Passing Observations 59

This is a long standing series of small items which have caught my eye or mind and which seem relevant, startling, amusing or all three. Occasionally, items which appear here may return as a longer piece. Mostly they will not.

  1. So, the UK Government is bringing back imperial measures. That’s splendid. But I can’t help feeling they’re only doing it in order to pretend that Brexit means something.
  2. Boris Johnson believes the world is vastly overpopulated. He has six children.
  3. The bank wrote today to let me know that if I go overdrawn the rate of interest they charge has risen to 39.9%, although interest rates charged by the Bank of England haven’t risen. I’ve forgotten what they pay on the money we have deposited with them but it generally seems to be fairly steady at somewhere between 0.0% and 0.1%. If that isn’t profiteering I don’t know what is.
  4. I read this evening that if you stand at the bottom of Big Ben with a portable radio in your hand, you will hear the chimes or bongs on the radio before you hear them in real life. This is apparently because the radio waves travel at the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second, while sound travels at 760 miles per hour. I cannot think of any possible use for this piece of information so it can be classified only as entertainment.
  5. Once a fortnight I visit the greengrocers and buy walnuts for the squirrels. “Do you like walnuts, then?” scowled the shop assistant as she weighed out nearly £30 worth of walnuts. She hates dealing with cash and hates it that I don’t wear a mask. There were five large bags of nuts. She is always rather bad tempered and today was no exception. “I’m going to make a walnut cake,” I told her. “I hope I’ve got the quantities right.” I pulled a notebook out of my pocket and pretended to consult it. “I’ve got to get a hundredweight of flour and 14 pounds of butter.” I put the walnuts into a large shopping bag which I carry and smiled at her. She just stared at me. Into each life we must all bring a little joy and confusion.
  6. Someone gave us a bottle of something called Prosecco a while ago and at lunchtime today I opened it. Once I had tasted it, I decided it was too good to drink so I have put the bottle away to remove some paint that I spilt on my trousers a while ago. It should be very effective for that.
  7. I hit a huge pothole which I couldn’t avoid. The bump threw the car’s software into a state of turmoil. The windscreen wipers came on, the dashboard lights went off, the speedometer disappeared and much to my alarm, the emergency braking system switched itself on. It was lucky that no one was tail-gating. I wonder how many accidents are caused by potholes.
  8. A friend of Antoinette’s lives in Germany and has two dogs. Antoinette recently sent the two dogs a soft toy each. And before she posted the toys she hugged them and put lots of love into them. The dogs now love their toys, carry them around with them and sleep with them. The dogs sleep in baskets upstairs and yesterday, the smaller dog was upstairs in her basket but feeling poorly. She was so poorly that she hadn’t been able to carry her toy upstairs with her. So the slightly bigger dog went downstairs and fetched the toy, carried it upstairs and put it into the basket with the dog who wasn’t feeling well. The poorly dog, contented, then put its paws around the toy and went to sleep. What does this have to do with the price of fish, you might ask. Nothing. But it’s a lovely story for these dark days.
  9. One tree can absorb as much carbon in a year as a car produces during 26,000 miles. During the last decade alone Antoinette and I have planted between 50 and 100 trees. Let’s say 50 trees. That’s 1.3 million miles. We have travelled far less than 100,000 miles by car in that decade. And we have taken no flights. So we are owed well over a million miles.
  10. When I was a GP I used to quite like syringing ears. It was a bit messy but simple. Patients would come in complaining of deafness and go out ten minutes later able to hear. They always went out much happier than they had been when they’d arrived and I found it was the easiest, quickest, simplest and safest way to make a patient happy. Brilliant. I always felt good. And it was a great way to develop a relationship with patients. These days doctors get their nurses to do all this practical things. They’re mad.
  11. When writing his book about the `social contract’, French philosopher Rousseau claimed that men are basically good and that it is government and the laws which governments make which make men bad. If Rousseau was right then it stands to reason that the more laws we have the more likely it is that people will be made bad. And no `government’ in history has ever made as many laws as we have today.
  12. Reading Alec Guinness’s diary entitled `My Name Escapes Me’ I found this: `I have been unable to disguise my phobias, irritations, prejudices…and my childishness and frivolity. Sometimes, I hope, my occasional enthusiasms emerge.’ I know how he feels.
  13. It is extraordinary how many great artists suffered from mental health problems. Today, I suspect that painters such as van Gogh, Degas or Cezanne would have been heavily drugged or arrested and put in prison. Would they have produced any great art? It’s doubtful. We watched an excellent film about the painter and sculptor Giacometti. At one point Giacometti destroyed a handful of his early paintings. When a journalist asked him why he was doing this, Giacometti explained that the pictures he was taking out of circulation didn’t look like the pictures the collectors expected. “It’s not a Giacometti’,’ he explained, pointing to a more recent picture which was quite different in style. This rather proved our thinking that to be successful an artist needs to have an instantly recognisable style of painting or choice of subject.
  14. The Scots have banned the smacking of children and parents will have to find other, far more harmful ways to punish their children. Dr Benjamin Spock, author of the `bible’ on child care, changed his mind about smacking and decided that it was the best way to discipline small children. The fact is that a short, sharp smack does far less harm than the withdrawal of affection which will probably replace it. If the Scots who made this decision had ever observed nature they would know that all animals teach their offspring by giving them a little physical attention now and then. I once watched a cat teaching two kittens how to hunt. He cuffed them around the ear when they didn’t pay attention.
  15. The film of my novel Mrs Caldicot’s Cabbage War was shown on terrestrial television again the other day. It appears on TV regularly and it’s been on TV over Christmas every year for a decade or more. I haven’t received any payment for around 15 years so I assume someone has made a bundle. Good luck to them. I’m just pleased that the film is still popular. (Those who have enjoyed the film might like to know that there are three other books about Mrs Caldicot’s adventures.)
  16. If old and infirm (or young and infirm) one should always try to live in a hotel rather than a nursing home. Decent hotels are much cheaper than nursing homes and the food and care are likely to be much better.
  17. Antoinette told me a nice story. She was in W.H.Smith, the stationer, and overheard a young mother say to her daughter. “You can have a new pencil case. You can choose any one you like.” The little girl, overwhelmed, looked up at her mother, beaming and said: “This is the best day of the whole of my life!” As the girl bent down to examine the pencil cases, and make her selection, the mother looked across at Antoinette and gave a little smile that seemed to say: “It’s sweet that she should think that but I am a trifle embarrassed that having a new pencil case makes this the best day of her life.”
  18. Sarah Palin, former US Vice Presidential Candidate, says that she’s not going to be vaccinated against covid-19 because she believes in science. I didn’t used to be a fan of hers but I am now.
  19. There was a gale again last night. The garden is full of twigs and broken branches. Saddest of all, however, is the entire dray now lying on our driveway. We have a number of squirrels living in our trees and their drays, being large, never seem to cope well when there is a wind blowing. There is going to have to be some frantic dray building today. Still, at least it isn’t the breeding season and there weren’t any baby squirrels sitting snugly in the dray when it fell.
  20. News UK owns TalkRadio. News UK is owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Vernon Coleman’s latest book is called Endgame: The Hidden Agenda 21. The book explains how we got here, why we got here and where we will end up if the resistance movement doesn’t win the war we are fighting. `Endgame’ is available on Amazon as a paperback and an eBook. Vernon Coleman’s first book about the covid hoax - Coming Apocalypse – is still available. It was published in April 2020. The book summarised what had already happened and what Dr Coleman believed was about to happen. If you read it you can check how accurate he was.