An overhaul of American policing is long overdue.

George Floyd has proven that.


In this week’s news I read a report that Neil Woodford and his business partner Craig Newman awarded themselves dividends of  975k and 575k respectively, in the 2 months before his investment fund was suspended, leaving 300,000 investors trapped as their savings are depleted. They claim they had no inkling that the fund would be suspended, but experts say that is duplicitous given their accounts showed a loss of more than £6 million in the year to April 2020, versus a profit of £16.3 million the previous year. Back in 2014 Woodford, through his company Woodford Investment Management, had launched the Woodford Equity Income Fund, with the stated objective of providing investors with a reasonable level of income together with capital growth. As an Investment Company with Variable Capital, it was set up to be an Open Ended Investment Company (OEIC), in which investors would be free to increase or decrease their investment as they wished, and at any time. It was marketed as intended to provide a reasonable level of income together with capital growth. Woodford and Newman have declined to comment on their dividends. Come on chaps, pay it back, unless you want to look over your shoulders for the rest of your lives. In a different case, Action Fraud disclosed that £1.8 million has been lost to pension fraud and they are warning savers to be vigilant to scams. There were 107 reports of fraud in the first 3 months of this year, a rise of 45% from last year.

Data from NHS England shows that in February this year 4.7 million people were still waiting to start treatment, with almost 400,000 having waited more than a year. These represent our highest figures since 2007. One year earlier, in Feb 2020, the number waiting more than a year was 1,600. Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers said, ‘the scale of the backlog ahead is very worrying,’ further giving a prediction that it might take up to 5 years to deal with these numbers. Quite how the NHS plans to deal with this predicament is anyone’s guess. Also the much maligned AstraZeneca is still getting a pharmaceutical hiding, with many countries boycotting its use. We are told that the apparent risk of getting a blood clot from covid is 8 times greater than from the AstraZeneca formulation.  Dash it!  A-Z is the one I was given – not by any choice –  and I unintentionally missed my second vax appointment by just ten minutes this week, due to taking a little trip; destination: the hall, via: a trip hazard in the lounge. It made for a ‘look and leap’ moment. [Jacqueline, you should have looked at your feet first]. Anyway, my leap comprised a full-on reconnoiter with the wooden floor, with a steady pool of blood under my face, forcing me to make another trip the following day to A&E, as my smashed face testified, with a fractured kneecap making a sworn affidavit. My compliments to Horace, the superb nurse at Finchley whose intuition proved correct, and I am to look forward to a follow-up appointment with the fracture clinic, although I’m not sure how useful that will be…. How does a virtual fracture clinic work? You really can’t beat face-to-face. Dr Hugh Simpson recently commented, “I worked through many outbreaks of flu, Sars and Norovirus and did not have an option of a patient phoning first. Phone consultations shouldn’t happen unless specifically requested by the patient as this delays any necessary referrals.” I would agree! If you are going to do something, anything, everything- do it properly!

Psychic to the stars Maurice Amdur (56), who claimed he lost his abilities in a car crash, now faces a £100,000 legal bill after a judge rejected his ‘dishonest’ court compensation claim. Amdur claims he has ‘read’ for royalty, heads of state and movie legends and has appeared on This Morning, as well as fronting a program on Sky, according to his website. He suffered spinal injuries when the £80,000 Jaguar XKS convertible he had just picked up – and one of only 14 such cars in the world – was struck from behind at Marble Arch, London in 2015 and he subsequently brought a compensation claim for £250,000. Amdur told the central London County Court his injuries left him racked with pain, living like a hermit and unable to perform psychic readings for 2 years after the crash, because he lacked the necessary ‘mental sharpness.’ In his work as a face-reader, he claims to detect a person’s strengths and weaknesses by examining their features. He stated that he has lived and worked on the West Coast of the United States and that he has read the ‘faces’ of stars including Nomi Campbell, Al Pacino and Barbra Streisand. The claimant now faces a £100,000 legal bill, for whilst it was accepted that he was injured in the crash, the extent of injuries and impact on his work was disputed. He had given some readings which Judge Backhouse said he must have recalled, and she then used her own ‘psychic’ powers to determine that this claim was a fundamentally dishonest and untrue statement. He would have received £10,545 for his crash injuries, but his entire claim was dismissed as a ‘punitive’ step, for what the judge termed ‘dishonesty.’  Mr Amdur, of St John’s Wood, intends to challenge the decision, adding he had never been so insulted. You can avail yourself of his services for amounts ranging from £25 to £595, although my crystal ball forewarns me that a fool and his money are quickly parted.

Two men in Texas have died whilst allowing their Tesla to self-drive. The car was traveling at high speed when it failed to negotiate a bend, crashed into a tree and caught fire. Here in the UK, the Law Commission is drawing up a framework for autonomous vehicles. According to a 2019 study from the Georgia Institute of Technology, self-driving cars were more likely to drive into black people, because the sensors and cameras were better at detecting people with lighter skin. Now, I remember walking to school in the winter, wearing reflective armbands (still have them somewhere) because drivers wouldn’t easily see us in a dark coat, in the darkness. Okay, you ask, ‘how dark could it be?’ DARK – if you’ve ever seen a Scottish winter’s morning at 8am, you’d know. This need for reflective illumination was regardless of one’s skin colour; drivers were just unlikely to process a dark shadow at any speed. Anyway, the Law Commission deems modern cars ‘racist’ if they are unable to identify black skin tone, but perhaps more of concern are the numbers of people wandering across the roads, heads down, preoccupied with whatever interesting activity their phone presents. Now that could get you killed….

In the USA former policeman Derek Chauvin (45) has been found guilty of the murder of George Floyd. This verdict will be universally welcomed, as there could never have been a case for putting a knee on somebody’s neck and causing their death. All of this over a fake $20 bill, and with a man handcuffed, not resisting or being violent. It was outside the police restraint guidelines, and Chauvin should have anticipated it would result in serious injury or death. Sentencing will take place in eight weeks, and irrespective of the outcome, be it 40, 25 or 10 years, it will send the strongest message to any others so inclined. George Floyd was only 46 and his life was summarily ended in 9 minutes, 29 seconds.

Liam Scarlett (35), who has died suddenly, was a leading light in choreography with the Royal Ballet. His death was announced only hours after Denmark’s leading theatre  – the Copenhagen – terminated its contract with him. He had taught at Royal Opera House and the Royal Ballet School. He was born to parents Deborah and Laurence Scarlett, and started dancing at the age of 4, winning a place at age 11,  at The Royal Ballet School. At 22 the young and elegant Liam was promoted to First Artist, but it was in choreography that he made his path. He created Ballet Boyz to foster his love of contemporary works and won all the choreographic prizes, including the Kenneth MacMillan and Ursula Moreton prizes. One of his legacies is the 2018 romantic production of Swan Lake at Royal Ballet, likely to remain in the light of cost and its audience popularity.  Russian dancer Alexei Ratmansky blamed the ‘cancel culture’ for Scarlett’s death.

An update on Alexei Navalny reports that he is now in a critical condition, three weeks into his hunger strike at being denied the right to be seen by a civilian doctor. He has critically high potassium levels, which by themselves are enough to cause his death. His daughter has posted to their followers that her father is literally dying in front of their eyes, and Navalny further describes himself as a skeleton who would scare children. Olga Mikhailova, his lawyer, told reporters that he had become very weak, and demanded that he be transferred to a civilian hospital in Moscow to receive necessary assistance. Prison officials however describe his condition as satisfactory, but then they would say that, wouldn’t they?



And finally, seven year old history buff  Dylan Verey has unearthed a portrait of King Charles II, dated c.1660. The portrait had hung on his great grandparents wall, and was grimy with soup splashes. He persuaded his mother to take it to The Repair Shop, BBC One’s restoration programme, where it was restored along with its considerable gilded frame. Lucia Scalisi, the painting conservator, and previously a specialist at the V&A, described it as a remarkable find, and museum-worthy. Well done, Dylan.



Jacqueline x