And a joyous festive season to everyone.
The week seems full of bleak news, but we’ve added a few amusing items from around the world we hope you will enjoy.
Podcast of week
The superb winning entry is a team effort from a recent creativity workshop. The challenge was to complete a fairy story from a brief about a little girl who befriends a lonely mushroom. Please
road-test with a suitable audience still enjoying the magic of a spoken tale.
Blogpost of the week
I offer an alternative to the BBC’s Thought for the Day as a ‘Not the Thought of the Day’ blog post.
An unexpected hit for BBC viewers. You may remember our earlier blogpost on the earlier version about which we commented: ‘Don’t try this over Christmas’. Well, we have warned you …
A Christmas Puzzle
What news item from England linked Geneva and Dubai this week?
[Answer somewhere below]
Monday 19 December
A new week. Headlines more upbeat, with coverage of celebrations in Buenos Aires at Argentina’s victory in ‘the greatest final of all time’.
The COP Biodiversity deal commits to a deal that commits funds to reduce species depletions,
Elon Musk loses self-imposed referendum to remain head of Twitter. The story reveals Musk at the football final with Gerard Kushner, Trump advisor and in-law, interpreted as a possible successor.
Tuesday 20 December
Trump continues to make headlines. The Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection have found his actions as President guilty on four charges.This is the first time in U.S. history that Congress has referred a former president for criminal prosecution.The shift in power in the House in January makes it even more likely to escape judicial sentencing.
In England a second day of strikes by nurses reveals an impasse, with the Govt refusing to discuss payment demands.
In Buenos Aires, four million fans turned out greet the returning football champions, forcing eventual curtailment of the planned coach process.
Wednesday 21 December
Ukrainian President Zelensky visits America for high-profile signal of further support. Follows casual work gear in his meeting with President Biden who was more traditionally suited and booted.
Unlike the political climate, the cold spell in England has temporarily eased.
Ambulance workers add further pressures on the public, and on the Govt. with their first one-day of industrial action.
Parliament starts its six weeks (!) break, although Ministers have more than enough work to keep them politically busy.
Thursday 22 December
America braces itself for a ‘weather bomb’. Temperatures causing frostbite after 30 seconds exposure.
Elon Musk will step down at Twitter ‘as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job’.
Tennis champion and tax evader Boris Becker leaves prison after praising standards at Prison in England.
Suella Braverman as Home Secretary continues to work on schemes for using cruise ships to house prisoners.
Friday 23 December
America braces itself for a ‘weather bomb’. Temperatures causing frostbite after 30 seconds exposure. Thousands of flights cancelled.
In the. U.K., delays at airports as border-force strikes are feared to add to travel miseries.
In New Zealand, P.M. Ardern’s unparliamentary language against a political opponent is recorded in the official records. Then a signed copy raises NZ$100,000 for a cancer charity. Other world leaders regard with some envy her remarkable ability to ride out faux pas.
Saturday 24 December
Aka Christmas Eve.
The weather bomb arrives across 2000 miles of America. ‘We’ve had everything Mother Nature could throw at us’ says a weary spokesperson.
The COVID epidemic returns to China, with widely varying estimates of deaths since the lockdown ended.
Britain, although buffeted by numerous strikes, seems to be struggling through. Returning air travellers pleasantly surprised by lack of hold-ups.
Sunday 25 December
Aka Christmas Day. As in earlier times, in Britain, little news penetrates the airwaves. No papers are published. Premier League football postponed. Broadcasts are mainly re-heated servings of the year’s events. A sort of practice for New Year’s Eve next week.
But some news trickles through. The King continues the tradition of an uplifting address to the nation.
The Great Twitter Resignation Debate
@elonmusk: Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll.
@hodgetwins Here’s an idea, let the people have input on your replacement. Whoever is the leader of Twitter has to be unbiased in protecting free speech.
@KatattackTruth: If he steps down I hope it fades into the abyss and shuts down. No one will have the genius and passion that Elon has
@MidnightMitch: Jared Kushner reportedly met with Elon Musk to discuss his transition into the role of head of Twitter.
@TEAM_USA: I opened my account the day you announced you would buy Twitter. You gave Conservatives on social media a chance for unsuppressed free speech for the very first time. You’ve done so much for our Country and our Constitution. Please don’t give up on us now.
@Nissan_GTR: Result were botted. It’s obvious
@ZsholtWilhelm: Let me predict the consequences of this poll:
If „yes“, Elon will be CEO for a few months longer until he finds a devoted successor.
If „no“, Elon will be CEO for a few months longer until he finds a devoted successor.
@Cathius: Shhh you’re ruining the joke.
Answer to our Christmas Puzzle
The news item reported that the two most popular travel destinations this week were Geneva (for the skiing) and Dubai (for the sun).
Wit and Wisdom of Twitter (see elsewhere for Elon effulgences)
@johnredwood: We hear how the NHS is short of beds. Why don’t managers put more in?
[Flood of angry or sarcastic replies, some from respected public figures. Although @johnredwood is a blue-ticked tweeter, some replies questioned whether this comes from a parody account. Later, The Mirror newspaper reported 5000 people had responded to the tweet which was from the real former Conservative Minister Sir John Redwood]
@lloyd_dennis8: I like your thinking there John, it’s up with the economic miracle of we need more growth. How you missed out on the great offices of state is anyone’s guess…
@davejacobs51: Yesterday I tried to book into an hotel, they told me they were full, they didn’t have enough rooms to accommodate me. So I wondered, why didn’t they just put in more rooms???
@rarryson: Better still, why not install treble bunk beds? 3 patients for the space of one! Shared drip feeds and monitors. As patients recover, they can be moved up a level. Let’s get this rolling! Is the VIP lane still open ?
@dee_lomas: Just had the worst day yesterday. I paid a carpenter to build me a bespoke double bed. Came home from work to find he’d done a bunk…it’s just one thing on top of another!
@EvLenz: Got my husband a wooden leg for Christmas. Not his main present, it’s just a stocking filler
@pow_rebecca: My top Christmas #recycling tips. Ironing old wrapping paper means you can re-use last year’s 🎁 More tips at gov.uk/government/new… #GreenChristmas @DefraGovUK
@RuthieR: I thought this was a joke but it seems not. All our Christmas paper from last year got chucked luv. Plus I don’t even iron my clothes so b* if I’m gonna start ironing paper.
@GerhardSchneider: Neverwhere Brexit Britain after Singapore-on-Thames: Switzerland or Silicon Valley? Unable to fulfil the promises, Brexit Britain is becoming Neverwhere. A place that exists somewhere, sometime, but not here and not now.
@christo_burton: Just found this tweet…. ‘Neverwhere Brexit Britain’ one if the saddest tweets I’ve ever seen.
@WritesBright: Rishi Sunak has selected an Old Etonian banker as his ethics chief. Incidentally, in 2011, the Eton entrance exam asked 11-year-old prospective students to draft a speech justifying the killing of protesters in London by the army.
@Tudortweet: Wonder if the question was to weed students out…or in?
@Lisaisalooseun1: ‘We cats aren’t as loyal as dogs … but we don’t tell the police where the drugs are’
The Keeper of Stories, by Sally Page
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
From Simply Books No 1, Bramhall
Andrew and Sue’s picks for Christmas
Climbers, by John Harrison
The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
Oh, William, by Elizabeth Strout
Great Circle, by Maggie Shipstead
Small things like these, by Claire Keegan
The Island of Missing Trees, by Elif Shafak
Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus
My Big Birthday Blunder
In a spirit of self-shaming, I will be confessing on our next newsletter of my recent birthday faux pas. The news will also report the passing of 2022, an Annus horribilis