This blog is an attempt to shine a torch into the dark corners. Defying the second law of thermodynamics, it started out with maximum disorder and therefore cannot succumb to entropy. It's equal parts dead serious and dead silly. Sometimes, when the hosting server goes down, it's just plain dead. If you decide to join me in my parallel universe, prepare to travel at the speed of dark...
A deadly virus sweeps the world, forcing many into lockdown. The lives of ordinary people are changed forever. At times irreverent, at times absurd, at times sombre, but at all times Coronaverse is an honest (okay, harebrained) attempt to find some rhyme and rhythm in all the dizzying and disorientating manifestations of life in a pandemic.
At the end of 2020, StrikeUp Theatre was awarded an Arts Council England grant to grow the company and build new projects. We’re now proud to present this – a beautiful, heartwarming film entitled ‘Exchange’, created in collaboration with Reading Mencap and supported by Reading Culture Live.
This short video was produced during a StrikeUp Theatre comedy workshop for the over 70s using Zoom. The premise is as follows:
The BBC plans to devote a special night of programming to Christmas nostalgia, including a remake of ‘Fanny Cradock Cooks for Christmas’. Fanny herself is indisposed. The beleaguered Executive Committee decides to throw open the role of her replacement to the public by means of a series of auditions and screen tests. Unfortunately, only 5 contestants apply and the only audition to take place is therefore effectively the final. The 5 women are great fans of Fanny Cradock, but have no idea about auditions or producers or how to conduct themselves in that context. The big day of the live televised audition arrives…
With the UK on course to borrow around £400bn in 2020 and with the cost of financing our burgeoning national debt threatening to make tax rises more likely, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, proposed a controversial cut in overseas aid.
Actually, the national debt has existed for centuries and is by and large sustainable. We should consider it as capital invested in the country and we should have a debate about how best to invest that capital. Investing some of it in other countries might bring benefits to the UK.
If it’s important to strive to be a better person and inspire other people to do likewise, why not apply that principle to nations too?
Dear Rishi, please put up the taxes
On those of us who can pay.
Please don’t renege on overseas aid –
Let’s keep starvation at bay.
And while you’re going about it,
Take an extra little bit,
So the NHS is provided
With adequate PPE kit.
If we consider nations as people,
I’d like us to be the best.
I’d like us to always do the right thing
Each time we’re put to the test.
As Christmas 2020 approached, France shut its UK border amid fears of a new coronavirus variant, causing mayhem for supply chains across Europe. Nearly 4000 vehicles were held at a temporary lorry park at Manston Airport, while around 800 were stuck on the M20 into Dover. Downing Street believed the border blockade had been timed to put pressure on the UK Government in ongoing post-Brexit trade negotiations, which were floundering over fish.
In the bleak mid-lockdown
Lorry men made moan;
All supplies for Christmas
Into chaos thrown;
Queues got longer, hour by hour,
Hour by hour,
In the bleak mid-lockdown
A new strain of Covid
Just would not relent;
Sadly for the UK,
It started here in Kent.
All the EU members
Gave vent to their hate –
Brexit made them angry,
The trucks just had to wait.
So, what could we give him,
The French president?
The public purse was empty,
All our money spent;
If Boris were a Wise Man,
He could grant their wish,
Yet what could he give them?…
Give them fish!
Presented with the example of high-profile leaders (such as Donald Trump for example), how do we define good leadership qualities? What we see with Trump is conviction, perseverance and decisiveness. And, on the face of it, these are all admirable attributes for a good leader. But are they really? What if they tip over into stubborn bull-headedness and inflexibility? If someone refuses to acknowledge the possibility that they’re wrong, is that a good thing? Where exactly is that tipping point?
If you persist with an idea or an opinion, and you insist on making your point, even when you know that others have valid objections, you’re probably teetering on the edge. If you feel frustration and impatience, possibly even anger, when others try to persuade you of something you don’t agree with, you’re in serious danger of losing your balance. If you shut down debates and conversations without making any attempt to process other people’s opinions because you believe there is only one viable course of action, make no mistake – you’re spiralling out of control. And if you’re digging your heels in when you know that you’re wrong, that’s inexcusable… and, frankly, you deserve a bumpy landing.
Obviously, we don’t want leadership that is paralysed by equivocation and indecision, but good leaders should always welcome a challenge to their convictions and assumptions. They should be prepared to entertain other possibilities that weren’t initially in their purview. They should be persuadable. They should be capable of surrendering a dearly-cherished belief if the situation warrants.
In short, I firmly believe good leadership entails holding your ground in a stoic and no-nonsense way whilst remaining open to the possibility that there might be a better rationale out there….
How much credibility can a government retain when it makes so many U-turns, careering from one crisis to another, lurching from one populist headline to the next, equipped with nothing but the flimsiest of straplines and slogans for brakes?
With a second wave of fearmongering now being orchestrated by the mainstream media, a bizarre fraud of staggering proportions is starting to come to light.
A prominent feature of the daily Downing Street press conferences during the lockdown was the Public Health England’s death count. It’s now becoming clear that the statistical data presented to the public has been disgracefully misleading. Dr Susan Hopkins, deputy director of PHE’s National Infection Service, has acknowledged: “Although it may seem straightforward, there is no WHO agreed method of counting deaths from Covid-19. In England, we count all those that have died who had a positive Covid-19 test at any point, to ensure our data are as complete as possible.” Essentially, the death of anyone who has ever tested positive for the virus in England has been automatically counted as a coronavirus death. As far as PHE is concerned, anyone testing positive, fully recovering and then having the misfortune to be run over by a bus a couple of months later is counted as a COVID-19 death!
Frankly, that constitutes propaganda and deceit on a truly monumental scale, and Dr Hopkins, along with many others, who have been complicit in this conduct, should be struck off. Furthermore, there is a case for declaring PHE not fit for purpose. It should probably be scrapped.
Is it not conceivable that our leaders have created and then exploited our suffering? Is it not possible that ministers, using erroneous PHE data to determine the government’s response to the virus, have been intent on creating a realm of doom and disaster, so that they might ultimately appear like knights on white chargers to save the day, waving their strategy banners in gung-ho and buccaneering fashion. Boris Johnson will be doing just that today as he “rescues” our children’s education with his back-to-school announcement.
Unless and until there is irrefutable evidence that there is long-term damage to a significant percentage of those who have been infected, it prompts the suspicion that the real fatality rate of this coronavirus may be an order of magnitude lower than authorities have led us to believe. The devastation it has wrought on the economy is something else. As is the impact on excess deaths (by non-COVID related conditions) caused by the misappropriation of vital NHS life-saving treatment. The ramifications may be felt for quite some time.
It’s time we all stopped panicking and it’s time we all insisted on much less fearmongering and sloganising… oh yes, and it’s certainly time we demanded much more transparency from those who are currently wrecking our lives.
In 1998, a study was published in the Lancet medical journal, purporting to show a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. When the truth eventually emerged, the paper was retracted. The lead author, Andrew Wakefield, was disgraced and lost his medical license in 2010. What was the story behind it?……
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A sincere and unequivocal attempt to make nonsense of a range of topical issues of the day...
Here is a catalogue of my prose writings, including children's fiction, short stories, non-sequiturs and odd scraps of surrealism with or without a straightforward narrative. Don't believe me? Well, to prove it, here's a picture of a man being fired from a cannon:
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This intergalactically recognised award was presented to The Speed Of Dark Blog by The Speed Of Dark Awards Commission.
I am delighted to have been nominated for the 2012 Tony Blair Ducking Under The Bar Award for boldly raising the bar and diving under it. I knew I had the potential to be a great underachiever.
I've racked up another prestigious award - the Eric Morecambe 'Mister Preview' Prize. According to the award citation, The Speed Of Dark Blog contains material that ranks with the finest literary works in history. All the right letters are there, but not necessarily in the right order.
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The downloads on this site (e.g. pdf versions of material like Shackleton's Shed) are free.
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