.8-4.0%).”
The paper is here.
So we know that The Government, or at least its scientific advisors, know that the false positive rate for the Covid test is in the range of 0.8-4% with a median of 2.3%.
This of course confirms what James Ferguson was saying in his analysis a couple of days ago, that the vast majority of so-called “cases” are the result of false positive tests, i.e. on people who don’t have the virus.
Let us look at the Government statistics, the latest of which I could find is to August 26th:
So to take the week ending August 26th, the total tests were 452,679 out of which 6,732 were positive. The positives were 1.487% which is well within the estimated false positive range of 0.8-4% so they could all be false positives!
Then I found another paper by said Carl Mayers of NHS England which was apparently submitted to SAGE meeting 41 (June 11th)
There is a table on page 6 of the document (see below) which shows that at low prevalence of Covid the majority of positive tests are expected to be false positives. So at a prevalence of 0.1% they expect 209 positives of which 200 will be false positives and 1% prevalence 288 positives of which 198 are false positives.
This blows the whole test and trace program out of the water and of course makes operation moonshot even more ridiculous than it ever was – if you test the whole UK population of 67 million you will get 1.5 million false positives! Go figure, Hancock!
I wonder if we could get Carl Heneghan to comment on this?
My friend Roger Bowles, with whom I made a 15-minute film about Brexit in 2016, is making a documentary about Covid called Unmasked: The Virus and the Disease. He’s looking to include stories from ordinary people – like you and me, dear reader – about how they’ve been affected by the pandemic. Message from Roger below.
Unmasked: The Virus and the Disease will be a feature-length documentary that will follow the progress of Corona from its sensational debut in January as the only player on the world stage, through those salad days of early Lockdown and clapping the NHS, and into the autumn as we try to navigate our way through contradictory rules and ranks of “Covid Marshals” towards our doubtful economic future. The narrative will be told through contributions from experts, footage from the mainstream and alternative media, and – crucially – through the stories and experiences of ordinary people.
We are seeking contributors who are willing to speak on camera about their experiences, particularly the impact that Lockdown and other measures have had on them or their loved ones. All submissions will be dealt with in strict confidence and if it is necessary to protect identities we will do so.
We are also looking for material – video, photos, letters, emails, recordings – that evoke the strangely heightened experiences of this socially distanced year.
The film’s tone will be reflective and, where possible, lighthearted, seeking to balance the seriousness of the main theme, so we are looking for uplifting stories too.
As we move around the country filming over the next few weeks we will be putting out calls for certain kinds of stories or material, or announcing that we are visiting particular places. It would be hugely helpful if you could follow us, like our posts and tweets, comment, and share them if you can.
Finally, like many others, our industry is decimated and we are time rich but cash poor. If you are able to make a donation to support the project we would be very grateful.
Government Responds to Vaccine Petition
The Government has responded to a petition asking it not to impose any restrictions on people who refuse to have a Covid vaccine. It has over 125,000 signatures. You can read the full response here, but one reader has drawn my attention to the following paragraph which she thinks is very sinister:
We believe it is everyone’s responsibility to do the right thing for their own health, and for the benefit of the wider community. There are currently no plans to introduce a COVID-19 vaccine in a way that penalises those who do not take up the vaccine. However, the Government will carefully consider all options to improve vaccination rates, should that be necessary.
Should we be worried about this? I’m not an anti-vaxxer, but I certainly don’t think people should be penalised by the Government for refusing to be vaccinated, particularly if said vaccines are being rushed out during an episode of mass hysteria and the manufacturers have been absolved of legal liability. From the wording of that paragraph, it sounds like the Government hasn’t ruled that out.
Covid Death and Taxes
I was forwarded another penetrating analysis of the Covid crisis by a financial researcher today – this one by Louis-Vincent Gave, who runs a firm called Gavekal Research with Anatole Kaletsky, the much-revered financial journalist. I thought it was so good I immediately emailed Louis-Vincent (his address was at the foot of the document) and asked if him I could publish it on Lockdown Sceptics. Turns out, he’s a fan of the Spectator so he said yes. Not only is he a brilliant analyst, but he’s also the Chairman of the Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque Rugby Club and is engaged in an ongoing negotiation with his local prefet (unelected regional official) to allow the fans back into the stadium. So an all-round good egg.
Here’s the section in which he speculates about why Governments across the West are continuing to vacillate over lifting restrictions when political leaders must know that the virus only poses a mortal threat to people in their 80s and 90s with co-morbidities.
So, given that death rates are now at long-term lows, and that the disease only seems disproportionately to kill folks coming to the natural end of their lives, why are policymakers still bickering about the reopening of schools (the UK), whether restaurants should be allowed to welcome patrons (New York), whether kids should be forbidden to go trick-or-treating this Halloween (Los Angeles), whether organised sports should even take place (France), and over the resumption of a dozen other everyday activities?
The first possible explanation is that policymakers are consciously making the choice to protect the old, even at the economic expense of the young. And they are doing this out of political calculation, because old people are more likely to vote than the young. However, this explanation runs counter to Hanlon’s razor, which states: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
The second possible explanation is that policymakers, having stumbled into this crisis, have now seized on the Rahm Emmanuel dictum “never let a good crisis go to waste”. For the last decade, lacklustre growth across the Western world has led to events as unfortunate (for policymakers) as the Brexit vote, Donald Trump’s election, the rise of the French yellow jacket movement, and the rise of the AfD in Germany and of Matteo Salvini in Italy. In other words, the sort of “pre-revolutionary” grumblings Gavekal warned of almost a decade ago are becoming ever-louder.
Disconcerted by this increasing roar, a number of policymakers have concluded that western economies are suffering from a lack of government intervention, combined with a shortage of fiscal spending, and insufficient money-printing. But cometh the crisis, cometh the moment to embark on the sort of Keynesian orgy my business partner Anatole Kaletsky has lately been applauding (see Why I Was Wrong To Turn Bearish). If to a hammer every problem looks like a nail, then to a large section of western policymakers, the answer to every problem increasingly seems to be more money-printing and more money-spending.
Of course, the real problem may not be Covid, but something else entirely. But then policymakers will use the pandemic as the pretext to embark on policies to fix the “something else”. This means they need to keep Covid humming in the background. How else could they justify the gradual introduction of some form of universal basic income funded by Modern Monetary Theory or MMT (the magic money tree)? Combine this with a healthy dose of Parkinson’s Law at work, and governments have little incentive to walk back on any of their panic-mongering. After all, now that government commissions have been formed and funded to deal with the pandemic, are these commissions going to be in any rush to declare the pandemic over? Or are they more likely to insist that Covid remains a major threat, and that they need more funding to counter it?
Finally, the third and most likely explanation is that western governments were panicked into taking dramatic decisions. This panic was likely driven partly by the increased weight of social media in decision-making. Not that the absence of social media in the early years of the 21st century helped the US government take the right decisions in the aftermath of 9/11; the invasion of Iraq was one of the greatest policy failures in a generation. Now it is likely the Covid lockdowns will rank alongside Iraq in the policy failure “hall of shame”. And from there, the important question is at what point do repeated policy failures start to take their toll? We know from Adam Smith’s remark that “there is a great deal of ruin in a nation.” But still…
I wasn’t familiar with Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” This, I realise, is virtually the motto of Lockdown Sceptics and one of the reasons I’m sceptical about conspiracy theories.
Louis-Vincent’s analysis is great – worldly, cynical and wise. Worth reading in full.
Gary Lineker Takes a Pay Cut and Agrees to Tweet More Carefully – Then Fires Off Rude Tweet
I decided to have a poke at Gary Lineker, the Match of the Day presenter, when the newspapers reported he’d volunteered to take a 25% pay cut and agreed to be more careful in his use of Twitter. I sent the following tweet.
To which Gary replied:
To which I replied:
Couldn’t help noticing Gary’s reply to me got over 20,000 likes, while my reply to him got 120. But bitter? Moi? No. Of course not.
Stop Press: According to the Times, 250,000 fewer people bought TV licenses last year compared to the year before.
New NHS Tracing App – Now Even Worse
Our dedicated NHS tracing app correspondent – a well-informed techie – has sent us his latest update. One day, this app will be studied in the Kennedy School of Government as one of the biggest administrative cock-ups of all time
Christmas might be cancelled but as compensation Matt Hancock has the latest incarnation of the gift that keeps on giving – the NHS COVID-19 app. Like all the other failed contact-tracing apps around the world, this one tries to work out how close you are to other app users by the strength of a bluetooth signal. If the app reckons you have been within two metres of another app user for 15 minutes or more, regardless of circumstances, then it makes a note of an identifier broadcast by the other phone. This is the Apple/Google system which is entirely anonymous, so as the user you have the responsibility for telling the app if you are positive, in which case it uploads its anonymous identifier to Apple or Google’s cloud where other apps can see it and check against their own list of phones they were near and alert their users. Apple and Google handle all this and the NHS is not involved. But they would very much like to be so if you do receive an alert the app butts in and asks if you wouldn’t mind awfully contacting Public Health England to “complete a form about who you know you’ve been in contact with recently”. A form, not in the app.
As an aside for those involved in the mask debate, the app instructions say that tracking can be paused if the user is “wearing medical grade PPE, i.e. a surgical mask, in a health and care setting”. So not just a face covering at the shops then.
Exposure alerting is not all this app fails to do. Indeed, its big selling point is the QR code business check-in function. Alerting might be useless but this function is worse as it can lead to you breaking the law. It appears to be in support of the Government’s announcement on Sept 10th that businesses and venues are required by law to record contact details of all staff and visitors and store them for 21 days to be shared with NHS Test and Trace if requested. There are fixed penalties for organisations that don’t comply. The Government has provided a handy service which can create posters for your business or venue displaying a big QR code that can only be read by their app. The problem is as a venue owner if you only use the government’s app and posters you will be breaking the law because the app only knows which business you checked-in to and when, which is not enough to comply with the law. Even that data is not shared from the app to the venue owners who are required to collect your name, phone number and make a note of which staff were working there at the same time. So if you just put up the posters and ask everyone to use them, when NHS Test and Trace come calling you won’t have anything to give them and that is illegal from September 18th. Another winner from Matt Hancock and team.
Carl Heneghan Strikes Again
In a development that was reported almost nowhere, the Scottish Government announced yesterday that it was changing the way it counts Covid hospitalisations. Previously, it counted all patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 in its hospitalisations data, even if they’d made a complete recovery from Covid, left the hospital, resumed their normal life and were then readmitted for a completely different reason. Now, only patients who first test positive in their current hospital admission (or in the two weeks before admission) will be included in the figures.
There’s an explainer here from the Office of the Chief Statistician. He says the reason for the change is because the Office of the Chief Statistician carried out an audit of the 384 hospital patients who were designated as having Covid in the official data on August 26th and found that 87% of them were in hospital “for a condition unrelated to COVID-19”.
But is that the real reason? I suspect it had more to do with this September 2nd blog post by Carl Heneghan, Daniel Howdon and Jason Oke entitled, “Is Scotland overcounting the number of patients in hospital beds?” They pointed out that In England 7.7 per million of the population are supposedly in hospital with Covid, but in Scotland 46.8 per million are in a hospital bed with Covid – a rate that is nearly six times higher. They more or less nail the reason, as you’d expect.
This is similar to the problem with the PHE issue with deaths in England, which meant previously that everyone who has ever had COVID at any time must die with COVID too…
The problem matches the pattern of poor quality data whereby COVID analyses have overestimated the true extent of the problems. It is, therefore, essential that we have data that we can trust, data that is verifiable and reported in the same way across the devolved nations to permit comparisons.
Poor quality data! That must have stung the Chief Statistician (Roger Halliday). I expect someone in Wee Krankie’s office called him up and gave him a rocket. Can’t have the Scottish Government producing poor quality data, particularly when the hated English tidied up their own Covid data a few weeks ago – again, thanks to a Carl Heneghan blog post.
Keep it up Carl.
- “I will not be undertaking unconscious bias training – and call on my colleagues to take the same stand” – Great piece by Ben Bradley MP for Conservative Home
- “The Lamonby Case” – Thorough and well-researched article about Stephn Lamonby, the lecturer at Solent University who was fired for praising the Jews
- “Families ‘mingling’ would be breaking rule of six – home secretary” – Will the Bodysnatchers please give us the old Priti back? I don’t like the new one
- “Shopping in Sweden” – a nice video of what it’s like to go shopping in Sweden in their beautiful, Covid-free country. Btw, Sweden is allowing care home visits from October 1st
- “Victoria Doubles Contact Tracing Capacity With Purchase Of Second Fax Machine” – Amusing article in the Shovel, a satirical Australian magazine
- “Archbishop of Canterbury voices fears over impact of ‘rule of six’” – At last, Justin Welby says something sensible. I suppose a stopped clock is right twice a day…
- “Federal Judge Rules PA Governor’s COVID-19 Restrictions Unconstitutional” – A legal victory has been won against the Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania. Hooray!
- “Parliament must stand up to an executive bent on restricting us” – Solid stuff from Philip Johnston in the Telegraph
- “Unusual Features of the SARS-CoV-2 Genome Suggesting Sophisticated Laboratory Modification Rather Than Natural Evolution and Delineation of Its Probable Synthetic Route” – Shshshsh. Don’t mention this “conspiracy theory” on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter, even though the authors of this paper are research scientists
- “A tighter lockdown could be two weeks away” – Robert Peston delivers some bad news in the Spectator
- “I supported the lockdown – but the Rule of Six treats us like toddlers” – Julia Hartley-Brewer joins the growing ranks of sceptics
- “The cancel culture mob targeted these three professors. They all agree on one thing – don’t cave.” – Inspiring story about some brave professors who refused to abase themselves at the feet of the woke mob
Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers
Just one today: “Ain’t No Turning Back” by Prime Minister.
Love in the Time of Covid
We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We’ve also introduced a section where people can arrange to meet up for non-romantic purposes. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.
We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. This latest one – from the University of Chicago, no less – is a doozy.
Statement from the Univerity of Chicago’s English Faculty (July 2020)
The English department at the University of Chicago believes that Black Lives Matter, and that the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Rayshard Brooks matter, as do thousands of others named and unnamed who have been subject to police violence. As literary scholars, we attend to the histories, atmospheres, and scenes of anti-Black racism and racial violence in the United States and across the world. We are committed to the struggle of Black and Indigenous people, and all racialized and dispossessed people, against inequality and brutality.
For the 2020-2021 graduate admissions cycle, the University of Chicago English Department is accepting only applicants interested in working in and with Black Studies. We understand Black Studies to be a capacious intellectual project that spans a variety of methodological approaches, fields, geographical areas, languages, and time periods. For more information on faculty and current graduate students in this area, please visit our Black Studies page.
English as a discipline has a long history of providing aesthetic rationalizations for colonization, exploitation, extraction, and anti-Blackness. Our discipline is responsible for developing hierarchies of cultural production that have contributed directly to social and systemic determinations of whose lives matter and why. And while inroads have been made in terms of acknowledging the centrality of both individual literary works and collective histories of racialized and colonized people, there is still much to do as a discipline and as a department to build a more inclusive and equitable field for describing, studying, and teaching the relationship between aesthetics, representation, inequality, and power.
So does this mean every faculty member in the Chicago English department who is a white male will immediately resign his position to make room for a person of colour who can then teach Black Studies?
Didn’t think so.
One of the curious things about statements like this, in which middle-aged white men genuflect before the woke mob and engage in a sort of ritualised self-flagellation, is how similar they all are. At the height of the BLM madness, when university vice-chancellors were pumping out this gobbledegook by the bucket-load, I hawked an idea around to various media outlets which I thought was quite funny. I would create a website called “Plagiarism Watch” that purported to be maintained by a group of Wokesters that pointed out the similarity between the BLM solidarity statements issued by heads of universities and accuse them of plagiarism. I would run the statements through the plagiarism-detection software that’s used by universities to ferret out cheaters and, presumably, each would be flagged as blatant plagiarism. My hope was that after, say, the President of Princeton’s statement was identified as plagiarised by “Plagiarism Watch” – “Racism and the damage it does to people of color nevertheless persist at Princeton as in our society, sometimes by conscious intention but more often through unexamined assumptions and stereotypes, ignorance or insensitivity, and the systemic legacy of past decisions and policies… etc., etc.” – he would immediately issue a grovelling apology and then publish another 1,000 words of gobbledegook (no doubt written by the same beleaguered drudge in Princeton’s Office of Communications). The point, of course, isn’t that these statements are literally plagiarised – although some may be, I suppose. No, the reason they’re all the same is because they’re the product of group think. And because anyone saying anything remotely thoughtful or original about racism will immediately be targeted by a woke mob for being insufficiently pious. (“Just one knee? Why not two? Why not hurl yourself to the ground and rend your garments? How dare you, you racist bastard.”)
Needless to say, no one was prepared to commission this piece of mischief.
Please send Lockdown Sceptics any examples of woke gobbledegook you come across.
“Mask Exempt” Lanyards
We’ve created a permanent slot down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (now showing it will arrive between Oct 17th to Oct 27th). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here.
Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face nappies in shops here (now over 32,000).
A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.
And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).
Stop Press: We got a nice email from a non-masker yesterday.
I don’t wear masks and the natural contrarian within me makes me less likely to do so when it’s been mandated. So, throughout this whole debacle I’ve been quite staunch in upholding my right not to wear a mask. I’ve not made a big song and dance about it – I just simply go about my normal business, breathing the lovely fresh air Suffolk has to offer.
I’ve always been a bit worried about how I might react if challenged by a shopkeeper or fellow citizen. But wouldn’t you know it – I’ve never been challenged. I’ve been going about my normal life, doing the things I would normally do, being greeted the whole time with warmth and a sense of normality.
But actually, normality isn’t quite an accurate description. I’ve actually received more warm-heartedness from shop keepers, folks on the checkout, the chap at the builders merchants and the lady that runs the post office, than I had before this whole nonsense started. And I’m not wearing a mask the whole time.
The result is that I reciprocate this warmth, spark up conversation, and all at once it feels like a throwback to merry old England when the shopkeeper would greet you on first-name terms. Perhaps these folks on the coalface feel a rare sense of ease when seeing an un-muzzled face? Maybe it’s just my own experience, but going out maskless has been great for morale, and seemingly for the people I’ve come into contact with. I urge others to give it a go – spread a little joy.
Shameless Begging Bit
Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here.
In this week’s London Calling podcast, James Delingpole and I indulge in the usual rants about the lockdown, the Wokesters and our flailing political leaders. At one point, James and I discuss what it’s like to have been effectively killed by an online outrage mob (as I was) and then to have resurfaced with renewed vigour (as I have) – like Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. I said to James, “We should come up with a name for these people” and he immeidately suggested “Obi-Wankers”. Hence the title of this week’s episode. Please do have a listen and don’t forget to subscribe.