‘The big education for me is that civilisation is fragile and can be destroyed in a heartbeat' - Jeremy Brade, former peacekeeper in Sarajevo.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

WEEKENDER: The NHS Has No Response, by Wiggia


The government has conveniently dropped any questioning of the performance of the NHS during the last two years and moved seamlessly onto Climate Change, something else it has shown it has very little idea about, whether cause or solution.

The news that 12,000 patients died after catching Covid in hospital has not even made page 22 of the papers or a mention on the news channels. This is the first time after a Freedom of Information request that any figures have been officially released.

Despite it being illegal to withhold that information, several trusts  have used weasel words to not release it so the figure is obviously higher.

I am not getting into the with or from argument as the figures themselves use a method that appears to muddy the waters; it is immaterial as the numbers are horrific and certain trusts should have been shut down in normal times as they have over years been at the top of the league tables for in-house infection rates. The saying that during the Covid period the worst place to be if you wanted to catch the virus was in a hospital, no longer brings a smile to ones face.


As with much else the NHS seems to get a bye in these matters. If you combine this with the decanting of elderly patients into care homes and the resulting massacre, a large percentage of all deaths from the virus can be directly attributes to decisions and actions within our NHS.

The figures for care homes are not easy to decipher. The best indication would be the excess deaths above the norm which comes in at around 42,000 not all of course from that first period which is the one the NHS is responsible for, from the data out there around 20,000 can be confirmed.

So we can conservatively say 32,000 people lost their lives unnecessarily. Even allowing for the fact that as far as the care homes are concerned many would have died anyway the numbers are enough to make one think there should be an inquiry into responsibility as to decisions if nothing else.


Jeremy Hunt called the whole thing a tragedy? A nice use of words conveniently deflecting any blame on individuals or committees, and intimating that it was somehow a ‘natural’ disaster.

At the same time there several reports of increased drug usage in care homes that lead to earlier deaths and maybe deaths by design. It is not a pretty picture but this was corroborated by several whistleblowers in care homes during the first wave of the virus; the story never got traction, but the Sun had a moment of seriousness and published this piece….


If true and it looks as though it has been substantiated, what an appalling indictment on our health and welfare services. It is not the first time, of course: the Liverpool Care Pathway showed the way on this and nobody was ultimately responsible for anything there either.

No person or group can make faultless decisions during a pandemic or any other major incident, but what happened here went outside normal parameters and should not be brushed under the carpet as so much is these days. As I said in an earlier piece, under today's regime a general inquiry would be a waste of time and money as the Jay report turned out to be.

The NHS has not even managed to give the majority of our elderly in care homes the booster they say is necessary - necessary is another argument - but for the most vulnerable it would appear the NHS is once again neglecting them; a deliberate policy? Who knows any more, but lessons certainly have not been learned, and older people never so undervalued and despised.

This appeared on the BBC site on Tuesday…

Why the NHS is struggling like never before
Lives are being put at risk with record long waits in accident-and-emergency units and 999 calls taking hours to be reached. The causes of this go beyond Covid - and with winter coming it looks set to get worse.

They do spell out some salient facts, but at the same time ‘the never enough’ theme keeps cropping up. It matters not because there has to be a limit to NHS spending regardless of the ever-present begging bowl; the endless throwing of money at it has solved nothing.

You can guarantee if the relatively small difference in spending as with in France was made available tomorrow you would not get the French health service; the one thing that article says which is true is the NHS is in a downward spiral and has been for years.

There is no mention when staff shortages are put forward as a reason for poor service that as far as GPs are concerned a large part of the problem is part time working; oh no, that would go against the narrative.

So things are actually a lot worse than this chart suggests:


I am not repeating what I have said in the past on this situation it is farcical that it has been allowed to develop.

The political blame game wont cure it, only root and branch reform and that even if allowed will take time, it is currently a juggernaut out of control.

How on earth people believe the NHS is fourth in the world standings of health care is beyond comprehension, this includes my health area...

They dare not mention a large number are waiting for over two years and that is after waiting for a consultation. I would suggest quite a few will be dead before the NHS deigns to see them. This list is old news and still growing by the week.

The NHS suffers from the Oliver Twist syndrome: more is never enough, it never can be for any health service with the demands of today outstripping income. The NHS has to get back to core values and stop extending into areas it has little in common with and treatments that are costly but have little general value.

When the begging bowl goes out the impression given is we really are the poor man of Europe in the health department and we need to spend more. Looking at the figures shows that is not strictly true, no we are not top of the league table but we certainly are nowhere near the bottom, others are doing better with similar expenditure or less.

We are above the European average, so one must conclude something is seriously wrong with the way it is funded and run, but we already know that. Having the will to put all this right is what is missing, to call it a health service at all at the moment is a dubious title and it is still consuming vast amounts of tax payers' money for very little return; frankly it is a disgrace.


And the employment figures show we lag behind only Germany per capita and that is because of their social welfare being so much bigger than ours. Again we see large numbers of people employed yet a shortage of all front line medical  staff; it speaks for itself.


Even though we suffer from individuals whose use of the health service can only be described as a pitiful waste of resources we are not, if you can see one at all, outstripping anyone else in that area either, another myth.



The continual demand for more money is based on claims that we don’t spend enough on healthcare. This is only true if you consider all and everything can be treated by the State and we should facilitate the NHS to that end. No health service can do that it would bankrupt the country and some are getting to that level. 

Ours has it own peculiar problems well trailed here and elsewhere, but the facts show that yes we could spend more, we are not top of the spending league tables, but we are nowhere near the bottom and that is before the latest shovelling of money at it. 

I would suggest the NHS has too many of the wrong sort of staff; how else are they short of front line medical staff despite being the biggest employer in Europe? The interesting statistic is the one on ‘some services are not available on the NHS’ but doesn’t state what: dentistry has almost vanished, eye care is going the same way and again has been like that for years. Or are they talking about cosmetic surgery and the like which apart from genuine cases should not be on the NHS anyway? How they can consider trans surgery at this time  when people are dying from cancer etc. because of a failure to treat, is beyond comprehension.

And government reforms: have there been any of any value?

I leave you with a Youtube video by comedian Andrew Laurence. If you don’t know him, be warned that the language in the opener is profane yo put it mildly, so don’t watch if easily offended, but no one gets to the point better than he does.


As he says at the end, be lucky… you’ll need to be.

Friday, November 26, 2021

FRIDAY MUSIC: George Harrison, by JD

"Time speeds up as we get older" is a frequent observation made by most of us 'oldies' and we say it more often than we used to! Where have the first two decades of the 21st Century gone, for example?

I find it hard to believe that it is almost exactly 20 years since the death of former Beatle George Harrison. It certainly doesn't feel like 20 years because the news of his death remains fresh in my memory. 

He was the 'quiet Beatle' with media focus being concentrated on the Lennon/McCartney songwriting partnership but Harrison was the first one to produce a solo album after the break up of the group and his songs are every bit as good as those written by his former band mates as the following selection proves.

One year after his death there was a 'tribute' concert held in The Royal Albert Hall in London and the musicians who performed on stage that night were all members of 'George's band' all of whom had played alongside him on his recordings.










“As the lead guitarist of the world’s biggest rock band and a prolific song writer, the Beatles’ George Harrison’s greatest legacy may be the way his decades-long spiritual quest shaped the ways the West looks at God, gurus and life…”

- Oct. 11, 2011, Steve Rabey, in the National Catholic Reporter

Thursday, November 25, 2021

THURSDAY BACKTRACK: Music and news from 60 years ago - week ending 25 November 1961

Rising to  #4 this week: Frankie Vaughan with 'Tower Of Strength':


Some memorable events (via Wikipedia):

19 November: 'Michael Rockefeller, son of New York Governor, and later Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, disappeared off of the coast of New Guinea. His body was never found and a court in White Plains, New York, officially declared him dead on January 31, 1964.'

21 November: 'The first revolving restaurant in the United States, "La Ronde", opened on the 23rd floor of the Ala Moana Building on 1441 Kapiolani Boulevard in Honolulu.'
23 November - Dominican Republic coup: Following the departure three days earlier of the last twenty-seven members of the Trujillo family, President Joaquín Balaguer's request for the name of the capital, which had been Ciudad Trujillo for 35 years, to revert to Santo Domingo. was unanimously approved by the Dominican Congress.

24 November: 'The United Nations General Assembly approved Resoulution 1653 (XVI), the "Declaration on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear and Thermonuclear Weapons", by a 2/3rds majority (55-20, with 26 abstentions).' Among the abstainers were Iran, Israel and Pakistan.

25 November: 'The USS Enterprise, the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was commissioned.' The ship was deactivated on 1 December 2012.
(Photo)

26 November:
 'In the Avellaneda derby soccer match between Club Atlético Independiente and Racing Club de Avellaneda, the referee was forced to suspend play for six minutes due to fighting amongst the players. Four players from each team were sent off. The game ended in a 1–1 draw.'
(Photos)

28 November: 'After Morocco's King Hasssan II agreed to allow the Arab nation's Jewish minority to leave, the first group of 105 Jews was allowed to fly out to Israel. By the end of the year, 11,478 had left, and over the next two years, the 85,000 members of the community had emigrated.'


UK chart hits, week ending 25 November 1961 (tracks in italics have been played in earlier posts)

Htp: Clint's labour-of love compilation https://www.sixtiescity.net/charts/61chart.htm



Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Does the Covid jab put some people more at risk of heart problems?

Dr Vernon Coleman, a retired GP and writer on many subjects, is a long-standing and very controversial sceptic about vaccines in general and now about the mRNA injections designed to combat Covid. 

Dr Coleman is inclined to put his views very emphatically; that does not mean he is necessarily wrong. https://vernoncoleman.org/videos/finally-medical-proof-covid-jab-murder

Those who oppose or are even merely worried about these 'jabs' are spreading rumours about allergic reactions - some go so far to say that there have been deaths directly or indirectly attributable to the injections. We read anecdotes of fit young people, who have previously received the vaccination, suddenly collapsing and dying, sometimes on the sports field.

Rumour is a bad way of deciding such issues, but if the following is well-conducted science then there may indeed be a degree of risk associated with Covid 'jabs' (the disbenefits for a minority may of course be heavily outweighed by the benefits to the great majority who might otherwise succumb to the crippling or lethal effects of the virus itself.) 

To suppress such information risks compromising trust in the medical professionals and politicians who we hope will guide us through the Covid crisis. So let us look at this new evidence and continue to position ourselves between blind trust in authority and blind panic.

Dr Coleman refers us to a recent (8 November) paper by former cardiac surgeon Steven R. Gundry in the medical magazine Circulation.

Gundry's paper includes the following comments in the abstract:

'Recently, with the advent of the mRNA COVID 19 vaccines (vac) by Moderna and Pfizer, dramatic changes in the PULS score became apparent in most patients... At the time of this report, these changes persist for at least 2.5 months post second dose of vac.

'We conclude that the mRNA vacs dramatically increase inflammation on the endothelium and T cell infiltration of cardiac muscle and may account for the observations of increased thrombosis, cardiomyopathy, and other vascular events following vaccination.'

The PULS Cardiac Test is designed to help identify patients who are at risk of  'experiencing an acute coronary event due to endothelial damage leading to unstable lesion rupture.'

What I read into this is:
  • It may be unwise for some (or many - Dr Gundry noted 'dramatic changes' in the PULS score for 'most' patients) to take part in strenuous physical exercise following such vaccination, at least for some months post-jab
  • It could be worth getting some test such as a PULS score to see if one is personally at greater risk
  • We should look for more guidance as to whether we are in a category that makes vaccination more risky. My wife and I had the third 'booster' jab (Pfizer's) last weekend and we were asked e.g. whether we were in general good health, and whether we had allergies or were taking any blood-thinning medication, so presumably there are situations in which the medical professional would deem it unwise to proceed with vaccination
  • Is there some way of testing whether we are naturally immune to Covid, or on the contrary more likely than the average person to react badly to vaccination?

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

WIGGIA'S WINES FOR CHRISTMAS 2021

                                        
A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS !

There is no such thing as excess with wine, so I am told...


My wines for Christmas selection is taking a different format this year - looking back, the previous layout became a bit! long-winded, so I thought that by simply having the best, as in I have sampled or been given a very good tip, it would be easier to list what is available in all the supermarkets separately. Looking at it, it has become very long-winded, sorry about that!

This listing is restricted to these outlets as the majority of people buy their wine there anyway.
I have made one change to that though: last year I hinted that supermarkets generally have stopped being competitive to a large degree in this field now that they have sewn the market up, the days when they battled to get Masters of Wine on board to improve their offerings has largely disappeared and we see more and more own label and big brands than ever before.

What I have added is the Wine Society, an old-established mutual that you have to join to enjoy; it is £40 but you get £20 back on the first purchase. I include them because the range is very large and much is in the affordable bracket which is what with a few exceptions I try to promote on this annual listing.
Don’t be put off by visions of elitism and people talking winespeak, that of course exists but the society is for everyone and they do try hard to cater for the same.

Just one small note for this year's offerings: as with everyone else I have been restricted in movement and to add to that I have not been very mobile owing to a non-existent NHS and my private hip replacement is only now allowing me to get out and about again; so much of what I have purchased has been online.

TESCO

Tesco as last year has become bogged down with the aforementioned own labels and big brands, a big change from the days it vied to be the best, but it still has a few wines worth looking at.

Champagne
  • Tesco’s own brand Finest Premier Cru brut, at £21 very decent.
Reds:
  • Tesco’s Finest St Chinian £9
  • Vinalba Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile £10
  • Finest Central Otago Pinot Noir NZ  £13
  • Vinalba Reserve Malbec £10 - available elsewhere, as are many of the Vinalba wines which are very reliable elsewhere, so shop around for price.
Whites:
  • Tesco’s Finest Vinas Del Rey Albarino Spain £8.50
  • Tesco’s Finest North Row Sauvignon Blanc £13 there are many SBs,  that are of equal or near equal status on the market
  • for safe bets Villa Maria also from NZ takes some beating available widely at £10.
Port:
  • Tesco’s Finest LBV port 2014 at £11  is a steal if you like port, who doesn’t at Christmas!
As you can see Tesco’s own label has many of the best on offer but otherwise it is mainly ig brands now.

ASDA

Asda I am leaving out, because of lockdowns I have like everyone else been limited with travel plus I have had an operation which curtailed getting around so I am afraid Asda is off the list this year.


SAINSBURY

Sainsbury’s have a smaller range than Tesco but though not inspiring it does contain some worthwhile buys.

Reds:
  • One of the stars at the cheap end which are becoming ever more difficult to find as prices rise is the Taste the Difference Garnacha from Spain, fresh crunchy and very good quality for £9, worth looking out for when on offer.
  • They also do the Porta Six vinho regional Lisboa, a red blend that seems to rightly satisfy many drinkers.
  • The Cono Sur organic Pinot Noir was to my mind a terrific edition on release, sadly it is no longer imho quite the same none the less it is still a very good buy at £9 ( before offers for a top notch entry level PN.
  • Another crunchy bright red is Sainsburys Taste the Difference Marzemino from northern Italy, makes a nice change from some of the ‘challenging’ reds on offer and is another of those rare grapes seldom seen.
  • If you like Rioja then CUNE’S reserva at £10  or around is a reliable version of Tempranillo from an old established top line company.
  • And if you want something a bit heavier Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Cotes du Ventoux is a fair bet.
  • Around £10 gets you another good Grenache in Sainsbury’s TtD Old Vine Garnacha
Whites

- In whites Sainsbury’s have probably a better selection than the reds...
  • Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Gruner Veltliner from Austria makes a good pairing with the turkey £9.
  • Stellenrust Chenin Blanc from SA at £7.50 very reliable.
  • Taste the Difference Viognier £8 is another different approach for turkey pairing.
  • ARA select blocks Sauvignon blanc should keep aficionados of the grape reasonably happy at £12.
  • Tempus Two Wilde Chardonnay is a good representation of southern hemisphere version of the grape at £13.
  • Sainsbury’s Taste the difference Chablis Vielles Vignes £15 is cheap for a decent Chablis these days.
  • And their TtD Discovery range includes a decent Verdicchio des Castelli di Jesi £10, most sold here are pretty average but this is a bit better for a distinctive grape.
CO-OPERATIVE

The Co-op if you have a good one continues to confound. most are pretty dreadful but certain stores, and you will know them have a very different range on offer with many very good buys.

Reds:
  • In their Irresistible range the Fiano stands out at £7 as a bargain white from Italy
  • The Les Jamelles red Mourvedre Reserve is a steal at £5.50, not many left worth buying in this price bracket now, this is an ideal bulk buy for parties.
  • La Grange St Martin Cotes du Rhone red at £7.75 is good value for such a good version of this popular wine area.
  • For Pinot Noir lover the Irresistible Casablanca Valley PN at £8 is one of many coming out of Chile that are such good value.
  • Under the Les Jamelles banner a viognier of quality is offered at £7.35
  • Chianti under the banner of Castello Vicchiomaggio , Villa Boscorotondo 2017 is a great example of this popular area at £16
  • A 2012 Cru Bourgeois from Bordeaux in Ch Senejac is a good way to set off the Christmas table at £17.
  • Plus a very good red Burgundy at £20 almost cheap these days, Domaine Jean Jacques Girard Savigny Les Beaune 2017.
Champagne:
  • A very good Champagne in Les Pioneers 2012, a vintage Champagne at £27.
There are other good wines but the Co-op varies greatly store to store.

LIDL

Lidl seems to have backed off from the progress it was making in the wines it offered two or three years ago and those specials seem to have mainly dried up.

Whites:
  • The winemakers selection includes a great value SB Awatere Valley at a very cheap £6.99, and their Gavi from the same range and price is worth a look.
  • Plus the Soave Classico at £4.99 is ridiculously cheap for a good popular white, again perfect for a party buy
  • Likewise and even cheaper £3.89 another party filler is the Cimarosa South African SB.
Reds:
  • The only more upmarket wine I can recommend is the St Emilion Grand Cru weighing in at £11.99, a fair price for an expensive area.
ALDI

Aldi have a bigger range and again outside of the bargain wines for large gatherings not a lot to shout about apart from...

Whites:
  • Under their specially selected range a white Rioja , Rioja Blanco at £6.49 a bargain
  • A Sancerre at £14.99 under the Classic Icons range is also very much a wine worth that bit extra
  • A good well-priced Californian Zinfandel at £6.99 is another good buy.
Sparkling:
  • The pink Cremant de Limoux one of the cheapest fizzes worth buying.
Champagne:
  • The Veuve Monsigny Rose Champagne is another bargain coming in at just under  £17.
There is a whole plethora of decent cheap party/weekday drinking wines in Aldi but again I have struggled this year to get to them and they also have just released a raft of new wines for Christmas again too late for me to have sampled any.

MORRISONS

Morrisons is a bit quirky and not all advertised is always in store, sometimes never? They still have a few stand out buys:

Fortified wines:
  • The Morrisons Fino sherry is still the best buy out there for the money and it has recently gone up in price to a staggering £5.25, I genuinely for the quality don’t know how they do it.
  • The Morrisons Ruby port £7.75 is again , if you like sweet fruity port a bargain.
  • Ten year old tawny from the Douro in their Best range at 12 pounds is also not to be sneezed at.
Reds:
  • For something with a bit of fresh crunch to it The Best Barbera D’Asti currently at 6.00 on offer is worth grabbing.
  • The Best Amorone Veneto 2017 is a very good example of this very popular style using dried grapes to add flavour to the blend and £16 is about average for any of these wines.
  • Another good Chianti is stocked from Frescobaldi: Nippozano Rufina Reserva 2017 £17
  • Morrisons still stock at least three from the range of wines from Vinalba in Argentina, around 8-10 pounds and a very reliable quality winery for all they produce, take your choice of grape.
Whites:
  • Still under The Best banner, a Pouilly Fume from the Loire 2020 £13
  • A give away western Australian Chardonnay another Best of is £6.50
  • A Picpoul de Pinet from the Languedoc Les Costieres de Pomerols is as good as any of this grape £8.50
  • And the Best Muscadet Servre et Maine Sur Lie 2019 is as good as any I have drunk at the price and above.
Rosé:
  • Rosé is all the rage and everyone has decent versions on sale, this from the Best range and the Touraine Loire area is up there with the better ones from the 2019 vintage at £7.75.
Some of the better wines from last year seem to have disappeared but you never know with Morrisons what a visit to store will surprise, or not.

MARKS & SPENCER

M&S have to me been through a strange period with wine as they cleared out many more expensive wines and went back to a more basic range, it was not exactly exciting; but this year they have launched a range under the Found banner. all are lesser known grapes and several are well worth exploring. M&S have also employed a new team for the wine department; one is from Waitrose so he should know what he is doing and perhaps with the Found range they can build something more appealing.

Reds:
  • Found Nerrelo Capuccio from Sicily is the bargain one in the range £7.00
  • Continuing the range we have Found Xinomavro Mandilaria from Greece which is just about the star from this launch at £9.50
  • Found Mazuelo from the Rioja region £8.50
  • Elsewhere in store the Susana Balbo Tradicion Malbec 2020 a high altitude wine as many are now and at £12 punches above its weight.
  • M&S Margaux Bordeaux made by Chateau Dauzac is a typical claret for just £22
  • Xanadu Fusion CS from Western Australia a Bordeaux blend but not Bordeaux prices; cracking value at £12.
Whites:
  • The white Found Moschofilero /Roditis £8.50 from Greece is the last I have tried from this range. All are a very welcome addition to M&S shelves and all are genuinely difficult to source grape varieties.
Fortified wines;
  • M&S 5 year old Madeira £10 and made for them by Henriques and Henriques, the top producer, is another of those Christmas wines that is a standout bargain.
WAITROSE

Onto Waitrose. One thing about Waitrose above all others is that the range of Champagnes and sparkling wines is so good and priced so well there really is no need to go anywhere else for the part of Christmas drinking. I cannot say I have been through the range - that would be almost impossible - but for me the stand out part is the English sparkling wines, they seem to stock most and the quality has just gone up and up as they become more established, they can now take on the French and in many case better them in quality and price, unthinkable just a few years ago.

In no particular order from the ones I have purchased or sampled with others:

Sparkling (foreign)
  • A couple or so of party cheapies that wont break the bank to start from SA Graham Becks Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut NV at 10.99
  • A cracking cheap Cava from Spain Pere Ventura Primer Reserve £12.99
  • Mirabeau La Folie NV a pink sparkler from France £14.99
  • Bird in Hand Sparkling pink from Australia £14.99
  • L’Atzar Cava Reserva £11.99.

I have not drunk any Champagnes in the last year and most are known to the public anyway. You can make your own choice, look out for ‘grower’ Champagnes which are disappearing, they represent value over the established Champagne houses.

It is English sparkling wines that have hit the headlines recently and what I have had proves they are every bit as good as their French counterparts and in many cases equivalent wines are cheaper, just a few that have passed me by though I am sure others are equally good.

Sparkling (domestic):
Three to start where anything from their ranges hit the spot.
  • Nyetimber are all good, from £22 up.
  • Gusborne ditto and probably the best of English sparklers again from around £22.
  • Breaky Bottom do a large range of styles and are one of the oldest English vineyards; again anything is good and they use a variety of grapes for the styles, similar prices to above.
A couple of others …
  • Smith & Evans Higher Plot Sparkling £28.99
  • Bluebell Hindleap Blanc de Blancs £27.99
  • Hambledon Classic cuvee NV £30
Amazingly at these prices many English sparklers are vintage wines which if they were Champagne  would command far higher prices; there are many more.

Fortified wines - sherries:

Waitrose also carry a much bigger range of fortified wines -
  • their own Manzanilla and Fino sherries at £7.65 are good value 
-and they have several better buys including…
  • A half bottle of Cayetano del Pino Palo Cortado at £14.99 this is a fino that has developed or starting to develop into an Amontillado.
  • Solear, the ever reliable Manzanilla from Barbadillo £10.99.
  • For £16.99 a luscious Pedro Ximenez Murillo from Lustau one of the top sherry producers.
  • From Lustau again an Oloroso Almacenista Pata de Galina lovely deep fruity sherry £17.99.
  • Gonzalez Byass Delicado Fino £12.99.
... is a decent cross section.

Fortified wines - ports:
Among the stand out ports are:
  • Grahams 20 year old Tawny £39.00 but worth every penny, look out for it at offer times.
  • Vintage port is expensive nudging £100 a bottle these days but one relative bargain is there the Quinta do Noval on the QT bin 08 vintage port 2015; this is a limited edition and costs £50.
  • Sandemans late bottled vintage port is just £13.79 at the moment and is a steal.
  • Also currently on offer at £14.69 is Fonseca’s Terra Prima Organic Reserve Port, a big robust version at a bargain price.
Whites:
  • In white wines Sacred Hill Chardonnay from Hawkes Bay NZ is a good example of the grape £13.99.
  • A really good Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux is from Château de Rochemorin 2016 at £16.90.
  • Kaapzicht Bush Vine Chenin Blanc is one of the best from South Africa 2019 £13.99.
  • Waitrose No1 Sauternes is made by Château Suduiraut 2011 one of the top tier Sauternes producers,
  • 16.99 for a half bottle may seem expensive but this is top notch and you don’t drink large quantities of Sauternes it is for sipping and enjoying.
  • I normally steer clear of the very popular Pinot Grigios, not Italian but from Australia with a dash of Riesling in with it, De Bortoli 17 Trees 9.99.
  • Boschendal Chardonnay South Africa 10.99, another of SAs ever growing good wines.
  • Donhoff’s Norheimer Kirschheck Spatlese is one of the few classy Rieslings available at supermarkets, not cheap at 29.99 but you are paying for one of the very best of Germany’s producers.
  • Piccoza Pinot Bianco from Italy £11.99 cracking version of this ‘average‘ grape.
  • Audrey Wilkinson Chardonnay from Australia, a lovely creamy version £11.99.

Reds:
  • Esprit des Trois Pierres Costierres de Nimes £8.99 is a wine I have purchased frequently always a good buy at £8.99.
  • Pazzia Primitivo Manduria, Primitivo is the same grape as Zinfandel in the USA, if you like a big red but not over the top this hits the spot £8.99
  • Quirciabella Organic Chianti 2018 not cheap at £19.99 but a very good example of Chianti from a famous winery.
  • The Hedonist Shiraz fro Australia, nice big red spicy similar to Rhone wines £11.99.
  • Cantina del Nebbiolo, Nebbiolo d'Alba 2018 from Piedmont in Italy wont break the bank as most Barolo’s with the same grape will so this is a good introduction to the area £12.99.
  • Bodega Colome Malbec, Argentina a good example of this popular grape 2017 £17.49 but often on offer.
  • Another from Argentina , De Martino single vineyard Alto de Piedras Carmenere Argentinas signature grape £21.99.
  • La Petite Agnes Priorat Spain, Grenache and Carignan another bigger wine but with a fresh edge £14.99.
  • A cracking Portugese wine Bacalhoa Dom Martino aq red blend £11.99.

MAJESTIC

Majestic seem to have supply problems or they are doing very very well, a lot of stock seems permanently sold out so a visit in store is recommended, the reason is Majestic are going through a revamp and many wines are being cleared for new ones, from what I have seen it looks a good move but there is currently this disruption in their lists.

Reds:
  • La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva at £19.99 is a top class Rioja from one of the best Bodegas, a great Christmas table bottle.
  • Domini Veneti ‘La Cassata’ Valpoicella Ripasso an unexpensive version of the Rippaso style and a very good one, very luscious £14.99
  • Domaine Cottebrune Les Moulins Faugeres in the Languedoc France, very good value example of the region, a red blend that will please.
  • Barberesco Reserva Curra 2015 from Roberto Sarotto £25.99 - Barberesco uses Nebbiolo grape as Barolo but it is aged for a shorter period, these again normally fetch higher prices so this is another top wine for the Christmas table.
  • Nero Oro reserva from Sicily at £9.99 is a deep brambly red from that area making a lot of good wines now.
  • Coney Pizzicato Pinot Noir from Martinborough NZ is not expensive for this grape if it has any quality, many NZ PNs cost a lot more for no difference, good buy at £15.99
  • Kanonkop Kadette Pinotage a South African speciality, from a top notch producer this is a very good introduction to the grape £12.99.
  • Vacqueyras ‘Grand Garrigues Organic’ from the excellent producer Alain Jaume in the Rhone Valley France £14.99.
  • A USA Pinot Noir from Talbott ‘Kali Hart’from Monterey, a good value example of what the USA can do with this grape - £24.99 but £5 discount if part of a half-case of 6 bottles.
('Anonymous' comments below: 'Under Majestic, you might have mentioned the "Belleruche" Cotes du Rhone which is well priced at around £9 (varies between branches I think, and possibly also between England and Scotland), and is a cracking example of this very popular AC.')

Whites:
  • An unusual white wine in that it has the appassimento treatment, using sun dried grapes it is Nero Oro Grillo Appassimento from Sicily, cheap for this style of winemaking and something a bit different, only £7.99.
  • Another bargain! For a white Burgundy is Cave de Vignerons de Buxy ‘Les Millieres’ Montagny 1st Cru £14.99.
  • Domaine de Saint Ferreol Viognier 2019 from the Languedoc in France is cheaper than its Rhone counterparts and loses nothing in quality £12.99.
  • Also worth a try for something different from Greece a local grape Lyrarakis Assyrtiko 2020 £9.99 dry and Chablis like but not Chablis pricing.
  • Inama Soave Classic DOC a very good version of this popular wine Soave, at £13.99.
  • For the patriotic, Three Choirs Stonebrook is a soft aromatic off dry English wine £9.99.
  • Mt Difficulty Roaring Meg Pinot Gris 2020 from Central Otago in NZ, one would normally go for this grape to the Alsace but this version of a slightly soft oily peachy wine is a very good version £13.99.
  • NZ is awash with  nondescript Sauvignon Blancs but there are some very good ones, Dog Point from Marlborough is for me as good as any £17.99.
Rosé:
  • A rosé that is fighting to be best value in its class is Floracao Rose 2019 from Portuga lat the bargain price of £6.99
Fortified wines:
  • Hidalgo’s Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana a top manzanilla  at £11.99.
  • And a ‘sweetie’ from Hungary, Royal Tokaji Gold Label 6 Puttonyos 2016 £35.00 for pure nectar. If that is a bit too expensive the same company have a couple of cheaper versions that are still very delightful - have a look.

TWO ITEMS TO FINISH...

1. First, a red of amazing value that I fear has gone but might still be in some Morrisons stores:


  • Estancia Malbec from Argentina; the version to look for has a Decanter Gold Medal sticker on it and it has an alcohol rating of 13% unusual for a Malbec. It was at one time on offer at under £6; if you see it and not a heavier alcohol version without the sticker it is not the vintage I am citing.
2. Secondly I mentioned the Wine Society and repeat what I said in the opener above: as a source of wine for wine buying, this is a mutual and you pay £40 to join, get back £20 on your first order and this gives you access to a huge range of wines world wide from £5.99 ever upwards. Their strengths are in the south of France, Portugal, South Africa, Greece and Italy though the enormous range covers almost everywhere and everything.

They have a helpline and are very customer conscious offering to replace free any wines that you do not like and deliveries are free for orders over £75.

Don’t be put off with thinking this is an elitist company dealing only with wine speak ‘experts’, it isn’t and is becoming an ever more popular destination for wine drinkers to purchase from, so have a look.
They also do some very good mixed cases at this time of the year for those unsure of what to buy.

Monday, November 22, 2021

The Covid Moron Home Testing Kit

People who oppose, or even worry about, the 'vaccines' developed to combat Covid-19 are all lumped together in their critics' minds as 'anti-vaxxers'. This show a deplorable lack of discrimination and also calls for some objective means of verification. 

We are glad to report that there is now a quick and easy self-test for Covid stupidity, and better still there is no need to stuff anything up yourself, unless that is your thing and if so there are already plenty of suitable materials in your house.


Simply respond Yes or No to each of the following statements and then score yourself according to the guidance given below.

1. The 'vaccines' are 100% safe. Nobody has been injured or killed as a result of one or more jabs. Any rumours to the contrary have probably been spread by the Russians.

2. The 'vaccines' are suitable for everyone, in every condition - young or old, pregnant or not, sick or well, fighting fit or immunocompromised by e.g. cancer drugs.

3. The 'vaccines' are 100% effective. Nobody who has been jabbed has been hospitalised or died as a result of catching Covid after immunisation.

4. The 'vaccines' not only protect you from catching Covid, they prevent you from passing it on to anyone else.

5. Unlike antibiotics, the indiscriminate and widespread use of the 'vaccines' will not, by eliminating competition, foster the development of new, medication-resistant strains of the disease.

6. The 'vaccines' will have no effect on genital organs or the pre- and post-birth development of unborn children.

7. The 'vaccines' will not reduce the effectiveness of your immune system, against Covid or any other infection, either temporarily or permanently.

8. The most rigorous longitudinal investigation into Covid will never show any positive correlation between immunisation and elevated likelihood of later serious illnesses or sudden deaths.

Scoring:

'Yes' to all: you are a sensible citizen. The world has always needed trusting people like you, often as infantry.

'No' to one or more, but not all, questions: you are a Common Moron. We can tell when your kind has learned to use a knife and fork from the scratch marks on your face.

'No' to all questions: you are that rare and beautiful thing, the Perfect Moron. Every government department and company board needs one of you, so they can consult you on all matters, listen attentively and do the exact opposite of what you recommend.

__________________

Test packs will be available to the general public as soon as supply line issues have been resolved.

Global rule: Fremen vs the Emperor

Independent thinker Robin Hanson has posted a an interesting - and concerning - piece on the tendency to autocratic global power: 'The Coming World Ruling Class'.

I comment there:

I fear you are correct about the tendency, and you are obviously right that entrenched power, bullying and corruption are a feature of smaller scale rule, right down to personal relations.

I have long thought that the EU is an empire and has co-opted our watchdogs the news media, who serve the elite and have started to intermarry with them. And of course there are the global treaties and organisations - WTO and all the rest.

Magna Carta, the English Civil War and the 'Glorious Revolution' gave us a political structure that built-in distrust of and opposition to supreme power. Our nationalism, and the recovery of a degree of sovereignty (in the face of the global network), is a campfire glowing in the dark.

Sadly our MPs, especially the Opposition, don't seem to understand their historic role - look at how the Coronavirus Act was refreshed without even a vote. They do not realise that they are a safety valve - as Peter Hitchens notes today:

'Unless at some point the real concerns of normal people find a peaceful, rational and responsible political outlet in countries such as ours, there will be serious trouble thanks to this chasm between what is promised and what actually happens.

'The ugly rise of Donald Trump in the USA is a rather mild and restrained warning of what lies ahead.'

It's all getting very Star Wars, isn't it!

Is it merely a coincidence that a remake of 'Dune' has just come out?

Sunday, November 21, 2021

COLOUR SUPPLEMENT: Cecil Collins, by JD

The Vision of the Fool

The visionary work of Cecil Collins


Art exists to destroy the world and to create a kingdom which is eternal.


Superstition in Religion is the literal acceptance of mythology and allegory and not realising that it is the significance of a myth that is its reality.
Superstition in Science is thinking that facts are reality.
Superstition in Art is believing that Art is the literal copying and imitating of nature.


The cinema and the camera have killed only that which is inessential in the art of painting.And have therefore done it a great service. For it has helped to restore the art of painting to its rightful funcion. A function altogether profounder than that of the cinema; (for it is no accident that the cinema is the most popular form of visual experience in the degenerate mechanisation of modern society, it is its rightful form of visual communication.)




There is very little on the web about Collins but I did find an excellent essay by the late Peter Fuller in an online magazine called Artinfluence.com which, sadly, no longer exists but I copied its final paragraph which sums up the importance of Art in our lives:

'[George] Steiner argues that ‘where God’s presence is no longer a tenable supposition and where His absence is no longer a felt, indeed overwhelming weight, certain dimensions of thought and creativity are no longer attainable’. Even if our faith has faltered we must learn to read and to look as if… We must make ‘a wager on transcendence’ or we will find ourselves cut off from the great and consoling power of art altogether. Cecil Collins’s fools and his wounded angels affirm just such a wager. Life is love (creative imagination) and absence of love is death.'

There is also this interview of Collins by Fuller from 1987: https://www.academia.edu/35721943/Cecil_Collins_Peter_Fuller_Barbican_interview.pdf

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Surviving the NHS

Yesterday I went to the funeral of a friend's father at an old country church, a lovely ceremony attended by many family and friends. He was 98 and had lived a most interesting and useful life, for example having served in the Second World War as a radar expert in the Royal Navy - limited to the rank of Able Seaman so that if captured by the enemy they would not think to sweat military technology secrets out of him.

In 2009 he suddenly fell ill and was taken to hospital. When my friend got there he found his 86-year-old father lying untreated, unhydrated and basically on the Liverpool Care Pathway - a euphemism for the decision to let the patient die of planned neglect, thirst and withheld medication.

My friend spoke to the medics and the conversation went along these lines:

Why isn't my father in surgery?

- We're afraid he might die on the operating table.

What will happen if you don't operate?

- He'll die.

Get him into theatre now, or there will be consequences.

Two hours later, father was opened up; it turned out to be a burst ulcer, which was successfully treated.

He had another twelve years of fully alert life and the loving attention of his family.

And if my friend hadn't fought...


Friday, November 19, 2021

FRIDAY MUSIC: Placido Domingo, by JD

Well known in the world of opera, Placido Domingo became a household name after his appearance as one of The Three Tenors at the FIFA World Cup in 1990. A recording of their concert in Rome on 7th July 1990, the evening before the World Cup Final, sold ten million copies! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carreras_Domingo_Pavarotti_in_Concert

Luciano Pavarotti died on 6th September 2007; Pepe Carreras now devotes most of his time to the foundation which bears his name, the Fundació Internacional Josep Carreras per a la Lluita contra la Leucèmia (known in English as the José Carreras International Leukaemia Foundation) which he had established in 1988 after his own recovery from leukemia.

Placido Domingo who is now 81 years old continues to perform regularly -

"Placido Domingo returned on the stage of Wiener Staatsoper on Monday (15th November 2021) to his childhood and his artistic roots with an unprecedented Zarzuela recital at the Vienna State Opera, a stage where he has been operating for more than half a century and whose audience confirmed their absolute loyalty today with an ovation of more than ten minutes." 
(The video is not from this week's recital but is a 'medley' of previous shows at the Wiener Staatsoper.)







Thursday, November 18, 2021

THURSDAY BACKTRACK: Music and news from 60 years ago - week ending 18 November 1961

Rising to  #4 this week: Jimmy Dean with 'Big Bad John':




Some memorable events (via Wikipedia):

13 November: 'Ten days after pressure blew the cap from a natural gas well in the Sahara Desert in Algeria, the "world's biggest fire" started, sending flames 600 feet high. Firefighting expert Red Adair would extinguish the blaze on April 29, 1962, with 660 pounds of dynamite.'
The finale is here (no sound); Adair's own four-part account starts here.

14 November: 'The Shah of Iran gave Iranian Prime Minister Ali Amini the go-ahead to begin the "White Revolution", a comprehensive series of reforms aimed at improving education, combating poverty, and eliminating corruption over a period of ten years.'

16 November: 'Dr. John Lykoudis, of Missolonghi in Greece, received a patent for the antibiotic medicine he had devised to effectively treat peptic ulcer disease, thought at the time to be caused by excessive stomach acid rather than by bacteria. However, he was rebuffed by the Greek government in attempting to obtain trials and approval of the medication, which he called Elgaco, and by medical journals. In 1983, three years after Lykoudis died, Drs. Barry Marshall and Robin Warren would confirm that ulcers were indeed caused by a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, which thrived in acidic environments.'
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/helicobacter-pylori

17 November: 'The first successful launch from an underground missile silo was achieved by the United States, with a Minuteman-I missile being sent up from Cape Canaveral, Florida.'
    More on the Minuteman program here: http://npshistory.com/publications/mimi/srs.pdf

18 November:  'West German pediatrician Widukind Lenz of Hamburg appeared delivered his findings at a meeting of the German Pediatric Society, making the link between the morning sickness pill thalidomide and phocomelia, a birth defect causing missing limbs. Dr. Lenz found that in 17 out of 20 cases of defects that he had investigated in Hamburg, the mothers had used the medicine, marketed there under the name Contergan. By contrast, there had been only one case of phocomelia out of 210,000 births in Hamburg between 1930 and 1955. A reporter at the meeting broke the story the next day in the German national Sunday paper Welt am Sonntag.


UK chart hits, week ending 18 November 1961 (tracks in italics have been played in earlier posts)

Htp: Clint's labour-of love compilation https://www.sixtiescity.net/charts/61chart.htm

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Covid haha - let's see if this gets through

UPDATE: Against all expectation, they did indeed publish my comment.
____________________________________________________________

Oh, how silly Covid-worriers are, according to Open Culture:


I comment:

'Does this imply that there are no reasonable grounds for concern about the mRNA injections invented to combat Covid? 

'Please direct us to evidence to show that these novel treatments (a) are as safe as vaccines that have been tested and cleared for medical use in the ordinary way, and (b) that they offer effective protection against the virus to the recipient, and help prevent onward transmission to others.

'Or are we simply expected to submit to groupthink? Perhaps a test for that will be whether you allow this comment to appear.

'I write as someone who has been 'double-jabbed' and is about to get the 'booster' - as a personal calculation of the balance of risks - but feel that there are risks which have been downplayed (and benefits that have been exaggerated) under the pressure to nudge us into a rushed mass acceptance of a still-experimental intervention.

'You mention Thalidomide: coincidentally, this very week sees the 60th anniversary of West German pediatrician Widukind Lenz's public report of the association of the drug with phocomelia cases in Hamburg. In that case, the print media were quick to publish, starting with the Welt Am Sonntag.* How different from today, with widespread suppression of news and views that do not fit the official narrative.'

Well now, let's see how open Open Culture are; or will they turn out to be more like the ignorant and arrogant Remainers in the Brexit debate?

Monday, November 15, 2021

Is China going to kill off all the world's fish?

 


Veteran China-watcher 'Serpentza' says that China is operating a massive illegal raid on fish stocks - including protected species. According to him:

Officially China has 2,500 ships in its fishing fleet, as compared with the USA's 300; but the real figure is estimated as closer to 17,000. 

The ships can stay out for years because of a support system of large vessels that resupply them with fuel and other necessaries, and collect up the catches from many ships and take them back, refrigerated, to the mother country. The fishing fleets can stay on station, so foreign nations' sovereign coastal stocks are under constant siege.

The fishing is hi-tech and indiscriminate, and law-breaking: against international law, the ships play about with the transponder system that lets them be tracked, so that they can turn off their transponders, raid other countries' waters at night undetected and then go back outside the sovereign area and turn the signals back on. The leaders of corrupt countries are bribed to cooperate or look the other way. 

Sensitive, protected zones such as the waters around the Galapagos Islands are being trashed, for the second year running. Species protected by law, such as the hammerhead shark, are not only caught up in the vast nets but especially prized in China, commanding higher prices as a result.

These activities are not, says 'Serpentza', illegal in China itself, so little or nothing will be done there.

Will fish and other marine wildlife go the way of the tiger, the rhino and all the rest? What will the sea be like when this 'grab it all today' madness comes to an end?

Friday, November 12, 2021

FRIDAY MUSIC: Marty Stuart, by JD

Country music star Marty Stuart was something of a child prodigy being invited to play mandolin in Lester Flatt's band when he was just thirteen. After a spell playing for Johnny Cash he then began a career as a solo artist. Currently he has a band called the Fabulous Superlatives and it is no exaggeration to say the band lives up to that rather grandiose name!


A slightly different format for this week's music with the first video being a radio concert by the band plus an interview with Stuart (approx 24 minutes) and the final video is also longer than usual ( about 23 minutes) with Stuart telling the story of his musical journey which, of course, has not yet ended!






Thursday, November 11, 2021

THURSDAY BACKTRACK: Music and news from 60 years ago - week ending 11 November 1961

 At #4 this week is Bobby Vee's 'Take Good Care Of My Baby':



Some memorable events (via Wikipedia):

6 November: 'Heinz Felfe, West Germany's chief of counterintelligence for the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), was arrested by his own agents. Felfe, a former Nazi, was discovered to have been passing secrets of the American CIA to the Soviet Union and to East Germany since 1959, revealing the identify of more than 100 CIA agents in Moscow.' 
    A 2013 (German-language) film about Soviet penetration of the German secret service is shown below.
7 November: 'The most damaging blaze in Southern California history, up to that time, destroyed 48 homes one of the wealthiest areas of the United States in the Hollywood Hills, including the houses of actors Burt Lancaster, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Joe E. Brown.'
https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/150-years/sd-me-150-years-november-7-htmlstory.html

Also on 7 November: '
France secretly set off its first underground nuclear explosion, and its fifth overall since joining the nuclear club on February 13, 1960. Confirmation was not given until nearly three weeks later.'

9 November: 'Brian Epstein saw the Beatles perform at the Cavern Club for the first time, and signed them to a contract by December 10.'
The above was recorded by Granada TV at the Cavern Club in Liverpool on August 22, 1962. (The next day John married Cynthia Powell.)

10 November: 'What would become the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of Griswold v. Connecticut began nine days after Estelle Griswold of the Planned Parenthood League and Dr. C. Lee Buxton opened a clinic in New Haven, providing the means for birth control to patrons, in defiance of a Connecticut state law prohibiting the use of "any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception". Ms. Griswold and Dr. Buxton were arrested and would take their challenge to the law all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which would rule in 1965 that laws that infringed upon marital privacy were unconstitutional.'


UK chart hits, week ending 11 November 1961 (tracks in italics have been played in earlier posts)

Htp: Clint's labour-of love compilation https://www.sixtiescity.net/charts/61chart.htm