Monday, 14 December 2020


It’s odd how a tune you haven’t heard for decades suddenly leaps into your mind together with the lyrics. This happened to me last week. It was sung by Bing Crosby in a successful 1949 film called ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’.


We're busy doing nothing
Working the whole day through
Trying to find lots of things not to do
We're busy going nowhere
Isn't it just a crime
We'd like to be unhappy, but
We never do have the time.”

The film based on a book by Mark Twain explores the clash and chemistry of two cultures 1500 years apart. In a way it’s a story of our times with that song an anthem to Covid and its effects. 

I’ve felt as though I was “busy going nowhere” recently. The Brexit negotiators on both sides of the table must have felt the same too.

News from around the world is a mixture of déjà vu (will I be allowed to use French words in 2021?) and aimlessness.

The virus has taken hold of parts of China – again- and airline crew have been instructed to wear nappies as the use of aeroplane loos is discouraged. Nice.

Germany, until recently a paragon, has such serious rises in infection that Christmas may be called off. Angela Merkel addressed the nation in tears begging increased caution as daily infection rates neared 20,000 and peaked last week at 23,000. 

Meanwhile California is in Covid crisis with three regions, San Joaquin Valley, Southern California, and Greater Sacramento under the Regional Stay at Home Order.

In Sweden their policy of relaxing restrictions and hoping for herd immunity, so appealing to many as they ate and drank cheerfully in restaurants, has bluntly failed.

Meanwhile the anti-vaccine movement is gaining strength in the UK and USA. In the UK one in six will not accept vaccination with a further one in six sitting on the fence.

Depressing news but leavened for me by a story of waiters in pubs in Britain where you can’t order drinks unless you are eating a main meal encouraging customers to leave food on their plate so they can order more drinks claiming, as the food congeals, “I haven’t finished yet”

But aimlessness met despair for me last week when once again Venice flooded. I am exceedingly fond of this city and everything about it apart from the acqua alta, the seasonal tide rises which devastated Venice last year. The controversial flood defence, the 78 mobile barriers of the ‘Mose Project’, have been used twice recently to good effect but weren’t in use on December 8th as stronger than expected winds and high water in rivers flowing into the lagoon created another flood in the city.

The aimless Venetian officials explained that no one had forecast it was going to be such a high tide, that raising the flood barriers was an extreme precaution as it disrupts shipping and – anyway – it takes 80 personnel and 48 hours to erect them. Bah humbug. I just don’t believe this. This is a classic case of being busy doing nothing. Venice deserves much better.

On a lighter note, Brighton has low rates of Covid infection and this has been maintained for some weeks. Infection amongst students, usually a high-risk group, is also low. There are no floods. The sun’s shining. Locally grown food is available and selling well. We are prepared for anything and though some of us might like to be unhappy “We never do have the time.”


1 comment:

John Eustace said...

If one really has nothing to do can I recommend you read a rare business book full of common sense. It's called START-UPS PIVOTS & POP-UPS by some old git and Rachel Bell. It deserves a second read from me at the least
Happy holidays