This week I thought I’d send you all a questionnaire. I decided I’d ask you to answer truthfully. By accident, it was sent to the PM and his friends. Can’t wait to see what they think about favourite sparkling wine, finger food suggestions, perfect party size and who they wouldn’t invite to a lockdown work event?
I was checking my teeth in the rear view mirror, (in Scotland it’s the best chance you’ve got for a dental appointment) and had a look at the view. I wanted to check we’re heading in the right direction. I don’t want to dwell on the past but am alert enough to still try and comprehend it.
The conclusion I came to: If a bolt of lightning were to strike at any minute, would we stand and let it hit because we’re too shocked to move or, stand and let it hit because clearly we can withstand anything. Stunned, stupid or superhuman?
England, plans to tear up all of their Covid regulations from 24th February. Northern Ireland and Wales are headed in the same direction. Scotland is standing fast, unlike any other UK nation, Covid Emergency Powers have been extended here for another 6 months. Interestingly all nations are following Wales with vaccinations available to 5 to 11 year old’s. Interesting because Sweden has decided against this policy, arguing that the benefits did not outweigh the risks. They have fared best, in Europe, in the cumulative excess deaths for 2021 at 24 per 100k population. The UK is sitting at 87 and Italy for point of reference (with more restrictions than us and far more than Sweden) is at 109. Grim but enlightening reading.
It’s been a busy two weeks. We’ve had the commissioner of the Met resign and only 12 Conservative MP’s have called for their boss to quit. I think the man stirring the pot has stirred it so fast that everyone has forgotten what’s in the pot after all. More locally it’s ironic that one of the pledges that got the SNP into office 14 years ago, to abolish the tolls over the Firth of Forth, may be replaced with a toll if you travel along the M8, in an attempt to meet net zero targets. I wonder if all our powers are stunned, stupid or think they are superhuman after all?
Press headlines have been robust over the last few days, but the detail is anything but. I’m making no mention of any Andrew, only of the analysis.
January saw Scottish High Street sales improve by 5.1% on December. Sounds positive but the detail says we’re still 8% down on pre pandemic levels. Have those providing these feeds forgotten we were in quasi lockdown in December? We’re not comparing apples with apples. More like a few raisins compared to a bunch of grapes. With exports to the EU down by £20billion, we’re kidding ourselves if we think there is much good news.
Having returned to looking forward, it’s clear we need to move out of the way of the lightning. Regardless how invincible at times we feel, it would be foolish to think we can take further hits, even if we see them coming. The lightning this time is rising energy bills, soaring food costs, wage inflation, falling standards of living, especially for the most vulnerable, and a removal of some of the Covid powers that were protecting businesses.
To give some context for our business, we did a price comparison between January 2020 and January 2022. The Contini Price Index. Cream has increased 29%. Scottish lamb increased 42%. Haddock 23%. Just three of our top Scottish purchases. NLW will increase 15.7% from the April 2020 rate.
Add NI and corporation tax increases, doubling of energy costs, rates reintroduction and while there may be a red sky today it’s clear there will be thunderstorms heading all our way very soon.
My family will be reminded of one of my Uncles that had a fish and chip shop. He could have starred on MasterMind with his specialist subject, “The price of potatoes”. There are many, many more ingredients than potatoes in all our pots and it’s dizzying to think how we will be able to fit the lid.
Ukraine? Talk of a second Referendum? Oh my goodness so many big stories that I wish we didn’t need to worry about as there are many more worries for all. Last week business insolvencies in England and Wales started to increase. It’s sad that businesses that have made it this far are no longer able to carry on.
The Chancellor has to listen to the requests to hold VAT at 12.5%. It’s still one of the highest levels in Europe. This will lower the risk of further inflation, job losses and business failures. With living standards falling for many it won’t solve all the problems but it will help stop creating more. The Conservatives have always claimed to be the low tax and pro business party. We need to see this followed through. Labour are keen to take the position that pro business supports the whole community. The recent Mori Poll predicts a clean sweep for SNP north of the border and Labour being the largest party south and runner up in Scotland. Part of me is equally scared and equally wishes we didn’t have to wait so long to find out.
What came after the roaring 20’s….. the great….., it’s too depressing to even say. If Boris goes, Brexit goes – I’m stealing someone’s else’s line but this would be a robust headline that perhaps could be supported by positive analysis.
We’re working hard to make tweaks to ensure we’re in the safest place possible when the lightning strikes. Large indoor spaces with electricity and plumbing apparently are safest in a thunderstorm. We passed this questionnaire.
Hopefully the pot will settle soon and we can see the contents and start focusing on what’s really important; health, education, social care and investment all supported by a thriving economy.
Thank you all for your support. We all love to see you in the restaurants and hear the good analysis.
Keep well and keep safe
PS As usual I’m trying to be light hearted. There are many very serious matters around our institutional integrity and how that affects our community. We should be able to debate, challenge and be proud of our democracy even if we don’t always agree.
BOOK MOTHERING SUNDAY 27TH MARCH
We are thrilled to be open specially at Cannonball Restaurant & Barforlunch and dinneron Mother’s Day with our fantastic five course tasting menu sure to make your mum feel like she is being treated to something very special.
Contini George Street will be serving their classicBest of Continiand The Scottish Cafe is as always open for Sunday Roast andbeautiful Afternoon tea.
Book ahead quoting “Mother’s Day” and we’ll prepare a special complimentary cocktail and dessert plate for your mum!
CANNONBALL RESTAURANT & BAR
Complete the Cannonball experience and join us for cocktails in the bar 30 minutes before your table reservation for complimentary nibbles when enjoying the tasting menu
CONTINI GEORGE STREET
You can now book your private dining yourselfusing our date selector on our websitehere
Located in the former vault of our iconic Georgian banking hall, the Bellavista Room at Contini George Street’s seats up to 16 guests. From casual brunch parties, birthday celebrations, hearty corporate lunches or discreet business meetings, our private dining room can cater for a variety of events and functions.
THE SCOTTISH CAFE & RESTAURANT
Whether you join us pre or post sightseeing, after a visit to the Scottish National Gallery, a day out with friends and family or simply want to enjoy atreat; relax, sit back and let us look after you. Open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and coffee and cake 10am to 5pm Monday to Sunday
PRIVATE HIRE OF THE SCOTTISH CAFE
We are so thrilled to see so many of our beloved events customers coming back for private dinners and drinks receptions this year.
The Scottish Cafe is available for evening private hire 7 days a week and is suitable for 50-230 guests.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire today!