SARAH VINE: Message to Captain Boris – we cannae take any more!

SARAH VINE: Message to Captain Boris – we cannae take any more!

As a child I adored Star Trek. The original TV series, that is, with William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, boldly going where no man had gone before (often the boudoirs of accommodating lady aliens) and Leonard Nimoy as Mr Spock.

For all the wobbly sets and outlandish plots, it was their relationship that gripped me.

On the one hand, theoretical Mr Spock, sharp as a tack but somewhat slave to reason. 

On the other, empirical Kirk, the slick, suave communicator, juggling facts with emotion, logic with intuition.

Prime minister Boris Johnson with  Professor Chris Whitty (left) and  Sir Patrick Vallance (right)

It’s years since I’ve seen an episode. But watching the Prime Minister make his announcement on Monday, flanked by Messrs Vallance and Whitty, I was transported back to the USS Enterprise as, like Kirk and the crew battling the Klingons (‘Captain, she cannae take it any more’), they sent us all crashing into the abyss.

If ever there was a James T. Kirk of a PM, it’s Boris Johnson. Blond, charismatic, maverick, prone to amorous distractions. Above all a man of intuition and instinct, someone who follows his gut over his head.

And if ever there were a Mr Spock, or a pair of Spocks, in fact, it’s Whitty and Vallance, and their army of scientific advisers.

People such as SAGE committee member Professor Susan Michie, who thinks social distancing, track-and-trace, face masks and so on should remain in place ‘for ever, to some extent’. 

But then she would: she’s a member of the Communist Party of Britain, and they’re not so keen on individual freedoms.

Either way, the Government’s need for experts has provided all these people with a global platform, making them dominant voices in the national debate around how we handle this crisis.

But the time has come for others to speak up. Because, as Mr Spock so often discovered, there are moments when life is about more than logic and, mad as it may seem, you just have to go with your instinct.

Watching the Prime Minister make his announcement on Monday, flanked by Messrs Vallance and Whitty, I was transported back to the USS Enterprise as, like Kirk and the crew battling the Klingons (‘Captain, she cannae take it any more’), they sent us all crashing into the abyss

I had this fantasy that, despite all the signs to the contrary, Johnson would come out on Monday and do just that. 

I could almost imagine him apologising sheepishly to Vallance and Whitty, and cutting loose in that time-honoured BoJo way. But he didn’t. He behaved himself — and for once I wish he hadn’t.

To be fair, I understand why. Every death from Covid is a death on his conscience, and it would be wrong to presume to know how that feels.

But someone needs to explain to him that it’s his job to balance the concerns of scientists with the needs of the nation. And we need to open up, regardless of what the boffins say.

Not just because even though the risks are there, they are now — thanks to the vaccine — manageable. 

But also because this pandemic is about more than hospitalisation numbers and graphs. It’s about people. People who need to make a living and keep a roof over their families’ heads and who now, thanks to this delay, may not be able to do that.

Hundreds of thousands — far more than are at direct risk of Covid — need the Government’s help to get back on their feet. And the best way to do that is to open up fully. If we don’t, the long-term repercussions — in terms of health and wealth — will be devastating.

To coin a phrase, Boris needs to take back control from the boffins and Mr Spocks of this world. Only then can he take the reins of this ship — and finally engage warp speed.

Marcio Gomes, whose unborn baby died in the Grenfell Tower fire, wants to turn the remains of the tower, which looms over West London like a rotten tooth, into a high-rise garden. I’ve seen this done with old tower blocks in Italy (in fact, I think that is where he got his inspiration), and they look incredibly beautiful.

I can’t think of a more fitting memorial to those who died.

Don’t be taken in by Shamima

Shamima Begum speaking with journalist Andrew Drury during an interview at al-Roj prison camp in Syria

It’s going to take more than red nail polish and some new clothes to convince me Shamima Begum is ready to come home.

The fact that this very attractive young woman keeps persuading (invariably older, male) reporters that she is a sweet innocent who was led astray does not change the fact not so long ago she was refusing to condemn the Manchester Arena bombing, in which 22 people died.

Everyone thought London Bridge terrorist Usman Khan had turned over a new leaf, and look how that turned out. 

I’m not saying she shouldn’t have her case heard, but we must proceed with extreme caution.

I find the idea of a San Francisco law firm offering to cover IVF and/or surrogacy costs as part of a £45,000 package of employment ‘perks’ a bit creepy. 

Wouldn’t it be simpler and easier to give women proper maternity provision in the first place, so that they can have their babies as nature intended? Or is that just very old-fashioned and quite possibly prejudiced of me?

Personal service

Ita O’Brien, the ‘intimacy coach’ praised by Bafta-winner Michaela Coel for her role in choreographing difficult sex scenes in I May Destroy You, wants a representative of her profession to be present at auditions for every role with sexual content. 

I’m sure she does: it’s a nice little earner.

Of course, if actors weren’t required to perform distressing semi-pornographic scenes in the first place in pursuit of ever-higher ratings, people like O’Brien wouldn’t be necessary.

By facilitating such scenes she is arguably making it virtually impossible for actors to say no in the first place.

Follow the money.

Queen’s home truths

It’s a sad indictment of the times that the Queen has been forced to abandon her policy of ‘never explain, never apologise’ when it comes to inaccurate stories about her. 

The irony is that this has been instigated not by the Press, but by her own grandson Prince Harry spouting half-truths and allegations — and in effect behaving like the worst kind of gossipmongers and rumour-spreaders he claims drove him to leave Britain. 

The senior vice-President of the British Veterinary Association has condemned Tesco’s £11 French Bulldog cake

The senior vice-President of the British Veterinary Association has condemned Tesco’s £11 French Bulldog cake on the basis that flat-faced breeds suffer from breathing complications.

Seriously, how about doing something about the exorbitant fees that are making veterinary care beyond the means of ordinary pet-owners instead of virtue-signalling about baked goods?

The woman who runs Stonewall, Nancy Kelley, has likened ‘gender critical’ (believing in biological sex) beliefs to anti-Semitism. 

Over the past four years, her organisation has received more than £2.6 million in government grants (that is to say, taxpayers’ money). 

Two things, really. 1) Why? And 2) Please can it stop? 

Why Kim can never keep up with Joan

Dame Joan Collins ,88, lounged on a yacht in St Tropez at the weekend with her husband Percy

Not an ounce of cellulite on Dame Joan Collins as she lounged on a yacht in St Tropez at the weekend with husband Percy. 

I wonder what the likes of Kim Kardashian will look like when they get to her age, 88. That’s the kind of class not even the most skilled plastic surgery can achieve. 

There are many things, large and small, that I miss about life BC (Before Covid) but oddly it’s the small ones that bother me most. Such as the disappearance of paper menus in favour of those wretched QR codes. 

There’s something about perusing a proper menu that can’t be replaced by squinting at an annoying attachment on your mobile. Printed menus have weight and character — indeed, some are almost works of art. 

I’ve collected a few over the years, from visits to favourite restaurants and special occasions. You can hardly do that with a bit of software. The authorities have already established digital dominion over my every move; can’t I be allowed this one tiny moment of analogue peace and quiet?

Time was catching a taxi was a luxury; thanks to Uber, it’s not much more expensive than getting the bus. Could the same be about to happen to air travel? 

With commercial airlines struggling due to the pandemic, a Dutch private jet company is offering an ‘air-pool’ service, matching customers wanting to travel to the same destination at a fraction of the usual cost. Clever idea. 

Not least since most private jets carry only half-a-dozen passengers at a time — meaning that whatever the situation, they can always respect the rule of six. 

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