Friday, 12 June 2020

Up with the lark. The right to express opinions. Promises. Not being in the vaccine club.

Today I was up with the lark -well, not quite, but a bit of exaggeration is permissible, I think - because the washing machine repair man was scheduled to arrive between 8.00 and 10.00. He finally arrived just before 9.00. So, not too bad timewise but the machine is a write-off. The mechanic expressed surprise at our museum piece of a machine. So it goes. Time to find a replacement.

The washing has been piling up, of course. There’s only so much you can hand-wash and it’s been a little like being on a primitive holiday with no laundry service in the hotel. And of course, this would happen at a point when my daughter was not really available to come and collect a stack of washing and take it to her house. She has had enough going on in her life. She’s going to be a classic woman of the modern age, looking after children and ageing parents at the same time.

Out and about yesterday, I noticed that the chemist in Uppermill had a notice about face masks and gloves for sale ... and dental repair kits for those people not able to get to the dentist when their filling falls out!! Usually only available at big Boots stores. A sign of the times! Now, hairdressers have been on the TV and radio advising us not to try DIY haircuts and hair-colouring but so far no dentists have been asked to give their opinion of DIY dental treatment. But even as dentists begin to open up their surgeries, I personally would be wary of jumping on a bus to make my way to ours. The same goes for my hairdresser, by the way. And the optician.

As various famous people give their considered, or sometimes not so considered, opinion of the state of our various nations, singer/songwriter Carly Simon posted a picture of an incoherent-looking Trump captioned with a poem by W. H. Auden:-

 "The Ogre does what Ogres can, 
Deeds quite impossible for man. 
But one prize is beyond his reach, 
The Ogre cannot master speech. 

 About a subjugated plain, 
Among it’s desperate and slain, 
The Ogre stalks with hand on hips, 
While drivel gushes from his lips." 

 –– W.H. Auden 

The response from followers of Ms Simon has been interesting!

“Really don't want to hear about your political views. Stick to music.”

“You are an entertainer. Leave it at that. We want to hear your music, not your political commentary.”

“So sad. I loved your music but now you are tainted with snowflakism. Keep out of it Ms Simon. It won’t do you any good.”

A bit fierce and condemnatory, as if a singer is supposed to be just a pretty face and a good voice. Clearly not meant to appear on discussion programmes, unlike writers and poets!

But not all feel that way.

“❤️ thank you Carly, I quite agree! And please keep on voicing your opinions! I think people forget that they can look elsewhere on Social media if they have orange blurred vision and don’t know their a... from their elbow ❤️”

“Yes, he's a petted and pampered ogre. Thank you for your voice. You definitely see who Trump is!”

“Keep writing Carly. Love your music and your political views!” 

Some also criticise the critics.

“These posts are blowing my mind. So she can't voice her opinion as protected by 1st amendment? Is her opinion surprising to you? You folks need to yourselves.”

“Don’t understand why others suggest you “stay out of politics”. You have the right to free speech like everyone else and I have no problem when celebrities voice their opinions, even when they don’t match my own. It just so happens that you and I probably do agree when it comes to this “ogre”. 😩 And, I appreciate the quote. It’s very suitable....”

“Good grief, don’t people listen to lyrics or have any sense of an artist’s point of view. All artists express a viewpoint. If you don’t like it why are you a fan? It would be a very poor artist who had nothing to say.”

Quite so!

A good deal of fuss was made lately about foreign NHS workers being asked to pay a supplement so that they could receive medical treatment from the service they work for. Promises were made. A friend drew my attention to this from The Times:

“Doctors have complained of a “kick in the teeth” as the immigration health surcharge is still being enforced, despite the prime minister vowing to scrap it for NHS and care workers. Boris Johnson said on May 21 that the £400 annual fee, paid by non-EU migrants on top of visa charges to use the NHS, should be removed “as soon as possible” for health and care staff. It represented a U-turn after he had defended the £400-a-year charge at the previous day’s prime minister’s questions.

However, those applying for new visas say they are still being told to pay and getting mixed messages when they ask officials whether any upfront payment will be refunded, or if the fee scrappage applies to their dependants.”

Well! Promises! Promises!

From the Irish Times comes this little piece, pointing out a disadvantage of leaving the EU:-

“The European Union plans to place advance orders for coronavirus vaccines currently under development to ensure supplies for member states, officials have said – and the United Kingdom will not be included.

The bloc’s executive body will propose to its 27 member states that they negotiate with pharmaceutical companies as a united bloc and offer upfront financing to speed development and ensure priority access to any successful vaccine.

“We pay up front a significant part of the investment needed in exchange for a commitment from the pharmaceutical manufacturer to give us a vaccine when is available,” an EU official explained. The first available doses will be distributed to member states according to the size of their population, according to the plans, and national governments will be in charge of which citizens get priority to be vaccinated first, for example starting with health workers.

As Britain left the EU in January this year, it will be left out of the process, officials made clear. “We are very sad about it, but the UK decided to no longer be a member state,” the official said. “So they’re not part of this initiative.””

The law of unforeseen consequences strikes again! Sad and angry once more!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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