F is for many things and a lot of them overlap, as do most things in these UNPRECEDENTED TIMES.
Over the last few years, a number of strange new words have entered our lexicon and are now in everyday usage; Trumpisms, Brexit and now Furlough.
The definition is: ‘leave of absence, especially that granted to a member of the services or a missionary.’
At the moment, firms can give their workers leave of absence and the government will pay 80% of their wages, under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. It has now been extended to the end of July and, according to the IFS, will cost around £60 billion, providing relief for 7.5 million people.
Some people, however, have fallen foul of public opinion in the matter of furlough. Victoria Beckham wanted to furlough the 30 staff employed by her loss-making fashion company, but because she is part of a rich (£380 m) family, people objected and she changed her mind.
Likewise, tax-dodging entrepreneur, Richard Branson, was found wanting in the court of public opinion (ie. GMB and Piers Morgan) and the government turned down his request. The airline industry is in real difficulties and after pulling out of Gatwick and threatening to sack 3,000 staff and selling £300 million worth of shares in his Space company, Branson is appealing the decision. He’ll almost definitely win.
This shows two things; one, Richard Branson is much better at business than Posh Spice and two; famous people have to be careful at the moment.
Furloughing has definitely been a good thing, but will increase schisms in the Tory party as free-marketeers see it as a gradual drift towards out and out socialism. There is a strong possibility that a significant number of the 7.5m will be sacked in August. One to watch.
Now is really the time for famous people to keep their heads down and hope we won’t completely forget about them by the end of This Thing. Unfortunately, fame is an addiction that needs to be constantly fed, like the media.
Tom Hanks played a blinder. He and his wife caught the virus, didn’t complain, made a full recovery and became America’s darlings.
Others, however, have played it all wrong.
After lockdown, Gordon Ramsay decided to relocate his family to Cornwall, where he has three holiday homes. This has upset his new neighbours, who obviously don’t like the idea of Londoners bringing the virus to their doorstep, nor the fact that he keeps breaking lockdown rules.
He is said to be ‘out all the time’, running, cycling and fishing, while dressed in lycra, looking like an overstuffed middle-aged chef, which he is. Obviously, key-worker photographers from the media are always on hand to take photos of him taking part in his many manly pursuits. Unfortunately, it makes him look like an over-privileged twat, which he also is.
Famous people are so insulated from the real world they can’t read the public mood and the media are more than happy to let them hang themselves.
Amanda Holden is desperate for fame and films herself taking the rubbish out in ballgowns and wearing dresses, made of £50 notes, to fan the flames of fame.
Unforgivably, she has also jumped on the NHS bandwagon and released ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ for the NHS. Amanda; THE NHS IS NOT A CHARITY.
The song has got to number one, selling at least a dozen copies. She is currently on Britain’s Got Talent, and appears on every live chat show to bore us about her record and BGT.
I have nothing against her personally, she is from my hometown, after all; she is just an example of fame hungry whores annoying normal people in lockdown. Maybe she brings some people joy, I don’t know.
Adele, too is famous, and this brings us to FAT.
Unlike Amanda Holden, Adele is properly famous and can sing. Unfortunately, she is now all over the press for having lost between seven and 10 stone. It is not fair for the world to project all its weight obsessions onto Adele, but she kind of asked for it, by releasing the new photos, probably because she has a new album on the way. This is how fame works; you give the media something and they give you something in return (publicity). Unfortunately, it can have unfortunate side effects.
We have been told for years that the UK has an obesity problem. Well, it has now exploded.
The University of Liverpool found that obesity increases the risk of dying from coronavirus by 37%. You can’t argue with that. People are dying because they are overweight.
People are overweight because we live in a fast food culture and school playing fields were sold off by successive governments. Despite people continually objecting to both, nothing is ever done about it.
The first shops opened this week were McDonalds and other fast-food chains (takeaways and drive-throughs).
This needs to be sorted. FAST.
My favourite current ‘coronavirus phrase’, is ‘foot-leather epidemiology’, which I heard used in relation to virus tracking and which I think should become much more widespread.
Boris Johnson has had a momentous lockdown; he was sent to intensive care and after recovering, became a father, yet again. The exact figures are sketchy, but his father, Stanley Johnson, said he was proud to become a grandparent for the 14th time, so work it out; he has a brother and sister. The PM is our leader, a quasi father-figure for the nation, which is why we were genuinely shocked when his life hung in the balance.
Whatever you may have thought about David Cameron and Theresa May (if you can remember that far back), they at least seemed to have a bit of public duty about them. With Boris Johnson, our current father-figure, there is none; he is only about personal ambition. As an actual father, we know Johnson is shit, he has already been caught shagging the IT teacher, but we are now stuck with him and his limitations for the foreseeable.
We currently have to take our fun where we can, but personally, I am really enjoying the devolved parliaments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland outmaneuvering and undermining the UK government at every turn, even though one of the DUP’s MLAs was caught shopping online for shoes during an important health committee meeting last week.
Obviously, everyone would prefer it if this company paid some taxes, so we didn’t have to rely on centenarians and Amands Bloody Holden, raising money for the NHS to get us through this crisis, but people have realised during lockdown how essential it has become to keep in contact with people. And also, how all under 25 have left it and moved elsewhere. Good.
A lot of people have rushed back to Facebook and are enjoying various music/book links to keep everyone involved and entertained. But some friends have revealed themselves to be exceedingly needy, caring, shouty, weird or complete conspiracy theorists. Which are all things I am currently fluctuating between on a daily basis. So that’s to be expected and absolutely fine by me.
To wear or not to wear?
This was always going to become the new big post-Brexit debate.
The government briefing, on 11th May, said people in England should wear face coverings, in ‘enclosed public spaces’, such as shops and on public transport, but that we shouldn’t try to buy medical face masks, as these are for frontline staff and key workers only.
It reminds me a bit of the discussion about whether cyclists should wear helmets or not, but with more interested parties and less perilous outcomes. On the one hand, anything is better than nothing; on the other, they cause complacency and don’t work anyway. Or they only work if you’re sick and cough on other people, but, in that case, you should be isolated at home.
If it came to a public vote, it would probably end up 52/48% one way or another. Thank God we’ve got a government to make all these tricky decisions for us, then.
It’s going to happen, so we might as well get used to it and repurpose an old t-shirt or sock but if you’re cycling in London, I’d definitely prioritise a helmet over a mask.