+I spent a very pleasant day in York today. The omens it has to be said weren’t good. When I picked my paper up on the way to the station, the red topped rags were talking up panic hitting schools because of the Coronavirus—PANIC!! - and it seems the Daily Express was telling its readers not to start stockpiling. Don’t panic! Corporal Jones of Dad’s Army couldn't have been prouder. Then, on the train a woman a bit older than me (i.e. elderly) got on in the same compartment and was sniffing profusely. That’s bad enough at the best of times. And I heard one or two people coughing. Naturally, one just sits there trying hard not to breathe, but that’s hard for 50 minutes.
+One upside of this hysteria is that we can all start wearing face masks, and so foil all the new face recognition technologies being introduced very gratuitously by the forces of law and order.
+And now that we’re in the hands of experts telling us how best to beat the virus where is Michael Gove telling us not to pay attention to experts?
+As far as I’m concerned I’ll carry on calling this virus by its original name, Coronavirus. I know it now has a new official name. So has Wind ‘it was only a small accident’ scale.
+York not only had (it was reported and then somehow forgotten) two positive reports of virus stricken people, but has much more visibly been stricken by flooding. Now the only crowds to be seen are on Lendal Bridge taking photographs of the swollen River Ouse. My own picture (above) was taken in a more discreet location. If only I’d brought a selfie stick—me and the floods! The city did seem a lot quieter than normal—tourists from China were notably absent—so there’ll be a double whammy local economy-wise.
+The pubs were quieter too. One of my favourites, the tiny Blue Bell, consistently one of York’s deservedly top ranked watering holes, was a bit like God’s waiting room with each corner of the front room occupied by a single old geezer nursing his last pint before whatever fate might beckon. At least I found a seat, and was able to pick up the pub’s Yorkshire Post. The front page headline was ‘Peer quits as report into abuse condemns inaction.’ You don’t get tabloid headlines in the Yorkshire Post—this one's practically a full sentence. The story related the resignation of David Steel from the LibDems and from the House of Lords after he was severely criticised by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse for not doing anything to bring the child abuser ’Sir’ Cyril Smith to book. The story went further: “The report also identified how former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and ex-Conservative Party Chairman Norman Tebbit were aware of rumours that MP Peter Morrison [Thatcher’s Private Parliamentary Secretary] [had] a penchant for small boys but did nothing about it.”
So—will we hear more about this from Norman Tebbit? Or will he be left alone? There is another who might have been party to this omerta, one Bernard Ingham, Thatcher’s press secretary. By pure coincidence he had a column in today’s Yorkshire Post (yes, he’s still alive, although I harbour the possibility that his columns are now the product of some sort of algorithmic process). Ingham was writing about the alleged bullying antics of Home Secretary Pritti Patel. Bernard was well versed in the ways of his masters, and even once had to tell Thatcher to her face that she was being ’bossy.’ He then wrote “Peter Morrison (her PPS) told me I had upset her. He said he had told her it was only because I loved her. Steady on Peter, I said.”
All very chummy. Very chummy indeed.