By Jacqueline Curzon
The village of Povalikhino [Повалихино] is not one which instantly springs to readers’ geographical minds, but in recent weeks it hit the headlines in a very unusual election. Nikolai Loktev, the Kremlin party incumbent needed a notional contender to run against, and as there was nobody who apparently wanted the role, he nominated his cleaner, Marina Udgodskaya. In a rural district with a population of around 400 people, Ms Udgodskaya won the race with 84 of 130 votes cast. The 35-year-old mother of two, told Russian reporters she was shocked by her win. Now I know there’s a lot of discussion about who should ultimately replace Boris Johnson, so never mind Rishi Sunak, the obvious question is – has anybody actually asked the name of Boris’s cleaner?
Boris has promised to make the UK the world leader in low-cost clean power, so we can expect every home in Britain to be powered by wind farms within a decade, stating that wind will then power your kettle, washing machine, your heating, your freezer and your car. Now, given the controversy about the safety of wind farms, with its associated health implications, I’m intrigued as to how he will get this decision past the health lobbyists, or indeed where he is planning to put the contraptions? Maybe he will take down trees in our residential streets, and install miniature windmills instead? [In my youth, pylons were the ugly sisters of suburbia]. Disadvantages of wind turbines include that they’re expensive, they pose a threat to wildlife and are both hideous and noisy. Surely, the yardstick of acceptability is if they are willing to install one in the vicinity of Downing Street and around the smart residential areas of London, not just the outlying areas where people are socially less connected or their complaints less likely to be listened to. Johnson was quoted as saying, “as Saudi Arabia is to oil, the UK is to wind.” As a practical variation, let’s imagine every vehicle in the UK with a colourful, seaside-style windmill attached to its front grille, which could generate its own power. Alternatively, one could argue Westminster itself could surely power the UK, with the amount of hot air generated within its chambers. To misquote Sir Walter Scott [Rob Roy] ‘..it’s an ILL WIND blows naebody gude,’ which is likely true, unless you’re listening to the wonderful vintage song by Flanders and Swann, describing the hearty efforts of a French horn player.
Anyway, I digress. Boris has further pledged to create a ‘Generation Buy,’ to get young people onto the property ladder. I think it’s going to end up being a ‘Get By,’ or perhaps ’Good-Bye,’ because with the unremitting soaring property prices in the UK – especially here in London, I fail to see how any-one, or any-two, in modest employment, could possibly contemplate taking on a mortgage for properties starting at £300,000, unless your dad is the CEO of homebizz.com and you’re a ‘familial’ partner registered over at Companies’ House. If – on the other hand – you happen to live up north, you could buy a substantial 3 bed house with gardens for the price [down here] of a bijou one-bedroom flat, snazzily located over the shops. Hardly a des-res. The widening north-south property conundrum continues to be very divisive, as everybody struggles to earn their unequal crust. Not everyone Is struggling with the north south journey however; Margaret Ferrier, MP (SNP) had no qualms about travelling from Scotland to Westminster, whilst waiting for a covid result. After voting at Westminster, and knowing by then she was confirmed positive, she hopped on a return train home, despite knowing the non negotiable rules of self isolation. Since her suspension, she has issued an apology, blaming her mistake on ‘muddled rules.’ [As Ms Ferrier is technically a pensioner, I hope she didn’t claim her age was behind the ‘muddling’]. Ms Sturgeon has called for her resignation, but one has to ask what of those she passed on her 800 miles of journey; passengers, train staff, taxi drivers or tube passengers and other MPs? Did she leave them her phone number, just in case?
CRUK confirms the shocking reality that patients ‘protecting’ the NHS has resulted in approximately 3 million missed cancer screening tests, and also found more than 350,000 patients have still not been referred for urgent cancer referrals, under the two-week wait. Some cancers have particularly fallen behind, most notably urological and lung cancers. Who, reading this column, has not felt the urge to suppress an innocent cough on public transport, because those around will make an assumption that you’re Covid positive. I was in that invidious position a few weeks back, innocently choking on a drink after reading a message that a friend had died. Some moved further away in a heartbeat. Noone asked if I was alright, which indeed I wasn’t. Spare a thought for those who had symptoms of lung cancer and were reluctant to a/ go to the GP or Hospital, perhaps fearing it could be Covid, or b/ that it could have been trivial, and they would just be seen as time wasters. Dr Jeanette Dixon, president of the Royal College of Radiologists and a senior lung cancer specialist, said that for two months over the pandemic she had “not seen a single curable patient because they had presented far too late for life-saving treatment.” Dr Neil Smith from Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Alliance said his biggest fear is that “in future years I’ll be doing more home visits for palliative care, because as a GP I am not diagnosing my patients soon enough.” NHS – this is down to you! Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Harrogate and Sunderland have been put on standby amidst warnings that the UK death toll is going to rise sharply. This is interesting, because of the 7 temporary hospitals opened during the first wave of pandemic, only the Manchester and London hospitals were used, and that fairly nominally. NHS staff have told me there wasn’t sufficient time to move patients to dedicated covid facilities. Ergo, every aspect of NHS provision was then impacted negatively by such decisions.
And now for a little update from the White House, where it would appear that Donald Trump has not been able to capitalise on a sympathy vote following his recent Covid diagnosis. He has also upset Dr Anthony Fauci, misquoting him as endorsing [Trump’s] handling of the pandemic. Unfortunately, Americans are also cynical about Joe Biden going round door-to-door, appealing to voters, something he hasn’t done until recently. Donald Trump has been seen waving variously from the National Medical Centre, or from his car to his adoring public. Americans are kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place, having two septuagenarians as their Presidential choices. Both have health issues, and opposing leadership styles, but Trump will now be harder hit as he has been so vociferous in his dismissal of all things Covid. His medical updates are being provided by his special physician, Dr Sean Conley, who has given selective updates about treatments, medications and progress. Perhaps if his name was Sean Connery, the updates – written on Basildon Bond, of course – would state that President Trump is just a ‘little shaken,’ but not stirred.
On the topic of Bond, a universally recognised fictional character, cinemagoers might be dismayed to hear that the latest film, ‘No Time To Die’ has been further delayed until 2021. MGM and Universal are behind the decision to delay Mr Bond’s next appearance, doubtless attributable to a projected crash at the box offices. The bad guy in the movie is Ernst Blofeld, but to cinema fans, the real villains are likely to be Boris Johnson and the culture secretary, for failing to provide timely financial aid for the industry. This week we saw financial investment to the tune of £1.57 billion to the Arts, of which £257 million is given as a survival fund. The Halle, CBSO and Royal Academy of Dance are but a few of those to benefit from the magic wand/ baton of Oliver Dowden.
Nonetheless, we are still being called on, like the authoritative pointing finger of the Kitchener poster, to support cinemas, but this will likely be too late, with national closures scheduled: Cineworld – the UK’s major chain – has announced indefinite closure of 127 of its cinemas, with Vue rapidly following suit. Over in the USA, the epicentre of world cinematography, huge industries are now closed forever. 7000 venues owned by Cineworld and its sister company Regal, are gone for good. Gone – with the wind, of a virus. And the rise in online mediums, such as Netflix.
As the big screen may soon become a distant memory, anyone wanting instead to access the small screen during this coming week, could always tune into Challenge and Courage, a talk sharing various aspects about my life, as a musician, mother and unlikely star of stage and screen. This can be accessed on zoom 813-1582-8394, p/w SUJC, on Monday 12th October at 7.30pm. Hosted in Shenley, refreshments will be provided by attendees, in the comfort of your own sitting room.
I always like to round off with salutations and celebrations. Professor Michael Houghton (69) was jointly awarded a Nobel Prize, with his American counterparts Harvey Alter and Charles Rice. Between them, they have – according to the World Health Organisation – saved ‘millions of lives’ since discovering hepatitis C in 1989. There are more than 70 million cases of hepatitis worldwide, and 400,000 deaths annually, and for the first time in history, post-transfusion hepatitis can now be cured, whilst total eradication is a global possibility. To round off, three further go[i]ngs on, appeared in the Honours List: David Meyer, Chief Executive of PaJes is made an OBE; Jeffrey Leader, Director of Pikuach is made a MBE and Maureen Lipman, actress famous for her excellent BT ‘ology’ credentials, is made a Dame, a sobriquet she will doubtless appreciate come the Panto season. Oh yes, she will!