Alan J Porter
"LIONS BEING LED BY DONKEYS, AGAIN ..."
4.24 pm. It was once said by Noel Coward a once-famous English playwright, composer, director, actor, and singer say “ ONLY MAD DOGS AND ENGLISH MEN GO OUT IN THE MIDDAY SUN.” Well, temperatures of such heat sent me indoors today at midday and later in the afternoon after being outside for 20 minutes because of the searing heat. But on my travels earlier in the day, my experience in one well known retail chain shop in my home town found me saying to myself, I’ve never seen such a crazy set up in a shop before, and the word MAD belongs to the CEO of this company. It’s a small shop on the main high street, but the company serves many people at the airports until the lockdown and their high street shops too have faced the same prospect. This shop had been opened only a few days and I visited the shop only for my lottery tickets. They sell books, newspapers, stationery items, and I few art materials and cards, so I walked in as normal seeing signs on the floor. I had already missed a machine with a hand wash sanitizer and I saw the newspaper rack a couple of metres away had a barrier preventing me from reaching there. You now needed a compass to figure out this procedure of where to go. I gave my lottery tickets to be checked. I would always joke with the woman who had a sense of humour saying, “Can I buy a coffee or can I go to Hawaii?” She said neither, as I’d won £2.20 and a free ticket for another day. She then said I can’t pay you in cash as we can accept money no more, only by card. That action must be a goodbye to 40 percent of their customers one being myself. By this time several people had walked into the shop, probably wanting a lottery ticket, and a queue of several people had formed up in the first aisle. Everyone had dismissed the new one metre rule and further people would struggle to get past them. I said to the young woman I’d put the winnings on a euro ticket, but it was £2.50. She said you will have to owe 30 pence, I said no and gave her 30 pence and she smiled as I’d promised her before if I had a big win she could take her and her young family to Hawaii, I never break a promise.
I tell this story which illustrates the constraints shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs are now in an Alice in Wonder World where they can’t possibly make the profit they formerly did which poses the question can they afford to be open if this continues. I can say this because in the 80s I was co-owner of a chain of retail shops and I would not have opened a shop today knowing I would be losing a lot of money trying to trade like this. This opinion will be shared by many in business soon. Today in Parliament Boris Johnson came under the hammer from the blunt questions again from Keir Starmer the Labour opposition leader, only to hear muddled replies from Boris. As Boris tried to fire his response with a metaphorical school catapult he was up against the best modern Smith and Wesson handgun. Announcing the change in social distancing rules Boris Johnson was telling people to go and spend, and I thought he’s never been in a retail business or any other business, and has no idea what problems are facing all businesses. Everything Boris and his government had done were wrong and to late. Later in the evening, another moral question is being posed to him and his government as this story is now out in the open. A few months ago his housing minister met with a billionaire who wanted planning consent for a large building scheme in a tower hamlet of London. As a consequence, the action that followed this billionaire escaped paying 50 million pounds for consent to build in this poor area of London. This money would have built schools and helped enormously with many other desperate amenities the area needed. As this scandal emerges Boris, our Prime Minister of integrity, defends his minister of such action, knowing the billionaire gave £12,000 to the Conservative coffers.
I’ve talked so often about change and how the U.K. is to be rebuilt on foundations of high moral values where all in society prosper equally. Again, we have a Prime Minister totally out of his depth for the crisis we face of his making. He is now in a vacuum, where intense terminal surgery is needed, where no medicine can quickly give you moral values or any prospect of continuing leadership. In my experience of life, the last rites of leadership are disappearing each day. His days now should accommodate his time given to his newborn son and his other children he has fathered. The key to every country with this pandemic virus is TRACK, then TEST AND TRACE giving every local authority the power to lockdown any areas fast if the virus is seen. A big job, but there is no other way without a vaccine. A further spike of the virus has now occurred in South Korea, and Beijing is now lockdown with America too is seeing the virus rise again at alarming rates.
A story to tell is of the world's top tennis player Novak Djokovic who with good intentions organised a tennis series of exhibition matches in Croatia to let his fellow countrymen from Serbia and other Balkan countries the chance to see some top tennis games. There came much opposition from fellow players as many suggested it was wrong in the first place to stage this series, as the unfortunate consequence came of Novak, his wife, two coaches, and three top tennis players all contacting positive with the coronavirus.
These stories are sending a chilling message saying many activities cannot go straight back into being normality of yesterday, and encouraging any sport where numbers of people congregate is still too dangerous. But it’s not just sport, as at the weekend in the U.K. 6,000 people in Manchester attended a music event and police had to intervene in Leeds when hundreds of people gathered for an illegal sports car rally. Already the genie is out of the bottle, as people don’t fear the consequences that this virus can touch us all. We cannot let businesses and the economy dive into the biggest recession ever seen, but strict rules imposing big fines are necessary against those who attend such venues. A MESSAGE FOR BORIS, YOU CANNOT PLEASE EVERYONE ALL OF THE TIME, APPEASING AND PLEASING AND BEING KIND CAN BE SEEN BY SOME AS A SIGN OF WEAKNESS.
The feeling I have we are walking on thin ice and each step is to be measured carefully. We are where we are in the U.K. which is a harder place than many other countries when we look at the financial consequences we face. With many people, they believe it’s all over with the virus now, but I’ve said from the beginning the virus is only part of this problem. A strategist for Bill Clinton the American President in 1992 once said IT’S THE ECONOMY STUPID, and this became a catchword that saw Bill Clinton win against George H.W.Bush the incumbent President. The word that is being used by many authoritative scientists is COMPLACENCY which would see us sleepwalking into an abyss of further daunting problems if we don’t get things right. Main newspapers are repeating my previous thoughts as the number of Britons claiming work-related benefits is soaring up to 125 percent since lockdown began. Each day sees thousands of jobs being lost with bag handlers at main airports seeing as many as 5,000 jobs to go with other parts of the aero industry equaling this number which has been seen as just the tip of an iceberg. The biggest fear is again following my prediction of what will happen in October when one in four workers on furlough pay representing 80 percent of their wages comes to an end. Some say, without thinking of to continue paying this money when as a country we are two trillion in debt. Another top newspaper The Times commented, these are not happy times for the U.K. saying, we have suffered one of the world's highest rates of excess death in this pandemic; now it’s reported we are to have the sharpest recession of any rich country. There’s been a litany of failures, the N.H.S.tracing app is apparently a dud costing over I2 million, our quarantine system is chaotic, and our biggest failure is to have no big plan in place for a return of all children back to school in September. We are encouraging people to holiday abroad, which should have been a big no until the end of this year, but again there is so much mixed messaging and varying views from different scientists, the ordinary person is at loss to determine what is right or not.
Tonight further good news came from another U.K. laboratory saying they are having trials to manufacture large doses of a vaccine where a one litre bottle would provide enough vaccine for two million people. They are hoping this vaccine will be ready for next summer as millions are being invested for production hoping it will be successful. Throughout this pandemic in the U.K. from day one, there has been a very outspoken lady professor named Allyson Pollock who In my opinion stood head and shoulders above anyone showing great authority, clarity in her knowledge, and great confidence in her views. She said again today if they had followed her and her group's advice and made the lockdown in early March she said there would have not been so many loss of lives and the economy would be back to normal. Wise words and strong words, but as I’ve said I thought in March this woman should have running the whole show. Professor Allyson Pollock had the power and charisma of being an actual leader to our country desperately required when this virus crisis appeared. THEN AGAIN, WE SEE LIONS BEING LED BY DONKEYS.
While there are clouds over many parts of the earth, there are many positive and active groups around the world working 24 hours every day in trying to create a vaccine that will eventually bring sunshine back to our everyday lives. We are in times when I have to believe there are greater powers than we think, for this is the fuel that brings hope, and while there is hope, there is a will to succeed in all parts of life. I was once told by an amazing man for his age that to have no dream is to be not alive, but when completing your dream you must find another. I‘ve always had this quote in front of me which says. THERE IS NOTHING MORE POWERFUL THAN AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME, NOTHING CAN’T STOP YOU TO CREATE SOMETHING YOU BELIEVE IN.