Archive for the ‘health’ Category

One Man, Two Guvnors

April 5, 2020

Set in Brighton in 1963, One Man, Two Guvnors, a play by Richard Bean, an English adaptation of Servant of Two Masters (Italian: Il servitore di due padroni), a 1743 Commedia dell’arte style comedy play by the Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni, was lived steamed by the National Theatre last week, part of their contribution to the coronavirus lockdown.

The play opens in the house of local gangster Charlie the Duck, a party in progress to celebrate the engagement of his daughter to another gangster, only he has been killed.

It then gets complicated.

A knock at the door, the minder of Roscoe. But is he not dead, no he is outside in a car.

The opening scene is very reminiscent of Only Fools and Horses, I had to check not the same scriptwriters, with a hint of a Brian Rix farce.

Members of the audience are dragged on stage to participate.

Very very funny. I could not stop laughing.

Live streamed last week, then on youtube for a week. A few days left.

First of a series of live streamed plays fromthe National Theatre. Next will be Jane Ayre.

Cyprus finance minister economy will shrink by five percent

April 3, 2020

… there will be a recession and GDP could contract by about 5 per cent. — Cyprus Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides

Cyprus Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides has opened himself up to ridicule by claiming Cyprus economy will shrink by about five per cent.

If we look at European countries in lockdown, with most sectors shut down, economies will shrink by far more than five percent.

Only five percent with total collapse of Cyprus tourist industry?

Or is this a tacit admission that the only beneficiaries of the tourist sector were a handful of hoteliers and the foreign tour companies?

Before coronavirus crisis Cyprus tourist industry was close to collapse, all-inclusive hotels bringing in the dregs of the tourist industry, quality tourists driven away, with little money flowing into the local economy.

One only had to walk the streets and observe the empty bars and restaurants and coffee shops.

EasyJet has grounded its fleet. British Airways suspended its operation at Gatwick.

Tui was in debt to the tune of 2 billion euros before the coronavirus pandemic.

UK has said it will not bailout out the airline industry. A petition before UK Parliament is calling upon the government to not bailout the industry, instead transition to a Green New Deal.

Airlines and tour company tui are dragging their feet to pay compensation for cancelled flights and holidays. Trying to palm clients off with worthless vouchers.

Why have hotels on the front page of their websites no coronavirus information? Why are they taking bookings when not likely to be open, when Cyprus in lockdown, airports closed?

The rare exception Sunrise hotels:

Important Announcement for COVID-19
In accordance with the new measures taken by the Cyprus Government, all Sunrise Hotels will be closed until 30/04/2020.
For direct bookings we are offering the flexibility to amend the travel dates without any cancellation fee. For further information or assistance please contact us at:
For other bookings made through Tour Operators or Travel Agents, please contact them for alternative solutions.

When Thomas Cook collapsed, the opportunity was not taken to restructure the tourist industry. Far from grasping the opportunity the collapse of Thomas Cook offered, the worst of all possible worlds, tui was allowed to grab a greater share of the market, bad for hoteliers, bad for tourists.

The opportunity must not be lost this time around.

The focus must be on fewer tourists, quality tourists.

Improve quality everywhere, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, hotels.

Shut down the noisy bars that attract the dregs of the tourist industry.

Replace with traditional tavernas and coffee shops. It would be difficult to find good examples without visiting Plaka in Athens. Paul’s Coffee Roasters and Lazaris (though not for coffee) near St Lazarus Church in the back streets of Larnaca set high standards, take a pride in what they do, as does Nick’s Coffee Bike outside Larnaca Marina, but these are the rare exceptions, not the norm, oasis amidst the dross. Once the norm in Cyprus, until a race to the bottom to attract custom from all-inclusive hotels, a race no one can win.

Grecian Park and Crystal Springs set high standards, few hotels come anywhere near.

Outlaw all-inclusive hotels that are killing the local economy.

Restrict tour operator bookings to less than 20% of bookings, encourage direct bookings. Tour operators forced to settle their accounts at the end of every month.

Reliance on euro bonds is a non-starter as has already been vetoed by Germany and Holland. I would refer to critical comment by Yanis Varoufakis.

Recommendations for the short term.

Furlough staff as in UK with government covering 80% of wage, with a cap of 2,500 euros per month.

A similar scheme for the self employed, 80% of average earning over last three years.

Grants and soft loans to small businesses, but with strings attached, quality has to improve.

For hotels, only to groups of five hotels or less. No bailout of large chains.

No bailout for corporate chains.

In China, one man with covid-19 travelling on a bus, infected nine fellow passengers.

Now imagine on a plane with one person with covid-19, passing through a busy airport, then getting on public transport.

Ever travelled on the packed-in-like-sardines 101/102 local bus that runs Paralimni – Protaras – Ayia Napa? Now imagine one person on that bus with covid-19.

Until such time that Cyprus has temperature screening at airports, facilities to detain, test, quarantine, temperature screening of everyone every time they enter a hotel, cannot even contemplate opening Cyprus to tourists. And even then only for hotels, not apartments.

In absence of such measures why are hotels taking bookings for as early as Easter? And these bookings cannot be from within the country as Cyprus is in lockdown.

EU has closed its borders for the foreseeable future.

No Russians, no one from outside of EU.

Countries have also closed their borders.

Israel closed its borders weeks ago, Russia has closed its borders with strict self-isolating and heavy fines if venture out.

As always, Cyprus grasping at straws rather than doing what it takes, hard graft and addressing systemic problems within the tourist industry.

EU will come to the rescue, Brits will come to the rescue, Russians will come to the rescue.

Latest was, Chinese dirty money will come to the rescue.

With Chinese tourists it overlooks one very simple fact, Chinese tourists are cultural tourists, hence Athens, Oxford, Cambridge. Low life bars in Cyprus,  somehow I think not.

FCO advice, do not travel overseas. Lockdown in UK for six months.

Speaking on Channel 4 News, former WHO Director-General Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland has said that she expects coronavirus crisis to last at least 18 months, until such time as a vaccine is available.

Is Cyprus foolish enough to open its borders and risk many covid-19 deaths?

One advantage of being an island, easy to control entry to the country.

Europe the epicentre of coronavirus.

Spain and Italy the death toll exceeds that of China. UK, slow to act, daily mortality rate is fast approaching that of Spain, Russia not far behind.

Cyprus would have to be very slow to open its borders to visitors from Europe. Temperature screening at airports, with facilities to isolate, trace and quarantine. Only hotels open. Temperature screen of everyone each and every time they enter the hotel. Hotels restricted to maximum of half capacity, gyms, saunas, massage not open, social distancing, dining well spaced apart, same true of sunbeds. Moot point if pools open. If open, strict limit on numbers in the pool, strict enforcement of shower before and after use of the pool. Sunbeds thoroughly cleaned every evening. Hotels where clients packed in like sardines on sunbeds, not permitted to open.

Any hotel where cases of coronavirus, quarantined for a month.

Larnaca, minimum of 50% of the sunbeds removed from the beach.

Oh and not forgetting, oil and gas will come to the rescue, conveniently ignoring oil at $10 a barrel and Climate Emergency will destroy Cyprus tourist industry, too hot, rising sea levels and storms will wash away beaches and flood Larnaca.

Covid-19 is not the only crisis, the other is Climate Emergency.

We cannot return to businesses as usual.

Lincoln coronavirus lockdown day nine

April 1, 2020

Bus into town early. Rescheduled, arrives five minutes earlier. New bus, single-decker, stops frequently to keep in time with timetable. Driver fails to turn off engine. Actually even worse, new bus, automatically turns off engine when bus stops, driver turns on, then bus sits with engine running. Dumb passengers, clueless on social distancing, I have to move three times. Less frequent bus service, only once an hour, more passengers and single-decker bus.

Bus station deserted of buses let alone people.

Sincil Street deserted.

Only Pepperdine’s open. Curtis has closed, Central Market closed.

A few people in the High Street.

Common sense breaks out at M&S, front doors open. But only two tills manned. More people in the store than previous visits, failure to man tills, longer in the store.

Bus from bus station, same bus, different driver, only two passengers.

No bailout for airline industry

April 1, 2020

Airlines and tour companies trashed the planet, spread coronavirus around the world, now they are asking for a bailout.

January, the world should have suspended flights from China. Then as coronavirus spread, suspended flights from other coronavirus hotpots.

In UK, airports are still open, inbound flights from China, Iran, Italy and New York. There is no temperature screening at the airports. The only permitted flights, rescue and essential supplies. The irony, China has banned foreigners from entering the country.

No bailout for airlines or tour companies.

No bailout for greedy grasping tax dodging billionaire con man Richard Branson.

Branson sued NHS for millions. How many ventilators would that have bought?

Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Heathrow are backing Virgin in demanding a bailout for Virgin. Well they would wouldn’t they? One wants to sell aircraft, the other engines and Heathrow trying to justify its existence.

EasyJet paid out to shareholders and Stelios Haji-Ioannou only a couple of weeks ago, early this week their entire fleet grounded. A couple days ago an e-mail promoting holidays, the following day an offer of a flight to anywhere for £29-99 (though try finding). EasyJet founder is threatening to oust the board, but have we not heard this before, and did not the board kick out Stelios Haji-Ioannou?

Regional airline Loganair are demanding a bailout. There can be no role for regional airlines, use the train.

What we have seen, businesses have been very quick to adapt, working from home, video-conferencing.

Necessity the handmaiden of invention.

Ventilators designed within days, ventilators a fraction of the cost that NHS is currently using.

Open source design.

Long distance supply chains, are brittle, easily broken.

EasyJet and Virgin have made their laid off staff available to staff the new Nightingale Hospital in London the largest in Europe, up and running in less than ten days. Contrast with J D Wetherpoon, laid off staff told get another job, go work in a supermarket.

EasyJet has written to 9,000 UK-based staff, of whom 4,000 are trained in CPR, to invite them to volunteer for further training before helping out at the critical care field hospitals in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Virgin Atlantic will contact 4,000 of its employees from Monday and prioritise those who already have relevant skills that can be put to good use at the sites. The volunteers will perform support roles, such as changing beds under the guidance of trained nurses, and will continue to be paid by the airlines.

Please sign the petition to UK Parliament calling for no bail out of airline industry.

Letter from Boris gesture politics at its worst. An imbecile trying to give the impression doing something. An appalling waste of public money. How many ventilators would £5.8 million have bought?

What we are learning, all what we thought was necessary in life, the trivia, the pointless consumption, when deaths stares us in the face, we realise how shallow our lives.

Coronavirus is not the only crisis we are facing, climate emergency is the other crisis. We were told, nothing could change, or if it did, not within the required timescale, zero carbon by 2035. We have seen change happen overnight, polluting industries shut down, cruise ships not allowed to dock, fish return to the canals of Venice, our cities free of traffic.

In a few months time, we cannot return to business as usual.

Bailouts should be of people and small local family indie businesses. We should not bailout polluting industries. Where Big Business is bailed out, it should only be those of strategic importance, and only by means of acquiring a controlling stake in the businesses.

No bailout of fossil fuels, no bailout of airlines.

Wren Kitchens putting workers at risk

March 29, 2020

Wren Kitchens forcing workers into work, placing them, their families and anyone they encounter en-route at risk of coronavirus.

Advice to avoid coronavirus:

  • wash hands
  • social distancing
  • only go out if necessary
  • permitted outings – visit doctor, pick up medicine, shopping, exercise, essential work

Making kitchens is not essential work.

Wren Kitchens is forcing workers into work, where not only are the workers placed at risk, but also their families and anyone they encounter as they travel to and from work.

Wren Kitchens has closed its showrooms, fired the staff.

The government must act to close down all rogue employers, hit directors with a hefty fine, and make a criminal offence.

Police have powers to break up groups of more than two people, can stop and request where are going.

If Lincolnshire Police can harass a man in Boston sitting on a bench on his own doing a crossword, then must be granted powers to deal with rogue employers who are putting us all at risk.

Speaking with those in the trade Wren Kitchens has bad reputation for quality of its products and treatment of work force.

Bad employers like Wren Kitchens should not only should be closed down and directors fined, they should be put out of business.

Please sign the petition calling for action to be taken against Wren Kitchens.

Tim Martin tells J D Wetherspoon workers to get a job

March 24, 2020

First it was forcing staff in to work when they wished to self-isolate under the threat of no pay.

Next it was tell people go out to the pubs.

Latest scandal from Tim Martin, now that Weatherspoon has been forced to close, to tell workers go and find a job.

Wetherspoon is refusing to pay suppliers until reopens. It is one thing not to pay industrial brewers, property companies, it is quite another to refuse to pay small craft brewers.

Wetherspoon is by no means the only bad employer.

Pubcos are forcing tied pubs to pay rent even though the pubs are closed and have no income.

Making kitchen is an essential work, nevertheless Wren Kitchens forcing workers into work putting workers and their families at risk.

There should be no bail out of Weatherperson, industrial brewers, pubcos. Bail outs should be for people and local indie businesses.

UK ordered into partial lockdown

March 23, 2020

From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home. — Pepsi Trump

Not a full lockdown. Partial lockdwon for at least 21 days.

  • stay home
  • no visiting friends or family
  • non-essential shops closed
  • only allowed out to shop for food, essential work, medical needs
  • allowed out to go for a walk a run a cycle ride
  • no public gatherings greater than two people
  • social distancing at least two metres apart

China bought us time we squandered it.

Tuesday of last week UK was two weeks behind Italy, one week behind Spain. Big difference they already had measures in place.

Inaction will cost lives. Closure of mass gatherings and sporting events should have been banned weeks ago. Bars clubs pubs closed at least a week ago. London in lockdown last week.

Failure to act sooner apart from costing lives sent out the wrong message.

Last Friday the drunks packed into pubs. At the weekend, people were packed on the streets, pubs were open.

We cannot say we were not forewarned.

Why are airlines still flying, why are airports not closed?

Tour companies and airlines to renege on refunds for cancelled trips

March 23, 2020

Anyone who has booked holiday or flight claim your money back now.

Tour companies have to refund within two weeks, airlines within a week.

Do not accept vouchers.

Zombie company tui in debt to tune of 2 billion euros, and that was before coronavirus crises.

Do not accept vouchers, demand refund in cash or payment into card account.

Claim now, government is poised to suspend your rights to protect the industry.

No way should government or tourists bail out tour companies or airlines.

They trashed the planet then spread covid-19 around the world.

At the weekend, flights into UK from Iran, Rome and China.

Today passengers crammed into queues at Heathrow.

Unlike other countries, in UK borders are open, airports are open.

Airlines, airports and travel companies are operating in a parallel world. Social distancing, it does not apply to us Guv.

Money should bail out people and small indie businesses, then finance Green New Deal.

#airlines #tui #covid19 #aviation #ClimateEmergency #GreenNewDeal

Waterstone’s the J D Wetherspoon of the book trade

March 22, 2020

Boss of J D Wetherspoon Tim Martin was more than happy to put staff and clientele at risk by forcing sick staff into work under threat of no sick pay.

The same irresponsible attitude, encouraging going to the pub, failure to heed advice on social distancing.

Waterstone’s are showing the same contempt for staff and customers during coronavirus crisis. No ban on cash, no hand sanitiser, no social distancing. Office staff sent home, staff in book shops forced to carry on working.

Waterstone’s where greed rules ok. There should be hand sanitiser by the door, everyone walking in required to use. Contactless card only. Close early at three every day. This was the norm in Sheffield last week.

Contrast last week with Steam Yard coffee shop in Sheffield. Hand sanitiser by the door, close at three.

Or contrast with fish n chip restaurant Elite on the Bail, restaurant closed takeaway at the back, social distancing, hand sanitiser on offer to use.

Waterstone’s destroyed Ottakar’s. I had hoped James Daunt may improve, but no. Still the rubbish dumped by publishers piled on tables, staff treated badly.

Why is it always the big corporate chains that treat their staff badly?

Indie coffee shops as always leading the way. Coffee served in takeaway cups, no reusable cups, hand sanitiser by the door.

Talking to an employee of 200 Degrees a small coffee shop chain before they were forced to close, she said refusal to put hand sanitiser by the door, no interest in health and safety of staff or customers.

When the ban on pubs, bars, coffee shops came in, I walked down Lincoln High Street, indie coffee shops closed, Caffe Nero and Starbucks open.

Use contactless card. I prefer cash, cash is anonymous, cards are traced and tracked, inflate profits of banks, but these are not normal times, cash is dirty. Similarly, good coffee is to be appreciated, sit and relax with coffee served in ceramic or glass, but not normal times, takeaway protects staff and customers, minimises contamination.

Support your local indie bookshop

  • P&G Wells – Winchester
  • Lindum Books – Lincoln
  • Blue Bear Bookshop – Farnham
  • Ideas on Paper – Nottingham

and indie coffee shops

  • Marmadukes – Sheffield
  • Steam Yard – Sheffield
  • The Specialty Coffee Shop – Nottingham
  • Cartwheel Coffee – Nottingham
  • Outpost Coffee – Nottingham
  • Madame Waffle – Lincoln
  • Coffee Aroma – Lincoln
  • Krema – Farnham and Guildford
  • Coffee Lab – Winchester

By no means an exhaustive list.

Tuesday of last week, UK was two weeks behind Italy, one week behind Spain, with one big difference, Italy and Spain already had measures in place before they introduced ever tighter measures. In UK, too little, too late.

If you wish for something to read, stuck at home, read an e-book.

Paulo Coelho has made available several of his books for free download.

Something other writers and filmmakers could do.

Mark Thomas has made available for almost free download one of his shows (he asks make a donation to a food bank).

When Primark, McDonald’s announced they are closing, we know it is game up.

Waterstone’s announced they were closing. But will staff get paid. Staff who were off sick, suspected covid-19, told to take out of their annual leave.

James Daunt the Tim Martin of the book trade. Shops closed but more likely no one on the streets, no one buying books, shops losing money, than consideration for the well being of staff and customers. Plus with shops closed staff on furlough government will pay 80% of their salary

But what does this say of Pepsi Trump? China gave us time, we squandered it. Tuesday of last week UK was two weeks behind Italy, one week behind Spain. With one big difference, both countries had measures in place, and have since tightened those measures. It was sporting bodies which decided to close, led the way. Now it is shops closing, taking the initiative. Still no lockdown of London. Bars and pubs serving drinks.

Tim Martin encourages piss heads to visit J D Wetherspoon

March 20, 2020

Piss heads packed in pubs, and Tim Martin boss of and J D Wetherspoon encouraging them to do so.

The same Tim Martin who forced sick workers into work by threatening not to pay them.

We have no immunity to coronavirus, there is no vaccine (earliest 18 months away). Our only defence, wash our hands with soap and water, social distancing.

Pepsi Trump has blood on his hands. On Tuesday we were two weeks behind Italy, one week behind Spain. China bought us time and we squandered it.

Italy has now passed the death toll for China.

Huff and puff is not going to make coronavirus go away.

All mass gatherings and sporting events should have been banned at least two weeks ago. Schools should have been closed at least a week ago.

Across Europe, borders are closed, airports closed, cities in lockdown.

In UK, the piss heads pack into pubs and clubs, muscle-bound morons into gyms.

Shopping malls, pubs, clubs, bars, gyms should be closed. Maybe add nail bars and hairdressers to the list.

Our borders should be closed. At very minimum temperature screening at airports.

London, where number of cases growing the fastest, placed in lockdown.

We should be testing 25,000 people a day.

Sheffield deserted, like a ghost city. Many places closed, those that are open closing early, others their doors locked with a warning on the door not to enter for fear of coronavirus.

Those that are open, coffee shops, restaurants, prominent displayed what precautions they are taking. One coffee shop, hand sanitiser on entry, notice advising to use before enter.

Nowhere accepting cash. Credit card only, contactless.

In coffee shops various measures, for example as I saw last week in Nottingham, only serve in takeaway cups, no reusable cups.

And they are willing to discuss the measures they are taking.

For those open, business down by at least 80% and struggling to remain in business. Will remain open as long as they can.

Sheffield the only city I have seen taking coronavirus seriously.

What I also found in Sheffield, anger, anger at Pepsi Trump for failure to act. Failure to close sporting events, failure to close schools, failure to close pubs, bars, clubs, gyms. Failure to lockdown London.

Update: I wrote this earlier. Overtaken by events. Subsequent Pepsi Trump closes pubs, clubs, gyms etc. But should for pubs have been with immediate effect, or very latest 1800, as pubs tonight will be full of piss heads. Restaurants, coffee shops were not a problem. A pity closures did not take place a week ago.