Thursday 3 June, 2021

Our local Canada Geese family, photographed late yesterday. All eight fluffballs have grown into gawky teenagers.

Quote of the Day

”There was clearly no need for a war to lay waste to the biosphere; all that was needed was business as usual.”

  • Francis, a character in Edward St Aubyn’s new novel, Double Blind.

(I’m reminded of it by this morning’s news about Republican opposition to Joe Biden’s ‘pause’ on the Alaskan exploration licences awarded by Trump to oil companies.)

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

John Garth | Cello Concerto No 6 in D Major


Long Read of the Day

Sport loves athletes with mental health issues – if they just shut up and play

Well, perhaps not long, but definitely today’s best read. Marina Hyde on the ludicrous hypocrisy of the bodies that run professional tennis.

You do have to admire tennis’s position on health. The women’s No 2 has been pushed into withdrawing from a grand slam for having the temerity to take a small step to protect her own mental equilibrium, while the men’s No 1 has spent the past 14 months continually honking out anti-Covid vaccine messages . Novak Djokovic has not been officially censured for that, nor for the ridiculous super-spreader tournament he hosted across the Balkans last summer against all advice, which saw several players (including him) catch Covid.

Lots more where that came from. Enjoy (as faux-friendly waiters say in faux-posh restaurants), apparently unaware that ‘enjoy’ is a transitive verb.

The UK’s recipe for disaster: keep taking the tabloids

Britain has a few good newspapers, and some of the world’s worst — its ‘tabloids’ or ‘red tops’. Take, for example, yesterday’s ‘news’ headlines as reported by Politico, after the country had its first day without a Covid-related death :

A major milestone: Most papers lead on yesterday’s brilliant news that there were zero COVID deaths reported in the U.K. for the first time since March 11, 2020 — 447 days ago. The Mail says the stat shows there is “nothing to fear from freedom” and blasts what it calls an “insidious campaign to keep curbs.” The Telegraph says Johnson is now “under pressure not to stall” his reopening, and the Times reckons there is “fresh hope for June 21 as deaths fall to zero.”


A weary Whitehall official put it slightly more strongly after the front pages came out: “I would politely point out that we have been in this pandemic for 15 months and everyone should know by now that there is a lag between cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Today is obviously very good news but as the health secretary said, cases are rising and it always takes some weeks to know the effect of that on hospitalizations and deaths.”

There are numerous reasons why the UK is such a badly-governed state (a dysfunctional first-past-the-post electoral system, a patchwork ‘constitution’, class divisions, inequality, over-centralisation, imperial afterglow, etc.) But the country’s tabloid media have to shoulder a good deal of the blame.

And, of course, while things may appear to be getting better in the UK and the US, in the rest of the world (terra incognito to British tabloids) things are actually getting much worse. And so long as the virus exists anywhere in the world, nowhere is really safe.

”We know what you did during lockdown”

An FT Film written by James Graham.

And a graphic introduction to the dystopia into which we’re heading.

18 minutes long. Unmissable and disturbing.

This blog is also available as a daily email. If you think this might suit you better, why not subscribe? One email a day, Monday through Friday, delivered to your inbox at 7am UK time. It’s free, and there’s a one-click unsubscribe if you decide that your inbox is full enough already!