Sunday, 12 July 2020

Yesterday. Instructions from our PM. And some language stuff.

Well, yesterday got swallowed up in a variety of activities, resulting in late evening coming around and no blogpost written. So, apologies to anyone who looked for and did not find me.

A large part of the day was taken up in a visit to my granddaughter’s house. Cycling over there in the late morning, I was struck by how many people were out and about as I went through Uppermill. The promise of better weather must have brought everyone out. The return journey in the late afternoon was much quieter.

At my granddaughter’s our main activity was clearing the huge pile of weeds and brambles and nettles and such that had accumulated in the clearing of the jungle that was her garden. Gradually the pile is being placed in the garden waste bin to be taken away by the council workers. However, as there is only one bin and rather a lot of waste this has taken some time. And she wanted to clear the flagstoned area of the garden as today she is hosting a barbecue for her housemate’s family. So we stuffed mostly dried out brambles and suchlike into the bin.

As we got further down the pile it got soggier - it has been quite comprehensively rained on over the last week, after all. At one point, to my granddaughter’s delight we found a frog in the soggy mess. She could have been 3 years old instead of 23, such was her delight, after her relief at not having sliced the creature in two with a spade! So the frog was caught, taken inside to be displayed to her housemate, chased all over the living room as it escaped, and eventually placed in a tank. And so a wild frog joined the menagerie - bearded dragon, small snake, African snails, landcrabs, and a couple of baby frogs caught be the aforementioned housemate. Not to mention a cat and a small tortoise! 

Having cleared the debris, we set about sweeping and hosing down the flagstones. First I had to purchase a stiff yard-brush from the hardware shop up the road. And hosing down consisted of carrying buckets of water and pouring them over the surface. But the job was completed quite efficiently!

The housemate, an old school friend and rather eccentric character, did a little washing up meantime. She is given to only sporadic bursts of activity and is not averse to reminding us that she does not like to be constrained into a routine as she is somewhere on the spectrum - ie the autistic spectrum. But she is a pleasant companion, a support for my granddaughter in times of stress and anxiety and ever so polite. Whenever I visit, she thanks me for coming, for helping out in the garden, for providing home-baked scones to eat and anything else I may have done. Such a gracious hostess!

Today I expect a visit from our daughter and her smaller offspring so that we can all go for a walk together. The promised sunshine and mostly blue sky has returned.

In the wider world we have two messages from Mr Johnson: go back to work; lose weight.

Going back to work instead of working from home seems to be another way of boosting the economy. Presumably people working in offices will start to buy coffee and snacks en route to and from work and will make occasional purchases in city centre shops. Cities can come back to life. People might be in contact with contagious others but the economy can revive.

Of course, all the snack consumption will contribute to the obesity problem, which we are told must be combatted before a second wave of the virus hits us. Hmm!

I think our Mr Johnson should set an example - let us know his current weight and then do weekly updates on how much exercise he has done, what he has eaten and how much weight he has lost. This could spur others on to do the same. And provide a little diversion at the same time. Maybe a reality TV show. People could place bets on how well he would get on. Oops, that would contribute to the gambling problem. It’s very hard to find a winning solution.

It seems the UK has decided not to join an EU plan to distribute a potential coronavirus vaccine to its most vulnerable citizens. Some of the justification for this is that as we are outside the EU now, we would not have a decision-making role in negotiations over purchasing. So instead we will go it alone. Presumably this is part of taking back control. Just when it seems to me that a world-wide scheme, let alone a Europe-wide scheme would be the best thing!

Hey, ho! Here’s some language stuff.

I discovered that the French for “distancing” is “la distanciation”. Now, if that doesn’t sound like a made-up word, I will eat my hat!

And in his column in the weekend paper Séamus O’Reilly wrote about his sister Dearbhaile, prompting me to wonder, yet again, at the amazing names the Irish have and how on earth you pronounce them. So I looked Dearbhaile up and found this:-

 * A user from California, U.S. says the name Dearbhaile means "Daughter of Ireland. Fhaile is the ancient name for Ireland. Bh in Irish sounds like a V. therefore pronunciation is Derv-a-la".
* According to a user from India, the name Dearbhaile means "Daughter of destiny".
* A user from Ireland says the name Dearbhaile is of Irish origin and means "Truly desired".
* According to a user from Ireland, the name Dearbhaile is of Irish origin and means "Dearbh=Truth/certain/true Aille=admiration (for)/love (of)/loveliness= Love of Truth/True love/True loveliness From two old Irish words with several meanings. The "bh" is a soft v sound; almost like an f. So phonetically Dearbhaile is pronounced Duhr-flah with the emphasis on the first part; sounds like grrrr and hah! Often anglicised as Dervla, Dervilla, Dervela etc. Derived from the more ancient name Dearbhuirgile. E.g. Wife of Diarmuid Mac Murrough (Dermot McMorrough) but ran away from him! Mother of Aoife, who was married off to Richard de Clare "Strongbow". Daughter Isabel, grand-daughter Isabel, who is ancestor to British monarchy to present day.".

It’s amazing what you can find out!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Friday, 10 July 2020

Jobs, jobs, jobs! Stuff for brightening our lives! Rushing things! Restoring Notre Dame!

Here we are, another Friday. The rain has eased enough for me to risk hanging washed towels to dry on the line in the garden. The weatherman has promised us some brighter weather this weekend, after all.

Things don’t look bright just now on the employment front though. Despite Rishi Sunak’s saying that he was putting “jobs, jobs, jobs” at the heart of his economic recovery plan unemployment in the UK is in crisis as Boots the Chemist cuts masses of jobs, Burger King does likewise and John Lewis closes stores in various places. Quite where we go from here, goodness knows!

Once again I am rather glad not be a young person right now.

And while vouchers encouraging us to “Eat Out to Help Out” might help keep restaurants going and thus keep some people in employment, it’s not going to help the really badly off to feed their families.

But, hey, gyms and pools and all sorts places are going to open up again. Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden is very enthusiastic about it and told us,

“We pressed pause on many of the things that brighten our lives [in March] … but as we’ve made huge progress against this disease, we’ve gradually seen the things we love return. Normal life is slowly returning.”

Among the things that “brighten our lives”, as well as hairdressers brightening our hair, are tattooists, spas, and tanning salons. Oh, and nail bars! Well, places I am not at all likely to frequent, but who am I to dictate what people should regard as essential services.

Swimming pools are gradually opening but nothing has been said so far about changing rooms. The last I heard suggested that we should turn up at the pool with our swimsuits under our clothes and then, swimming completed, set off for home with our outdoor clothes on top of our wet swimsuits. Hmm! Not ideal!

I hear that Disney World is set to begin reopening in Florida this weekend despite surging numbers of new coronavirus cases in the state. Is there, I wonder, an element of “If I ignore it, it might go away on its own” influencing things.

It’s still more than a little dangerous to pretend that the coronavirus crisis is essentially over.

In Tudela, in the region of Navarra in Spain, they have put the place on top alert after 23 wedding guests, including the bride, tested positive for coronavirus. Nobody seems to know if coronavirus regulations were adhered to or whether the number of guests exceeded permitted numbers. It must be very easy to get carried away with the joy of a big occasion and then find that the nasty virus pops up again.

Here’s something else. Chris Grayling has a fine record behind him:

  • £14 million for a ferry company with no boats 
  • £2 billion on the East Coast Line bailout 
  • £23 million on a prisoner tagging scheme that was dropped 
  • £200 million to Carillion who then collapsed 
  • Privatising the probation service, which then had to be de-privatised 
  • The train timetable fiasco 
So now he is made chair of the Intelligence Committee! That’s about right!

Over in France the question of the restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral is back in the news. Is it really only last year that the roof fell in when the spire collapsed? So much has happened since then to take our attention away from it.

Anyway, Mr Macron wants it restored by 2024 in time for the Paris Olympics, assuming that we do get around to being able to organise such events once more. The work has been held up by bad weather, concerns about lead in the original roof and now the coronavirus.

And now they can’t decide what do do about the spire.

Mr Macron argues that the spire was not part of the original design but was added in a mid-19th century renovation by the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. So, as this was a fairly recent innovation, in architectural terms at least, it doesn’t necessarily need to be replaced exactly as it was. The cathedral could perhaps be rebuilt “more beautiful than before”.

This has led to a whole host of suggestions from architects around the world, including plans for a rooftop pool, a giant greenhouse and a park, accompanied by a stained-glass or metal spire – or even a virtual one made of beams of light. Really?! Do architects have any common sense? Who would go for a swim while visiting the cathedral?

Anyway, France’s chief architect for historic monuments, Philippe Villeneuve, wants to put a stop to such nonsense. He says it should be rebuilt exactly as it was before the fire. I feel quite relieved! I have to confess to being less than enamoured of some modern architectural projects. Goodness! I’ll be talking about monstrous carbuncles next!

Now they just need to work out how to rebuild the cathedral more safely.

Finally, in this time of mass social media criticism of people’s opinions, of worries about the political correctness of certain ideas, of attacks on our freedom of speech, here is a relevant quotation from George Orwell, dating back to 1948:

 “Threats to freedom of speech, writing and action, though often trivial in isolation, are cumulative in their effect and, unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen.”

There you go!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Floods? Post-lockdown oddities. The return of Teresa May?

The weatherman on the radio tells me that the dull, damp grey weather we are currently experiencing will soon be on its way out. Well, thank good ness for that! The bit of the River Tame that runs through our village is bouncing along as full as full can be.

I have had a bit of communication online about this with a friend who lives in Greece. Their local river, she tells me, has gone back to being used by the locals as a carpark. She added this little story: “I remember just the once it suddenly rained long and hard early one September. One poor man rushed to his car to drive it to safety but the car, with him in it, got swept downstream. The local police managed to block the car by driving one of their landrovers into a shallow area just short of the sea. They quite likely saved his life!”

We don’t usually have that sort of problem around here. Mind you, there is a building next to the river in the village centre, the building that used to be a bakery, which has a marker stone indicating the flood level on the 13th of July 1872, about 10 feet or more above the normal level of the river. Clearly July has been wet in other years too.

Among the odd consequences of coming out of lockdown is the news that vIsitors to Japan’s amusement parks are being asked not to scream when riding rollercoasters so as to help prevent spreading the coronavirus. Similarly the limited numbers of football fans allowed into stadiums there this weekend are being asked to support their teams without singing, clapping or waving scarves. 

Customers at the Fuji-Q Highland theme park complained it was impossible to stay quiet on rides, particularly the two-kilometre-long Fujiyama rollercoaster, which reaches speeds of 130km/h and drops 70 metres at one point. Named after nearby Mount Fuji, the rollercoaster was the fastest and tallest in the world when it opened in 1996. In response, the park released a video of two stony-faced senior executives riding Fujiyama without uttering a peep, urging visitors to imitate them and “Keep your screams inside.”

There is, of course, a simple answer: close the ride for the time being. I have never understood the appeal of roller coaster rides anyway.

Church of England bishops have been criticised by their church leaders because of tweets they made about Dominic Cummings. Surely if we have an establishment church its officials should be allowed to make comments about what goes on in the country. Indeed, I would say they have a duty to do so. Is this criticism another attack on our freedom to express opinions?

Much less amusingly, a bus driver in France has been left brain dead after being assaulted by passengers. He refused to allow some men onto his bus as they were not wearing face masks. So they pulled him from his cab, threw him to the ground and proceeded to punch and kick him into unconsciousness. Bus drivers should not have to behave as traffic policemen. But, what kind of people get so angry about what is a reasonable travel requirement that they completely lose control? 

And over in the United States, lack of anger management has led some drivers to drive their cars quite deliberately into crowds of protesters. At least one person has died as a result. These are frightening times!

As I listen to the radio news, I find myself wondering if Teresa May is thinking of making a comeback. Recently we had her criticism of the government and today she comments on the dangers of working from home for people with abusive partners. Often, she maintains, for women in an abusive relationship work is a safe place they can escape to and lead a normal life. It gives them a bolt hole where their self esteem is not attacked and they can be the person they choose to be. Employers, Mrs May tells us, need to think carefully about who to encourage to work from home. Interesting!

But also interesting is the re-emergence of Mrs May! Hmmm...!

 Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Opening up! Barbershops! Bars and cafe! Museums! Circuses! And warnings!

The barber’s shop in Uppermill was doing a roaring trade when I went past it this morning. A notice outside said that today was fully booked and gave a phone number to call for an appointment tomorrow... or the next day... or the next! One gentleman tried to do a walk-in but was politely turned away. He made an appointment for tomorrow, declaring that he desperately needed a haircut, which did not actually seem the case to me. In fact his maybe just a little longer than usual for a man of his age hair went quite well with the outfit he had opted for: smart jeans, obviously ironed, and a lightweight, possible linen, pinstriped dark blue jacket. Who says women don’t notice what men wear?

Uppermill is getting back to almost normal levels of being busy. Everywhere has orderly, properly distanced queues but not very many face masks. Coffee shops are opening up, mostly for takeaway but with some sitting outside. Some have notices saying that unfortunately toilet facilities are still closed. Maybe they need to do what bars and cafes in Spain used to do back in the 1960s and have a key available so that customers can be secure in their use of the facilities. In old Spain this only applied to the ladies’ toilets but now it could apply to both genders.

I was reading about museums and art galleries gradually reopening and arranging things so that they have hand-sanitiser available, one-way systems in place and inevitably a booking system so that numbers going in are restricted. I found myself thinking of the Sir John Soanes museum in London, a tiny little gem of a museum, basically a house filled with interesting stuff. It is so tiny that it will be really difficult to organise post-virus visits but no doubt a way will have to be found. In the meantime you can still do virtual visits to the Sir John Soanes Museum.

And what about circuses! The Association of Circus Proprietors has asked for help as they are in dire straits and have slipped through all kinds of aid systems. Companies in this apparently 250 year old tradition say they will go bust in just two weeks without help. Martin Burton, the Association’s chairman said this:-

“The first circus was invented by Philip Astley. His circus building was on the other side of Westminster Bridge … Parliamentarians would cross the bridge and go to Astley’s amphitheatre and watch the circus.

It’s only in Britain – I’m sorry to tell you, considering that we invented [the circus] – that it’s looked down upon so much [today] … There’s a national circus in Hungary. The man who runs [it] is a cabinet minister. The national circus in Switzerland, Knie, are like royalty. The Pope in Italy goes to see circuses all the time. We don’t get that recognition here.”

Joking about clowns and politicians, he also said: “We have to be very careful about the abuse of the word ‘circus’ and the abuse of the word ‘clown’. Let’s not make it too derogatory because it upsets the real ones.”

I’ve just listened to Mr Sunak telling us what he is doing to help the tourism and hospitality industry, among other measures to boost the economy. Special measures are going to be in place to encourage us all to eat out next month: “Eat out to help out!”

No mention of circuses though. But then, most of us forget about the circus until it comes to town.

Warnings are being given by UK neurologists about people recovering from the coronavirus suffering from brain disorders in the weeks and months after being ill. Apparently there was an increase in brain disease following the 1918 flu pandemic, so it is not too surprising. This current alert might affect mostly people with mild symptoms. Now, President Bolsonara is reported to have tested positive but reckons to have mild symptoms. I would suggest he should be careful but ... it is quite possible he was already suffering from a brain disorder! Just a thought!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Lockdown shortages. Birthday celebration bubbles. Accepting responsibility. And testing.

At the start of our lockdown there was a shortage of loo roll. People were stockpiling. Then there was a shortage of flour and eggs. People were baking. Or perhaps just stockpiling again. Now there seems to be a shortage of bicycles. Or at any rate Phil is having difficulty buying one.

It is unusual for Phil to be without a bicycle. After all, he used to cycle goodness knows how many miles to work and back in his younger days, on a very fine road bike. But as our cycling these days is pretty much all on bridle paths with their gravelly surface he really needs a nice hybrid like mine, not fully mountain bike but good on all surfaces. Can he find one? Not easily! The first place he contacted said they had the bike he wanted and just needed to check whether they could deliver. They never got back to him. Another place closed down. Yet another simply ignored him. One looked promising but was based in Northern Ireland, making delivery a problem. The latest took several days to answer his email, only to tell him the bike he wanted was out of stock.

It seems that the places that remain open have been inundated with orders and are selling out as fast as they replenish their stocks. Then there is the delivery problem; many of them want buyers to go and collect - a bit difficult if you live in Greater Manchester and the supplier is in Newcastle!

It’s rather a pity he is still bikeless as if that were not the case, yesterday he could have accompanied me on a ride to our oldest granddaughter’s house to wish her a happy birthday. In the absence of an actual birthday cake, difficult to carry in the small rucksack I use to carry essentials while cycling, I got some on my home-made scones out of the freezer. They defrosted as we rode and we celebrated her birthday with strawberry jam on scones. Her mother had driven over with some of the siblings and so we had a mini family reunion.

Amazingly the rain, an almost permanent feature at present, held off and we went for a walk in the sunshine during the afternoon. Quite like old times.



Outside of our social bubble, the world continues to be rather crazy. A blame game appears to have begun. According to our PM the problem with care homes and the overwhelming number of deaths is the consequence of staff not following instructions properly. He said: “We discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have but we’re learning lessons the whole time.”

Attempts to soften the impact of his rather damning comment followed as a spokesman “explained” that Mr Johnson was not blaming care homes, but “pointing out that nobody knew what the correct procedures were because the extent of asymptomatic transmission was not known at the time”

That sounds a bit like blame to me. No mention of people sent home from hospital without testing to carehomes without facilities to institute proper isolation procedures. Nor of a shortage of PPE.

As Mark Adams, chief executive of an organisation called Community Integrated Care commented, “I think this, at best, was clumsy and cowardly, but to be honest with you, if this is genuinely his view, I think we’re almost entering a Kafka-esque alternative reality where the government set the rules, we follow them, they don’t like the results and they then deny setting the rules and blame the people that were trying to do their best. It is hugely frustrating.”

The new normal seems, therefore, to include passing the buck.

Now, I wonder who can be blamed for the police stopping black drivers of nice cars .

Across the pond, POTUS is maintaining again that America seems to have a high caseload because it performs more tests. Isn’t the point of testing to indicate how many cases there are? Or am I being naive? Not only do they test a lot more people but, according to “Dr” Trump, they are mostly harmless! “Now we have tested almost 40m people. By so doing, we show cases, 99% of which are totally harmless. Results that no other country can show because no other country has the testing that we have, not in terms of the numbers or in terms of quality.”

Okay!

Here in the UK data on the number of individuals tested for coronavirus is not longer being published. Does this have anything to do with not meeting targets? Who knows?

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Monday, 6 July 2020

Some thoughts about the arts. Treading carefully. Moon shots. And women’s issues.

Yesterday evening we watched Richard Thompson broadcasting live from his home in America, largely publicising his newly recorded album but also giving himself a chance to perform. It was funny to watch him setting up as he went “live” a few minutes before he started his performance. Views of the cushions on his sofa and occasional glimpses of the musician himself wandering to and fro, presumably making sure all the equipment he needed was in place. His new album is available to download but not yet in actual pick-up-and-buy-from-a-shop form. As he said, the places that produce CDs and vinyl records are not het back up and running.

In fact there’s a whole host of people employed by the arts industry suffering at the moment. Richard Thompson has said before now that he is fine, missing live performing and touring, but fine, and financially secure. It’s the up and coming performers who are missing out. And this applies across the arts. But it’s not just the artists of whatever kind they might be. It’s the whole range of support staff: the sound and lighting engineers, the people who organise travel and transport musicians and their equipment from place to place, the scene shifters, the front of house teams, the people who run the gift shops and cafes and restaurants in all the theatres and concert halls and the cleaners who keep it all sparkling. And money has now been made available but will it be enough?

And surely, if pubs and restaurants can be opened, there must be a way to manage theatres. They still need to work out how orchestras can manage to play together on stage again but there must be a way to sort it out. As for pop music concerts, well, that will need some serious thinking about. But just think how impoverished our lives would be if the music stopped now!

There is talk of open air theatre for the summer but pantomimes are unlikely to be around next Christmas. Think of all those little kids yelling “Look behind you!” at the top of their possibly germ-spreading lungs!

Don’t get me started on libraries and swimming pools. We need our children to be able to wander the bookshelves freely again and to learn to swim. Otherwise we’ll have a deprived generation.

However, we need to tread very careful as we work our way through opening our countries up again. I read that new local lockdown restrictions have had to be imposed in parts of Galicia and Catalonia in Spain. The new normal is not going to be an easy thing to establish.

But, to cheer us up, here is a photo I found in one of the newspapers online of the Rande Bridge in Vigo with a supermoon trapped in its cables.


And here’s an odd things that seems to have come put of lockdown and working from home. According to this article a whole lot of women have been going on about the freedom of not wearing a bra. Really!? Why? Is female underwear such an imposition? And today Gap sent me an advert for comfortable sports bras. Have I been missing put on a feminist issue here. I really though that bra-burning as part of women’s liberation was a thing of the past. If your bra is uncomfortable it’s probably because you are wearing the wrong size! And yet I have heard stand-up comedians (female ones) go on about it too. It’s odd but I have yet to hear a male stand-up comedian rant about having to wear Y-fronts!

And then there is this:-

“A museum in the United States has vowed to continue displaying the car from the Dukes of Hazzard television show that had the Confederate battle flag painted on its roof. The Dodge Charger car, known as the General Lee after the head of the southern forces during America’s civil war, is in the Volo Auto Museum about 50 miles (80km) north-west of Chicago.
But despite the toppling of Confederate-era statues around the country since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the museum’s owners have said the car that featured in the first season of the show “isn’t going anywhere”.”

Well, it seems that they have not had complaints or protests so far but I’me prepared to bet that now attention has been drawn to it, there might well be some raised voices!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Drinking. Running in the wind. Mask opinions. Patriotism?

Despite some of the tabloids showing photos of falling-over drunks being helped by police in city centres, the health secretary Matt Hancock has given “the vast majority” of people who took advantage of pubs reopening last night a pat on the head for behaving responsibly. Asked for his overall assessment of how the easing of lockdown measures on Saturday went, Hancock said:

“From what I’ve seen, although there’s some pictures to the contrary, very, very largely people have acted responsibly. So overall I’m pleased with what happened yesterday. It was really good to see people out and about and largely, very largely, social distancing.”

I don’t know how many customers turned up at the pub next door to our house but there were sounds of merriment until late in the evening. I think it will still be a while, however, before my friend and I resume our habit of lunching there about once a month.

Today is very windy. So despite warnings of rain later in the day I have taken a chance and hung my washing out to blow dry. Running along the Donkey Line bridle path first thing, I had to stop every so often to move small branches that had been snapped off trees during the recent deluge. Well, I didn’t have to but I was thinking of how I would feel cycling along there and getting some of the stuff caught up in a wheel.

A little bit of public cooperation goes a long way.

In that spirit, our oldest granddaughter tells us she has offered to take a portion of whatever she is cooking for dinner tonight to the old lady who lives at the end of her row. This is the same old dear who had to be advised not to put food out for stray cats as the stray rats were eating it. Apparently she mostly lives on microwaved ready meals - I read somewhere recently that that is all the “cooking” care workers are allowed to do for their elderly clients, which seems a bit restrictive, not to say potentially unhealthy -so our young granddaughter is stepping in to give her a change.

That same granddaughter has been trying to dye her hair purple, the sort of thing you can get away with when you are in your very early twenties. The results have been mixed - bottom half of the hair a nice lilac shade and the top half quite a nice brown, splendid in its way but just not quite the look she was aiming for. She has ordered more colourant and is having another go - one of the many wanting to see a hairdresser.

Phil looks forward to getting his hair cut some time in the next couple of weeks. On the whole getting back to the hairdresser will be easier for men, who do a rapid visit, but the prospect, the advisability of us ladies getting our hair coloured, a process demanding sitting in the hairdressers for over an hour, is a little more doubtful. Even if masks are worn.

The wearing, or not wearing, of masks has become almost a political matter in the USA, almost party-political. At President Trump’s recent campaign events few people wore them while at Black Lives Matter protests masks were everywhere. And some get quite worked up about it. People have posted videos of mask-free customers throwing items from their trolleys after being told to leave. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!

The reasoning behind not wearing the mask varies from “This is not Cuba, we are not in a communist nation.” to the quite wonderful “I don’t wear a mask for the same reason I don’t wear underwear: things gotta breathe.” Now, that sounds like someone you don’t want to get too close to.

According to a recent survey American men are less likely to wear face masks because they believe it is “shameful”, “a sign of weakness” and “not cool”.

But then, such values echo the kind of things their president said in his speech at Mount Rushmore: “Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children,” Trump said. “Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.”
“This attack on our liberty, our magnificent liberty, must be stopped, and it will be stopped very quickly.”

It’s all a left wing conspiracy, of course:-

“In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted and punished.”

Gesturing to the overwhelmingly white crowd, he said: “Not going to happen to us.”

Then he sat down with Mrs Trump to watch fireworks, confident that there was little chance of the pyrotechnics causing wildfires because the surrounding Black Hills National Forest has “gained strength” since then and that fireworks technology has advanced.

Here is a link to an interesting set of photos of the American flag with a young black woman, intended to consider the complicated relationship between African Americans and the American flag. They are accompanied by a manifesto, written by Nuriddin, that mirrors the preamble to the US constitution. Nuriddin is also the model in the series.

Coincidentally, American singer songwriter posted a picture of the flag with the caption “Reimagine America”- provoking a host of pro-Trump comments, expressions of disappointment that she was criticising her great country, and similar sorts of things. There you go!

 Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!