Vehicles queue to refill outside a fuel station in South London | HENRY NICHOLLS


Well what a hiatus over nothing. As the UK faces shortages of fuel and food due to the lack of HGV drivers, another much more pressing matter seems to have hit the nation. As the new series of BBC TV’s Strictly was unveiled and with it a cast of never-has-beens (save a few familiar names) a row erupted over those vaccinated and unvaccinated appearing on the popular dance show.

Apparently, three reckless souls have decided to choose freewill over enforcement, and have decided to have regular PCR tests while filming rather than the Covid-19 jab. Whatever we might feel about those having or not having the vaccine, it is still the public’s democratic right to refuse it.

According to the UK media, this has caused mayhem on the show with contestants threatening to boycott the series. Even chubby BoJo stepped into give his penneth (go back and handle the fuel crisis, you buffoon), declaring that ‘it’s a good thing to do.’ Whether it is or not, surely the prime minister of the UK has better things to do than embroil himself in such trivia?

Other commentators have publicly decried the trio, calling for them to be named and shamed. Why stop there? Let’s burn them on the stake of self-righteousness and smugness, eh? What fun that would be. A bunch of self afeared Britons throwing on the lighting fuel while congratulating themselves on having done the right thing to protect others. Sadly, this is, as any human with an operating brain cell might know, is not entirely the case.

All of us, whether jabbed or un-jabbed can pass on the dreaded Covid-19 virus and those un-jabbed aren’t going to cause any more Covid-catch-ability than those jabbed, especially if they have been PCR cleared. Recent statistics in a Public Health England report for August painted a rather unnerving picture showing that although the unvaccinated appeared much more vulnerable to catching the virus, with higher hospital admissions, the outcome appeared brighter for them if they got through intensive care.

Of the 1,189 hospital deaths that occurred within 28 days of the positive specimen date, 679 were vaccinated compared to 390 who were unvaccinated. All the same, before one gets the jelly wobbles, it’s always worth looking at PHE’s statistics by region, age and Covid strain to see the whole picture. All the same, cause for some minor concern.

The other factor is that some individuals cannot have the Covid jab for health reasons. Should they be vilified or have to justify their action, to placate the baying mob? These are not anti-vaxxers but those who have quietly accepted the prognosis by their medical consultants that the vaccine could do them more harm than good. This might indeed be the case with the rebellious threesome.

Frankly, it might be worth Strictly calling off the show altogether and instead getting all their contestants to learn how to drive HGVs. These altruistic souls could spend their time productively stocking up supermarkets and petrol stations. This might prove much more edifying and worthwhile. In place of swanning around a dance floor in a sequinned jacket pointing the finger accusingly at an un-jabbed fellow moocher, they’d be saving the country instead.

Old news for cats

This summer, while we assisted my sister with her new house purchase in the island’s interior, we found ourselves having to get our felines used to cat litter again. At our own finca they have no need as a we live on a safe private track and there is a huge garden and orchard for them to roam. At my sister’s new purchase there is a large patio that leads straight out onto a main road. It is very quiet but still carries a risk for gormless and spoilt country cats not used to vehicles.

So, what to do for newspaper with which to line the litter boxes? There’s a free newspaper in Mallorca that is purrrfect for the task but unfortunately it was jolly difficult to find in the rural area where we stayed. As the matter became more pressing and a daily necessity, we began comparing newspapers up for the task.

We discovered two winners – one a Sunday edition Spanish newspaper and a German publication whose thickness could last several days. Having bought this paper for a second day, the nice lady in the local town’s Tabac asked me why I bought German newspapers when I was evidently British. ‘Oh, they’re not for me,’ I replied without thinking. ‘they’re for our cats.’ The woman’s face was indeed a picture!

Madrid on the move

What a delight it was to visit Madrid with good island chum, Kate Mentink, for a wonderful event at the British Ambassador’s residence. The event was held on behalf of the British Spanish Society of which I’ve been a long-time member, and it felt so good to go off on my travels again, if only for an overnight stay.

The travel was smooth and Madrid, though a tad quieter, was bustling and life was as normal, save for masks. There were no Covid requirements entering the airport for Spanish residents and everyone seemed hugely relaxed.

As someone who never wins raffles, I found to my delight that I was the winner of not one, but two prizes. They were a fabulous bottle of craft gin and glasses and the latest tome (signed) by Giles Tremlett. As I was leaving the residence, I suggested to Jimmy Burns, the chairman of the society, that I give the gin away as I only had hand luggage and couldn’t take it on the plane.

He insisted I stow it carefully in the hold but fate stepped in. An elegant older man and his wife had won a pair of funky black Chelsea rubber boots with neon colours that I’d coveted earlier. They told me they didn’t want them at all so I suggested an exchange.

The wife worried that they might not fit but as it happened they were exactly my size. The delighted couple took the gin and me the boots. Watch out Soller… come the winter I’ll be sploshing around in my neon pink black and pink Chelseas with great delight!

Anna Nicholas’s seventh Mallorca travel title, Peacocks in Paradise, is now available to purchase at all good UK bookshops & via amazon. In Mallorca it’s available at Universal Bookshop, Alameda shop in Soller and the Atelier in Fornalutx and in Palma bookshops.