Blog Archive

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Northern Ireland, My first COVID Test, Easing the Lockdown, Prince Phillip's Death, Is Boris Johnson a Liar, Cherwell or Charwell?

Brexit inspired fighting in Northern Ireland

Another negative consequence of Brexit is the re-kindling of heightened passions in Northern Ireland, leading to unrest in the streets reminiscent of 'The Troubles'. Johnson and his government, chose not to have a 'hard border' with the EU between Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland. Instead, there is an invisible border in the Irish Sea, creating a customs barrier between NI and GB, all inside the UK.

This has pleased republicans and angered some loyalists. The loyalists see this as a direct attack on the union with GB and have seized the opportunity to take to the streets and attack the police and destroy property.

Whilst such behaviour is entirely unacceptable, it should be no surprise to see it as the Brexit agreement has tilted the balance in this fragile province.

Will the legacy of Boris Johnson be more blood and tears? Will it be the disintegration of the United Kingdom?


Northern Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom

Arlene Foster, DUP leader and Northern Ireland first minister resigned in late April, bringing more uncertainty to the situation. It is thought that she felt betrayed by Boris Johnson's commitment to avoiding a hard border as a result of Brexit.

My first COVID-19 test

NHS lateral flow test - results in 30 mins

Unpleasant and not 100% accurate, the NHS is now offering free lateral flow tests to anyone who wants them. Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised when I opened my test, that leaflet fell out with 'Made in China' on it. Ironic? My test showed negative and I uploaded the result to the NHS website. I plan to take a weekly test for the foreseeable future (but I can't foresee much right now).

Easing the lockdown - will in end in tears?

On April the 12th, with all of the relevant tests met, the Prime Minister allowed England to proceed with a key milestone in the easing of the lockdown. Non essential retailers were allowed to open for the first time since early January and pubs, restaurants and caf├ęs could serve people seated outdoors. Similar relaxations have taken place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Queues formed at the Westgate in Oxford

Unsurprisingly, people rushed out, despite the snow in some areas, to queue for shops and to sit outside under hastily erected restaurant awnings.

I am expecting to see the usual pockets of rule-breakingly shocking behaviour from people who show nothing but contempt for the progress that has been made this year. Infection rates will undoubtedly rise. What nobody knows is what correlation this will have with hospitalisations and death rates now that most over 50s have been vaccinated.

You won't see me in those queues, or sitting out in the snow drinking a pint.

I spoke with the owner of a bar / restaurant in Didsbury and he has had the busiest fortnight ever since re-opening in mid May, despite the fact that all of his seating is outside.

Prince Philip's Death generates record complaints

The Duke of Edinburgh passed away at the age of 99. On April the 9th, many of the regular TV and Radio station schedules were dropped and coverage on Prince Philip took its place. BBC One and BBC Two were broadcasting the same programme on this subject. 

BBC news have added Prince Philip to their menu


The BBC took over 100,000 complaints before the form was taken down and viewing figures on all channels covering it appear to be well down on their normal levels.

Coverage continued daily leading up to the funeral over a week later and there are many who feel that it should not have lasted so long nor should it have eclipsed other news, such as the easing of the lockdown.

Is Boris Johnson a Liar?

This question immediately reminds me of the joke

"Q. How do you tell when politicians are lying?"

"A. You can see their lips moving"

Is Johnson a liar?

We know Johnson is a liar; his track record is ample proof:
  • Brexit lies to fishermen
  • Brexit lies about NHS funding
  • Brexit lies about the Northern Ireland border
  • Lies about his extra-marital affairs
  • He was fired from his job at The Times for for fabricating a quote in an article in 1988
  • In 2004 he was “relieved of his duties” as shadow arts minister of the Tory Party for allegedly lying about an extra-marital affair (sounds familiar?)
  • He lied to protect his colleagues Pritti Patel and Dominic Cummings in 2020
  • As Mayor of London he promised to totally eradicate rough sleeping by 2012; it doubled under his leadership. His 2008 manifesto promised there would be manned ticket offices at every station; he closed all of London's Underground ticket offices. He aimed to reduce transport fares; they increased by 4.2 per cent and so on....
The question is not whether he is a liar but whether he is effective as PM. History may judge him harshly.

How do you pronounce Cherwell?

How do you pronounce the name of North Oxfordshire's main river? We wouldn't take a punt on it…

This is an on-going controversy in Oxford. Some pronounce it as it's written Ch-er-well and others pronounce it as if written with an 'a' Ch-arr-well.  

You can punt from Magdalen Bridge (pronounced Moordalin) where the Isis (also known as The Thames ((pronounced Temes)) meets The Cherwell (pronounced Charwell) - or is it?!

The river Cherwell in Oxford

The whole thing is ridiculously confusing but there is general agreement on all but the correct pronunciation of one Oxfordshire’s main rivers, The Cherwell. This in turn leads to problems naming the District Council, colleges and everything else that takes its name from the river

Go back 400 years, and the documents spell it out: it's The River Charwelle.

That's how it appears on John Speed's 1612 map of Oxford, now in the city's Bodleian Library.

And that's what John Leland called it in his 16th Century description of marshy Banbury.

But nowadays it's spelt Cherwell, and as a result, communities that are joined by the river are divided over how to say its name. Even the pupils and parents at Cherwell School in Oxford don't seem to be able to agree!  Unsurprisingly, Oxford University sticks to the old pronunciation.

I try to say it something in between the two. But at the end of the day you can pronounce it either way!


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