Feeling the heat in an offensive world

MAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN: well, Noel Coward got that right. Out comes the sun and thousands of Brits head for surgeries, pharmacies and A&Es in search of treatment for its unwelcome side-effects.

NHS stats show that over three days close to 30,000 of us visited its website for information on heat-stroke and heat exhaustion. So, it’s been a long, dark and dank winter. But surely this is not the first time they have seen the sun and experienced its rays.

What is it that makes them cram thigh to thigh on pebbled shores until their skins are the colour of overdone barbecued sausages?  And then complain about their suffering?

Friends and colleagues Down Under are doubtless bemused by this mass sizzling. Especially as it occurred on a weekend when the media reported  temperatures in some places were “soaring to 24deg.” Which is a pleasantly warmish day on beaches at Bondi or St Kilda.

One explanation could be that these kennel loads of “mad dogs” were frustrated furies denied their usual annual escape (to the sun, of course) on the beaches of Covid-restricted Europe.

Perhaps the sun glares there just as brightly but somewhat less fiercely than at home.

Fact or fancy? There’s no knowing and no known support for such a proposition.

But having lived at both extremes of the globe there is no doubt I feel the heat and get tanned more quickly in sun-starved Cornwall than ever happened in downtown Melbourne. There it truly “soars” – to the high 30s and on into the 40s.

THE LAST TRUMP: this ominous phrase took on a whole new meaning with the announcement that the blog used by he who once was President has been permanently shut down. From the Desk of Donald J Trump has been removed “and will not be returning,” according to Trump aide Jason Miller.

Hopefully it is safe to assume we no longer need to wait in fear and trembling for “the final trumpet call that will awaken and raise the dead on the Day of Judgment”.

For now, at least, we can rest easy, no longer assailed by daily blatherings from the White House.

NOW, WHAT CAN I FIND TO OFFEND ME? There must surely be something on my daily round that is upsetting or offensive; something that I can lodge an official complaint about; claim deep personal affront and harm.

Not a day goes by without some tormented soul alleging they have been “harmed” by something the vast majority accept as innocuous. A word, a body movement, a picture, almost anything that the rest of the world passes by unseeing and uninjured.

It is as if such harmful sights and sounds and sundry “things” are actively sought out rather than unexpectedly experienced. The Nasties Patrol doing its duty for their fellow citizens. Complainers Anonymous.

An email attaching a picture of Prince Phillip after his recent demise. The raising of an eyebrow to express doubt or perhaps some other reaction. The inclusion of a full stop at the end of a sentence. All apparently offensive and/or “harmful”.

And all wasting numerous hours of costly time while being considered and debated by councils, courts and committees.

Sadly so many of these regressive and repressive ideas come from academia. That dreamy fantasy land where the individual is supposed to be nurtured and encouraged; not corsetted and confined to a dogmatic line of thought decreed by a repressive minority.

At least one junior Government minister had the guts to comment, “This is just getting silly.”

NOT SUCH A SMART IDEA: the reliance on mobiles and smart?phones is getting out of hand.

Michael (he who has a finger in everything) Gove now wants attendees at theatres and similar such venues to flash a phone with their photo ID to gain admission.

Failing that, we will need to produce a passport.

This false assumption that the entire population (a) has a passport and (b) has a mobile phone needs nipping in the bud before, if Gove has his way, the idea becomes mandatory after  June 21.

Not only are smartphones not possessed by all, but many of their owners are not adept at uploading pictures or flashing such images on demand.

In short, rampant discrimination.

No use seeking support from the freedom-seeking rent-a-crowd protesters; they are the ones who view a phone as just another body part, always in use and never to be parted.

Happy for their lives to be regulated and dominated by an electronic device.  They will love the idea.

So much for freedom.

BOOKISH GOOD NEWS AMID THE GLOOM: It seems not everyone is bored out of their tiny brains by the enforced leisure time meted out by lockdown(s).

Publisher Bloomsbury has seen a 14 per cent rise in sales over the many recent months of confinement. And there’s no reason not to extrapolate those figures across the entire spectrum.

Even though bookshops have been shuttered, their websites have remained fully open for business. And thrived.

Outlets have seen sales rise to record levels. Bloomsbury’s soared by 14 per cent to hit a new high of £185 million, a cheering thought when the tendency is to believe households are gorging on box sets of TV shows and movies.

The beauty of a book is that if you don’t like what everyone else is watching, you can disappear to your room and let the written word whisk you off elsewhere.

To quote Bloomsbury chief executive Nigel Newton, ‘The popularity of reading has been a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dark year.’

Hopefully he is proved correct in predicting, ‘people have rediscovered the joy of reading and will cling on to that . . . as other ways of spending their time re-emerge.’



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