A miscellany from our resident bear, Oliver Ursus, who apologises, he mis-spoke*

  • A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (Ed: Only for Star Wars fans)
Source: National Space Centre

Once upon a time, a long time ago, it was quite possible to respect some or most of the government or opposition regardless of how you voted. You could imagine having a chat, a coffee, a beer. You’d probably find you agreed 80% of the time and that the political fun and games were confined to the remaining 20%.

Nowadays? With this cabinet? Sit down with Raab, Patel, Jenrick, Sunak, Truss, McVey? You might with Gove, the owner of the cabinet brain, but what nonsense would he come out with? Matt Hancock, the man with the worst job in the cabinet, would probably be interesting – if only to discuss what it felt like arguing with Cummings and Johnson, and being hung out to dry – he could at least win the sympathy vote.

Compare and contrast with the Shadow Cabinet, a number of whom would probably be good, intelligent company and would pass the “who-I’d-like-to-have-a beer-with” test. (Me? I’d have a beer with Jess Phillips but be terrified of the consequences if I disagreed with her.) Last year Johnson won the “beer-with” test, not difficult given the competition, but has since let down his drinking companions who are starting to find him boring and incompetent.

Traditionally, elections are lost, rather than won. Given the people-friendly team Starmer’s putting together, maybe next time he’ll be the exception to that rule.

(I once ate a chocolate bar on a Greek island – that was a Galaxy far, far away)

  • Competition time

Spot the odd one out:
– Claire
– Laurence
– Liam
– Basil
(Clue: there are four answers)

Claire, Baroness Fox of Buckley, is the only ex-Marxist, IRA defender, and ex-Tory MEP with a seat in the Lords
Laurence Paul Fox, aka Lozza, scion of a great acting family, and founder of political party Reclaim (please, no laughter) is the person for whom the phrase ‘odd one out’ was coined
Liam Fox, the disgraced former Secretary of State for Defence, holds the honour of being so good at his job that he was replaced by Liz Truss
Basil Brush is a fox. Well, sort of.
Boom boom!

  • The guacamole strategy

To combat local flare-ups of the virus the government is, apparently, adopting a guacamole strategy. Does this involve stuffing avocados down everyone’s throat? Are we going to be allowed a splash of French dressing with it? Are we being guided by the science or by Jamie Oliver? Have I mis-heard?

  • Nothing is for free

It’s ‘free’, free of charge’, or ‘for nothing’.
‘Free’ is an adjective and so doesn’t take a preposition.
‘Nothing’ is a noun, albeit an abstract one, so can take prepositions.
That was for free grammatical advice.

Next week: the split infinitive.

* He doesn’t, because he didn’t