And Finally…

In this week’s episode of London Calling, James and I discuss QPR’s failure to reach the Championship play-offs, last week’s local election results (“Boring,” snorts James), Sinn Fein’s success in Northern Ireland and what that means for the future of the U.K., Keir Starmer’s announcement that he’ll resign if the Durham Police conclude he broke the rules during Beergate, James’s son’s part in Keir Starmer’s downfall, Simon Kuper’s new book about how all Britain’s ills can be laid at the door of mine and James’s generation of Oxford students, and the Supreme Court leak, which James thinks was manufactured to distract people from the Pfizer document dump. Then, in Culture Corner, we praise Slow Horses, condemn White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch and I continue to bang on about Ozark, but allow that it has probably come to the end of its natural life.

You can listen to the podcast here and subscribe on iTunes here.

London Calling

In this a special Easter weekend edition of London Calling, James and I talk about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s unwelcome intervention in the immigration debate, the Church of England’s refusal to ordain Calvin Robinson, QPR’s games on Good Friday and Bank Holiday Monday, James’s hesitation about embracing the ‘chem trails’ conspiracy theory, Joe Biden’s imaginary friend, the sinking of the Moskva and whether the war in Ukraine is going well or badly for Putin (James thinks it’s “running on rails”; and, in Culture Corner, the BBC’s Platinum Jubilee Reading List, Slow Horses, Operation Mincemeat, Flying Colours and The Ship.

Click here to listen to the episode and click here to subscribe on iTunes.

Stop Press: If anyone would like to attend the Delingpod Live in which James will interview Maajid Nawaz on stage, click here.

Subscribe to My QPR Substack Account

I’m a QPR fan and have decided to create a substack blog about following the team this season. After 16 months of writing about COVID-19, I thought it would be a blessed relief to write about football for a change. Although having said that, no aspect of our lives is unaffected by the virus and the English Football League may well insist on vaccine passports as a condition of going to games. On London Calling a few weeks ago, James Delingpole and I had a discussion about what would persuade us to get jabbed. He said he wouldn’t do it for £50 million, whereas I said I’d do it if it was the only way I could go to QPR games. I’ve had COVID-19 (been there, got the antibodies) so pose less infection risk to other football fans than someone who’s been double-jabbed. But if the EFL, in its wisdom, decides that a recent antibody test or a recent negative test isn’t sufficient and only those who’ve been fully vaccinated will be admitted, I’m still not 100% sure what I’ll do.

The blog is free to subscribe to, although if you become a premium subscriber you can access the full archive – and if you become a founding member I’ll take you to a QPR game. Way-hay!

I wrote the first post last night, which you can read here. Here’s an extract:

England’s three lockdowns didn’t cause me much suffering. I don’t have a shop selling ‘non-essential’ goods (e.g. books) that has now gone out of business. As a freelance journalist, I was never at risk of losing my job and didn’t need to take any hand-outs from the Treasury. I don’t have a life-threatening disease so I was never going to die because my local hospital wouldn’t admit me. I only have one elderly relative and she was in our ‘support bubble’. The biggest downside was the intermittent closure of schools, not least because one of my children was doing her A levels and another his GCSEs. No end-of-exams celebrations for them. But I was probably better off than 95% of the population.

The one thing I really missed was going to the football, which I had naively thought might be possible in the 2020-21 season. I even bought two season tickets to my beloved QPR – one for me, one for my 13 year-old son Charlie – and nonchalantly ignored the deadline for applying for a refund. At one point, the club announced that a few hundred fans would be allowed into the ground and Charlie and I eagerly put our names in the hat, only for the offer to be withdrawn when the ‘rule of six’ was introduced. The next best thing was going to the stadium’s posh restaurant on match day – which the club made possible for our game against Cardiff on October 31st. But it was £60 a head and we were told we wouldn’t be able to go over to the window to look out over the pitch. We would have to make do with a big screen. That sounded even more frustrating than watching the match at home, knowing the ground is only a mile away. (Although we did beat Cardiff 3-2.)

It was only when football started being played behind closed doors that I realised how much I valued the weekly ritual. And I say ‘weekly’ because Charlie and I had taken to going to away games, too, criss-crossing England by train. QPR’s away record isn’t great, so more often than not we’d find ourselves on Saturday evening in a carriage strewn with empty beer cans and KFC boxes, listening to middle-aged men in QPR shirts grumbling about missed chances and poor substitutions. Before the second half of the 2020-21 season, our home record wasn’t great either. We finished 13th in the table in the 2019-20 season and 19th in the season before that. Why, then, did I miss it so much?

Worth reading in full.

Let’s Show Vaccine Passports For Football Games the Red Card

Yesterday, the Spectator published a piece by me setting out the case against linking the reopening of sports venues to vaccine passports, something I’m particularly concerned about because the one thing I’ve missed more than anything else in the past year is going to QPR games with my son Charlie. Today, I’ve composed a more detailed version of that case. Here’s an extract:

Would it be too much to ask the Government to monitor the risk of allowing sporting venues to reopen in other parts of the world without an accompanying Covid status certification scheme, such as in Texas and Florida?

Better yet, why not just look at the data from the NFL Super Bowl, which took place in Florida on February 7th, at the height of the ‘second wave’? 25,000 fans were admitted, along with 12,000 staff, and even though only a third of fans had been vaccinated at the time, health officials have only found three people who were infected as a result of attending the game. Three in 37,000. Why don’t the clubs tell that to the fans if they’re worried they’ll be too paranoid to come to games if they’re not asked to show vaccine passports at the gate? I reckon most of us will happily take those odds. Three in 37,000 sounds a lot like QPR’s win rate for the last few seasons.

Please do read it in full and forward to your MP.