Second wave of bad rainbows threatened

A second wave of children’s badly drawn rainbows is threatening to sweep over the United Kingdom this Autumn. With GPs refusing to see anyone who seems even slightly ill, frantic mothers with sick children are resorting to ever-more desperate measures, and the fear is that this will include children’s art on posters on in the front-room window in the hope of attracting sympathy, as well as more rational approaches such as voodoo or sending off for things sold on Russian websites. To meet the need is a growing number of black-market doctors offering services on the quiet outside the NHS, fearful though they are of being struck off for treating ill patients.

Seven months on from the lockdown, GP surgeries remain barred and patients are told to go off and recover or die at home. One patient with a technicolour yawn rainbow in her parlour window told me “My sister had a swelling and was told through a crack in the door that it was probably wind, so we were very surprised when it burst and she died in prolonged agony from peritonitis, but she did recognise that it was all necessary to protect people from a nasty cough. Our Aunt said the same when she found her rash was actually cancer: a doctor could have spotted it at once, but he would have been endangering himself if he had stopped social distancing on the golf course, so she was doing her bit for us all. All those in the NHS are, after all, angels, like the ones we read about in Sunday School, in 2 Samuel 24.” She later added “Hang on, you’re not from the BBC like you said; who are you? Hey, come back…”

Teachers welcoming bairns back to school this month have found a new conspiracy theory doing the rounds in classes: parents have reportedly been telling their children that there used to be an organisation called the ‘National Health Service’ which provided doctors who would see sick people. Children are not as silly as we think and know it is just a fairy-tale.

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Well, Ofsted: what do you have to say for yourself?

Come in – stand there. I am disappointed in you. Very disappointed. You’ve let me down; you’ve let the school down; and worst of all, you’ve let yourself down.

I had great hopes of you when you joined Ofsted, Libelrisk; you had excellent references from your previous school, and the glowing testimonials appeared genuine, not a way to ensure you moved you on, but now your conduct leaves me lost for words.

The work given to you to accomplished was not hard , which makes your action all the more incomprehensible. We do work our boys hard here and I make no apologies for that, and we will continue to do so, though I must tell you that you will not be here to see it. I expect hard work, but the work entrusted to you, this piece which was brought to my attention, was not hard but you chose to neglect it to the extent that it was barely considered if at all.

Did you feel it beneath your dignity to bend to the task? It is quite clear, as you have admitted, that you got another boy to do your work – a boy from computer sciences. Not content with this copying or should I say, farming out, of your prep, you did not so much as cast an eye over it to see if he had even given the right answers. He had not, as you soon found out when Mr Williamson examined the script.

There is a word for this sort of thing, Libelrisk; a very ugly word.

This is a letter which you are to take to your mother forthwith. It explains why I have spoken to you and that you will not be returning to the school this term, or at all. If you accept the position and behave as a gentleman should, then I will give you a sufficient reference for your new school, and let you be their problem.

Now take the letter and get out.

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.