TO paraphrase Paul Weller – the long hot summer just passed us by. Again.
When Boris Johnson delayed ending lockdown for at least four more weeks, he sacrificed a second summer to coronavirus.
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If you work in hospitality, the music business or the travel industry then the four-week delay to Freedom Day will have been devastating news — economically, emotionally, spiritually.
For some firms and their employees, this is not a delay. It is a death sentence.
But for those who have seen their quality of life improve during this pandemic, the good life will just go on as before. For we are no longer all in this together. We are now living in an era of Covid apartheid.
We have all been touched by the tragedy and trauma of coronavirus. No parent in the land has failed to see some impact on the education — and happiness — of their children.
But there is no hiding from the fact that millions have seen their quality of life improve over the past 15 months.
Like all the office staff freed from the grind, filth and expense of the daily commute who are now “WFH” — working from home, and sometimes not as hard as they did when the boss was breathing down their neck.
And a total of 11.2million employees who have received furlough cash — the Government’s money-for-nothing scheme designed to keep jobs alive during the pandemic.
Life is sweet for the Covid aristocracy who can make a living on Zoom, and the furloughed, and the commuters who have been liberated from all those wasted hours spent dragging their weary carcass to and from work.
The middle class have never had it so good. But there is another country where timorous Boris is destroying lives, breaking hearts and trashing healthy businesses.
The delay to Freedom Day means a summer of no festivals, no foreign holidays and the theatres shuttered.
A summer with restrictions on people meeting in pubs, clubs and at sporting events. A summer where weddings are subjected to draconian rules — no singing! no dancing! — that would raise wry eyebrows in North Korea.
A summer ruined by politicians and boffins who will NEVER suffer the consequences of their life-changing decisions.
But polls show widespread support for lockdown-loopy Boris.
The sun has been shining. The furlough cash keeps flowing, for now. And the Delta variant — the one Boris invited into the UK by allowing the flights to keep coming from India — is on the rise.
But there will be other variants waiting for us when the days grow short and dark. Does Boris plan to keep us, and the British economy, wrapped in cotton wool forever?
By Wednesday this week 80 per cent of us had had our first jab and 59 per cent had received both.
Death rates are way down — between June 11 and June 17 there were 78 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
A year ago, the daily death rate exceeded 1,000 for 22 consecutive days in a row.
LEAD THIS COUNTRY TO THE FREEDOM IT HAS EARNED
Our world-beating vaccination roll-out — the national effort that was supposed to set us free — is being grotesquely squandered.
Yes, some are alright, Jack. Yes, the polls smile on Boris. But furlough ends in September.
“At a certain stage, we are going to have to learn to live with this virus and to manage it the best we can,” warns the PM.
And when do you think you might be able to manage that, Boris?
When do you think you might find the bottle to live with the disease, and to lead this country to the freedom it has earned?
Because right now all I see is your caution curdled into timidity, your common sense resembling cowardice.
A Bojo who has misplaced his legendary mojo.
When Boris Johnson tells us that Freedom Day will now be July 19, I hear another empty promise, a vow made with fingers crossed behind his back.
I hear: “The cheque is in the post.”
For all the middle class Zoomsters who fervently hope they never see another filthy commuter train in their life, the sun is shining.
But for all those watching their livelihoods destroyed by Government timidity, this is a cruel, cruel summer.
Bruce's UK snub
Next week in New York the first major show in 15 months opens its doors to the public for five nights – Springsteen On Broadway.
It’s a brilliant one-man performance – just Bruce, his acoustic guitar and a lifetime of stories, anecdotes and self-deprecating humour.
But there’s a catch.
The audience must show proof of vaccination with the jabs that have been approved by the American Food and Drug Administration – Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Can you spot the missing jab? For some reason, our Oxford-AstraZeneca jab is still not approved by the FDA.
I expect the brilliant, totally effective British jab to be slandered and spurned by the likes of President Macron and Chancellor Merkel.
But, oh Bruce – I thought you were tougher than the rest.
Time to pack it in, Ikea
Even before GB News came on air, the left wing Stop Funding Hate (SFH) lobby group were attempting to bully advertisers into boycotting the new station.
Ikea was one of the first to pull its ads because the Ofcom-regulated channel allegedly didn’t conform to Ikea’s self-proclaimed “humanistic values”.
Odd – because GB News is full of respected broadcasters familiar from the BBC, Sky and national Press.
While Ikea has stores in Saudi Arabia, where being gay will get you the death penalty; and China, where being a Uighur Muslim will get you ethnically cleansed.
But now Ikea has backtracked, saying it is “too soon to make an informed decision” about GB News. How deeply humanistic of them.
The deranged fanatics of SFH accuse GB News of spreading hatred and division.
But when I went on Michelle Dewberry’s show on Monday, I saw zero evidence of hatred and division.
But I did bump into that nice Simon McCoy, formerly of the BBC.
It is difficult to imagine anyone less likely to spread hatred than the lovely Mr McCoy.
If SFH smell hatred and division, it is because they are sitting in it.
The corporate cowards like Ikea and the rest can either grovel on their belly before the extremists of SFH or they can support free speech.
They can’t do both.
Dom on a loser
With his torrent of toxic revelations, Dominic Cummings – the PM’s former chrome-domed Yoda – increasingly resembles a spurned pole dancer trying to take revenge on some treacherous paramour.
After Dom’s latest bomb, designed to humiliate Matt Hancock, I find myself warming to the Health Secretary.
Cummings does not humiliate Hancock by revealing all. He humiliates himself.
Dominic Cummings came up with slogans that defined a national moment – “Take Back Control”, “Get Brexit Done” – then made them a reality.
But I preferred him when he was fired by a grand national vision. And not petty spite.
Movie role priceless for Sharon
Basic Instinct came out 29 years ago, but Sharon Stone is still reflecting on the size of her pay packet compared to that of co-star Michael Douglas.
“I didn’t get paid to do Basic Instinct,” she said on CBC’s Q With Tom Power.
“Michael made $14million and has points (a percentage of the profits). I made not enough money to buy my dress to go to the Oscars the next year.
“I was in this weird limbo where I was suddenly famous but didn’t have any money.”
Sharon was clearly paid something – it has previously been reported that she got around $500,000 for Basic Instinct.
So it must have been a very expensive frock she had in mind for the Oscars.
You can understand why she feels a little miffed.
It was her performance that lit a fire under Basic Instinct, not Michael Douglas and his hard-boiled cop from central casting.
But before Basic Instinct, she was still relatively unknown.
And after Basic Instinct, Sharon was iconic, globally famous, a fabulous face in the pantheon of Hollywood legend.
And that is surely priceless.
SNP’s tight-lipped supremo
On Friday, Nicola Sturgeon warned Scots that from Monday they would be breaking the law if they travel to two English cities – Manchester and Salford.
Ironic, because even as the SNP’s tight-lipped supremo was announcing her travel ban, thousands of the Tartan Army were gathered in London before their nil-nil moral victory over the Auld Enemy.
Nicola should have been in Leicester Square with her wee tape measure.
There were one or two in the Tartan Army who were not socially distancing.
IN an internal BBC inquiry, the BBC has cleared itself over claims Martin Bashir was rehired at the BBC to cover up malpractice around his BBC Panorama interview with Princess Diana, which appeared on the BBC in 1995.
The BBC found the allegations were “completely unfounded”, reported the BBC.
The BBC must be enormously relieved.
But not even remotely surprised.
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