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So farewell then, Phil the Greek.

A nation mourns .. Or at least all who aren’t rabid republicans are pausing to reflect. On the colourful Greek, Danish, German, Russian royal born on a kitchen table, rescued as a baby from a military coup, ending up as the queen’s consort and gloriously outspoken court jester.

Tributes will include ritual wailing on the remote island of Vanuatu, where they’ve had him down as a god for the last fifty years.

But, while the pitfalls of protocol are embodied by the royal rift surrounding Harry and Megan, life goes on for the rest of us.

And, as our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, we’re winning.

Weekly Covid deaths have plummeted ninety-two per cent since January, while all British adults are set to be vaccinated by the end of July.

Plus, in immediate terms, we can get a haircut, go shopping and have a pint.

Also, we seem unmoved by the collective collywobbles in Europe over the Oxford jab and a three in a million chance of a blood clot.

A Times/YouGov poll last week found three-quarters of Brits believe it’s a risk worth taking.

Good thinking. Citing real-world data, Public Health England say between December and the end of March more than ten thousand deaths have been prevented.

All thanks to vax, mostly the one they’re so scared of sur le continong.

Little wonder the devolved government in Wales has already announced it’s easing some restrictions a week earlier than planned.

But Bojo seems determined to stick with May 17th as the date we can be a lot more sociable, and travel abroad.

He’s getting stick, mind, about wanting even those who’re now protected to shell out a hundred and twenty quid for Covid tests when they get back.

But he’s got other things on his mind too, like the spate of rioting in Northern Ireland.

Safe to assume he won’t be admitting any time soon that much of it is his fault.

Apologies for the dreaded ‘B’ word, but his decision to go for the hard Brexit that severed ties with Europe’s trading arrangements is what’s behind it.

The upshot of those tortuous negotiations was the province remaining much more closely aligned with the EU than mainland Britain.

News of renewed tensions there tends only to flicker intermittently on British screens. Be different if, instead of Belfast, the action was in Balham.

And it’s worth delving, briefly, into the horrible history of ethnic cleansing that isn’t bigged up in English classrooms.

Back in the seventeenth century King James the first forced much of Ulster’s Irish population to make way for settlers who identified as British.

The newcomers had an edge which their descendants still cling onto. Hence the term ‘loyalist’, and their fury at anything that makes their patch different from elsewhere in UK.

The Good Friday agreement sewn up by Tony Blair was supposed to turn bygones into bygones.

Fat chance, after what amounted to a civil war, that lasted decades and cost three and a half thousand lives.

Hard to work out how this crisis can be defused, but pdq is favourite, as blood feuds feed on themselves.

And if that’s not depressing enough, it’s also worth wondering how many of us are harbouring a secret dread about the end of lockdown restrictions.

Going back to work? Being sociable again? When you feel like you’ve shrunk in a few short months from young and vibrant to daffy and old?

The feeling’s surprisingly widespread, and it’s got boffins bunging on their thinking caps.

Whenever we face a threat, they say, our bodies release adrenaline for energy and cortisol to activate our flight or fight response.

Things get back to normal when the threat passes. Only this time it’s only half gone.

This, they argue, has left us with either too much or too little cortisol. Either way we can end up with depression, anxiety and disturbed sleep.

And, according to researchers at Albany Uni in New York, high levels make it hard to concentrate, reach decisions, or even remember what we like.

On top of that, experts at Hamburg Uni point out continuing stress makes us risk averse. Which explains people feeling ‘frozen’, scared of freedom.

Professor Sir Cary Cooper of Manchester Uni goes further.

‘Uncertainty and a lack of control are the twin triggers that have characterised this past year in mental health,’ he says.

‘The truth is they will continue to do so for some time, not least because there continues to be such mixed messaging about how we should be living and how we can expect to be living in the coming weeks and months.’

So, he concludes: ‘There is certainly something to be said for working on being positive, but it is entirely understandable to feel anxious too.’

On the plus side, the International Monetary Fund has just launched its cheeriest assessment of the global economy since the pandemic started.

Much of the feared long-term damage simply won’t happen, it said.

And thanks to vax, growth here in Britain looks set to top five per cent this year and next.

All right for some, then, but not apparently for the recently departed President of the United States.

Donald Trump’s tumbled almost three hundred places in the official stinking rich list since last year.

Though he’s still six feet three, you wonder how tall he’s walking these days.

Coincidentally, experts at Leipzig’s Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have established that gorillas beat their chests to show how big they are.

No checks were done on a better colour-matched great ape, though the comparison wouldn’t stick anyway. As orangutangs are gentle creatures.

Many things, finally, can be said of Prince Philip, but he can never be accused of holding back on his opinions. Or of respecting woke sensibilities.

Once, during a visit to British students in China, he said: ‘If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty-eyed.’

He also asked a driving instructor in Scotland: ‘How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?’

And his response to the President of Nigeria, who was dressed in traditional robes? ‘You look like you’re ready for bed.’

Nothing was sacred, in his book, and that includes marriage.

‘When a man opens a car door for his wife,’ he said, ‘it’s either a new car or a new wife.’

Even his nearest and dearest weren’t exempt. Of his own daughter Anne he said, memorably: ‘If it doesn’t fart or eat hay she’s not interested.’

That’s the annoying thing about his jokes. They are rather funny ..

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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