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It's groundhog day ... !!

With the media terribly excited about world leaders descending on Cornwall, and many locals terribly cross, most people’s attention is focused on something altogether different. As our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, the question the PM has to answer is what he’s going to do about Freedom Day?

Though June 21st is pencilled in for lifting nearly all Covid constraints, Private Eye’s cover pic of the Chancellor says it all.

One thought bubble reads: ‘The country needs certainty’. The other: ‘You can be certain we’ll decide at the last minute.’

At the time of writing, the vibe was bad. With widespread expectation a delay announcement was imminent.

Still, Johnson could be pushing at a half-open door. A Times/ YouGov poll showed more than half of us are ok with that.

Though as the old hacks’ saying goes: ‘The editor’s indecision is final.’

Safe to assume everyone’s so over the pandemic the daily slew of conflicting stats and spec gets little more than eyeballs rolling.

And is the Barnard Castle King, Dodgy Dom, right about Bojo/Hancock’s cockups? For god’s sake who cares?

The bereaved and other victims, obviously. But the vast majority, surely, just want to flush 2020 into the cesspit of history.

Yet the G7 has its relevance, not least the virtue-signalling over giving away surplus vaccines to poorer countries.

America’s donating half a billion doses, UK a hundred million, and others are showing willing.

But, unfortunately, the World Health Organisation estimates the total on offer adds up to around a tenth of what’s needed.

Beyond the moral dimension there is the small matter of heading off variants that could yet thwart richer nations’ domestic efforts.

Global pandemic? Clue’s in the name.

Closer to home, and more immediately, there’s the snarling and sniping over Northern Ireland.

With a US president no longer coming across as a cross between an orangutan and Kim Yong-un, there’s civility in the air.

Joe Biden gave Bojo a nice red-white-and-blue bike to get on, for a start.

Nonetheless, his lot gave Johnson’s lot a seriously ouchy-hurty slap on the wrist over Ulster’s border arrangements.

Because the Brexit deal yanked us off the EU’s main trading platform there was always going to be a problem.

We’d enrage nationalists by putting checkpoints on the republic’s border, or loyalists by dividing them from mainland Britain.

Having promised no water border, Johnson did it anyway. Surprise not surprise then, tensions are simmering in Belfast.

And EU leaders’ grumpiness over the UK’s attitude hasn’t done much for Johnson’s love-bombing bonhomie.

G7 summits are essentially a PR exercise. Showing unity against common adversaries, like climate change and awkward regimes.

Us included? Shame about that.

And there’s been more shaming in recent days. Notably of the 19th century empire builder Cecil Rhodes.

Bosses at Oriel College in Oxford have decided against taking down his statue, and workers are not happy.

Rhodes saw the English as a master race, and paved the way for apartheid in South Africa.

Which is why around a-hundred-and-fifty hopping mad lecturers have mounted what amounts to a work-to-rule protest.

And it seems even Her Madge is not above suspicion.

Students at Oxford’s Magdalen college have decided her portrait’s about ‘colonial history’ and taken it down.

Odd, considering it was only a few years ago they voted to put it up. But that’s fashion for you.

Intriguingly, researchers at the other university (er, Cambridge) have confirmed the downside of pointy-toed shoes.

Cool dudes in the sixties didn’t actually break new ground, as winklepickers were also all the rage in the middle ages.

And examination of skeletons in local cemeteries has confirmed the effects were the same. The wearers got bunions.

Something else no one can remember from those far-out days, man, is all that blow.

But as that craze seems to be still with us, not that one would know about such things, it’s come in useful in US.

Licensed cannabis shops in Washington state are taking part in a new drive to get people inoculated against Covid.

It’s innocuously termed: ‘Joints for Jabs’.

A little more sedately, but not all that much so, British officials are hoping dating apps can help overcome vaccine hesitancy.

Subscribers to Tinder, Hinge and Bumble can confirm they’re Covid protected. As well as young, frisky and sexy, obvs.

Not that younger folk are quite as shy as they seemed.

As the injection came on-stream for twenty-somethings uptake was, manner of speaking, healthy.

Last Tuesday more than a million appointments were booked, in what NHS England’s boss called a ‘Glastonbury-style rush’.

So much for presuppositions.

It’s said the good people of Hartlepool once mistook a monkey for a French spy and hanged the poor thing.

And now they’re worried people might think they’re still a bit funny about folk they don’t know.

So the statue in the town’s marina of a very much alive specimen of the species will have plaque to put everyone straight.

It’s only a story, it’ll say, and we’re very nice to Johnny foreigner, and animals btw. Or something like that.

And it seems employees of Scotrail also have a soft spot for the soft cuddly creatures.

A runaway marmoset, not to be confused with a runaway train, that showed up at a station near Glasgow was well looked after.

The public appeal, ‘if you've lost your monkey... it's waiting on the next service from Cambuslang,’ brought speedy results.

Hours later the family came forward, but not before another tweet.

‘I've dealt with lost phones, handbags and glasses over the years but this is definitely a first.’

Human and animal clearly bonded, however. Hence one more tweet:

‘Here he is one last time eating a tin of fruit. Canny believe he had a tin opener!’

Actually, it was the ring pull type. Still, an impressive effort.

Engineer Werner Neubauer also went to some trouble last week, when he spotted a bear up an electricity pole in Arizona.

First he turned off the power so it wouldn’t get zapped, then he went up in a cherry-picker with an eight-foot stick.

He thought if he nudged hard enough the animal might take the hint and climb down.

When instead the bear took the end of the stick off, with his teeth, Mr Neubauer tried him on words instead.

‘I told him I was gonna help him get down the pole. I know he couldn't understand me. But it did get his attention.’

Maybe Mr Neubauer was wrong there, as the bear did eventually clamber down and take his leave.

So animals should never be underestimated. Or abused, especially as it seems they have a higher power on their side.

Research published last week in the diet journal BMJ Nutrition showed there’s more to Covid protection than injection.

Seems we’re seventy-three per cent safer if we’re vegetarian. And stay not far short of that by sticking with fish.

But if you’re watching what you eat and charging around, to get your figure in shape for the beach, there’s bad news.

The same survey suggested a low-carb, high-protein diet could make you nearly four times as likely to catch the virus.

Still, there’s always the fallback option: Live fast, die young, be a good-looking corpse.

Peter Spencer has 40 years experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his fascinating musings on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Twitter.


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