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« Life in the air age | Main | Pat Nurse: Why I will not quit or switch »

May, Mordaunt and Mary Poppins

What a remarkable week. I refer of course to the departure of Theresa May from Number 10, the arrival of the blonde bombshell, the overdue sacking of many of the Brexit naysayers in government, and the spirit of optimism that has returned to Westminster. It may of course go badly wrong but let’s enjoy it while we can. This is what politics could and should be like (not all the time, that would be exhausting) but at moments like this it’s exhilarating. Can you imagine if Jeremy Hunt had won? A safe pair of hands, perhaps, but guaranteed to send the whole country to sleep. Boris is the man for the moment.

Talking of sackings, many people were surprised that Penny Mordaunt lost her job as defence secretary. I wasn’t. Leaving aside her support for Jeremy Hunt (which suggested an appalling lack of judgement for what the country actually needs at the present time), I unknowingly heard her on the Today programme (or was it PM?) a month or two ago. It was only at the end of the interview that I found out who it was but before that I was struck by how lame she sounded. At one point - still in the dark as to who she was - I even shouted at the radio, “Answer the question!” The idea that this was a potential PM in waiting was laughable. Which brings me to the interview with her in last week’s Sunday Times. ‘Had she run for the leadership,’ readers were told, ‘media-shy’ Mordaunt ‘could well have been our next prime minister.’ Her response to being asked why she didn’t put her name forward was to look ‘rather wistful’ while ‘leaving the door open for a future leadership bid’. Ironically, instead of building her up as intended, I suspect the article helped bring her down.

According to reports the government green paper slipped out on Monday evening was part of Theresa May’s determination to leave a ‘legacy’, in this case the eradication of smoking in England by 2030. Like Brexit on her watch, I’m confidant this is another May pledge that will never happen. It did remind me though of an article I wrote for Conservative Home shortly after her appointment as PM in 2016 - ‘If May really wants a fairer Britain, she should end the war on smokers.’ Instead she left office determined that government should renew battle until all smokers have given up. To paraphrase a song from The Mikado, ‘I've got a little list/Of society offenders/Who never would be missed.’ I am of course referring to the former PM not England’s six million smokers.

I spent three days last week helping my mother find a new home in Chester. My father died five years ago and the house they bought in the Peak District 40 years ago is now too much for my mother, the garden especially. Situated in a tiny Derbyshire hamlet without a bus service or local shop she also needs to move before she can no longer drive. My sister lives in Chester and together they had looked at a number of flats in the city without success. Last week my sister was visiting my aunt - my mother’s sister - in Zurich so I offered to join the hunt. I decided however to extend the search from two-bedroom flats for sale to two-bedroom flats/houses for sale or to rent.

The list of viewings included two small but beautiful Georgian terraced houses with pretty yards rather than gardens. They had been modernised but still had bags of character. Crucially however the staircases were so steep they were an accident waiting to happen for an 88-year-old who is not as nimble as she was. The flats we saw, whether to rent or to buy, were generally very small, very dark, or both. The exception was a furnished apartment to rent in a very modern complex overlooking Chester racecourse. The floor to ceiling windows offered an incredible view but I knew long before we walked in that it wasn’t the home my mother was looking for. The leopard print rugs and matching cushions applied the coup de grace.

Fortunately, on Wednesday morning, we found two very nice flats for sale on the other side of the racecourse, a bit further from the city centre but with balconies overlooking the river. Not the perfect location but not bad. She made an offer on one, which was accepted, and - fingers crossed - will move to Chester in the autumn. Mission accomplished.

I watched Mary Poppins Returns on DVD yesterday. I missed it on its cinema release but I really enjoyed it. I was five when Mary Poppins came out in 1964. It was the first or second film I ever saw and I don’t mind admitting that the sequel brought a little tear to my eye.

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Reader Comments (1)

With Hancock and anti smokers still in health, Boris may not go full prohibition but I expect the bullying to continue. I hope the money not paid in EU membership promised to the NHS will go on direct patient care to benefit all patients, but worry that another few billion will be thrown at Public Health to fund more prejudice, propaganda, exclusion and discrimination.

Public Health is now a huge academic industry with links to corporate pharmaceuticals, so I expect Boris could be persuaded that smoker bullying and fat shaming is good investment for a new Britain looking to support business.

I had hoped for a less nannying, more lifestyle inclusive and open-minded health department but I fear it's still game on with more money coming for its moral crusade against smokers and other dissidents disengaged from healthism.

Sunday, July 28, 2019 at 18:11 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

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