Labour: wear a mask when shopping on-line

This week’s Labour health spokesmxn, Jonathan Ashworth, expressed outrage that the Government has not gone far enough in enforcing face muzzles. The government’s half-measures are all for show, he spluttered: all the headlines are about shops and theatres, but the staff of online retailers are the forgotten working class. Shopfloor workers have protection from customers in muzzles and there must be a level playing field to protect jobs and lives, he said: customers doing their online shopping must wear facemasks at all times, because the workers behind the screens need protection from these notorious computer viruses.

Week one of the face-lockdown. The shops are emptying again satisfactorily. Now I get a chance to see what’s on the rails without elbowing dawdlers out of the way. I can’t see much though with this thing right under my eyeline.

Not everyone must wear the cloth. As I gathered after interviewing Mat Hancock, while he was trying to run away:

  • It’s to protect other people in case I have the dread disease;
  • Although I don’t have it;
  • Unless you’ve actually got the Wuhan flu, it’s as pointless as a chocolate chastity belt;
  • You don’t need to wear a muzzle if it causes you breathing problems;
  • Which is what you’d have if you get COVID-19;
  • So if you do get the smit, don’t wear a mask – better to infect the carriage than choke to death.

I wear it: I have a very dinky one which the maid made for me, which beats the designer face-muzzles I’ve seen: my, you should see the green envy. (The rivalry over masks is quite a thing to watch in the salons – all from a lacey lingerie-style, all holes and imagination, down to one that looks as if it was last worn in a trench outside Ypres.) It is taken very seriously – the fashion, at least, and I do wear it on trains. Of course I take it off when I need to make a call or to have a good cough, but I have it for a good show of concern.

I am my usual, cheery self in the shops I deign to frequent. I greet the shop assistant with my eyes, we admire each others’ muzzles, and I ask “Mmmm ngh ngh mmmnnnn!”, which never fails to elicit an appreciative “rrrrr, mngh, ghghgh mmmm.”

What next week will bring, we cannot tell. I am quite looking forward to getting the illness – better now I’d say than in the winter when I have a cold too to cope with. That COVID-19 party was a mistake though, without a nurse to hand. Another member of staff down.

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A hard rain’s a-Cummin’

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed SpAd?
Oh, where have you been, my eager young lad?

I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve hundred pointless quangos
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six moribund ministries
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad offices
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead committees
I’ve been ten thousand miles in lost worthy intentions

And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, (yes, I heard you the first time) it’s a hard, and it’s a hard (now it’s getting indecent)
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed SpAd?
Oh, what did you see, my eager young lad?

I saw a newborn policy with wild wolves all around it
I saw trillion-dollar bills lying on the street to be picked up
I saw an FDA branch with bile that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with no purpose in meeting
I saw a career ladder open to no one
I saw ten thousand talkers who knew only cliché
I saw powers to cancel in the hands of young children

And it’s a hard – rain’s a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed SpAd?
And what did you hear, my eager young lad?

I heard a branch chairman who roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of the public who could drown the whole state
Heard one hundred lobbyists whose hands were hidden
Heard ten thousand voters to whom nobody’s listenin’.
Heard one person ask, I heard many people scornin’
Heard the sound of a good idea dead in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the Cabinet Room

And it’s a hard – rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed SpAd?
Who did you meet, my eager young lad?

I met a Permanent Secretary flogging a dead horse
I met an old Tory who talked like a Red
I met a young woman scolded for thinking
I met a junior assistant, demanding I wear a rainbow
I met one manager promoted for failure
I met another manager demoted for tryin’

And it’s a hard – rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed SpAd?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my eager young lad?

I’m a-goin’ back out to make the rain fall
I’ll walk through depths of the most wasteful offices
Where the people are busy but their work is no value
Where mistakes of the past are poisonin’ their practice
Where the expected knighthood meets the cold face of sackin’
Where the executioner’s face is one they are seein’
Where workload is fiction, where souls are forgotten
Where red is the tape, where none is achievement
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And straight from the Cab’net Office all souls can see it
Then I’ll dry up the ocean of worthless bureaucrats
So they’ll know my song well before I start singin’

And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

The Casement Award: no entries yet?

Last year’s crowd of entrants led to a tight race for the Casement Award. This year is a disappointment so far, but we are hoping for a last-minute surge.

The organisers can thank Michel Barnier for trying to drum up support a week ago, but so far no one has bitten, at least openly.

The Casement Award was created as a prize for the British statesman, civil servant, journalist or other person of influence who, in the model of Roger Casement, best betrays his own country by conspiring with a hostile foreign power. There have been some very impressive entries in previous years amongst those working tirelessly to promote the interests of Russia, China and Iran, but last year’s bumper crop of traitors was dominated by MPs and influencers working with the European Union to harm the British government’s negotiating position. Many were so keen to get ahead in the Casement Award stakes, they even publicised their own visits to Brussels openly to conspire against Britain. The TIGgers and ChUKas blew their chances by blowing their own credibility. Towards the end it was neck and neck between Keir Starmer and a clutch of rebel Tories, but was clinched by the chutzpah of the Chairman of the Parliamentary Security and Intelligence Committee revealed as an enemy spy: a worthy winner.

This year began slowly with many of Brussels’s friends cast out of the Commons. We were hopeful when Keir Starmer took up the Labour leadership but he has fallen silent. A stealthy approach to the prize maybe, after he was pipped at the post last year?

There was a worthy attempt when many susceptible journalists run with an op from the DGSE trying to get the Brexiteer-in-chief sacked as Boris Johnson’s adviser. However the rules of the Casement Award are strict: it is for deliberate betrayers of their own country, not useful idiots. (And for some “useful” is the wrong word.)

Where are Casement’s successors now? Where is Layla? She’ll say anything. Aye, but even Barnier and Van Leyden wouldn’t bother with the LibDems.

As the season wears on we’ll see who puts their heads above the parapet as the post-Brexit gap widens. This year though may be China’s year. They spend money buying ports, infrastructure and politicians across the globe, so who will sup their noodles to get this year’s prize?

There is still time for some left-field entries to come in, and there is always room for a new name to be putin.

New Government slogan ‘to bring clarity’

Number 10 admits the ‘Stay Alert’ slogan was not clear enough in expressing the Government’s actual intention for the next stage to end the lockdown. It hopes that the new one will be better understood.

A government source says ‘Last week’s slogan was researched extensively and paid for expensively, but skirted round the intention. This time we want to be clearer about what we expect of the British people. We are closing in on normality. We do not want people to be lazing about at home the way we told them to. Soon more shops will be open, so if you want to go out and buy your children’s new back-to-school kit, or some sexy undies for your wife or your IT consultant, you’ll be able to.’

‘Our main concern is motivation, and we hope that we can reach the unreached majority with a more direct slogan:

Grow Up ► Accept some Responsibility ► Go to Work.’

Future direction of strategy is still uncertain: there are believed to be consultants working flat out to find new slogans to ensure that they are paid a fee and do not find themselves locked down out of work the way the rest of the country sis.

Regional variants have so far been resisted, to ensure a single, consistent, national message, except where it isn’t. However this week the behavioural psychologists hired by PR consultants, for a better fee, have urged the more slogans be deployed for local conditions and to cope with the needs of differing cultural nuances. These will be rolled out over the next few days, devised specifically for a fee multiplier.

One unnamed government source, currently working remotely from a police cell, said that ‘It’s a canny strategy to ensure all get a dekko at hods o’ new guidance’ and that he is confident that the new campaign rolled out across the nation will see a permanent improvement in behavioural attitudes and the PR consultants’ profit margins, until next week when a new campaign will be required to update and clarify the direction of the lockdown / end-of lockdown strategies as they develop.

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Sturgeon: Scotland has its own, distinct coronavirus

Nicola Sturgeon has clarified that she is taking different measures from the civilised world because Scotland has a different coronavirus.

She insists that Scotland has an independent epidemic with distinct, Scottish characteristics, and that attempts to impose the same lockdown rules as England are a colonial mentality which do not take account of distinct needs of the Corona-Caledoni.

The First Minister insisted the ‘the English disease is not for us: we have developed our own coronavirus disease with no help from the English – they did not even offer to help.’

She points to the difference between the new Scottish coronavirus and the English disease, as she calls it: English COVID-19 causes pneumonia, fever, coughing fits and lung damage, while the Scottish malady causes shortness o braith, coch an’ fiver. Deaths of the diseases are only 2,000, while Mr Johnson’s disease has killed 30,000 in England – which is all due to the toughness of Scots and the foresight of her government in ensuring an independent disease for Scotland, and certainly not because Scotland’s population is half that of London’s.

‘Independent diseases are the way forward for Scotland’ she says. ‘We should not have to wait to receive whatever is left over across the border. We have scientists working on the project constantly: Scotland was once the foremost centre of medical science, and soon it will rival China for the development of deadly maladies.’

In a wide-ranging speech, Nicola blamed the current position variously on the English, the Tories and the English Tories and insisted that the disease the Scotland has will be handled according the specific need for Scotland to keep voting for her party.

‘The English’, she insists ‘are beginning to reopen their society, but we will stand firm to ensure that the petty rises in unemployment seen there are beaten by wholesale economic re-adjustment in Scotland. It must not be forgotten that the economy in Scotland was tanking long before this epidemic, and if we can stay the course, the people of Scotland will understand that their collapse into poverty is the result of a disease sent to us by the English, and nothing at all to do with having the levers of government in the hands of a group of obsessive numpties.’

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