Who Won the Week (7 March 2021)

In response to Fandango’s Who Won the Week post, I have been looking at my own newsfeeds.

Do you remember Dirty Dancing? You know, Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner? All that nonsense?

For better or worse, those camps belong to a bygone era. The post-war days where camps can pre-package a week’s R + R for happy campers are a thing of the past. Mostly. A couple of chains in the UK have managed to adapt, and by modernising their offering they seem to be doing quite well.

Another thing of the past – fifty years ago in the UK it was not uncommon to see signs such as “No Blacks. No Irish. No Dogs.” Even though the economy needed the stimulus provided by immigrant labour, these people were still regarded as second-class citizens. Well, not even that. Dog-class, if you go by the quote.

Fortunately, something good to have fallen by the wayside with the passage of time.

Or, has it?

My story this weeksurrounds a UK holiday firm called Pontins. Formed in 1946, they are one of those to have moved with the times and currently have six camps in the UK.

Poor old Pontins were in the news this week because, in a move reminiscent of the Fifties, they produced a list of “undesirable” guests. As in, staff were to refuse booking requests from people with certain surnames. And guess what? Those names were all Irish. I won’t list them here, but they are listed in my link if you are interested. The move was seen widely as an attempt to prevent travellers from staying with them.

Using all the benefits of modern technology, Pontins then placed this list onto their intranet, where it was leaked to the outside world by a conscientious employee.

Fortunately, the rest of society has moved on from the Fifties and we have laws now to combat many -isms. Last week, it was revealed that this had happened, and that an investigation had taken place. Pontins had settled with the UK’s Equalities and Human Rights Commisioner, presumably to save the bad publicity of a court case.

But my winner this week is not Pontins, although I will say very frankly that if these fuckers are still trading, they certainly won. If it were down to me, they’d be bankrupt and on the streets.

But think about it. This problem was discovered because somebody leaked it. And that’s the problem with conspiracies. For a conspiracy to work, everyone has to keep their mouth shut until the story has blown over. For the big stories, UFOs, who downed the twin towers, who shot JFK, that is basically “forever”.

Everybody keeps mum. Forever. What are the chances?

My winner this week is just the whole subject of conspiracy theories.


Who Won the Week (28 February 2021)

In response to Fandango’s Who Won the Week post, I have been looking at my own newsfeeds.

I mentioned in passing that I was having trouble finding these stories at the moment, and then, lo and behold, I came across a story early on in the week that straight away, I knew I wanted to talk about. This one is mega-close to my heart, I shall explain why at the end.

Two women went to the police. One of them claimed to have been raped, the other sexually assaulted, in the same incident with the same guy. I haven’t a clue of the details beyond that, but they’re not relevant to my post.

The police, however, did investigate the allegations, so I’m happy that they know what happened. Well, as much as any third-party can know.

And, at this point, I’m thinking, try the guy, if he’s found guilty, hang, draw and quarter him for all I care.

But the police drop the case. They’ll do that, here. They play the odds, and if they think that there’s a reasonable chance that they’ll lose, they won’t even attempt the case. I guess that is reasonable because trials are expensive to stage. but at the same time… convictions for rape in the UK are at an all-time low, a statistic which is, at best, very suspicious.

Anyway, back to my story. The guy has all charges against him dropped. As far as the law is concerned, he is a model citizen.

These women then take to social media, repeating their allegations and naming and shaming the man in question.

Bear in mind, at this point, the guy has not been found guilty of any crime. Fully aware of the damage caused by being labelled a rapist, he sues.

And he wins.

In what I think was a very reasonable outcome, the women can repeat their allegations as much as they want, but they are not allowed to asociate the man with them.

My link today contains a video in which the two women are interviewed by a journalist. They are clearly emotional and sound very plausible, but… until the case goes to a trial, when everything relevant is teased out, who is to say? If we take their story at face value, this guy loses his liberty. I’d like to think we performed some due-diligence first.

I must admit, I have a vested interest here. I was once accused of child abuse by my daughter, who was aged fifteen. The allegation was unfounded, I was never even interviewed by police, let alone charged or convicted. But this is the reason my daughter and I are estranged now. She dismisses it as “I didn’t want to live there any more”, I went on to have a stroke six months later. That’s quite a high price to pay, don’t you think? She might argue that her actions didn’t cause anything, but would they have helped?

So, my winner this week is this chap, who shall quite rightly remain anonymous. I would have done the same.


Who Won the Week (21 February 2021)

*Not* in response to Fandango’s Who Won the Week post, I have been looking at my own newsfeeds.

Exit Strategy

A story I picked up on this week was about Israel and COVID. Israel (population 9M) has inported a huge amount of the Phizer vaccine. Leading the way, it has currently vaccinated 46% of its population (at least one dose) and today started re-opening swathes of its economy. Claiming a drop of over 95% in COVID cases, in people who have had both doses of the vaccine, the plan is to re-open the economy fully over the next month.

Spookily, this coincides with an election there!

Their plan is that, as people are vaccinated, they get a “passport”, and certain things like gyms, hotels, theatres will only allow people to attend provided they have this passport. As far as I can make out, they intend still applying social distancing rules.

That struck a chord with me because here, a big provider of cruises has already announced that they will only allow people onto their holidays, when they can prove they have been fully vaccinated. It wouldn’t surprise me if other companies did the same, just to try and offer peace of mind. I have no idea about distancing rules, I suspect they will decide nearer the time, as the UK is, technically, still locked down.

There’s a parallel argument developed (here, at least), that we are creating an apartheid system – those who are vaccinated versus those who aren’t. With the added counter that if somebody gets excluded from something because they simply refused the vaccine, so what? That’s part of the price they pay.

Personally, I have no problem if an owner says “you chose not to get vaccinated? Therefore I choose not to admit you”. But there’ll coma a point where countries have to say “it is what it is”. Vaccines aren’t compulsory, I don’t think, so countries will need to decide whether, and how long for, they want a two-tier system. But straight away, I can see people who fall through the cracks, whether they were willing to be vaccinated or not. One of my Age UK clients has been told that, because of their history reacting to vaccines, they will not be considered. End of story. I hope they didn’t have any cruises planned!

So, who won the week? Well, good luck to Israel, for hopefully being able to lead us out of this. They have various advantages – a small population which is probably pretty compliant. I doubt it would play out so well either here or in the USA – if someone refuses even to wear a mask, how readily will they agree to be vaccinated? But, good luck to them in any case, for hopefully showing us a way out of this mess, if we choose to take it.

That the programme probably stems from Netanyahu’s desire to be re-elected is just one of those unfortunate things…

Who Won the Week (14 February 2021)

In response to Fandango’s Who Won the Week post, I have been looking at my own newsfeeds.

This week’s story just struck me as plain weird, although probably as much due to my own pre-conceptions and comfort zones.

For starters, I tend to think of outdoor sex as synonymous with dirty old men in flasher macs. Not so, because this story apparently involves two women. It is also useful to know that sex in public places is known as “dogging” in the UK. I use the term below, and the linked article uses it.

And then, I think, if I ever wanted to get steamy with someone, it would be someplace nice and cosy. Not so, for this couple at least.

Lastly, let’s just throw into the mix that the UK is currently locked-down. Journeys are supposed to be close to home, and for essential purposes only.

So, with all these in mind, this is a weird story, reported a couple of days ago. It contains two women, who are unnamed but who have separate addresses in the Devon town of Plymouth.

In the throes of passion, this couple decided to drive about 30 miles out to meet up in nearby Dartmoor, which apparently, was enjoying its coldest night for 26 years. The headline of the story seems to suggest that it was the thrill of “cold sex” that attracted them. Brrrrrr, no thank you. But there is presumably something in the story, because why else would they have travelled to this spot on a freezing night?

Anyway, they parked up in a car park on Dartmoor. The car park is apparently well-known locally for dogging, and the couple were discovered by a police patrol at 2 AM on Thursday, in the police’s words, “fornicating under the stars”. In what, I think, was quite a novel move, police booked them for breaching lockdown restrictions.

The story was rounded off after it reached social media, where it attracted comments suggesting that the couple had merely been taking their daily exercise! Devon and Cornwall Police later stressed that they did not consider this to be an essential journey!

Weird, huh?

Who Won the Week (7 February 2021)

In response to Fandango’s Who Won the Week post, I have been looking at my own newsfeeds.

I’m going to stay close to home this week. My winner is my old cycling buddy, Steve. Steve and I first met when we travelled up to London each day together – and then cycled to our respective clients at the other end. We both grew to hate that commute, but adopted different solutions.

When my parents died, I stopped going up to London altogether, to concentrate instead on sorting and selling their house. At roughly the same time, Steve bought a place in London. A tiny, one-room shoebox in Clapham.

It probably turned out to be an excellent investment, as property prices just continue to rocket. Even though he stopped going up to London to work when he was made redundant because of COVID, he has kept the apartment. Over the years, therefore, he has grown to deal with two doctors surgeries, one in Salisbury and the other in London. Both NHS.

Steve is mid-to-late Sixties. He was unlucky enough to have prostate cancer, and was operated on about this time last year. That’s where he was lucky – after this (keyhole) surgery, most people recover enough to be back at work in 4-6 weeks, but Steve had several months to convalesce.

Fast forward to the present day. Steve is not surprisingly based at his “main” home in Salisbury. He contacted his surgery in Salisbury, to see when he would be vaccinated. “*!@% off”, was their straightforward response.

So Steve contacted the NHS doctor he still has in London. He has the inconvenience of travelling up there, but he is receiving his first jab tomorrow.

It just goes to show how you have different areas moving at different speeds, even in our tiny nation. And I sympathise. With limited vaccine supplies, for every winner there are bound to be many losers. Unfortunately I don’t see any way to prevent this.

But I do hope somebody is working to minimise this imbalance, at least.