My 15yo came out with “What on earth is going on?” She was referring to eruptions in Las Palma and earthquakes in Australia. Then her head ticked over…fuel shortages, the Army on standby and Daniel Craig looking like Bing Crosby in the long awaited Bond premier with nobody wearing masks; No time to die indeed!
Yes, there have always been natural disasters but with yet another climate summit (could we not do this by zoom) and world leaders heading to Glasgow, our younger generations are more in the know than we were at their age as to what is good for the planet.
Apart from a little rain, high winds or a slight tremor while on holiday in Crete that left us shaken but not stirred, we’ve been unharmed by nature. Many others are not so lucky. Self inflicted political harms we’ve definitely felt the brunt of.
Last weekend I went to London for the first time in two years. I got to see No 1 daughter. We agreed, we have taken much for granted in the past so to spend time together, doing fun things, felt really special. It also gave me an opportunity to see the world from a different perspective.
Masks! The no masks rule in England has left my mind and my heart completely confused. Is the decision to stop wearing masks in England actually a good one? Will this support the body’s natural immunity and help us all in the long run? Everyone down there seems to have embraced it. Trying to leave my “fear/fair/cautious/protective/obedient” side back in Edinburgh, my masked head didn’t know where on earth it was.
What I do know is how hard it is for our team to wear them all day. Reading the recently updated legislation/guidelines from the Scottish Government, kitchen teams are now exempt from wearing masks. (I’ve not told the team. I can hear 30 boys and 3 girls in the kitchens cheering.) How do we say to our floor staff you need to wear masks but our back of house team don’t? Is this discrimination? We haven’t changed our policy yet, we honestly don’t know what’s best.
Parts of London were buzzing. We saw a very long queue for what we thought was a nightclub, but turned out to be chef Salt Bae’s restaurant. At £630 for a steak, London does attract crazy people. I wonder if Wage Rates reflect these top line prices? Our crazy moment was spending £35 on fish & chips at Tom Kerridge in Harrods. Yes it was good but The Scottish Cafe fish & chips we love you so much more and at £17 you get minted peas plus a friend could also dine free, plus change for the same price! Miss Moneypenny would agree we’re a bargain!
All the glam aside, you don’t need to wander far off track to see the real effects of the pandemic. Closed, dirty shops, restaurants and cafes. Empty, dilapidated offices. Homelessness. Tensile barrier queuing areas void of people. Even Kensington Palace, with its paint flaking off the window sills is crying out for donations to support essential repairs.
The cost of Covid was clear to my eyes. A previous vibrant, cosmopolitan metropolis felt abandoned in parts and sadly parochial. Edinburgh, while challenged, feels more vibrant. The only hint of international in London are the fabulous shops, seen from the windows also scarce of people, a few Spanish accents that you would occasionally hear and the front line service sector that has stuck it out. A quick chat with some and you know the strain and pressure they, like our teams, are all clearly under.
How do we convince people that working in public facing jobs is a good career choice? £630 steaks and £35 fish & chips on the menu would help but I can’t see any queues anywhere else at those prices. Other nations not affected by Brexit are now commenting on the same hospitality skills challenges. The pandemic has changed many people’s outlook. The strategy to retrain home grown teams will be impossible in the UK as hospitality has never been valued. If European countries are also struggling the solution sadly will be far less choice for the consumer and a much slower, less positive economic recovery. Willing labour from abroad, i.e. nationalities that are happy to work with the public, is the help we need. A three month short term fix for turkeys and hauliers for Christmas will have no benefit other than paying another expensive bureaucrat for a useless strategy. Add the 7.5% VAT increase effective from 1st October to this already fragile industry andit’s looking like another self inflicted political harm will be hitting us all.
Covid cases in England seem to be rising, (is this due to no masks), while cases are falling in Scotland but the % per 100,000 is still much much higher here.
There is a lot to fix. London, like all our cities needs fixed.We need grand plans. Who on earth can we trust to find the answers? My 15 yo said James Bond is free!
Thank you as always for all your support.
Keep well and keep safe