Look, my new thing is that I’m supposed to give myself no more than an hour to write this.  No deliberation, no correction just saying it as it is.  No change there, then, but restricting myself to sixty minutes to voice my opinion on the world?  It’s taken me more than that just to write my bullet points such is the enormity of the task!  Why, within ten minutes of stumbling into the darkness that is 7.30am and switching on Good Morning Britain, my blood pressure was already rocketing: some ‘woke’ debate between a white, male comedian arguing the insanity of this ludicrous cancel culture increasingly focused on trawling through historic tweets with a view to ensnare and condemn and a black, female lawyer and human rights activist whose repeated use of the word ‘privilege’ immediately rendered her entire argument null and void.  Same old.  Same old.  The victim culture all-consumed, and driven by envy and bitterness.  As Ben Fogle would say, ‘Look Up!’.

Hard for Joe Biden.  He can hardly open his eyes, let alone look up.  In fact, there’s just something extra-terrestrial-looking about him?  Is it wrong that the word ‘exhumed’ repeatedly comes into my head as, winder sufficiently cranked, he makes his way to the microphone?  Devoid of life, he appears to lack any warmth whatsoever, instead, projecting an air of ruthlessness.  Whatever.  Never liked him and certainly wouldn’t trust him …  My problem?  His announcement that he is to nominate the first Black woman to sit on the US Supreme Court by the end of February.  (Just an aside, since when has it become customary to use a capital for the colour ‘Black’ in this context?  I presume ‘White’ is the same.  Weird.)  Anyway, my problem with his nomination is this: not only does it constitute discrimination in stating gender but it is also racist!  Substitute ‘male’ for ‘female’, ‘White’ for ‘Black’ and deny there would have been an uproar.  Not possible.  Of course, all hell would be unleashed only serving, once more, to highlight the lack of consistency in a ‘woke’ world which has so weakly acquiesced to the Tyranny of Tolerance; a world in which merit no longer plays a part.

Suitably depressing?  Trust me, run!  As I write, the daylight is devoid of sun ensuring a greyness which does nothing to enliven.  Sporting numerous layers of clothing – refraining only from a hat and gloves – in a bid to combat the plummeting temperature indoors, I have already driven into town and back twice, made the beds, done two loads of washing, consumed my concoction of organic granola, seeds and blueberries, spoken to both Manny and Becca on the phone and listened to much of Kiefer Sutherland’s fantastic new album, Bloor Street, on YouTube.  Seriously, I cannot recommend it enough; it is brilliant!  A rare accolade from me, I think the last album which I, continually, listened to from start to finish was my friend, Tom’s, Jubilee Road.  An absolute classic worthy of my Seriously Good! page and, as soon as I can rectify the problem I have in uploading to said page on my website, Bloor Street will definitely be joining it.  Anyway, my point is that I have distracted myself in every way possible in a bid to delay my sitting down to write this.  Why?  I seem to have this habit of doing everything but, during the day, and then writing at night.  Anything to do with the gin and tonic?  Well, who am I to say it doesn’t help?  Let’s face it, I’m a night person.  Always have been.  Always will be but … I would love to know what makes me so.

Wow!  I’ve just glanced through my notes and there’s some serious stuff in there.  Not a hope of covering the lot but I’ll give it a go …  Firstly, a gem gleaned from an old favourite, Jeremy Vine!  To date, I haven’t mentioned Dr Steve James, the embodiment of Sajid Javid’s worst nightmare.  Speaking up on the Health Secretary’s recent, infamous visit to King’s College Hospital in London, the Critical Care consultant – who remains unvaccinated – voiced his argument against the imminent proposed vaccine mandate for all NHS staff which, blatantly, flouts both personal liberty and freedom of choice.  As the gaggle of nurses looked at each other and giggled – exactly the response Sajid Javid wished for, and expected, when asking their opinion on vaccine mandates on camera – stage right, Dr Steve James spoke up and, at once, undermined the monopoly of tyranny.  All hail, Dr Steve James!  With dignity and knowledge, he shot holes in the Government’s justification for an enforced mandate which risks the loss of up to 100,000 trained and experienced NHS staff, himself among them.  A consultant who has spent the last two years in ICU on the COVID frontline, the Government is disarmed and, a voice in the dark for so many, the response to this young, courageous doctor – and his subsequent following – is substantial.  An overnight media sensation – surprisingly, appearing on Good Morning Britain and Jeremy Vine, to name but two – he is turning the narrative of the Government and its medical and scientific ‘experts’ on its head, awakening doubts in the, previously, accepting?

They are asking us to take two doses of a vaccine that is, currently, not reducing infection or transmission; that hasn’t finished its trial period, has a highly concerning reporting rate with the Yellow Card System for adverse events; for a disease with a morbidity profile that’s similar to flu and where they won’t consider natural immunity.  That’s just what the situation is right now.’

Dr Steve James, Jeremy Vine, Radio 2 (25/1/22)

The heroic voice of the, erstwhile, dismissed, for many the rhetoric of fear is irreversible.  For some, such as renowned left-wing journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, the bitterness is too deep-rooted to relinquish the chance to attack those she regards as privileged.  So it is that she told Jeremy Vine that any member of staff who remains unvaccinated in the NHS should be made to wear a badge declaring his/her status and, moreover, she, herself, would decline to be treated by any such person.  Wow!  The definition of a bigot, Dr Steve James was justified in referring to her, merely, as ‘that woman’.

Meanwhile, one caller to the radio station, following the interview with Dr James, declared COVID ‘a disease which exploits stupidity.’   Tone deaf to the facts and data explained by this ‘maverick’ doctor, said caller, of course, intended a slur on the unvaccinated.  Ironically, I believe, misconstrued.

Of course, the hour has been and gone but I have barely scraped the surface.  Suffice to say, though, the domino deaths I feared have come to be for, this week, I learned of the sudden passing of John Rendall.  He of Christian, the lion, fame – the lion cub bought from Harrods in 1969 by John and Ace and, subsequently, successfully returned to the wild, in Kenya, by George Adamson – whose reunion, a year later, with his human friends became a YouTube sensation, I was lucky enough to meet him at a Born Free ball in London several years ago.  What a privilege to be able to ask him, in person, about his story.  I remember we exchanged email addresses and he promised to send me some original photographs of Christian.  Sadly, he never did but I suppose I always hoped I’d see him again.  A nice guy, his memory is assured.

Someone who touched the lives of each and every one of us – and will forever more – was comedian and writer Barry Cryer who died, on Tuesday, aged 86.  Spanning a golden era, he worked with the greats including The Two Ronnies, Morecambe and Wise, Les Dawson, Tommy Cooper and Bob Hope and was a constant on the radio.  ‘Never lose touch with silly’, he said, quoting his idol, Humphrey Lyttleton.  In his own words, he was ‘arrogant in his humility’ but in those of his family, ‘He had a gift for friendship (as anyone who still has a landline will testify) and a genius for putting people at their ease.  Oh, yes, and he made many people laugh.  A lot.  Over many years.’  A lovely, lovely man, he was of a gentler world.

Ken Bruce was eloquent, as ever, in his tribute on hearing the sad news on Tuesday and it was a joy to listen to an old interview with the comedic legend taken from the Radio 2 archives.  Describing his initial break – must have been mid-sixties – he was living in a bedsit in Maida Vale.  At a time when television had only three channels, The Dick Emery Show was huge and Barry decided to write a skit for the show, duly sending it to the BBC.  Hearing nothing back, he was sitting watching Dick Emery, one evening, with his landlady’s son when on came his sketch!  It goes something like this …  A man is sitting watching television when his wife comes into the room,  behind him, and says “There is someone here to see you who says he fought in the war with you”.  He turns round and through the door comes Hitler!’    While it made me laugh, I know somebody else who would have delighted in the sense of the absurd … Pop!  He, too, was of a gentler time.  Those of us who remain in this hostile world miss them all the more acutely.

Looking for a quote with which to end, I have only now discovered that Barry Cryer was responsible for one of Pop’s two favourite jokes.  I never knew.  In fact, it is the last one he ever told me: Picasso was burgled and, on request, did a drawing of the robbers.  The next day, the police arrested a horse and two sardines … or words to that effect.  (You can find it on Pop’s page: The Voice in My Head).  All the more poignant now.

I haven’t had a career, just a series of incidents.  I’ve been dogged by good luck all my life.’

Barry Cryer

There can be no greater epitaph.

This is Trish, signing off.