WINTER IS COMING – A guest posting by Bob Robinson

“They think it’s all over” – the crowds have flocked to beaches and beauty spots. Pubs and restaurants have reopened albeit with social distancing and face masks – Life is slowly getting back to normal. Come September, children will go back to school. The Government’s strategy is to engineer an economic and a public health recovery and deliver Brexit – a massive economic restructuring exercise. Punchy three-word injunctions, a time honoured oratorial stand-by are back in vogue. I use 3WI’s myself – as you may have noticed this includes the title of my piece. 3WI’s ring a bell.

I just heard a bell ring. One of London’s best kept secrets is Gresham College – situated at Baynard’s Inn on High Holborn, close to Hatton Garden. Gresham College was founded in 1597, It has been providing free lectures within the City of London for over 400 years. They invite distinguished academics, who all share the ability to explain complex issues.. A recent speaker was Sir Chris Witty, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, the UK Government’s Chief Medical Adviser, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health and Social Care and head of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Unlike his appearances next to the Prime Minister in Downing Street, Professor Witty was given an hour and a half to explain the context and challenges of COVID. He is blessed with the talent of making things you know are complicated and iterative intelligible. He does justice to the scale of the challenge. In addition to speaking about the current pandemic, he drew on the experience of previous pandemics, In particular, he spoke of pandemics that have occurred (a)in a number of waves and that (b) the number of infections in the second and third waves were often greater than that of the first. Spanish Flu killed more people in the United States in the second wave in two months in 1918 than the first wave in 1917. A harsh reality may be about to dawn on us that “it’s not over until it’s over”.

Having set the scene Chris Witty deployed his “Game of Thrones” 3WI – “Winter is Coming”. He drew attention to the facts that diagnosis and isolation will be more difficult. We already appreciate that multi- generational families and those with poor quality homes or no homes face greater difficulties in coping with COVID. The NHS and all other health systems are always under greater pressure in the winter. He also drew attention to the increased risks associated with age and the correlation between age/obesity and death.

But the key 3WI message I drew was that in addition to COVID is “Complacency Can Kill”

You can see Professor Witty’s lecture and read his supporting documents here:

www.gresham.ac.uk/about/
www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/covid-19
s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/content.gresham.ac.uk/data/binary/3292/2020-04-30_Whitty_t.pdf

Can I urge you to watch, learn and inwardly digest?

Lancashire – Still squabbling over local government changes

I’ve said before that the piecemeal reorganisation of what was once the huge county council (with numerous small district councils such as West Lancs Borough) area of Lancashire has ended up leaving a mess of everything that has not already become a unitary authority.

Former BBC and Liverpool Post reporter Political commentator and writer Nick Hancock debating with Sefton’s Cllr. Iain Brodie Browne.

Below, via the link, respected north west journalist Jim Hancock updates us on the tortuous ‘progress’ towards a resolution (scroll down to ‘Driver’s Umbrella’):-

jimhancock.co.uk/hancocks-half-page/

Lancashire should have been sorted out as one whole package

The process of doing bits here and there over numerous years via different governments has led directly to this mess and muddle. I support the move to unitary authorities as in my view having a County, a District and often a Parish/Town Council too has not worked.

Power to the Parishes!

Getting rid of the muddle in the middle i.e. the District Councils is the right thing to do. However, it should be being done whilst devolving more powers and responsibilities to the network of Parish and Town Councils across the County (and set up new ones where they don’t presently exist) – of course that’s not being done!

Can you spot fake news?

This is a subject that has long fascinated me but especially when the fake news fits our own prejudices. In other words, do you care if it’s not true if it’s something your tribe believes in? Or even, do you share fake news, even when you know it’s fake, because you want other people to believe what you believe?

The BBC has an interesting take on this via its web site – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/zwfm8hv

Lydiate – Coppull Road innovations – Books & dog fouling

Well these additions to the street scene are interesting:-

Both can be found in Lydiate’s Coppull Road, a road I cycle down regularly but I had not spotted them. However, local resident Jan Page did spy them and tipped me off.

The shot of the book swap ‘little library’ is a pleasure to look at especially for me as someone who spent many hours trying to save (sadly unsuccessfully) 7 of Sefton’s branch libraries from closure not so long ago.

The ‘bag it – bin it’ anti-dog fouling facility is also great to see, although at the same time you realise the frustration that leads to this course of action having to be taken. If only all dog owners cleared up after their animals!

With thanks to Jan Page for the lead to this posting

Liverpool – Factory of Dreams

Factory of Dreams – A history of Meccano Ltd – by Kenneth D. Brown is a book which was published in 2007

As a Trustee of the Maghull based Frank Hornby Trust (Hornby lived in Maghull for much of his adult life) I had been meaning to read this book for some time and lockdown gave me the perfect opportunity. The book runs to 230 pages of quite detailed information about the highs and lows of the company from start (1901) to finish (1979) and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about Hornby Railways, Dinky Toys, Meccano and indeed other products of the vast former Binns Road toy factory in Liverpool.

Many of the photographs displayed in the book are from my good friend and fellow Frank Hornby Trust Trustee Jim Gamble who has penned his own book – Frank Hornby Notes & Pictures the cover of which is displayed below (held by me) with Jim in Meadows Leisure Centre, Maghull.

For those of you reading this who don’t know, we have a permanent exhibition in Maghull celebrating the life, works & products of Frank Hornby. It’s called the Frank Hornby Experience and it’s a bespoke part of Meadows Leisure Centre which is run by Sefton Borough Council who are valued partners of the Frank Hornby Trust. Of course access to the exhibition has been curtailed during the pandemic lockdown but we hope to be able to reopen it soon and will publicise how it can be accessed.

Returning to the book which is the subject of this posting, what I liked about it is the very obvious attention to detail by the author who clearly put great effort into understanding how Meccano Ltd was run and indeed run down.

I suppose the sad part of the story is in many ways the most relevant, how the company went into decline over a long period of time. I certainly get the impression that it’s last 20 years were, with the benefit of hindsight, leading to just one outcome – closure. Indeed, when I got my Meccano set around 1966 the end of it being a Hornby family-controlled company had already happened (in 1964) and it was being run by Lines Brothers prior to Airfix taking over in 1971 with the end coming just 8 years later.

Despite the end being so sad the book is in fact a very good read indeed.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Should I carry the burden of being a racist because previous generations of my family were racists?

I’ve posted before about my Dad and Grandmother, on his side of the family, being openly antisemitic and how I put a stop to racism in my generation. I’m also proud of the fact that our daughter Jen will have nothing what so ever to do with racism either.

But the other day my mate Phil said to me, in relation to the BLM campaign and a debate we were having about it, that he feared that some folks could end up being blamed for the ‘sins of their fathers’. Not surprisingly having had racism present in my own family it made me wonder whether I carried their racism with me. The thought horrified me.

Of course some things do get passed down from generation to generation in many families such as – support for a football team, support for a political party, belief in a religion. Indeed, there’s often an expectation that such family habits are carried on and older generations will take their youngsters to see the football team they want their children to support. They’ll take their children to partake in ‘their’ particular religion and even send them to a school which which promotes the parental religious beliefs. And yes politics too. I once heard an elderly lady say to me that she was going to vote Lib Dem for the first time in her life but she could not afford for her family to know that! I did not ask if the family was Tory or Labour but it certainly made me think.

So if we can pass on sporting team support, religion and politics what else is being passed on? Sadly, I suspect that racism can often be such a hand me down and that’s why our education system should be set up in such a way to challenge generational racism.

Surely we want young people to be free thinking individuals who are happy to challenge long held family views on many things. That’s why I oppose religious schools as my view is that having a religion, or indeed not having one, is a decision for the individual not one to be directed by family expectations.

I rejected my Dad’s religion (CofE), politics (Conservative) and racism but I bought into his love of cricket and support for the same 2 football teams. You’ll notice I only made reference to my Dad there as Mum and I shared what I think are similar political views. I rarely had any political discussions with her but I’m pretty sure she was a Chapel Liberal at heart whereas I’m a Social Liberal without any religion.

The football slogan ‘No room for Racism’ is very apt but for it to really mean anything young people need to have the confidence to reject it when it’s present in their own families.