Usually a hot cross bun is embossed with a cross, to symbolise Christianity. English folklore says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or grow mouldy during the subsequent year. Supermarkets offer non-believers a sell-by date printed on their ready-to-eat buns. They do not feature the words ‘SEX’ or ‘FUCK’, the flag of Scots nationalist nor a Swastika. Doing so would mean them no longer being hot cross buns, rather Swear Buns, SNP Buns or National Socialism Buns.
Tory councillor Lee Mason, a former Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, has been removed from his party while bun investigators look into his tray of home-baked buns which featured in a Snapchat post “leaked” to Portsmouth’s local paper, The News. Mr Mason denies baking any bun with a swastika on it. He suggests the image of the Swastika bun may have been altered, and we note that whoever made it or don’t make it has the arms pointing anticlockwise, which as any caterer for Nazi-themed parties and weddings will tell you is the wrong way. He has however admitted to baking the other buns.
“I have not baked a bun with a Nazi symbol. You can see from the picture that is not a Nazi symbol,” Mr Mason tells Portsmouth News. “I baked some cakes, yes, but I haven’t done a Nazi symbol on any of them. And there’s no Nazi symbols there.”
The News tells readers that the “swastika-style emblem – similar to one used by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, whose party slaughtered millions of Jews during the Second World War – appeared to have been baked on a bun.”
A spokesman for a local Jewish group is upset. Another former Tory councillor named – get this – Jezz Baker says: “I’m a Pompey Jew, born and bred, and my hatred for swastikas is enormous. But if there is one person that is not anti-Semitic and has nothing Nazi about him whatsoever it’s Lee Mason.”
Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP (Labour), puts the bun in context of the fight against racism, the Covid-19 pandemic and given time probably global warming. “At a time when our whole community is pulling together to support each other, anything suggesting the use of the most offensive of symbols is shockingly inappropriate and shameful,” he says. “If true, it may also breach the members’ code of conduct. It is only right that serious and legitimate concerns be reported to the city council under its complaints system for councillors.”
No word yet from victims of the Crusades, crucifixion nor Christian fundamentalists about why the cross is unsuited to cakes and anyone who serves such a symbol of persecution, idolatry and suffering with butter and jam deserves to rot in hell for all eternity.
The Dutch have cancelled their domestic football season. And it’s bad news for Liverpool and very good news for Norwich and other teams facing relegation from the Premier League. There will no champion of the Eredivisie, the Netherlands’ top league. There will be no relegations. One option was to take an average of points scored so far and add them to games still to play. But that would have made no difference to the teams qualifying for the Champions League and Europa league, respectively. In the Premier League, it would – and it means Arsenal (currently in 9th spot) qualifying for the Europa League ahead of Spurs (8th).
Manchester City’s (2nd) ban from the European competition means Manchester United (5th) take their place in the Champions League, where they will be in the mix with Leicester City (3rd) and Chelsea (4th).
It is the most likely scenario. Already all football in England below the three divisions that make up the National League has ended and all results expunged.
It’s time for the upper tiers to follow suit and present a clear path ahead. The Dutch have set the agenda – and it’s the right one.
Can it really be that smoking tobacco, inhaling all that nicotine, reduces the risk of catching Covdi-19? Can smoking tobacco prevent really you from getting this hideous respiratory disease? A French suggests it’s true. Maybe.
A team at Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris questioned 480 patients who tested positive for the coronavirus. Of the 350 ill enough to have been to warrant a prolonged stay in hospital – median age: 65 – just 4.4% were regular smokers. For those released home – median age: 44 – 5.3% smoked. But around 25% of French people are smokers. So either those with Covid-19 are liars – you told the insurance company you don’t smoke, right? – or maybe smoking is good for you?
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine at the end of March said that only 12.6% of 1,000 patients were smokers, a figure that was significantly lower than expected. Some 28% of people in China are smokers.
French neurobiologist Jean-Pierre Changeux thinks nicotine might stop the virus from reaching cells in the body preventing its spread. Nicotine may also lessen the overreaction of the body’s immune system that has been found in the most severe cases of Covid-19 infection. To test the theory, frontline health workers, and hospital patients with the Covid-19 virus will be slapped with nicotine patches.
“Our cross-sectional study strongly suggests that those who smoke every day are much less likely to develop a symptomatic or severe infection with Sars-CoV-2 compared with the general population,” say the Pitié-Salpêtrière researchers. “The effect is significant. It divides the risk by five for ambulatory patients and by four for those admitted to hospital. We rarely see this in medicine.”
The latest plot to make Newcastle United winners is under attack. beIn Sports wants the Premier League to stop Newcastle’s proposed £300million takeover from a Saudi Arabia-led consortium. The prospective buyers have funds from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund – money controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Qatar media network beIN SPORTS has an exclusive deal to broadcast all Premier League football matches in the Middle East and North Africa for the three seasons 2019/20-2021/22. “Nothing brings people together and excites passions and emotions like sport; particularly football,” guffed beIn’s spots chairman as the £400m deal was signed. But sport can only do so much. The hand of friendship can be cut off at the wrist. The two countries are not on the best of terms:
Since 2017 Qatar has been subject to a boycott by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt (the Arab Quartet), creating a deep rift in a region already beset by civil wars and insurgencies
BeIN is locked in a bitter dispute with illegal Saudi-backed broadcaster BeoutQ, which it has accused of pirating its coverage of Premier League fixtures.
“In light of the Saudi Arabia government’s facilitation of the near three-year theft of the Premier League’s commercial rights — and in turn your club’s commercial revenues — through its backing of the huge scale BeoutQ pirate service, I would strongly suggest that you fully interrogate this deal, and ask the Premier League to do the same, as a matter of urgency,” al-Obaidly wrote.
“It is no exaggeration to say that the future economic model of football is at stake,” he added.
Pick a side: Qatar or Saudi Arabia? And don’t forget to pull on your rainbow laces. This is what Human Rights Watch says of each bastion of the beautiful game:
Qatari laws continue to discriminate against women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals
The Premier League says: “The Premier League, proudly stand alongside Stonewall in promoting equality and diversity… we ask that all fans support LGBT people in football and beyond by making them feel welcome.”
Saudi Arabia faced unprecedented international criticism in 2019 for its human rights record, including continuing repression of dissidents and activists and the failure to provide accountability for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in October 2018. Amid the criticism, Saudi authorities announced landmark reforms for Saudi women that, if fully implemented, represent a significant step forward, including allowing Saudi women over 21 years old to obtain passports and travel abroad without male guardian permission for the first time. However, women’s rights activists still remained in prison or on trial for their activism. In 2019, Saudi Arabia carried out 184 executions, 84 for non-violent drug crimes. Through 2019, the Saudi-led coalition continued a military campaign against the Houthi rebel group in Yemen that has included scores of unlawful airstrikes that have killed and wounded thousands of civilians.
Racism and sexism are the norm in Saudi Arabia. The moralising PL must be shocked. It support Kick It Out, stating:
The Premier League is making it clear there is No Room For Racism as we continue to work with all our clubs, fans, the FA, EFL, PFA, Kick It Out and the police to tackle discrimination across all areas of football.
The League’s No Room for Racism campaign demonstrates its continued commitment to equality and diversity, using the power and popularity of the League to oppose racism in football.
Racism is not acceptable in our competition or the wider sport.
The Saudi and Qataris are just the sort of people, then, that our moralising Premier League can do business with. Time for the PL to make a tough decision and stop using football to teach the fans how to think.
Now that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have banned tabloid newspapers and the wrong kind of readers from keeping up to date with their wokeness, branding (Archie of Archewell) and trips to Sicily (mode of travel: barefoot), Vancouver (seaplane), the south of France (Rocket Man), Davos (hot air), and Los Angeles (flying yoga mat), journalists on other titles look on with envy. Why can’t Harry and Meghan ban us from receiving press releases about their lives and elitism, they wail. Former Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore has issued such a plea.
Israel’s Health Ministry supported the country’s lockdown to fight Covid-19. But academic Isaac Ben-Israel says it mattered not. He reasons that Covid-19 runs to a pattern. Ben-Israel, chairman of the National Council for Research and Development, looked at the data and discovered that Covid-19 outbreaks peak after about 40 days and decline to almost zero after 70 days.
“Our analysis shows that this is a constant pattern across countries. Surprisingly, this pattern is common in countries that have taken a severe lockdown, including the paralysis of the economy, as well as to countries that implemented a far more lenient policy and have continued in ordinary life,” Ben-Israel wrote in a study published April 16.
So let’s get back to work and school…
Image: Towards Data Science
RyanAir have found a new way to make life harder for the poor sods who pay the airline money. If your flight was cancelled due to Covid-19, you were offered a full refund. Just go the RyanAir website, punch in your details and the refund would be yours. Or not. Because RyanAir has ignored its own refund option and instead issued vouchers. Here’s their mealy-mouthed email in full. Bear in mind they have your money in their bank account and did not deliver the goods or services you paid for. In short: you RyanAir customers have all become investors in RyanAir.
Ryanair Group Customer Care (Ryanair DAC, Lauda & Malta Air)
Our Ref: ********
Over the past months the spread of the Covid-19 virus has caused many EU governments to impose flight and/or travel bans which grounded over 99% of Ryanair’s flights. We are doing everything we can to support our customers, our people and protect jobs. We are ready to return flying when Covid-19 is defeated, hopefully sooner rather than later.
We regret that these Government travel restrictions have forced the cancellation of your Ryanair flight(s) under booking reference:: *******.
Please see below details of your travel voucher for ****.**GBP, the full value of your unused booking. This amount can be used for the purchase of Ryanair flights and other services at any time over the next 12 months. It is simple to use this voucher when making a booking on the Ryanair website or app.
Click on the below link to accept your voucher.
Voucher Name: ***** ********
Voucher Number: ****************
Voucher Value: ****.**GBP
Voucher Expiry Date: 20/April/2021
If you do not wish to accept this voucher option and wish to move your flight or request a refund, please click here to contact us. Please note that as our customer care agents are required to work from home to limit the spread of COVID-19 virus, payment security restrictions prevent us from processing refunds as quickly as we would like to.
We invite you to use your voucher to book your next trip and we look forward to seeing you again on a Ryanair flight in the near future. Passengers who made their bookings using travel agents, or on line travel agencies should contact these companies from where they purchased their tickets to find out more about their options.
Our priority always remains the health and well-being of our people and customers.
Ryanair Group Customer Care (Ryanair DAC, Lauda & Malta Air)
You click the link NOT to accept their voucher and you get:
But I don’t want to use my voucher, you say. I want my money.
You scroll down the page looking for the bit about getting your refund.
And at the bottom of the page, finally you get news on the refund:
Can I receive a cash refund instead of voucher?
You can request a cash refund however bear in mind we will place your request in the cash refund queue until the COVID-19 emergency has passed. We highly recommend using the refund voucher as these are readily available and you can book flights on all Ryanair Group airlines in over 200 destinations in Europe and the Middle East.
But you already did request the refund.
But RyanAir says you still need to do it but now doesn’t tell you how to. But if you DM them on twitter of message them on Facebook you can at least log your details and ask for a refund.
RyanAir – finding news ways to make your life more difficult.
If they think you need it, the UK government send you a care package to keep you eating in the coronavirus crisis. The contents are:
1 loaf of white sliced bread
1 bag of apples
1 bag of small oranges
1 bag of potatoes
2 cartons of long life milk
1 roll of toilet tissue
2 tins of cooked peas
1 tin of hotdogs
3 tins of tomato soup
1 can of tuna
1 packet of porridge oats
1 tin of peaches
1 pouch of teabags
1 bag dried pasta
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 packet of digestive biscuits
2 tins of backed beans
1 pouch of dried coffee
2 jars of pasta sauce
1 vial of shampoo
1 bar of soap
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will no longer “offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion”. The couple, now living in LA and functioning as the ambulatory Archewell brand, tell four of the main British tabloids, The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Mirror, they are above such things. They are beginning “a new media relations policy”. They tell the media:
“It is gravely concerning that an influential slice of the media, over many years, has sought to insulate themselves from taking accountability for what they say or print – even when they know it to be distorted, false, or invasive beyond reason. When power is enjoyed without responsibility, the trust we all place in this much-needed industry is degraded.”
From now on the tabloids will have to rely on gossip, paparazzi photos and ‘sources’ close to the couple for news. Yeah. Plus ca change. Harry and Meghan will bar the media they don’t like from receiving official updates and photographs. The four newspapers of the apocalypse will not receive the couples press releases telling of their unique inspiring love and where you can buy their news range of scented candles. The papers will have to wait for other approved organs to publish the PR before splashing the statements across their web pages. The papers will also be banned from attending official Archewell events.
Tabloid readers will be distraught at the news and flock to buy Vogue and therein read of the couple’s wonderful lives and where to get their merchandise.
The NHS advert tells us to Stay At Home. Yeah, you can go out to exercise for an hour a day. And you can go shopping. And if you’re in the police force you can stand on a bridge and clap. But STAY AT HOME! One tip to prevent any urges to leave the home is to trap yourself beneath two fiends and a dog.
File under: it’s amazing what you can find down the back of a sofa.
The conspiracy theory about the conspiracy theories has been pulled together in one graphic. Of course, what you can’t see is the real evidence just just off the page to the right. And it will blow your mind!
We don’t know why the police were talking to a woman and her dog in Finsbury Park, North London. But one journalist who tried to find out was harassed and threatened with a fine by the coronavirus coppers. The best part might be when one copper asks Michael Segalov for his “credentials”. It’s journalism and free speech, officer, you don’t need any:
All those graphs showing the death rates by country for Coronavirus Covid-19 are bunkum. In Belgium, any deaths thought to be from the virus are counted as deaths from the virus. In Germany dying with the virus is not counted if you did not die from the virus. And in the UK only deaths of people who tested positive are counted. In China they just make it up.
A local government taskforce in Wuhan charged with virus prevention added 1,290 fatalities to the city’s toll, taking the confirmed count to 3,869 from a previously reported 2,579. Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, suffered more fatalities than any other city in China as residents struggled get help from its overwhelmed medical system.
Hold your nose, this stinks:
“Medical workers at some facilities might have been preoccupied with saving lives and there existed delayed reporting, underreporting or misreporting, but there has never been any cover-up and we do not allow cover-ups,” said China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian at a news briefing in Beijing.
And anyone who says there’s been a cover up will not say it twice.
A second Chinese citizen journalist who had been covering China’s deadly coronavirus outbreak from its epicenter in Wuhan has gone missing just days after the disappearance of Chen Qiushi, a former rights lawyer who was video blogging from the city.
Fang Bin, a Wuhan businessman who had been posting videos filmed from city hospitals, was allegedly arrested on Sunday (Feb. 9, link in Chinese), according to Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK, the same day he posted a 12-second video of a piece of paper with the words “resist all citizens, hand the power of the government back to the people” written on it, which he read aloud. RTHK, which didn’t name its source, said that plain-clothes police officers accompanied by fire fighters broke down Fang’s door to enter his flat.
Meanwhile in the UK, the agenda-driven media is looking at the wrong story and its Gotcha! moment:
In The Bronx, New York City, a sign in the booze store winder lays out the 7 rules of coronavirus for all shoppers.
Journalism matters. It’s not all talking truth to power and showing us things other people would rather we didn’t know. Sometimes it involves talking about the latest shoes, if Meghan Markle takes one or two bottles into the shower and pandering to your audience’s prejudices. The clip above was a Channel 4 News anchor not asking a question to shed light on the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, but simply demanding something. The anchor’s grandstanding serves only his needs, which are: look important; display your sense of entitlement; show your Labour voting audience how right they are to dislike a Tory Government; and give it up for the narcissists. Robbie Gibb has heard enough of this self-aggrandizing point scoring. Journalists with access are letting us down:
Why not let pubs give way their beer or sell it as part of a take-away service? Bitter (three weeks) and lager (six weeks) goes off when it’s stored in kegs. Pubs were ordered to shut on March 20. Most pubs do not possess an “off” licence allowing them to serve customers who want to drink elsewhere. The industry is calling for a relaxation in licensing laws to allow more breweries to sell beer direct to the consumer, giving them vital cashflow. But right now the stuff is just going off in beer cellars.
HMRC, the tax authority, last week relaxed rules around beer disposal so that breweries can claim back excise duty on the defunct brew, known as ullage, without having a representative of the brewery present while it is dumped — one obstacle to emptying out the beer during lockdown.
Pubs are struggling. And the talk is of there being no beer in the pubs when we escape lockdown. Collecting and emptying full casks of beer from cellars is hard work. Unsaleable beer can be poured it down the drain. What a waste.
But as pubs suffer, others are doing well from the crisis:
Growth in sales of alcoholic drinks outstripped that of food purchases, even as customers stockpiled goods such as pasta or rice in preparation for having to self-isolate.
Online retailer Naked Wines said that more people were also ordering drinks for delivery. On Thursday, the company said that it now expected sales in 2020 to top existing forecasts, exceeding £200m.
Talk to me. baby:
Keris De Villiers, landlady of the Ram Inn, the Old Sergeant and the Pig and Whistle in Wandsworth, south-west London, says barrelled beer worth about £10,000 could go off in her cellars – while 1,000 litres (1,760 pints) more beer remains in vats at the SlyBeast microbrewery she and husband Lee have recently set up.
“We could do takeaways,” she says, “but that would mean selling beer on the corner of a very small pavement. That wouldn’t be socially responsible, with the need for people to keep their distance from one another. The whole situation is heart-breaking.
“Our brewer literally talks to his tanks when he’s at work every day. People really care about the beer they’re making. It’s a craft and people are passionate about it.”
Theresa May’s former staffer Nick Timothy is writing about the coronavirus and China. He served as Joint Downing Street Chief of Staff, alongside Fiona Hill, to Prime Minister May, until they made a hash of the 2017 general election and he resigned. Remember the Windrush scandal, the hostile environment and how the Tories spaffed a parliamentary majority up the wall leading to stasis in the chamber, Jeremy Corbyn stinking the place up for a further three years and Nigel Farage getting a drive-time LBC radio show? Well, Timothy CBE has followed all that by scoring jobs as a Daily Telegraph columnist (how’s that going?), a member of the organising committee of the 2022 Commonwealth Games (look out for the new discipline of running through fields of wheat) and telling readers on Unherd that it’s time for a “reckoning” with China. It has “abused the openness of other economies to undercut rival businesses and blackmail governments”.
Since when is undercutting rivals bad for capitalism? If we can get the same goods for less, we get to be richer. Nick, mate…? The Tory then says how we can untangle ourselves from China, specifically over the coronavirus:
The coronavirus crisis is showing us not only that over-dependence on countries like China is dangerous, but that we need to keep certain industrial capabilities closer to home. British researchers are playing their part in the global effort to find a coronavirus vaccine, for example, but Britain has precious little capacity to manufacture vaccines at scale.
If and when a vaccine is discovered, experts have warned that we will need to wait in the queue to get it. Similarly, one of the reasons Germany is so far ahead of Britain in its testing strategy is, ministers explain, that the Germans have Roche, one of the world’s biggest diagnostic companies. Britain’s smaller diagnostics firms are dependent on Germany and the United States for their supplies.
Roche? The world’s number 1 in biotech based in… Switzerland. Germany does not have Roche, Nick. Switzerland does.
Tottenham will not be milking the State, taking advantage of the government’s furlough scheme for some non-playing staff during the coronavirus crisis. Following Liverpool’s belated relation that a corporation, sorry, football club, owned by a billionaire that makes millions in profits should not be seen to be so greedy, Spurs have seen the light. Says the Spurs chairman (pay: £7m a year):
“We regret any concern caused during an anxious time and hope the work our supporters will see us doing in the coming weeks, as our stadium takes on a whole new purpose, will make them proud of their club.”
More marketing guff dressed up as sport every day….
As for what the new Spurs stadium will be without football, how about a toilet paper silo?
Prince William says Britain is “at its best” when people are suffering. How he knows this is moot. “I think Britain is at its best, weirdly, when we’re in a crisis,” says Wills. “We all pull together and that community spirit and that community feel comes rushing back quicker than anything else.” A week earlier, Wills, who belongs to the very rich landed community, was at a reception at Guinness Storehouse. He told a medic: “Does it seem quite dramatic about coronavirus at the moment? Is it being a little bit hyped up, do you think, in the media?”
It’s he kind of bone-headed comment that gets people’s backs up.
Smile and wave, Will, stick to the smile and wave…
The Coronavirus is keeping traffic flowing on Abbey Road, London. The EarthCam, affiliated to Abbey Road Studios, delivers a live view of the zebra crossing at Abbey Road, the one the Beatles strolled over in 1969.
You can keep abreast of nothing happening here in St. John’s Wood here.
By now you’ll be wondering what Grant Mitchell, aka Ross Kemp, is up to? Have pretended to be a soldier on EastEnders, the BBC’s fly-on-the-wall documentary on London life, fearless, selfless Ross Kemp now goes to war against the coronavirus in Milton Keynes.
Ross Kemp is real. No-one bothered to make him up.
Lots of us got the Government’s letter telling us to stay indoors for at least 12 weeks and protect the NHS. Amy Allen had updated the missive with a a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity, “a party game for horrible people”. The game simple: “Each round, one player asks a question from a black card, and everyone else answers with their funniest white card.”
Spotter: Amy Allen
A tweet from the Cambridge police force aka twitter’s ‘Cambridge Cops’: “Officers visited Tesco Barhill this morning as part of their patrols around supermarkets and green spaces this weekend. Good to see everyone was abiding by social distancing measures and the non essential aisles were empty. #1732”
File under: essential policing.
Update: the Cambridge Cops have deleted their tweet.
Meet Robert Jenrick. He’s one of those Tory ministers from central casting. He is (checks facts) the Communities Secretary. Jenrick’s on the front pages of the Mail, Guardian and Telegraph because he allegedly twice broke government restrictions to help to stop the spread of coronavirus. The papers says Jenrick broke the rules on only moving for essential reasons by motoring from London to a second home in Herefordshire. He then made a trip to see his mum and dad 40 miles away in Shrophire. This we know because someone apparently saw him and grassed him up to the Guardian. Jenrick says he did nothing wrong. He tweets:
For clarity – my parents asked me to deliver some essentials – including medicines. They are both self-isolating due to age and my father’s medical condition and I respected social distancing rules.
Having helped the aged, he also helped the young. The Mail says that his country pad is his “family home”; his family travelled there “before any restrictions on travel were announced”; and: “I have been working in London on ministerial duties, putting in place the system to shield the group most vulnerable to coronavirus and organising the response at a local level. Once I was able to work from home it was right that I went home to do so and be with my wife and also help care for my three young children.”
The Guardian says Jenrick’s second home is worth £1.2m, which depending on your agenda either inspires envy (rich basta…) or understanding (why have such a lovely home if you can’t live in it?) The paper also finds room to quote former Tory minister Anna Soubry, who says Jenrick is guilty of “selfish arrogance”, which might be tautological, and Steve Reed, Labour’s new communities spokesman, who says Jenrick should think about resigning.
But hold on. The Mail says his London home is worth £2.5m. So it might be around twice as good as the country home. Or not. The Mail adds: “Mr Jenrick insisted Eye Manor in Herefordshire, built by an 18th century slave trader, is seen as the family home, rather than their house in Westminster, despite needing to be there most of the week for his work.” And: “Mr Jenrick, who has a £2,000-a-month taxpayer funded third home in his Newark constituency, said last night he considers the Herefordshire property to be the family home.” In 2014, the Mail claimed Jenrick also owned a second London property worth £2m.
Maybe Jenrick just became confused about his properties? But no. His statement is clear. He is innocent. And who are we to disprove it. We live in straightened times when there are calls for an MP to lose his job because he’s a loyal family man. Can’t at least one of them house a brothel or a secret family?
Like many of you, I grew up reading MAD magazine and enjoying the famed getting lampooned. Mort Drucker drew much of the magazine’s best artwork. He died this week aged 91. Why did he draw? Because he had to. As he put it: “My mother told me that when the doctor was delivering me I did a caricature of him on my way out.”