Before I start, let me say that I have a couple of positive things to say – near the end!  Merely addressing the fact that some may say these posts are all doom and gloom.  Ridiculous, I know.  On saying that, I can only work with what I am given, daily, on a plate, in bucket loads!  Anyway, you’ll know when you come to them – the positive bits.  Too many exclamation marks already …

Let me commence with last Sunday’s BAFTAs.  I am right in saying that David Tennant is Scottish?  I only question the fact as he appeared to open the prestigious awards – Black tie, I believe – in a black pleated skirt!  Worse, he chose to accompany said skirt with a black shirt and matching tie (could barely see it) and some kind of silky black jacket embellished with crystals over the shoulders.  Could it be that, last minute, he grabbed something from his wife’s wardrobe?  Wait, I haven’t finished …  Completing this hideous attire – remember, Black tie event – he had some unidentifiable object, swinging from a chain slung round his bottom, displayed to the front of his skirt.  Scottish.  This guy is Scottish?  Let me look up from whence, in the land of heather, he came …  Bathgate!  Enough said.

Now, there is no denying David Tennant is a superb actor but, somehow, I have always felt that he is a frustrated rock star.  Exactly.  I am not ashamed to admit, either, that I have tried to dislike him – a bit too camp and the accent too affected for me – but, infuriatingly, he does come across as a really nice guy (No, that’s not one of my two positives.  That just slipped in!)  Regardless, what a mess he looked on Sunday – and anything but Scottish.  Too much to ask that he wear traditional Highland dress to an awards ceremony steeped in tradition?  A tartan kilt, Prince Charlie jacket and proper sporran?  Thank God for my friend, Hugh, who, naturally, needs no lessons in etiquette.  Sporting his trusted dinner suit and white dress shirt, his large, delightfully squint bow tie only served as a reminder that it was not attached to a piece elastic!  What’s more, not only can Hugh Grant tie his own bow tie but he is in possession of a brain and a sense of humour, as he so eloquently demonstrates, year after year.  Oh, that he could be cloned …  Think I may be repeating myself!

Forgive me – or not – but I could go on for ever about the lack of etiquette at the BAFTAs, the inappropriately dressed – apparently, 40% of male attendees didn’t even bother with ties – and the slovenly disregard for the standards of old.  Robert Downey Jr. and Ryan Reynolds, neither dressed appropriately – and being American is no excuse – were, both, seen, mouths open, chewing gum as the cameras panned to them.  Why?  Meanwhile, Bradley Cooper appeared in flares and a long, double-breasted military jacket.  Again, why?  It does answer one’s questions about the ego of an actor, however.

Finally – on the BAFTAs – I cannot fail to mention David Beckham who is, I’ll admit, often prone to surprises.  There he was, looking super dapper, dressed head-to-toe correctly, even down to the hand-tied bow tie.  Respect.  Still no Knighthood but, on Sunday, he dressed the part.  As for Michael J Fox …  That guy possesses the courage of a giant!  An example to us all.

Alexei Navalny, another who had the courage of a giant.  Only forty-seven years old.  Dead.  It was always just a matter of time.  Good-looking, charismatic and increasingly popular, there was no greater threat to Putin and his regime than the Russian opposition leader, an anti-corruption activist.  No greater target, either.  Thus, in August 2020, on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow, he collapsed, poisoned.  The lethal nerve agent, Novichok, was found in his system, apparently slipped into his tea.  (Not the first time, either, he had been subjected to a chemical attack.)   Air-lifted to Germany and put into an induced coma, he did recover only to return to Russia and inevitable arrest for fabricated crimes ranging from fraud to extremism.  Of course, he would never be freed as, time and time again, he was subjected to cumulative sentences, in the end, extending to more than thirty years.

Headline news, at first, it seemed Navalny and his fate were soon forgotten.  I always questioned why?  Fear of Putin or just apathy?  Whatever.  Foregoing ineffective sanctions, the world did nothing.  Putin was free to do whatever he wished to Navalny – and he did.  Banished to Siberia’s harshest prison at the end of last year, the world learned of Navalny’s death/murder on the 16th February.  This is 2024!  To my mind, we have blood on our hands.  Putin, the dictator, is advancing.  He has nothing to fear from a Western world devoid of effective leadership.  For, it is not only standards we have lost but our spirit.  The stoic courage of the wartime years and the pride borne of patriotism … all gone.  Instead, held to ransom by the threat of a button, man has, ironically, engineered his own fate.  Thus, in January 2018, Trump famously tweeted – in reply to a statement from North Korea’s Kim Jong Un – that he, too, had a nuclear button and it was bigger than his.  Our fate, now in the hands of boys and their toys!  Churchill must be turning in his grave.  Then, again, perhaps he’s too busy playing Push the Button with Maggie in that great mansion in the sky …

What have we become?  Held to ransom by a button and scared to death by a genetically engineered ‘plague’!  Programmed to receive.   Thus, in case one should mistakenly believe that Covid has gone, hands together for ITV’s latest drama, Breathtaking, an adaptation based on the memoir of a real frontline doctor by the name of Rachel Clarke.  Dr Rachel Clarke, formerly a current affairs journalist, who gave up a lucrative career to become a doctor.  Not to worry, she’ll be recouping any losses now, cashing in on the suffering of others.  For, that is exactly what she is doing, despite her attempts to justify.

Healthcare workers risked their lives to save others.  The very least the public could do, I felt strongly, was to be willing to bear witness to what that felt like.’

Really?  Why?  Haven’t the public suffered enough?  My God, the after-effects of Covid are still everywhere.  An unprecedented time of manipulated panic and confusion, I have never witnessed scaremongering like it.  Barely two years on, then, why would anyone wish to re-live it, particularly the many who lost loved ones?  To applaud the NHS?  The NHS who were doing the jobs they are paid to do?  I don’t remember any weekly clapping, on a national scale, for teachers, shop assistants or undertakers, for that matter …

Covid-19.  An explosive subject, always and forever.  At the very least, an exposé of human nature.  Not really that surprising, then, that less than two years on – and while the Covid Inquiry is still in progress – there are those prepared to monetize the trauma.  Surely not one of the NHS, though? Oh, yes!  A book, a drama.  All in a good cause, though … her own.  I, for one, will not be watching.  Just reading about it and seeing the trailers has been enough to make my blood boil all over again!  I have no desire to watch a one-sided, emotive drama based on the memoir of a left-wing journalist turned doctor who is blatantly lining her own pockets at the expense of the suffering of others.  Disgusting.  One thing, though, do remember to continue to be scared …

So, where are the positives I promised?  What about the new legislation equating the menopause to a disability and enabling women of a certain age to sue any employer who does not comply with their wishes and demands?  Absolutely not!  To think our ancestors fought for the vote.  Utterly ridiculous.  Grow some!

No, my first positive comes courtesy of chef, Rick Stein, who recently revealed that he makes a point of employing people in their sixties and seventies.  Good for him – and, may I say, a canny move, for he is benefitting from a generation who are disciplined, hard-working, reliable and respectful.   Win-win!

My second positive: the latest Specsavers ad!  If you haven’t seen it, look out for it.  An airport scenario, it makes me laugh every time.  It just does!

There.  Shall I finish on a high?  No, one last thing …  Whipsnade Zoo.  I happened to catch the ITV Lunchtime News a week past Thursday (15th) on which the last item pertained to keepers at the aforementioned zoo requesting that the public donate any unwanted Valentine’s Day gifts – particularly perfume – to be used for the lion’s enrichment activities.  Confused?  Apparently, the unusual scents are sprayed on bags filled with hay which are, then, scattered throughout the enclosure helping the lions hone their hunting skills!  Cut back to Lucrezia Millarini, laughing!  Far from amusing, it is tragic.  To think we could reduce any wild animal to this …

We could learn as much about lions by studying them in their cages as we can about men by studying them in their prison cells.’

Bill Travers, The Lions are Free.

This Trish, signing off.  You’re exhausted?!