JUST WILLIAM: Normal Island

Hello, one and all – and thank you to those who read my conference diaries. They took no little amount of time to put together, so it’s appreciated as is the patience of Joe Citrone and David Stewart.

I’d like to start this week’s column with a question, if I may.

What is going on?

I thought that being out of the party conference bubble would give a sense of normality to my life, but I should have known better. I’ve seen – and discussed – a lot of pretty wild stories over the last couple of years, but recently evens have reached new heights and I feel like they need further discussion.


Get Back To The (UK) Office

Fans of the cult comedy starring Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are sure to be disappointed – as we need to confront what has become one of the most brazen public campaigns of recent times. I am talking, of course, about the war to drive Britons back to the office.

We have seen many different iterations of this – indeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson had the good grace to tell those who didn’t return to the office that they risked being – hold your breath – ‘gossiped about’ – but none have been quite as unhinged as this, from Iain Duncan Smith:

Where Duncan Smith’s passion for people to return to the office comes from is difficult to pin down (at the time of writing, I’m not sure if he’s a commercial landlord) but there are some key details missing.

The first is that, in the 1940’s we did not have the pheromone of the internet, which allows people to – with some leeway – work from wherever they want. Not to sound obvious, but I don’t think they had Zoom, Teams, Slack or WhatsApp in Hitler’s Day. That said, I’m happy to be corrected of course.

The second is that, just like with the pandemic, movements were made to move civil servants away from danger – as they damn well should have been, and should be in every crisis. This was quite rightly noted by Tanja Bueltmann, chair in international history at the University of Strathclyde – who pointed out that thousands of civil servants were relocated to safer places. Take her words for it, not mine:

“By the end of 1940, for example, Llandudno had become home to over 5,000 Inland Revenue staff and Colwyn Bay saw the arrival of 5,000 from the Ministry of Food.” I’m sure there are more examples, but you get the point.

And last but not least, but the Government has sold off many buildings, meaning that some departments have fewer desks than civil servants – in other words, reducing the amount of office space.

All simple but important points to be considered, although the commercial concerns of landlords appear to be more important to editors at the Mail. What happened to flexible working?


John Lewis and The News

The other subject of recent debate in Britain is this advert below, from John Lewis:

Now, Dear Reader, I cannot think of this as anything but an artsy and slightly out of pocket story from a company known for doing that every Christmas. But alas, Britain does not feel the same.

Here are some responses to this:

And, just to give some contrast to this – here’s two official responses from John Lewis:

We don’t live in Normal Times (this column has never been written in Normal Times) but my god, it’d be nice for some people to try.


It Isn’t Over Until It’s (Super Over)

I’m sure that most people reading this will have been enthralled by the battle for the jockeys title between Oisin Murphy and William Buick, which currently standards at 151-149 in Murphy’s favour.

It’s not a million to one that the race – which ends on a star-studded Champions Day – could well end up level, in which case the jockeys title would be shared.

If anyone’s asking why I’m mentioning this, then there’s a reason. Two of my favourite people on Twitter had a short but very interesting exchange, which you can see below:

Now this might be fanciful thinking, but…. There is a flat fixture at Bath on Monday. Be an interesting rematch?


Level Up Not Down!

I have written a lot about Levelling Up, but nothing will be as true as this:

William


Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.


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