Toby Neal: Lecture over – time to use our common sense

By Toby Neal | Politics | Published:

Common sense versus the coronavirus. One effect of the easing of restrictions is to give individuals more scope to assess the levels of risk they are personally prepared to accept, which is what one or two maverick voices advocated from the beginning.

Two metres or one? Time for you to judge

So if you don't like one metre, stick to two. If you're worried about going to the hairdresser, don't go. Etc.

Thank heavens that the daily Downing Street coronavirus press conferences have ended. If you kept watching them, I admire your staying power. Some people did seem to find them compelling viewing. Maybe counselling will be available.

I gave up watching early, coming to view them as a daily death toll, followed by government propaganda announcements, and served up with a side dish of media banality and agenda fixation.

The tone was set in the early press conferences when national news outlets sent their political correspondents, rather than medical or science correspondents.

So we got that pet hate of mine, barracking with an added question mark. By that I mean questions solely designed to land a spot on the news bulletins (good example this week shouted across Downing Street: "Are you taking a gamble with public safety, Prime Minister?")


Meanwhile the great statues debate continues, amid anger, division, and vandalism. This is what happens when things stop being invisible.

People going about their business in town and city centres don't generally look up. You can have plaques and artworks on the upper part of building facades and people never see them and literally don't know they are there.


So that's one solution to the statues conundrum. Put the offending statues on higher plinths, the better to hide them.

Another would be to appoint a Statues Commission - Statcom for short - to conduct a searching inquiry into all the existing statues, and to vet any suggested characters who might replace them once toppled.

The members of the commission should be drawn from the ranks of the defunct News of the World investigations department, because mistakes could be made if we're not careful.

With Clive of India distinctly rocky on his perch, it's been suggested that a suitable replacement would be Katherine Harley, because she was a suffragette and campaigner for women's rights.


But let's not be too hasty. The widow of a Colonel, and the sister of Field Marshal Viscount John French, she was in the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, so a suffragist, rather than a suffragette.

And a member then of the NUWSS, whose leaders were middle-class women who conformed to the Victorian ideal of womanhood (says the British Library website).

"As one historian has noted, they were not seeking to overthrow the political establishment but, as respectable middle-class women, were ‘asking to be let in’."

I suspect some modern women's rights campaigners might think that sounds a bit tepid.

An alternative to all this controversy would be to remove all statues and replace them with abstract works of art which nobody understands.

Finally, with dire warnings about a crisis in the entertainments industry, a headline I wish I had seen last week, but which sadly was not forthcoming (although one came quite close), was: "Call For Ministers To Act To Save Theatres."

It would be one to rank with "Shell Found On Beach" and "Kidderminster Women Make Beautiful Carpets."


Nuno out! Cut VAT! Peace and Love!

With Nuno saying it's not the same playing without a crowd, I have a little wheeze which may help.

As mass protests seem to be exempt from the social distancing rules, all loyal Wolves fans need to do is organise a protest in the Molineux – scheduled to begin at the start of their next home match.

Knock up a few placards, add some ritual chants, and Bob's your uncle. And Beryl's your aunt (this is an equal opportunities column).

But I can't guarantee that you won't be in trouble. As you may have read, Jezza's brother Piers Corbyn is one of a number of people charged under the coronavirus regulations.

I mention that simply because it gives me an opportunity to relate something about Piers that I was told some years ago, that while the Corbyns lived at Newport, Piers constructed a great water-filled barometer which was on the outside wall of their house.

And for a long time there was a slogan in the window, or maybe daubed on the house, which said words to the effect of "Down With Goldwater". Goldwater was an American Republican candidate.

I admit these snippets might be fake news – so Piers, if you get to read this, do feel free to correct me on the above points.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.


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