We’re very much into summer, and there’s a few things to look forward to, but what has been going on these past two weeks?!
Forgive the, ah, grim nature of this opening bit, but invariably, we get to politics, and some decidedly Not Suitable For Work stuff (in more ways than one!)
UK politics is riddled with innuendo. We have a PM called Boris Johnson. He once had an adviser called Dominic Cummings. He also had a minister called Matt Hancock at one point. One of Johnson’s MPs was caught looking at porn in the House of Commons. Other Tories have recently been embroiled in sex scandals. Sometimes, the headlines write themselves… however, be warned, this next bit is not for the faint of heart!
So, Johnson’s wife Carrie… (in her capacity as his mistress at the time) was… oh, how do I put this? She was allegedly making sure that Johnson’s Johnson was well-looked after. I don’t want to offer a blow-by-blow account of what she did, but apparently things came to a head. These are claims found in the popular political magazine Private Eye, and I need to stress, they are only claims. However, given the impropriety with which Johnson’s Tories have conducted themselves, it would not surprise me in the least if this story were true.
Now, what Johnson and his
mistress wife get up in private is their business, but sexual misconduct in the workplace is, in any circumstances, deemed a sackable offence. If there is any truth to this, then you’d think it would be one more reason to remove Johnson from office, but he’s desperately ignored numerous scandals, and the utter incompetence of his government, so it’s unlikely he’d actually quit now.
In many ways, his government’s miserable performance over Brexit, the covid pandemic, the illegal parties, and the cost of living crisis (not to mention the confidence vote) should have tanked him already, but Johnson is like a piece of horrible, dirty chewing gum that’s stuck to your shoe. No matter what you do, you can never quite rid yourself of him. Still, he is rapidly becoming a lame duck, something 40% of his own MPs understand. They know him to be a liability, the question is, how much of one will be he be, come the next election (or his next erec… no, I can’t finish that thought)? Mind you, shortly after writing all of this, the situation changed dramatically… read on for more!
The other Saturday came that rarest of moments – a work night out! We went to a local Thai restaurant, that had come up highly recommended. Would it deliver on its potential? First, we had to actually get to the restaurant, and that was a bit of a trial in itself. Customers delayed our exit from work, by overstaying their welcome, even when we politely hinted it was time to go. Eventually we did make it to our destination, which happened to be in old stomping grounds – namely Westcliff. I worked in Westcliff for two and a half years, and yet, I never sampled a great many of the restaurants in the area. I am pleased to report that the Thai restaurant was amazing!
Steak, seabass, spices… it was all excellent. I dare say I needed rolling home! It was a good job I had the day off work the following day! What was truly special was having a good laugh with my colleagues – I feel like we bonded really well, and I look forward to our next night out!
The 2022 British Grand Prix
I don’t often get the chance to watch live F1, due to working most Sundays. Getting to see the British Grand Prix was therefore something of a treat, and a treat it was! This was easily one of the most exciting and dramatic races I’ve seen, especially at Silverstone.
The big takeaway is that the the halo device has once again saved a driver’s life. Zhou Guanyu (pictured in the upside down Alfa Romeo above!) was flipped at speed during an incident at the very start of the race, and skidded along for several dozen metres, before flipping again when the car met an escape road. The car ended up in-between the tyre barriers and the fencing, virtually upside down, and several anxious minutes passed, as marshalls and safety teams worked to right the car and extract Zhou.
Whenever the race is red-flagged, and no replays shown, there is always a feeling of absolute dread, but after a short while, it emerged that Zhou was alright. He was taken to hospital as a precaution, and was back at the track by the race’s end.
Another driver was also taken to hospital, following a first-lap shunt. Alexander Albon, braking due to the carnage ahead, got hit from behind, bounced into the wall, then got hit twice more as he span back onto the track. He too is alright.
When the race eventually restarted, we were treated to the best pace Lewis Hamilton has had all year, squabbling among Ferrari, and an unhappy Max Verstappen. There were some terrific battles throughout the field, and in the end, a new winner (in the form of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz). Mick Schumacher picked up his first-ever points in F1. The race gave us the close racing that the new aerodynamics had promised, and it was thoroughly enjoyable.
What wasn’t so good were track invaders. They had gotten onto the circuit right at the first start, and if not for Zhou’s crash, they would have been track-side as cars came screaming along at upwards of 120mph. A recipe for disaster. It might be that they invaded the track right after the red flags, but a race track is a dangerous place, even when the cars are slowing, for ‘slow’ F1 cars still move at 50-70mph. In other words, they’ll still kill you if they hit you. By all means, protest climate change, but putting other people’s lives at risk is not on.
Fun with Words
I play a game on my phone called Words with Friends. It’s basically Scrabble, albeit with a slightly different take on allowed words. I’m pretty average at best (my wife destroys me at word games), but I can hold my own. However, Word with Friends hides a seedy secret – spammers.
You see, there is a chat function on the app. My wife has had men make some dodgy requests of her, and I’ve had women (who are clearly fishing for means to trick people out of money) offer friendly chat, and little interest in playing the game. At first, this was annoying, but now, I have some fun with them. One of the first questions is ‘where are you from?’ I now reply with either ‘earth’ or ‘not earth’, depending on my level of sass. I dare say the scammers are easy wins – they do not bother with the game, so you can rack up a big winning streak.
The one that takes the biscuit is the case of the stranger seeking help. They started being reasonable enough, and I tend not to be rude, so I listened to their story for a bit. They were from the USA but they were stuck in a hospital in Nigeria. Soon, it became clear they wanted money to leave and go home (yeah…). For some reason, instead of contacting their embassy, family or friends, they decided the best way to get help to go home was to… beg for money on Words with Friends.
Do these sorts of scams even work anymore?! I honestly cannot believe that anyone would try such a thing, but I’m more concerned that some poor sod somewhere would believe it. Scammers annoy me. They do not care about the lives they ruin.
Well well well, it seems sex and politics continue to make strange bedfellows. A Tory MP by the name of Chris Pincher (I know, it writes itself) was subject to a formal complaint about misconduct (drunkenly groping people at a party) back in 2019. Boris Johnson was made of aware of this complaint at the time. Despite knowing of the procedure against Pincher, Johnson still appointed the man to the role of deputy chief whip of the Tory party (whips are usually crucial in shepherding MPs to vote along certain lines) in February of this year. Johnson initially denied knowing of the specifics, but it turns out he was aware of more than he admitted. In other words, this is yet another example of Johnson lying.
Only this time, it seems there are more consequences than usual. Both Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid have resigned, along with a handful of junior ministers. Other important officials have been outspoken and fiery on the subject of yet another demonstration of Johnson’s dishonesty.
Somehow, people are still speaking out in support of this dire PM. There are people who believe he has gotten Brexit done, and been a super PM. These people probably believe in the Tooth Fairy.
Johnson’s government has been cruel to refugees, overseen a care home disaster that risked lives during the pandemic, cost lives during the pandemic by being more concerned with money than with protecting people, permitted water companies to dump sewage in our rivers, partied illegally during lockdowns, and overseen a crippling cost of living problem, because they won’t raise taxes on businesses and the wealthy. There is nothing successful about Brexit, which was a terrible idea, and then badly executed by Johnson. Remind me again, how exactly has he been a good PM?
He’s obviously a failure, and now he’s failed epically. After 57 resignations, Johnson finally agreed to resign! His announcement, after much hand-wringing (and even saying his enemies would have to drag him out of No.10 with their hands dipped in blood), was a much-needed tonic for a beleaguered country. Johnson will remain as PM until the autumn, and in the meantime, we’ll get a Tory leadership contest. Hopefully we’ll then get a general election, and we can boot out the whole rotten lot of them.
Mind you, Johnson’s resignation speech wasn’t so much as a resignation speech (and at the time of writing this, he hasn’t been to formally tender his resignation to the Queen, as protocol demands (however anachronistic that might be, it’s an important symbolic moment). He predictably did his best to shift blame for his chronic failures to handle yet another scandal, and bemoaned how his exit is the ‘will’ of Tory MPs. However, his party can see the writing on the wall, what with Johnson overseeing a ten-point deficit in the polls to Labour, something that would see Labour win a general election if one were to happen right now. Clearly, the public has no faith in him, and his wish to continue as caretaker PM until possibly October, is a deeply unpopular move within his own party.
Johnson cannot ignore that even among Brexiteers, he is unpopular, with more pollsters saying he’s been doing a bad job, rather than a good job, even in that category. Among young people aged 18-24, 76% think Johnson is doing a bad job, and whilst he is more support among older voters, every age range is more inclined to say he’s doing poorly rather than well.
None of that will matter to Johnson, who is far too egotistical to admit he has failed. It is never his fault, and he never needs to take responsibility.
Social media has gone nuts with all this. GB News ‘journalists’ are moaning about how Tory MPs are ignoring the mandate granted to Johnson – except, Johnson wasn’t granted the mandate, the Tory party was. GB News are also curiously silent about the polling and surveys that suggest Johnson will comfortably lose the next election, had he remained in charge. There are a number of commentators who are suggesting that if Johnson goes, Brexit goes too, as though this is some kind of danger. I say, great! Reversing Brexit would only be a good move, but, in the interests of fairness, it should be put to the British people to decide. We have new information and new facts, and it is only right that we get another opportunity to choose. GB News won’t like that, for much of their rank and file have pinned their hopes on this.
It’s crazy, it’s bonkers, and that’s all I can say about that. Speaking of bonkers…
Love and Thunder
Taika Waititi returns to direct another Thor film (following on from 2017’s hugely popular Ragnarok), and he once again brings his unique, visually amazing and utterly insane vision to the character, for the 29th MCU film. Chris Hemsworth returns as Thor, Waititi reprises his role as the rock creature Korg, Tessa Thompson is back as Valkyrie, Christian Bale makes his MCU debut as Gorr the God Butcher, Russell Crowe puts in a shift as Zeus, and Natalie Portman is back as Jane Foster.
Without spoiling the film, I can confirm that, as per Waititi’s own words, this is a crazy film. It is vibrant, it is colourful, and it gives us a huge stage upon which our characters can play. It is also a love story, and it offers Foster’s character a chance to be bigger and more important than she was in the first two Thor films. The weakest element is the character of Gorr, meaning once again we have an MCU film where the bad guy is the least impressive part of the movie. However, Gorr is far from the worst villain, and Bale appears to enjoy the role. Look out for the dumpling. That’s the only little spoiler I’ll offer.
Following the movie, my wife and I indulged in a pizza buffet, as a sort of prelude to our anniversary a few days later. I should not have had so many plates!
The 7th of July marked the anniversary of the London bombings on the Underground and a bus, back in 2005. Seventeen years have passed, but for the survivors and the families of those lost, I doubt there will ever be a true easing of their pain. All we can do – all any of us can do – is use our voices to try and make the world a better place for those who remain. That’s what I’d like to do.
The other day my daughter went on a school trip to a local zoo. The plan was – and my wife and I had approved it – for her to spend the day looking around with her friends. There would be a group of six students, and they would have the freedom to look around, unsupervised. It was to be the first bit of independence my daughter got.
Except her school, for reasons of (presumably) caution (my wife and I don’t know at this point) took it upon themselves to decide our daughter was not to have that freedom. As a consequence, she was very upset, and the trip was, from her perspective, ruined. We took her to the cinema after school, and also to a local all-you-can-eat Chinese, and she cheered up, but we could tell she was still very unhappy.
I do understand that the school has a duty of care towards the children, and they might well have acted out of a desire to do what’s best, but we approved of her having this little moment of independence, and the school did not consult us or warn us that they would do anything differently. I’m not pleased, and nor is my wife.
I’ll level with you all. I am fiercely protective of my daughter, and I am not comfortable with the notion of her wandering around unsupervised, but sooner or later, she will need to have some independence. Children grow up, and eventually they leave the nest, and it is up to the parents to prepare children for the real world as best we can. As much as our instincts are to shield our children and protect them, there comes a point where we have to let them grow into their own destiny. When we’ve taken steps to start giving her that freedom, having someone else decide to take that away, without consulting us, is annoying and frustrating.
I frequently lamented the lack of summer sun last year. This year, so far, it appears we’re having a good summer – a little cloudy, but it’s very warm. In fact, at times, it feels too warm. Temperatures are reaching 30C, which historically is unusual for the UK, and we’re not yet at the height of the season.
I like the sun. I prefer summer over winter. However, there is a point where it gets oppressively hot. I tend to burn quite easily, so weather like this… it’s nice to look at it, it isn’t always so nice to be in it! Still, I mustn’t complain, I hated how summer panned out last year, so having good weather this year isn’t really something to moan about.
I alluded to our anniversary earlier, and my wife and I have now been together for 18 years! Wow…
We’ve had our ups and downs, but 18 years later, here we are, still going, still standing, still in love. Here’s to the next 18!
This feels like a nice place to end this Muse, so take care of each other, and see you next time!