The Anonymous Widower

The End Of The Beginning

At 16:08 on the 9th of November 2020, I sent this text message to the BBC.

Churchill would have dubbed Pfizer’s news the End of the Beginning in the War against the Covids!

Then at 17:00 Boris used the same phrase in his Press Conference.

Wikipedia says this about Churchill’s use of the phrase.

A quotation from a 1942 speech by Winston Churchill concerning the Second Battle of El Alamein.

The Second Battle of El Alamein was fought between the 23rd of October and the 11th of November 1942. So exactly, seventy-eight years ago, the battle was coming to a close.

As a biographer of Churchill, did Boris spot the historical link?

Let’s hope Boris, Macron, Biden, Merkel, Trudeau et al, get the chance to paraphrase another of Churchill’s quotes about the very different battle.

It may almost be said, “Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat”

Let’s hope Pfizer’s vaccine is our generation’s Alamein and marks the turning point in the War against the Covids.

Certainly, the news has been well-received by experts, including Jeremy Farrar of the Welcome Trust, who was being interviewed by the BBC, when the news broke.

I am 73 and my parents told me how Alamein and other news like it, stiffened the sinews and summoned up the blood in the dark days of World War II!

November 10, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is The NHS The Cause Of The Rise In The Covids?

I was lying in my morning bath thinking this morning and I had the heretic thought, which is the title of this post.

How many prominent people in the UK have died from an attack of the covids? There have been some at an advanced age, but generally they were suffering from something else as well!

The highest profile person to be hospitalised by the covids, has been Boris. But despite his weight and obesity, he came through it unscathed, due to excellent care in an NHS hospital!

I’m 73 now, but if I look back to my twenties and thirties, I see an optimistic, fit, slim guy, who felt he was immune from health problems. I can also only remember one of my peers at Liverpool University in the 1960s going into hospital and it was so memorable, I can’t remember what he had.

The youth of the UK, don’t think the covids will happen to them and growing up in an NHS, which has looked after their every need, when they look around them, they feel it will get them through, if they catch the virus.

So the fact that the NHS is there and got the fat Boris, through it, means that they think, they’ll be alright in the end.

Conclusion

The success of the NHS could be a factor in the rise of lab-confirmed cases of the covids.

Are other countries with good health systems, that coped with the first wave, xperiencing a second one?

October 7, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , | 3 Comments

Should Campaigning Against Vaccination Be Made A Crime Against Humanity?

Boris is reported today on the BBC and in The Times, as saying that a coronavirus vaccine is the only way we will win.

Boris is totally right!

We will not be safe until everybody is vaccinated. Vaccination has virtually conquered diseases like smallpox, polio and measles.

Perhaps campaigning against vaccination, should be a crime against humanity!

I live in Hackney, where there is a lot of measles, caused by people being against the MMR vaccine. Will these idiots accept a vaccine for Covid-19?

 

May 4, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , | 2 Comments

Et Toi, Papa? Boris Johnson’s Dad Seeks To Become A French Citizen

Surely, this is the headline of the week in The Sunday Times.

Apparently, Stanley’s mother was born in Versallies!

And you don’t get any more French than that!

March 22, 2020 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Police Powers Bill

Type the name of this proposed bill from the new Government into Google and you only get a hit from The Times.

This is what the newspaper says about the bill.

Gives police greater powers to criminalise travellers who set up unauthorised encampments and allows them to seize their property and vehicles.

I used to live in rural Suffolk for forty years on farms and there will be lots of Suffolk residents who will welcome this bill.

Travellers in parts of rural England, are blamed for a lot of things that happen, like burglaries, theft of ride-on mowers and illegal coursing, often at night.

My properties never suffered personally, although we did have lots of lights and checked that everything was locked up. But others weren’t so lucky!

I also feel from talking to local people in both Suffolk and Dalston, that crime levels are lower here. We’ve only had one burglary in my road, since I moved in and that was when a guy left his keys in the door.

I also remember one of C’s stories.

One of her cases was a divorce involving the so-called King of the Gypsies. She thought it would be a difficult case, but he was an Honorable man, who lived in a semi in a local town. He complied with the Court’s orders and was the perfect client. On the other hand his hatred for the travelling, was on a stratospheric scale.

But I can’t stop feeling that this is going to be the Bill, that will give Boris Johnson, his biggest trouble in the Commons..

December 20, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Action This Day!

This was Churchill’s famous phrase and you can read all about it here.

I am getting sick of the indecision of Brexit and I suspect many in this country feel the same.

As I’m retired, it doesn’t make any difference to my business and those that I employ, as there is no business and no employees.

To my mind, Brexit must be sorted by the end of January at the latest, so that we can all move on.

  • If we vote in Boris Johnson with a large majority, we might leave, although I suspect there will be challenges in Parliament, the Courts and on the streets.
  • If we vote in Jo Swinson with a large majority, she will revoke article 50 and that could be the end of Brexit for at least a few years and hopefully for ever.
  • If we vote in Jeremy Corbyn with a large majority, he will dither and prevaricate for a few years years, before we get another close referendum, which gives us more of what we’ve had for the last few years.

As someone, who voted Remain and now quite frankly doesn’t care, I believe the only way to get us out of this mess made by David Cameron, is to hope that Johnson or Swinson get a majority large enough to carry out their stated policies on Brexit.

As for Corbyn, who has a Push-Me-Pull-You policy on Brexit, everybody should make sure, that whoever they vote for, consigns Corbyn, his apparatchiks and their crack-pot policies to the dustbin of history.

December 11, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rumours Grow Over Future Of HS2

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railnews.

This is the first paragraph.

The future of HS2 appears to be increasingly in doubt, as reports suggest that the forthcoming Oakervee Review will axe Phase 2b between the West Midlands and Yorkshire and possibly cancel the project entirely.

The article also says this about the first phase of the project.

Another possibility is that Phase 1 between London and Birmingham could be built more cheaply by lowering the maximum speed from the presently-planned 250km/h. Such a reduction would reduce the new line’s capacity and lengthen journey times but still ease the pressure on the West Coast Main Line, where paths are in short supply.

There are three suggestions in these two paragraphs and before I discuss them, I’ll detail the various phases of the project as they are current proposed.

The Phases Of High Speed Two

High Speed Two will be two phases with the second phase split into two.

  • Phase 1 – London and the West Midlands
  • Phase 2a – West Midlands and Crewe
  • Phase 2b – Crewe and Manchester and West Midlands and Leeds

The plan improves links between London and several major cities in the Midlands and North.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

I am a great believer in holistic design and in the economies of doing several similar projects together or in a well-defined sequence, that delivers benefits in a stream.

For that reason, I believe that the equally-important Northern Powerhouse Rail should be designed in conjunction with High Speed Two, to achieve the following objectives.

  • A better railway, that connects more towns and cities.
  • A phased delivery of benefits.
  • Possible cost savings.

This report on the Transport for the North web site which is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail, advocates a much better approach.

  • High Speed Two would go from Crewe to Hull via Warrington, Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail would go from Liverpool to Hull via Warrington, Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • There would be a double junction at High Legh between Liverpool and Manchester, that connects the two routes.
  • London and Liverpool services would use the Western end of Northern Powerhouse Rail from High Legh.
  • There would be improvements East of Leeds to connect to Sheffield and the East Coast Main Line.

This map shows the high speed railways between Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester and Warrington.

I discussed, what has been proposed by Transport of the North in Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North.

Cutting High Speed Two To An Affordable Budget

I’ll take the three suggestions in the Rail News article.

Suggestion One – Cancel The Project

This is actually the second suggestion, but I think the article kills it in the second paragraph, that I quoted, when it says that High Speed Two is needed to ease pressure on the West Coast Main Line.

Cancellation would probably be a vote loser and a big stick with which to beat Boris, if he brought forward any environmental proposals.

I doubt cancellation will happen, unless we get someone like Nigel Farage as Prime Minister.

Suggestion Two – Cancel Phase 2b Between The West Midlands And Yorkshire

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the rail links to the East of Manchester.

Northern Powerhouse Rail would offer a lot of improvements, which are shown in purple.

There are also these projects that will improve trains to and from Yorkshire.

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail between Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • A possible connection between Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two at High Legh.
  • Midland Main Line upgrade with 125 mph bi-mode trains between London and Sheffield.
  • 140 mph running on the East Coast Main Line between London and Doncaster and onward to Bradford, Hull, Leeds and York.

I’ll add a few more flesh to the points.

High Speed Two To Hull

If High Speed Two connects to Northern Powerhouse Rail at High Legh it will join everything together.

  • High Speed Two trains would run between London and Hull via Birmingham, Crewe, Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • Very expensive infrastructure would be shared between High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • Leeds and Manchester would be just twenty minutes apart, with trains from both lines on the same tracks.
  • Hull station has the space to handle the trains.

Combining the two routes should save billions.

Midland Main Line To Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley, Wakefield And Leeds

This is already ptoposed for the Midland Main Line.

  • New stations will be built at Rotherham and Barnsley.
  • Four fast trains per hour between Sheffield and Leeds can be delivered.
  • 125 mph bi-mode trains to Yorkshire via the East Midlands.

But what about the following?

  • Could the Erewash Valley Line be used instead of a new High Speed Two line between the East Midlands and Sheffield?
  • Could the Midland Main Line be electrified and upgraded to 140 mph running like the East Coast Main Line?

Similar connectivity to that of High Speed Two can be created at a lower cost.

Cancellation of the Eastern Leg of Phase 2b would mean there would be no improved link between the West and East Midlands.

Perhaps, the Eastern leg of High Speed Two, would run only to the proposed East Midlands Hub station at Toton.

Increasing Capacity On The East Coast Main Line

In Thoughts On A 140 mph East Coast Main Line Between London And Doncaster, I did a crude calculation to see how many extra trains could be run between London and Doncaster on a digitally signalled 140 mph East Coast Main Line.

This was my conclusion.

If something similar to what I have proposed is possible, it looks like as many as an extra seven tph can be accommodated between Kings Cross and the North.

That is certainly worth having.

Extra trains could be run between Kings Cross and Bradford, Hull, Leeds, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Estimated timings would be eighty minutes to Doncaster and under two hours to Leeds.

Suggestion Three – Reduce Speed In Phase 1

There is always a tendency for project promoters to make sure their project is the biggest and the best.

There will be an optimum speed for a London and Birmingham high speed line, which balances benefits, costs, noise and disturbance. One politician’s optimum will also be very different to another’s.

Such parameters like operating speed and capacity must be chosen with care.

Conclusion

I believe, that we need the capacity of both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail  to move passengers and freight.

So we should design them together and with other improvements like the Midland Main Line and the East Coast Main Line.

 

 

October 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

PM Backs Clean Air Law

The title of this post is the front page headline on today’s copy of The Times.

This is the sub-heading of the article on The Times web site.

PM promises binding targets to reduce pollution and praises Times campaign

In a separate box in the paper, which is entitled Our Manifesto, this is said.

  • A new Clean Air Act to confer a legal right to unjpolluted air for everyone in the UK.
  • A ban on new diesel and petrol cars from 2030 and cuts to green car grants to be traversed.
  • Temporary traffic bans outside schools at drop-off and pick-up times.
  • The extension of pre-2016 diesel and pre-2006 petrol pay zones to more cities.
  • Pollution monitors in every postcode to empower people to take action.

How far will Boris Johnson go to meet the manifesto of The Times in the Queen’s Speech on Monday?

October 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 5 Comments

Boris Gets Screwed, Glued And Tattooed

I voted Remain, but just wish that this Brexit rubbish can be sorted one way or another!

With my circumstances as a non-driving, single pensioner living alone in a comfortable house with a more than adequate pension, Remain or Leave will probably make no or little difference to the rest of my life.

But other things could!

  • Increasing air pollution in London and other cities.
  • Global warming.
  • A government that raided my pension fund or pursued policies that would reduce its value.
  • The closure of more restaurants that are good at gluten-free food!
  • A government that didn’t back public transport.
  • Increasing violence on the streets.
  • A government that didn’t back serious research in Universities.

I have listed them in a rough order.

Should We Leave Now?

I actually feel now, that we should leave the EU, as to disobey the referendum would set a bad and dangerous precedent.

Especially, if we have a second referendum, in the hope of getting a result more acceptable to government and/or parliament and it proves just as close.

Imagine a controversial referendum in the future, such as bringing back the death penalty or imposing high carbon taxes.

If the government and/or parliament does’t get an acceptable result, will they go for further referendums until they do?

Where Now?

Boris is in a corner of his own making!

In the days of Rab Butler, Joe Grimond and Harold Wilson, the solution would have been to call in The Queen, who would give the nod to the next Prime Minister chosen by the Great and Good of the strongest party in the House of Commons.

Now with more democratically elected party leaders and the Fixed Term Parliament Act, such old-fashioned methods are now considered undemocratic.

But will the current crop of comedians in the House break the deadlock?

Conclusion

House Of Cards has nothing on this!

 

 

September 24, 2019 Posted by | World | , , | 4 Comments

What Happens When An Irresistible Force Meets An Immovable Object?

Wikipedia has an entry called Irresistible Force Paradox.

Read it and you won’t find any help with a solution to the Brexit impasse!

As someone, who is very much a European, who voted Remain and believes that we should always follow the first referendum result, Wikipedia didn’t help me either!

The only thing that will sort this stand-off out, is a good old-fashioned British compromise.

We can probably wait for ever for that!

September 11, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment