Make no mistake, stuff’s just happened. Good stuff. After what seemed like a life sentence, the High Court of Heaven has finally shown mercy. As our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, Boris Johnson’s taken the hint, and acted on it.
No, we’re not there yet. People are still dying. There’s untold misery in dysfunctional households. Kids continue to struggle with mental health issues. Early cancer warnings are going undetected.
The news cycle trundles mercilessly on. It’s what’s just come to light, mostly focussing on the bad. As the saying goes: ‘If it bleeds, it leads.’
And yet, and yet, Times columnist Jenni Russell said it all after the government announced its roadmap out of lockdown.
‘It is almost spring. The vaccine miracle is sweeping across the country, liberating everyone it touches. It’s as if millions of jail cells are being unlocked one by one.
‘A quarter of all adults are already standing at their open doors; in three months we’ll have been offered the keys. Schools are about to spring into life.
‘There is an official path to more freedom ahead of us and at last it’s one that’s wary and practical, rather than the culpably overoptimistic ones of the past year.’
For anyone who’s been marooned on an island for days and has only just managed to swim ashore, here’s what it looks like.
England’s kids will be back at school on March 8. People will be allowed to share fresh air with other households from March 29, hairdressers and outdoor hospitality reopen on April 12, same with hotels from May 17.
And all get-together restrictions will vanish on June 21.
Boris Johnson calls it ‘a one-way road to freedom,’ and has good reason to believe his own propaganda, for once.
Which is nice, as Oxford University’s worked out ours is one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. Apparently it’s tougher only in Venezuela and Lebanon.
That said, we Brits seem cool about it.
Nearly half of those asked asked by pollsters YouGov about Bojo’s plans to loosen the shackles believed he’d ‘got the balance about right’.
And fewer than one in five thought he was taking his bloody time over it.
Fact is, the joint is set to be jumping in the clearly foreseeable future.
Open air rock festivals in Reading and Leeds will go ahead this year, and so will the Bestival gig in Dorset.
Its curator Rob da Bank said he was ‘counting down’ the minutes, hours and days to the event.
Same as all those hoping and praying for a summer getaway to the sun. And those companies in desperate need of cash to keep them aloft.
EasyJet’s chief exec for one is probably kneeling at the end of his bed each night and saying ‘thank you, God,’ as demand for holidays just rocketed six hundred per cent.
Expect he’s also saying: ‘Vielen dank, Angela,’ as the German chancellor’s announced EU-wide plans for vaccine passports to let people jump on and off planes.
The flying around thing fits neatly into a fascinating bit of decoding by space travel/computer nerds last week.
Remember that amazing footage beamed back to Earth from last week’s Mars landing?
The strange red and white design of the parachute got the fans wondering if it was some kind of secret code.
Turns out it was. Within six hours they’d figured out it’d been President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1899 motto. ‘Dare mighty things.’
Perseverance’s chief engineer, Adam Steltzner, was dead impressed, saying: ‘Oh internet is there anything you can’t do?’
Looking increasingly likely, though there’s something a more recent former President can’t do. Keep his tax returns to himself.
The US Supreme Court has cleared the way for eight years’ worth of The Donald’s dox to be handed over to a New York prosecutor who’s on his case.
He’s curious about what a court heard last year was: ‘possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.’
Needless to say, the Combover King maintains it’s just a ‘fishing expedition’. Though Al Capone probably claimed much the same before he got slapped in the slammer.
They couldn’t pin the St Valentine’s Day Massacre on him, or anything much else. Any more than American lawmakers managed to bang the ex-POTUS to rights over the riot at Capitol Hill.
But the tax rap did do for Capone. And Trump? Watch this space.
Another one to keep an eye on is this week’s budget. Won’t land us in jug but could cost some a pretty penny.
Up until now Dishy Rishi Sunak has managed to play the (mostly) nice guy. But at some point the books have to muscle in on the balancing act bit.
Word is he’s going to beef up bosses’ taxes.
Which could lead to an extraordinary scenario. Of Tory MP’s rebelling against the party line in favour of higher corporation tax.
And Labour MP’s voting against their party line that this is a Bad Thing. Odd in itself as bleeding business is what Jezza’s guys always wanted to do.
Then again, it’s a newspaper thing to froth at the mouth whenever these shindigs loom large.
Depending where you look, the Chancellor plans a ‘spring booster for the UK’, or a ‘cash grab’.
What real people probably want to know is whether he’ll whack up fuel duty, as planned, by five pence a litre.
And whether or not he’ll keep the furlough scheme and stamp duty holiday going for longer than we thought.
What many would also like to know is when they’ll be getting the jab, and whether it’s a good idea anyway.
Her Madge weighed in last week. One’s had one’s, and one’s arm didn’t hurt a bit, she said.
So orff to the vac centre, all you humble subjects. And don’t change the subject to wiggle out of it.
As it happens, a new way of splashing out the juice really might not hurt, even a teeny-weeny bit.
Boffins behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are working on ways of saving any of us feeling a prick.
A nasal spray or even a tablet may be the way forward, they say.
Sarah Gilbert, the uni’s vax prof, says sticking stuff into people’s arms may not be the best way of protecting them against what is after all a breathing problem.
She told MP’s in the science and technology committee delivering the goods via nose or mouth may well make more sense. They’re checking it out.
You might also want to check out what Dilyn Dog has been up to lately.
It’s said ex Downing Street major-domo Dom Cummings took against Bojo’s recue pooch when, one day, the creature fell in love with his leg.
Some might say that showed less a refinement of taste than a downright dirty mind.
But the beany-hatted hate figure was in good company. The dear little beast also tried to have it off with an elephant foot stool.
The larger creature was shot by US president Teddy Roosevelt. The smaller one wasn’t fussed, as he banged away.
Naturally one wouldn’t dream of drawing any parallel between behaviour patters of dog and master.
But Dilyn did once get taken short a short distance from a personal item belonging to a special adviser.
And Oscar Wilde’s lovely Lady Bracknell’s most famous quote ever was doubtless on many onlookers’ lips.
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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