Showing posts from 2021

Farewell 2021: "Ring Out Wild Bells"


Top musical parodies number 6: Team Unicorn/Nerdists "All about that base"

As has already been noted there are a particularly large number of musical parodies based on the "Star Was" universe which range from the astonishingly good to the incredibly bad - the ideas which inspired the latter were sometimes worthy of better execution.  Examples of the former which dserve an honourable mention include an excellent parody of "let it go" from Frozen, and more than one excellent parody of " Bohemian Rhapsody " by Queen. Bohemian Rhapsody has, of course been a gift to writers of parodies for years, such as a version supposedly about Eric Cantona which replaced " Mama, I killed a man " with " Maman, I kicked a fan " to those which refer to the current coronavirus pandemic . There are some very funny Star Wars takes on the Bohemian Rhapsody, such as this one which includes Darth Vader and Boba Fett singing " Jabba, just captured Han! " , or this one , which has lines like  " Boba Fett, Boba Fett, was

Target hit - all eligible adults have been offered a booster vaccine

If you have not yet had your booster, and this is not because you have had specific medical advice that you are one of the small minority who should not take the vaccine, protect yourself, your family and the NHS by getting the jab. If you are in any doubt, consult an appropriately qualified medical professional such as your GP.  

Quote of the day 31st December 2021

"My favorite New Year's resolution was to stop trying to reason with unreasonable people. This has reduced both my correspondence and my blood pressure." ( Thomas Sowell , American economist)

Put-down of the month

When your journalistic standards are missed so badly that the Sunday Sport can get away with this put-down ... (Hat tip to Iain Dale on twitter)

Top parodies number 7;"Weird Al" Yankovic's "Fat" split screen with Michael Jackson's "Bad"

No good list of top music parodies can avoid including at least one or two from the King of parody, Al Yankovic.  Here the official music videos for Michael Jackson's "Bad" is shown side by side with Al's parody of it, "Fat," to show the extreme lengths he goes to to get the parodies like the original - even using the same sets and employing the same extras.  Watch this and you will never think of "Bad" the same way again!

Quote of the day 30th December 2021

"I was appalled to see Piers Corbyn and his mob threaten NHS test and trace staff who are working so hard to keep people safe.  This kind of vile behaviour is unacceptable." ( Sajjid Javid , Health secretary)

Top music parodies number 8 - "Star Trekkin' across the Universe"

Those unfamiliar with the history of this may have trouble spotting it, but "Star Trekkin' across the Universe" is a heavily modified (and bowlderised) version of a parody of " I am the music man. "  Back when I was at University I recall my student contemporaries singing "I am the Star Trek Man" which I understand had been written by Roger Kehoe for members of the Sealed Knot society , of which I seem to recall my friends who were singing it were members.  It was sung to the tune of "I am the music man" and each verse began with the leader singing "I am the Star Trek man, I come from down your way, and I can play," Everyone else would sing out the question "Who can you play?" to which the reply was the name of a Star Trek character, followed by an appropriate line for that character such as   "We come in Peace - shoot to kill, shoot to kill, shoot to kill!"  for Captain Kirk or  "It's worse than tha

Quote of the day 29th December 2021

"We'll be doing 'Thought for the day' next!" (Line spoken of Radio 4's "The Archers" this evening after the script for the episode included a remarkably detailed, thought-provoking and accessible discussion about Theology.)

Carol spot for Bank holiday Tuesday: Libera perform "Joy To The World"


Top 12 musical parodies No 9, "Stayin' Alive" (a COVID-19 Vaccine Parody of the Bee Gees original)

There are so many very clever musical parodies to watch on YouTube that all the items on my list of twelve had to fight hard for their places. Another honourable mention which at one point occupied this place in the list was the Barron Knights' Christmas song " Never mind the presents " which parodied three of the most popular songs of the time - Pink Floyd's " Another brick in the wall ," and then " Day trip to Bangor " followed by " I'm only a poor little sparrow " while giving them all a Christmas spin. However, I eventually decided that even more deserving of a place in the list was this American Healthcare pandemic version of the Bee Gees' " Stayin' Alive. "   Very topical, and perhaps more than any of the other parodies on this list this one includes three important messages -  wear your mask,  wash your hands,  and above all, get your jabs -  to which we should all listen if we want to go on Stayin' alive.

Quote of the day 28th December 2021

"JK Rowling has been speaking out for women's rights for some time now, but 2021 saw perhaps the ultimate betrayal. The Scottish author was banished from the 20th anniversary Harry Potter reunion. "All this because Rowling has warned of the risks of replacing biological sex with a new concept of 'gender identity' that is self-identified and not medically verifiable. Rowling has not survived cancellation simply because she is fantastically wealthy (though it helps), but because it's actually quite difficult to convince normal people that the world's most beloved children's author is a bigot for believing that women are real. For this she has been accused of harming trans people, a despicable defamation that has not succeeded in silencing her as intended. "Rowling is not only Woman of the Year but an inspiration to everyone who believes in free speech and reason. At a time when so many politicians and national institutions have been too cowardly to

Monday carol: Angels from the Realms of Glory


The twelve parodies of Christmas number ten: Russ Abbot's "And Then She Kicked Me"

Quite a number of performers have produced parodies of the song "And then he kissed me", including the Barron Knights and Mic MacCreadie .  Here is the Russ Abbot version as performed on Russ Abbot's Madhouse.

Quote of the day 27th December 2021


The Twelve Parodies of Christmas number 11: Star Trek and Star Wars parodies

One thing that Star Trek and Star Wars fans have in common - and there are more than either will want to admit - is that both have spent a vast amount of effort assembling parody songs. My list of the top twelve parodies was always going to end up including at least one or two Star Trek or Star Wars parodies or both, as several - particularly some of the professional ones - score very highly against the five criteria I set.  A more difficult question was whether to include one of the very large number of Christmas parodies made by fans for either franchise. Some of the ideas are very funny but the execution - which often involves stitching together literally hundreds of clips from the shows or films - may have been very time consuming but does not always perfectly come off. On the Star Trek side there have been multiple versions of "All I want for Christmas" such as this one (to which the answer was "Tea, Earl Grey, hot!") or of the Christmas song "Let it sno

The Irish Rovers sing a carol for 26th December (a.k.a. the Feast of Stephen)


Quote of the day 26th December 2021


The twelve parodies of Christmas, number 12 - LadBaby

As promised, over the twelve days of Christmas I am running a sequence of the best musical parodies. My criteria for these parodies are  1) Impossible to hear the original without thinking of the parody (special points if performers responsible for the original have said they found the words of the parody running through their mind during live performances of the original)  2) The parody should be particularly funny  3) A clever adaptation - the parody should sound as similar as possible or retain as many words as possible while completely changing the meaning  4) Timeless - likely or known to be still funny decades later  5) Topical - as an alternative to criteria 4) above, particularly appropriate to late 2021 or early 2022.  I concluded that LadBaby, who have today set a record by having four consecutive Christmas number one hits (the previous record was three) had to feature on the list with their songs about sausage rolls put together for charity, deserved a place on the list for

Her Majesty the Queen's Christmas Broadcast 2021


Christmas day carol:" O Come, all ye Faithful"


Quote of the day for Christmas Day 2021

Luke's gospel, chapter 2, verses 8 to 11: "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

A Christmas message

For anyone reading this who is of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Bahai faiths , May the God of Abraham be with you and all who you love at this time, guard, guide and protect you. For anyone reading this who loves the Christmas story: May the Joy of the Angels, The Eagerness of the Shepherds The Wisdom of the Magi The Patience of Joseph The Love of Mary and the Hope represented by the baby Jesus be with you this Christmas season and throughout the year For anyone reading this of any other faith , may your God be with you at this time. And for everyone reading this , I with you and your family good health and happiness at this time and a New Year 2022 which is better than 2020 or 2021 were for any of us. In other words: HAPPY CHRISTMAS! 

A note of caution on Omicron

My social media feeds are full of people rejoicing about the evidence that the Omicron variant, while much more infectious than previous variants of COVID-19, puts a significantly smaller proportion of those who contract it in hospital. The different studies which I have seen quoted suggest rather different ratios for how much lower the percentage rate of hospitalisation is,  but we do seem to be seeing a consistent pattern of evidence that it will be lower. I do not for a moment criticise people for being pleased about this because it is extremely good news. I am anxious, however, that we do not become complacent about the threat which this variant still presents to the NHS and to the economy. We are in a very different situation compared with this time last year; some of those differences are helpful, some are not. On the positive side, the vast majority if British adults have now had at least two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine and over 31 million have also had the booster. Th

We must not forget Tiananmen Square

This week the authorities at the University of Hong Kong removed a statue known as the "Pillar of Shame" which commemorates the Tiananmen Square massacre. This appears to have been due to pressure from the government in Beijing. Attempts by governments to rewrite and suppress history are nothing new - it has been suggested that it may go back as far as five thousand years. The Ancient Egyptians certainly attempted it three and a half thousand years ago - for example, Pharoah Tutenkhamun is far better known today than he was for thousands of years because his reign fell during the so-called "Armana period" and a few years after his death his successor but one, Horemheb, attempted to wipe all record of that entire period, which had lasted a generation, from history. After murdering his brother and co-ruler Geta, the Roman emperor Caracalla made the very mention of his name punishable by death. There is even a latin name for the practice of trying to wipe someone from

The Prime Minister's Christmas message


A message to the vaccination teams:

This came from Charlie Mackesy on Twitter (retweeted by the Care Quality Commission)

Quote of the day for Christmas Eve 2021


Quote of the day 23rd December 2021

  "Just because he is clinically paranoid does not necessarily mean he's wrong" ( John Winterson Richards on Facebook this week.)

Millions more doses of Antiviral drugs secured

Four and a quarter million doses of antiviral drugs have been ordered to protect people from the pandemic. Two important deals have been brought forward to combat the Omicron variant and protect patients Government urges all over 50s and most vulnerable to sign up to the national study as soon as they test positive for COVID-19 Millions more cutting-edge antiviral treatments for COVID-19 have been secured for NHS patients as the UK government signs 2 new contracts to help tackle Omicron. The significant new deals have been accelerated following the emergence of the Omicron variant to protect vulnerable people over the coming months. The move will help reduce hospitalisations and ease pressures on the NHS. Antivirals are treatments used to either treat those who are infected with a virus or sometimes protect exposed individuals from becoming infected. They target the virus at an early stage, preventing progression to more severe, or even critical, symptoms. The 2 new contracts are for 1

Midweek Carol - Ding! Dong! Merrily on High


COVID and Vaccination update -the target of a million jabs a day has been hit


Quote of the day 22nd December 2021


COVID-19 and vaccination update


Christmas music spot: The Zither Carol


Quote of the day 21st December 2021


The Economist on Jordan Peterson and the Lobster

This month The Economist magazine has published a piece about the controversial Canadian acadmic Jordan Peterson, who is one of the most outspoken opponents of what is sometimes called "political correctness" and one of the most frequent targets of "cancel culture" and his encounter with a student dressed as a lobster. The really positive thing about the article which refers to a "free speech" dispute at Cambridge University is that it illustrates that supporters of free speech at universities are fighting back, and it is sometimes possible for intelligent compromises to be reached which let people express their concerns without suppressing those of others. You may have to register with the Economist site to read the article, but it is accessible here .

Quote of the day 20th December 2021


More than 900,000 jabs delivered in England in one day

A record 906,656 jabs were delivered in England yesterday - including over 830,000 boosters. It is fantastic to see so many coming forward to #GetBoostedNow, securing vital protection for themselves and their loved ones. If we can keep up this vaccination rate it will be our best hope of limiting the damage - directly to people's health, and indirectly to health with respect to other physical conditions, to mental health and to the economy and people's jobs and businesses - caused by Omicron.

The fight against crime

This week the government announced a  £1.1 billion funding package to cut crime and deliver safer streets  – supporting the delivery of our Beating Crime Plan as we build back safer. With over 11,000 extra police officers already on our streets, crimes including burglary and theft are already down – but we must do more to deliver safer streets and beat crime. That is why we are going further and faster to beat crime, delivering an extra £1.1 billion in funding to support our police forces - a 7 per cent cash increase on last year which will bring funding for policing up to £16.9 billion in total in 2022/23. Reducing crime should be a vital priority for any government and Conservatives are committed to working with police leaders to ensure this unprecedented investment results in less crime and fewer victims.

Quote of the day 19th December 2021

 "If you can't say what you think, soon you won't be able to think." Jordan Peterson , quoted in the Telegraph on cancel culture in Universities. A fuller version of the quote: “If you can’t say what you think, soon you won’t be able to think, because mostly we think in words”. “Herein lies the real danger of cancel culture, particularly at universities, whose primary function is arguably to nurture thoughts and help students learn to think for themselves: “The issue is there is no distinction between free speech and free thought. And there’s no thought without free thought. Thought by its nature is either free or it doesn’t exist.”  “This isn’t a battle for some right. This is a battle for the heart of universities.”

Levelling up schools

The Conservative government is providing further funding to level up education –  with a £4 billion cash boost for schools across England , delivering on our commitment to level up education across the country.   Every child deserves an excellent education and the chance to fulfil their potential, no matter where they come from in the country. That is why we are increasing funding to school budgets in England with an extra £4 billion of support – including £1 billion for SEN pupils – boosting funding by 5 per cent per pupil in real terms. This significant increase, taken alongside our ambitious education recovery plan, is levelling up education and supporting every young person to catch up and ensure they have the skills they need to thrive and succeed.

Comment policy

I have reviewed my comments policy for this blog today and have again decided to continue comment moderation for the time being. I operated without comment moderation for a number of years, but turned it back on on 30th July following a nasty comment on an obituary post, I adopted a strict rule a few years ago when a previous critical comment was made on an obituary post, which caused grief and offence to the family of the person who had died, that I do not allow negative comments on obit posts. It is common for the family and friends of people who have died to look at the internet and see what has been said about the deceased and I was determined never to allow my blog to be used to hurt innocent people in that way again. Most people have respected that rule, which is why I was able for the last few years to comply with a request from a regular reader and poster to turn off comment moderation. However, in July someone who presumably thinks he or she is funny put a nasty comment on an

Saturday music spot: The Shepherd's Pipe Carol by John Rutter


Next year's council funding settlement

The forthcoming year's financial settlement for councils has been announced, providing   a £53.9 billion funding boost to local councils in England   – levelling up communities across the country and supporting authorities with the resources they need. Councils play a major part in delivering for their communities across the country and play a central role in our mission to level up.  That is why we have announced a £53.9 billion funding boost for councils – including more than £1 billion to support adult social care – in the largest cash-terms increase in grant funding for 10 years, whilst at the same time protecting residents from sharp rises in council tax. This is vital to our levelling up mission as we build back better from the pandemic, as well as helping local councils to deliver key front-line services for their communities. 

Reviewing human rights in Britain

The government has announced a consultation into proposals to reform the Human Rights Act - delivering on our commitment to restore confidence in the justice system . Restoring confidence in the criminal justice system is vital for delivering justice in the UK. That is why the government has published our consultation into the Human Rights Act – which will include measures to stop the use of certain rights to frustrate the deportation of criminals, will reduce the burden on local authorities and assert the primacy of UK law over the Strasbourg court. Our plans will strengthen typically British rights like freedom of speech and trial by jury, while preventing abuses of the system – delivering justice to victims and British families. 

Quote of the day 18th December 2021


Trade deal signed with Australia

As a sovereign trading nation, Britain is able to be open to the world, tread our own path, and forge new and deeper relationships. Britain has now used this freedom to sign a historic trade agreement with Australia, our first ‘from scratch’ since leaving the EU, setting new global standards in digital and services, creating new work and travel opportunities for British and Australian people, and unlocking over £10 billion worth of trade. Signing this historic agreement will bring a boost to our economy and increase wages for workers across the country, helping us to level up every corner of our nation. This trade deal with Australia is bringing a boost to the whole of the UK by: Eliminating all tariffs on our imports and exports to Australia, bringing greater trading opportunities to British businesses. The deal removes tariffs on all UK exports, making it cheaper to sell iconic British products like cars, whisky and UK fashion to Australia, while making Australian favourites like Jac

Cutting crime

The government has   announced a £1.1 billion funding package to cut crime and deliver safer streets   – supporting the delivery of the Beating Crime Plan and aiming to build back safer.  With over 11,000 extra police officers already on our streets, crimes including burglary and theft are already down – but we must do more to deliver safer streets and beat crime.  That is why we are going further and faster to beat crime, delivering an extra £1.1 billion in funding to support our police forces - a 7 per cent cash increase on last year which will bring funding for policing up to £16.9 billion in total in 2022/23. Reducing crime is our top priority and we are committed to working with police leaders to ensure this unprecedented investment results in less crime and fewer victims.

Archbishop Welby on the BBC

It is not common for anyone involved in politics to say anything nice about the bishops. Left - wingers often see them as part of the establishment, while some conservatives are convinced, not always correctly, that many church leaders are soggy socialists,  I once had occasion to point out to a colleague that when he had been decorated for pulling one of his men from a blazing tank under heavy enemy fire, he might be in a position to question the courage of someone who had. (The then Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, had been awarded the Military Cross while serving in the Scots Guards for doing precisely that.) I do not always agree with the establishment of the Church of England or any other church - and that's not always because I am more (small c) conservative than they are either. Nevertheless, I thought that the present Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, gave a very good performance this evening in an online discussion/interview with a number of BBC journalists.

Half of UK adults have now had their booster jab


Carol to start the weekend: Infant Holy, Infant Lowly


Armed Forces Act recieves Royal Assent

This week the  our Armed Forces Act received Royal Assent  – improving access to key public services as we support those who risk their lives for this country.  Our Armed Forces risk their lives for this country and it is vital that we recognise the sacrifices they have made by ensuring that they are not disadvantaged when accessing key public services.   That is why the Armed Forces Act – which this week received Royal Assent – enshrines the Armed Forces Covenant into law, improves the Service Justice System, and increases access to services like healthcare, education and housing for serving personnel, veterans, and their families.  This Act builds on the progress which the Conservatives have already made improving the lives of Armed Forces personnel – which is no less than they deserve after risking their lives for this country.

Children's Social Care

The government has announced  new mandatory national standards for children’s social care accommodation  – rooting out bad practice as we level up outcomes for those most in need. Excellent children’s social care has never been more vital – we cannot, and will not, accept poor quality or unsafe accommodation for children in our care. So the Conservative government is why we are introducing new mandatory standards to improve the experience of children in social care – providing better supported accommodation for 16 and 17 year olds, introducing new accountability from Ofsted, and delivering the biggest increase in places at new or refurbished children’s homes since 2010.  These reforms represent a new chapter for children’s social care, which alongside the ongoing independent review, will level-up outcomes for those most in need.

Quote of the day 17th December 2021


Testing, testing ...

The government has announced plans to   work with Royal Mail to double the UK’s testing availability  – ensuring the British people have access to Covid-19 tests to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. The UK testing programme is the biggest in Europe, but we know that demand for tests is growing further with the arrival of the Omicron variant. That is why the UK government has have announced a collaboration between the UKHSA and Royal Mail to expand our testing distribution – by Saturday 18 December, 900,000 PCR or LFDs will be delivered to homes each day, more tests will be available in local pharmacies, and – from today – we will increase booking at PCR testing sites by up to 100,000 slots. It is vital we all play our part in the national effort to tackle Omicron by getting tested if we have symptoms and using LFDs daily if we’re a close contact of a case.

Thursday music spot - Get that jab and go!

This alternative sea shanty was of course released some months ago to support the original vaccination programme,  However, everything in it is just as relevant to the Omicron Emergency boost campaign.

Get Boosted Now

I make no apology for repeating this message - if you have not already done so, and are not one of the very small number of people who have a specific condition or are receiving other treatment which makes you one of those who should not take the jab, please protect yourself, your family, your community and the NHS by booking your vaccinations. Yesterday, the Prime Minister  held a press conference urging everyone to get boosted now   – to protect themselves and others against Omicron. The Omicron variant is spreading extremely fast in the UK – yesterday we recorded the  highest number of cases since the beginning  of the pandemic, and the doubling rate in some areas is now down to less than two days. We know that two vaccine doses, while they do provide some immunity, are not enough to give maximum sufficient protection against Omicron – getting a booster jab reduces your risk of catching the Omicron by three quarters and is more important than ever.  That is why the government launc

Latest jobs figures

Figures released this week   show that the number of people in employment rose by 257,000 in November, with job vacancies and wages also rising   – showing that the government's Plan for Jobs is working.  As we Build Back Better, our priority is getting people into well-paid, high skilled jobs, and helping businesses to thrive.  The latest figures show that the number of payroll employees rose by 257,000 in November and now stands at record levels, well above pre-pandemic – with the unemployment rate falling by 0.4 per cent over the last quarter, and over 1.22 million job vacancies now available. This shows that our Plan for Jobs is working - bringing economic security to millions of workers and greater prosperity throughout the country as we Build Back Better.

Britain's national cyber strategy

The government has   announced a new National Cyber Strategy - investing a record £2.6 billion into UK science and technology   and securing our position as a leading cyber power.  Cyber security is fundamental to our future national security and to strengthening our defences – our integrated review, published earlier this year, set out how we are building on our cyber capabilities That is why the government is we are investing a record £2.6 billion into cyber as part of Britain's national cyber strategy, which will set out how we are solidifying our position as a global cyber power. This investment includes £114 million for the National Cyber Security Programme and a new National Cyber Force based in Lancashire.  This will help us to advance our nation in cyber space and protect UK interests in a rapidly evolving online world.   It will also help protect all of us from having our assets stolen or our health damaged by the actions of cyber criminals. In Cumbria the organisations wh

Quote of the day 16th December 2021


Polling Day

Today is polling day in the North Shropshire by-election. I have been very impressed with the Conservative candidate Doctor Neil Shastri-Hurst, who has served his country both in the army and as an NHS doctor and who I think would be a huge asset to the House of Commons. If anyone reading this from North Shrophire has not yet decided how to vote, I would encourage you to vote for Neil. There are also by-elections for four council seats in three wards of Workington Town Council Good luck to Chris Richards in Salterbeck ward, Jacqueline Kirkbride in Stainburn, Mike Davison and Rebecca Newton in St John's ward.  Polls are open until 10pm

Another vaccination record

Yesterday a record 656,711 booster jabs were administered over the UK - a fantastic result which will make us all safer against Omicron.

All UK adults can now book their booster jab

From   this morning all adults over the age of 18 can book their booster jab , as we continue to rapidly expand our vaccination programme to strengthen our defences against Omicron this winter. The Omicron variant is extremely transmissible, and while vaccine efficacy against symptomatic infection is substantially reduced against Omicron with just two doses, a third dose boosts protection back up to over 70 per cent. That is why from today all adults can book their booster jab on our National Booking Service as we continue to rapidly rollout our booster jab programme. We have also removed the remaining countries from the travel Red List following our review of our travel restrictions, while maintaining testing requirements pending a review in early January. The single most important thing that every person can do is Get Boosted Now to protect yourself, your friends and your family, and our way of life.

Quote of the day 15th December 2021


Record number of booster jabs booked!

More than 650,000 people came forward yesterday to book their booster jabs - a record number of vaccinations booked in one day.  

Call for volunteers

The Chief executive of the NHS and the Prime Minister have jointly issued a   call for volunteers to come forward and join our mission to get as many jabs in arms this winter  – as we urge all adults to get boosted now.  Reaching our ambition of offering every eligible adult a booster jab before the new year is a national mission and we will need volunteers to help us achieve something on this scale.  That is why the Prime Minister and the NHS Chief Executive, Amanda Pritchard, joined forces to issue a rallying cry for volunteers to come forward and support our booster campaign, working alongside our GPs, doctors and nurses to deliver these crucial booster jabs.   Vaccines remain our best defence against the virus which is why everyone is immensely grateful to our volunteer services and brilliant NHS who are leading our national mission – please, volunteer where you can and help us turbocharge our national mission this winter. 

Cracking down on benefit fraud

The government has announced   a £510 million crackdown on benefit fraudsters , protecting honest taxpayers’ money that funds essential public services. Despite preventing at least £1.9 billion of fraud during the pandemic, some criminals took advantage of the government's commitment to make sure that people could access support where it was needed to put in fraudulent claims. That is why the government investing £510 million to crackdown on benefit fraudsters and recover taxpayers’ money. 2,000 trained specialists will be recruited to review benefit claims, carry out property checks, follow up earning declarations, and cross-check bank details. Anyone trying to abuse the benefits system and con the taxpayer will be caught out as this crackdown protects honest taxpayers’ money and the funding of our public services.

Quote of the day 14th December 2021


Rapid testing to replace self-isolation

It has been announced that   daily rapid testing for the fully vaccinated will replace the requirement for Omicron contacts to isolate for ten days , taking proportionate and practical steps to limit the impact of COVID-19 on people’s lives. The Omicron variant is quickly gaining ground in the UK and is expected to become the dominant strain by mid-December. That is why from Tuesday 14th December, people who are fully vaccinated and identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19 should take an NHS rapid lateral flow test every day for seven days, replacing the requirement for Omicron contacts to isolate for ten days. This is a proportionate and practical steps will limit the impact of the virus on people’s day to day lives while helping to reduce the spread of Omicron and giving people more time to get their booster jabs.

The Omicron Emergency Boost - all eligible UK adults to be offered a booster by 31st December.

The   Prime Minister has announced a national mission to offer every eligible adult their booster before the New Year , protecting friends, family, and our NHS. We are now facing an emergency in our battle with the Omicron variant, which is doubling every two to three days in England, and we must urgently reinforce our wall of vaccine protection to keep our friends and loved ones safe. Early analysis of Omicron cases shows that two vaccines alone are less effective at stopping the new variant, but a third booster prevents around 75 per cent of people getting any symptoms. That is why the government is launching the Omicron Emergency Boost, a national mission to offer every eligible adult their booster before the New Year. We are deploying 42 military planning teams across the UK to set up additional vaccine sites and vaccination clinics will extend their opening hours. Additionally, work from home guidance comes into effect today. Everyone should Get Boosted Now to protect yourself, yo


The current situation in Afghanistan presents all manner of impossible decisions with no right answer. Over the past twenty years, at the cost of a substantial amount of money and far too many irreplaceable lives, the West attempted to build a viable nation. This was not entirely without positive results - the country has not been used as a base to commit terrorist atrocities in the rest of the world since 2001 and a generation of Afghan women grew up with rights and access to education and healthcare. However, all those efforts were undercut because the elected government of Afghanistan proved to be an incompetent kleptocracy for which almost the only argument in its defence was that the unstable coalition of brain-dead barbarians which replaced it faster than anyone thought possible when Western troops pulled out was obviously going to be, and is, even worse. We now have the situation where an entire country is in serious danger of mass starvation, and although the primary reasons fo

Quote of the day 13th December 2021


GB News

I spent part of last week in Birmingham for work reasons. This was not in breach of government advice to work from home if possible, that advice was not issued until after I had arrived in Birmingham and does not come into effect until tomorrow. Looking for a news channel in my hotel during the visit, I was unable to find the BBC news 24 channel which I usually watch, but did find GB News which we cannot get in West Cumbria. So I thought I would watch it to see what the fuss is all about. Any Conservatives who want GB news to do well in the hope that the channel will give the government an easy ride would appear to be doomed to disappoinment - if anything most of the commentators on the channel seem to be even more hostile than those on the other channels. What was different was the direction of the criticism - much if not most of it came from exactly the opposite direction that you get from much of the rest of the media. Instead of the lazy and stereotypical depiction of Boris Johnson

What are your favourite musical parodies?

I will be running a series of posts on my blog over the twelve days of the Christmas season - from Christmas day to 12th Night - about the twelve best musical parodies. My criteria for these parodies are      1) Impossible to hear the original without thinking of the parody (special points if performers                          responsible for the original have said they found the words of the parody running through their                mind during live performances of the original)      2) The parody should be particularly funny      3) A clever adaptation - the parody should sound as similar as possible or retain as many words as                possible while completely changing the meaning      4) Timeless - likely or known to be still funny decades later      5) Topical - as an alternative to criteria 4) above, particularly appropriate to late 2021 or early 2022. If anyone would like to nominate a musical parody for my list which you think scores highly on one or more of the above

When an argument is taken too far

Until today I had been quite concerned about the allegations that there were Chrsitmas Parties in Number ten and other government buildings last christmas. It is essential that the same rules and laws apply, and are seen to apply, to everyone - we cannot have one rule for the people who work at the heart of government and a different rule for the rest of us. I thought - and still do think -  it was essential that the country's senior civil servant has been asked to check what was going on in Number Ten on the dates mentioned by the BBC.  There cannot be one rule for the people who work in government and another for everyone else. There needs to be transparency about what actually did happen,  However, the BBC did not allege that the PM attended the party which they say took place on 18th Decembet - indeed they reported that he wasn't there. Facebook posts and a report in the local Bolton newspaper posted on that day suggests that in fact the PM was 200 miles away visiting the O

Psalm of the month: Psalm 22, "My God, my God, look upon me"

This psalm, which according to tradition was written by King David some three thousand years ago, was almost certainly what Jesus was quoting when he called out from the cross “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” just before he died.  Some of the verses of this psalm, such as verses 7, 8, 17 and 18, still make me sit up and blink at how closely it foreshadows His crucifiction. MY God, my God, look upon me; why hast thou forsaken me?   and art so far from my health, and from the words of my complaint? 2 O my God, I cry in the day-time, but thou hearest not;   and in the night season also I take no rest. 3 And thou continuest holy,   O thou Worship of Israel. 4 Our fathers hoped in thee;   they trusted in thee, and thou didst deliver them. 5 They called upon thee, and were holpen;   they put their trust in thee, and were not confounded. 6 But as for me, I am a worm, and no man;   a very scorn of men, and the outcast of the people. 7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn;   they shoot o