How wrong you were Jeremy!
On the 22nd December 2019 in his final Sunday Times article of the year, Jeremy Clarkson ended by saying the following in relation to the red wall falling to the Conservatives the last election and these voters looking to Boris Johnson to turn back time: “The pound has soared, restaurants are full of people paying £100 per head for lunch, no one’s house has been confiscated and even the most ardent Remainers have now put down their megaphones. It should be a peaceful Christmas, let’s hope so and a happy one too. See you on the flipside”
Pic: Jeremy Clarkson has a novel way of looking into the future
I am not sure that Jeremy is a voyeur, can see into the future or has a Tardis and that this was some form of post Dr Who space and time journey-joke but the exactly opposite has happened. The pound has collapsed with savings and pensions based on stocks and shares plummeting, restaurants have closed and gone bust, people’s homes have been confiscated and mortgages defaulted on while redundancy rises steeply.
Brexit has reared its ugly head again with the creation of the Internal Market Bill, illegally changing some of the terms of Boris’s “oven-ready” deal and causing political uproar with no-deal now firmly back on the table and the potential chaos this might cause. This is one of the problems with writing blogs and using social media, developments in the future can come back to bite you hard on the backside!
The red wall did fall but it is now being steadily rebuilt by stealth due to the UK Government’s seeming incompetence and many dramatic U turns on various key policies. The devolved parties of the UK in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are now running their countries essentially using their political agendas with an ongoing form of perpetual, virtual independence election as part of their “whack a Boris” devolved Covid-19 strategies.
Remember in my September blog I quoted Margaret Thatcher in 1980 famously saying that the “lady is not for turning”, perhaps Boris should look to one of his heroes for advice on growing some political balls!
In Scotland, nationalist protestors recently tried to close the border with England to prevent coronavirus contamination when they had their fair share simply hiding in their cities ready to be released by their youth. While paradoxically, in an act of what could be seen as self-harm they also tried stop holiday makers reaching Scotland whose hospitality sector is in freefall and desperately needs support. Nicola Sturgeon again claims that independence is once again firmly on the horizon due to her increased popularity based on her “statesman” like response to Covid-19 and well managed daily TV appearances while the economy, health service and education burns.
This conveniently ignores the fact that the death rate in Scottish care homes from Covid-19 is among the worst in the world and that the death rate due to drug abuse in Scotland is the worst in the EU. It’s amazing what a bit of good PR and a populist twitter feed can achieve! However, news that Shetland wants to go it alone now has turned the tables dramatically!
Running a country by Catchphrase!
If Jeremy Clarkson didn’t see these crises coming nor did Boris Johnson who now seems be running out of catchy mantras.
Pic: Catchphrase- say what you see!
Stay home – Protect the NHS – Saves lives and Stay Alert – Control the Virus – Save Lives have morphed into the latest Hand – Face – Space, Eat out to Help Out and now “flattening the second dromedary hump” and even potentially “winter-wage” was explored as we head into further lockdown restrictions today that see curfews on pubs and restaurants and even less contact in people’s homes. It seems now that “a stitch in time saves nine”, something my grandparents told me when a child is the new de-facto message to defeat coronavirus along with the “Rule of Six”!
By definition a ‘stitch in time’ is a timely effort that will prevent more work later and you can find out more if you click this link.
Someone saw it coming
Someone who did see this coming however was Prof Karol Sikora, a leading oncologist who set up his twitter feed in March on the premise that the NHS were about to “throw cancer patients under the bus” unless he fought their corner on social media as the NHS closed down cancer services and radiotherapy to “protect the NHS” but seemingly forgot the impact on patients. He has over 335k followers now and so the message is getting out but in his opinion the Government need to do more and quickly.
Due largely to lockdown around 3m people have missed cancer scans, test and treatments but progress is being made and the #catchupwithcancer campaign has gathered momentum especially on twitter with the assistance of Action Radiotherapy, Radiotherapy 4 Life, various MP’s and dedicated TV documentary coverage. However, many people have died and many thousands more cancer patients will die needlessly in the coming months and years yet as I write the death rate from Covid-19 was as low now as it was in early March but is now increasing with calls for national lockdowns rising.
The new restrictions to our freedom will not improve this situation and the cancer crisis will likely be more damaging to patients than the virus itself but the Government are infatuated by the impact of coronavirus and its suppression on their political futures.
Without any formal Government edict to the population to get cancer symptoms checked and see their GP (if they are actually able to meet one face to face) this “get checked” mantra is still being driven largely by oncologists, charities and patients on social media.
In 2020 this is cannot be right when cancer patient outcomes here still lag behind other EU countries, Twitter essentially becomes the front line when it comes to fighting for these patients.
Double whammy for cancer patients
Another serious issue in our field is that many cancer charities such as Cancer Research UK have run out of much needed cash.
This UK cancer charity has become the latest victim of the multibillion-pound fundraising crisis due to the coronavirus outbreak and has warned that a shortfall of donations will set back progress on fighting the disease.
CRUK announced it will scale back its research plans after the cancellation of a range of fundraising events and the closure of charity shops meant it will lose up to a quarter of its donated income over the next 12 months or about £120m and has announced the potential for over 500 job losses as its total income is slashed by around £300m over the next 3 years.
Meanwhile, Macmillan Cancer Support, the UK’s second biggest cancer charity has said “the wipe-out in fundraising events meant it now expected to lose up to half its fundraising income this year, about £100m due to the wipe-out of established fundraising events at a time when pressure on its services was growing”
“Things cancer made me say”
Another person using twitter to highlight the current cancer crisis is Deborah James who goes under the twitter handle of @bowelbabe and who was the patient presenter on the UK TV documentary Panorama, she has bowel cancer but always put things into simple perspective. This article recently published in the SUN is well worth a read.
“On a day when 3 people in England died of Covid I lost four friends to cancer – It is time for some perspective, it’s time for the Government to get a grip. Yes infections are starting to rise again, but hospital admissions and deaths don’t appear to be spiralling out of control.
We absolutely have to stay vigilant and follow the rules, wear masks, wash our hands and keep our distance. But we need to wake up to the fact that other sh*t is going down too!
Last week, on a day when England’s daily Covid death toll was three, I said goodbye to four young friends. They all died of cancer, on the same day. Two of them left behind young kids, younger than my own.
Where is their headline? Where is their daily press conference? Where is there emergency funding to pump cash into their treatment? Where is their global race for a vaccine?
Every single day in the UK, around 500 people die of cancer. It’s not something that started to happen eight months ago, cancer happens every single day”
Some other things we didn’t see coming…
Flash RT now delivers doses from 40 to 500 Gy per second, the ultimate in hypofractionation
Putting a Linear Accelerator on an MRI scanner – well done Elekta and Viewray!
In the early 90’s no one believed me when I visited every radiotherapy centre in the UK and Benelux to say that we would now use a CT scanner to simulate radiotherapy treatment virtually and that conventional simulators would disappear. I was selling the MHTI CT-Sim and VSIM virtual simulation system and sold just 2! I had lots of good ideas but perhaps my timing was wrong.
In politics, finance and terrorism
Donald Trump becoming US president
2008 Financial meltdown
The UK leaving the EU
9/11 Al-Qaeda terror attacks and the Twin Towers collapsing in New York
Pic: The Twin Towers were hit by 2 airliners and collapsed shortly afterwards
In science and technology
Driverless cars from Tesla, Waymo and Uber among others
Discovery of the ethereal Higgs boson particle at CERN
The development of the internet and world-wide web with EVERYONE owning a smart phone
In the sporting world
Norway 2 England 1
Bjørge Lillelien commentated on Norway’s 2–1 victory against England in a World Cup UEFA qualifier in Oslo on 9 September 1981. This transcript is taken from Wikipedia.
At the end of the match, alternating between the English and Norwegian language, he exultantly proclaimed amidst scenes of jubilant Norway supporters and players in the football stadium:
“We are best in the world! We have beaten England! England, birthplace of giants”, before taunting a roll call of English historical figures:
“Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana, Maggie Thatcher, can you hear me? Maggie Thatcher … your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!”
Pic: England in 1981 had an outstanding side but Norway still beat them in the World Cup
As for football score-lines that no one saw coming the previous record of 36-0 from 1885 in Arbroath’s victory over Bon Accord, was beaten by Madagascan champions AS Adema who won 149-0 in 2002!
To end, a focus on T-cells for cancer and coronavirus
A Cure for cancer – we haven’t seen it coming yet or have we? While immunity for coronavirus may also focus on T-cells too.
Immune discovery ‘may treat all cancers’
With cancer charities struggling to continue critical research and support due to lack of money as discussed above, then this will filter through to the development potential treatments and cures but it seems that it’s more than likely that immune responses may well be one day a panacea for cancer treatment and a potential “cure all”.
The article below sums up the role that T-cells may play.
“Our immune system is our body’s natural defence against infection, but it also attacks cancerous cells. The scientists were looking for “unconventional” and previously undiscovered ways the immune system naturally attacks tumours.
What they found was a T-cell inside people’s blood. This is an immune cell that can scan the body to assess whether there is a threat that needs to be eliminated. The difference is this one could attack a wide range of cancers”.
“It raises the prospect of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ cancer treatment, a single type of T-cell that could be capable of destroying many different types of cancers across the population.”
You can read more here and is worth a closer look: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51182451
Pic: T-cells are a form of lymphocyte.
T-cells for coronavirus immunity
To end this blog we go back to Prof Karol Sikora who has been a vocal advocate for further research to take place to establish whether T cells play a part in immunity against Covid-19. Much to the angst of some scientists who can’t see past a policy of total suppression of the virus, hard lockdowns while our economy collapses and the collateral damage to other healthcare sectors is a form of acceptable by-product, he has co-written a letter to the Prime Minister and his team and signed by many other leading academics, scientists and clinicians to further explore this and adapt their Covid-19 policies to take this into account.
You can a get a quick summary on twitter with this video from Prof Karol Sikora and his views on the impact of T-cells here:
Or you can read the open letter to Boris here:
There is also a very good recently published paper here that sums up the role of T-cells in Covid-19.
“The body should produce both protective antibodies, which keep the virus from invading, and killer T cells, which tell virus-infected human cells to destroy themselves to keep the virus from spreading. Normally, these immune responses appear in tandem. But in a subset of those who tested positive for COVID-19, Aleman found T cells but no antibodies”
Let’s hope T-cells are still there at the “flip-side” of the current health crisis
Will T-cells come to our rescue in the future, let’s hope so especially if vaccines are delayed or never materialise. For those of you still with me you will have noticed that Jeremy Clarkson said at the end of his article that starts this blog “see you on the flip-side” and not “see you next year”. This I believe is important when taken in the context of his ending summary. Apparently, flip-side according the Urban Dictionary it is a term of farewell, whether it be for the day or state of mind, referring to the switching from side A to side B on a vinyl record and often with an implication that the next time is known, assumed or hoped. In doing some research it can also be used in the context of you might see someone in the future in a completely opposite setting or when you are saying goodbye to someone whom you are unsure that you might see again.
Whatever it may be, I think the flip-side is symbolic for the unknown and to me it meant it’s uncertain we’ll meet again in similar circumstances. We will never know unless you are reading this Jeremy and let us know that you do have some prophetic or psychic ability to see events in the future or had some serious concerns with the status-quo at the end of the year. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
With lockdown restrictions starting again, I’ll see you all on the flip-side! Hopefully.
Duncan Hynd – October 2020 – email@example.com