Barring Barristers.

Thanks to  Coronapop waiting lists are getting longer and longer.    This is not just in   health care settings, but also in our Courts of Justice.     People are being denied justice which is obviously unjust.    There are 51,000 alleged criminals awaiting trial.    So proposals have been put forward to speed up the courts by extending their opening hours.    This doesn’t seem unreasonable,, since many organisations have had to change their working practices.

However nothing is simple when it comes to the law.   The legal profession is steeped in hundreds of years of tradition.    The whigs and gowns are testimony to that.

The legal eagles, our highly paid barristers, are considering it, which could take a year or two.    Some are horrified by the obvious injustice of  having to work before they have had time to read the morning paper or even worse if they can’t get home in time for afternoon tea.
So serious is the situation that strike action is threatened in the new year.    They are concerned that after been  called to the bar, the bar has now been closed by the Coronapop lockdown, so impoverished barristers are struggling to make ends meet.
One thought being put forward is the possibility of improved compensation for working longer hours.   Maybe double time legal aid for a 9am start and for weekends perhaps triple time and free meals.

If an agreement can’t be reached, the barristers  believe they will have a strong case for discrimination and will sue for strike pay.      Of course, if they are on strike it will be difficult to find a barrister to represent them.     They may have to fall back on a barista to grind out their case 🤡

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Dear Mr Sharma

Completely out of the blue I received a letter today from a Government Minister.    Not just any old Government Minister, but a Cabinet Minister !   Frequently seen on TV. —-  The Secretary of State for Business Energy And Industrial Strategy —— The Rt Hon  Alok Sharma MP.

I have to admit I was somewhat taken aback, because I haven’t heard from Alok for ages.    In fact never.     It is all the more surprising when you think that only a few months ago I was recommending that his Department be abolished.    ( See my post in the Archive dated 19 August 2020 )

Here is my reply which I have decided to send as an open letter :-

Dear Alok,

How nice to hear from you and thank you for sending me “the new rules for business with the EU.”     I was beginning to wonder if Brexit would ever happen.
Your letter is addressed to the GrumbleSmiles Trust and I think you may have slightly misunderstood our purpose.    Still I will try to respond to each of the paragraphs in your letter.

  1. New rules on exporting and importing goods to and from the EU.    You really don’t need to worry too much about this.   The last time I came back from Europe I only had a couple of bottles of wine and some smelly French cheese.   I promise I will get them at Tesco’s in future.     As for “exports”,  the GrumbleSmiles Trust did suggest sending all MPs to Spain, but Outer Mongolia would be another option, if you would prefer.
  2. New rules for recruitment overseas.               We actually don’t have any staff at the moment, they were all furloughed at the time of the first lockdown.    If we do decide to recruit from abroad, I have made a note that we will need a license.     Will my driving license be okay for this?       We will only recruit from New Zealand because of their excellent record with Caronapop and their ability to play rugby a lot better than anyone else.
  3. Selling manufactured goods.              I have grown rather a lot of carrots this year during the lockdown, but I am not sure they would qualify as manufactured goods.    Perhaps you could give me a ruling on this ?
  4. Moving goods into, out of, or through of Northern Ireland.     I don’t think I will be sending my carrots to Northern Ireland, but if I do I will be sure to stick to the new Protocol.    To be sure.

I must say Alok, that with your 5 Government Ministers, 7 Director Generals, 40 Directors  and 4,420 staff working tirelessly for the past eleven months, you have done a remarkable job producing this one page letter.    Everything is so much clearer to me now.

Finally, I do like your catchy little slogan :-


I  have emptied my pockets and  counted  my money.     Now where on earth can I go during lockdown ?

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My last post was illustrated with this lovely rose called Nostalgia in the final days of autumn.     It will bloom again in the Spring.     What world will it bring ?

These are some of the exciting changes, which  will be heralded by newly anointed President Bodj’s new slogans :-

  • Behind the mask of limiting infection the use of cash has been replaced by a new currency.   “Contactless plastic is fantastic”
  • All the big shops will close and be replaced by Amazon.   Small specialist shops will invite you in with green tea or coffee and treats for Coco and her friends.   “High streets revitalised.”
  • Now that there are free school meals for children Coco has had a bark with Markus Rashford’s dog about a new campaign about equality for dogs.   “Doggy treats for eats.”
  • Unemployed graduates will be conscripted to be PA’s for all older people, to help do your on-line shopping and teach older people how to meet people on the internet, now that they can’t go out ever again.      “Zoom from your room”
  • GP’s who will know your name and family history.     Free pills for all ills”
  •  Buy local produce and products.   “ Get you local produce from a yocal.”
  • There will be tree planting instead of more roads.     “Plant a pothole.”
  • We will all have electric Boris cars fuelled by windmills.
  •      “No travel when the wind don’t blow.”
  • In Boris wonderland there will be NO PETROL, NO DESIL, NO ROAD TAX.   “Get on your Boris bike”



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Final Flourish.

Autumn is drawing to a close, a few flowers still bring a smile to these wet and windy days.      They have waited all summer-long to wave their good bye.

My garden has kept me busy and the flowers have kept me smiling all through this troubled summer.    Planning for a new year of bloom will carry me into a fresh start to  new garden age where every flower brings a smile.

One last final flourish is from a single rose which is aptly named “ Nostalgia “.

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The Little Things !

In these dark down, tied down, up and down days, it’s the little things that keep you going.

  • the Phillips screwdriver in your hand when your trying to unscrew an old type screw,    Grrrr!
  • the exciting parcel that has just arrived with the book you have been waiting for,  but that is double-wrapped so tightly in reinforced tape and extra strong plastic.
    Scissors and knives, a bleeding finger and rubbish strewn all over the carpet somewhat dims your excitement !
  • The TV remote control with a mind of its own, with buttons accidentally pressed that lead you to mute the sound as News at Ten is about to start.
  • The mud on your shoe when you come in from the garden or the leaves that blow in through the door when you have just swept the floor !!!

Is this what Dylan Thomas ment by raging against the dying of the light ?

Then you go out for a walk to relieve the tension and a passing by baby in a pushchair smiles at you for no reason and  all the screwdrivers, packaging and remote controls are long forgotten 😀

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Covid Vacuum

I am in a Covid vacuum.

Coronapop has crowded out all other thoughts.

I could turn back to clutter,

but Coronapop now is my clutter.


Turn on the tele and it’s all about Coronapop.

Open the paper and Coronapop is on the front page,

the middle pages and even the sports pages.

Everybody has caught Coronapop.


Take a break and go out for a walk.

A socially distanced passer by,

shouts through a muffled mask.




A Puzzling Day ?

Full up and fed up with Coronapop.    Locked in ☹️     Shielding  or  shielded ?

Time for a puzzle to keep my brain alive and free from Coronapop for a while.

No point in looking at the news it’s all about the outcome of the American election which is still a …… puzzle.

Maybe I will do a Sudoku which is a jumble of puzzling numbers ….. rather like the statistics on Coronapop that come out each day !

Perhaps I would be better of with Ruzzle, which is a word game where you have to make up words like “stay” or “wash” or “protect”.   That would help clear my head.

What about a jigsaw, gradually piecing a picture together.   Like a C    and an R    and an O    and    another   O     and  maybe a   P  or even two     And yet another    O     and an N   and last but not least what about an   A.

I feel much better now I have got Coronapop out of my head at last 🤡

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Coronapop Brain Fog

Coronapop is exhausting.    I am tired of it now.     It came from nowhere and in no time at all it’s everywhere.

It has replaced the weather as the first daily topic of conversation.    “How many people have got it?”      “ How many people have died?”     “What are the latest rules?”     “Can I go out?”     “Masked or  unmasked?”    “How far?”     “Is a trip to Durham out of the question?”

“Are the shops open?.”     “Are the pubs shut?”    “Is it Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday?”      It must be one of those.

“Have we Brexited yet?”     Thank God we have not exited yet.

Coronapop is confusing.    Coronapop is confounding.    Most of all and worryingly Coronapop is compounding.

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Elderly Commodity—- continued

This is a continuation of my previous post commenting on the Sunday Times Insight investigation into the Government/ NHS handling of the Coronapop crisis.

At the beginning they were focused on preventing the NHS from being overwhelmed, which is understandable given what had already happened in Italy.   They succeeded, but at quite a cost both financially and in older peoples lives.

Then our “leaders” became rabbits in the headlights of the media.    Questioning their every move and picking up on every mistake.    The holier than thou Laura Kunsberg, the sarcastic Robert Peston and the ever right Piers Morgan.      Add to this a leaky Cabinet  and a multiplicity of scientific uncertainty.     Not a great place for calm considered decision making.    More an environment for headless chickens and  off the cuff action.

Gradually we got the situation under control.    Our hospitals were underwhelmed and we had paved our way from a health crisis to a financial crisis.    The phoney war was over but the real war was still to begin.  That is why we need to wake up and learn some lessons, beyond the media frenzy and without the ever-present blame culture that obscures reality.

Older people are still at risk both from Corona virus and from ageist attitudes in the health service.    Nor have we addressed the poor standards in Social Care.   It is not just about money.    Extra money is needed in social care to pay for higher training levels and higher wages for staff, but it is usually siphoned off to pay for greedy venture capitalists.

Which brings me on to the second headline in the Sunday Times, which is about a takeover bid for McCarthy & Stone.     This too sees older people as a commodity, in this case for a US investment company called Lone Star.     McCarthy & Stone were the leading private sector provider of retirement housing until they lost interest in older people and just became a business to be traded on the Stock Market.   They had a market value of over a billion pounds before Coronapop came along, but now they are valued at nearer half that.     Lone Star have bid £630million, which means older people are still worth something, but not as much as they used to be.
These guys are just gamblers, they may make money but they will do little to improve the lives of older people.

It is the same callous attitude that sees older people as a commodity to be exploited.   We are all to blame for this approach, we need to reappraise what we value most.

Posted in RETIREMENT HOUSING | Tagged | 3 Comments

Elderly Commodity

Two headlines in the Sunday Times on 25 October grabbed my attention:-

  • “Revealed: how elderly paid price of protectingNHS from Covid”  was the front page story of an investigation onto how older people were treated by the NHS during the first wave of the Coronavirus.
  • ”McCarthy & Stone bid raises alarm over buyouts” was another front page story,  but this time in the section on Business & Money.

At first sight they are unrelated, but they are curiously intertwined.  They are both about the value of older people in society, or maybe I should say the lack of value.

The first article is an Insight investigation into the Governments actions and NHS response to the first coronavirus shock wave.    In a hindsight review it is easy to be cleverer from the sidelines and tempting to point blame, but we should also remember the heat and fog of the battle.   In February there is no question that we were ill prepared and not sure what we had to deal with.     So after dithering for a month we made the problem worse.    The “ just in time” philosophy had run out of time.

The long standing problems of the past had caught up with us.     A pandemic report written three years previously had not been acted upon, so we were caught with our PPE pants down.   Equally important was the bed blocking in the NHS by older people unable to be discharged because of the emaciation of community care and the poor standard of residential care.    The lack of a plan for Social Care over many years all added to the problem.   These are deep roots which the Sunday Times investigation didn’t go into.
It is certainly true that when the fire has started it is better to concentrate on putting it out first.   So that is what the Government/NHS did.     They put out the old people!      A decades long issue solved in a few weeks, created instant capacity in our hospitals.     What is even more impressive is the building of the Nightingale hospitals in an instant.   What a shame they couldn’t have responded years earlier by providing Patient Hotel accommodation for the ‘bed blockers’.

Next we come to where they put the old people.  Half went back home and half were sent to residential care homes.     None were tested for coronavirus nor was there any extra health support.    Then came the Catch 22 solution – it was important that they didn’t bounce back into hospital, so new more stringent admission criteria were concocted to make readmission almost impossible.   This was the NHS washing its hands of older people.

A Final Solution with empty Nightingale hospitals instead of gas chambers!

This is a very dark place which nobody would consciously wish to get to, but if we don’t  watch out we will walk into to it again with our eyes closed.     These are attitudes to ageing which should have nothing to do with access to health care.

I have not singled out any individual because I think we are all to blame for allowing the prevarication over Social Care to persist for so long.

This story will continue in my next post …..

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