You have read time and again my criticism of parents who do not vaccinate their children. My generation were the first to truly benefit from inoculation and how grateful our parents were. We, of course, didn’t know otherwise. Now we are hearing that vaccinating boys against HPV, that’s human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted infection, can prevent some types of cancer, particularly head and neck.
However, it goes beyond that. There are two types of HPV, 16 and 18, that cause 70% of cervical cancers - these were almost wiped out by the vaccination. In girls aged 13 to 19, there was an 83% decrease in HPV and a 66% decrease in women aged 20 to 24.
It’s early days yet, but things have to start somewhere. Let’s hope this works and that unlike the euphoria of the success of immunisation in the fifties, this doesn’t come under attack in 50/60 years as it has with childhood illnesses.
Now, I’ve been riding my bike for what seems like forever. Not because it’s fashionable or healthy, but simply because, especially in London, it’s the easiest way to get about. I suppose the injury risk has increased over the years because of the extra traffic, but we now have positive news in the form of AI. ‘Intent prediction’ is going to be introduced on bus routes. It’s claimd it can identify a potential hazard involving a human or a bike two seconds quicker than the human brain. Of course, the human brain then has to react to the alert as separate action, instead of being part of the same action, so we’ll have to see how effective it is. It will cover blind spots where at the moment cyclists and pedestrians are totally at risk. And who invented this? The Brits! And where did it happen? Camden Town! A company called Humanising Autonomy is also developing software for driverless cars, so then there won’t be any secondary reaction time.
Much has already been written about Tony Blair’s legacy, good and bad, but mostly bad. He’s only been out of office just over a decade! Do you remember his desire to open up gambling? He said he was liberalising the law. Anyone opposing this liberalisation was branded a snob. Labour planned for the UK to become Las Vegas ‘mark 2’, maybe they had an eye on the tax receipts. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, but even so there are now half a million 13 to 25 year olds gambling, while gambling adverts have taken over from cigarette adverts on TV. There are more people of that age gambling than using drink, drugs or cigarettes. The rise of online gambling is alarming, it’s an addiction and one that is leading to suicides. The NHS, already struggling to keep up with basic health demands, has had to set up a clinic to help young addicts.
When on my recent Land’s End to John o’ Groats journey where my wife cycled to raise money for The UK Sepsis Trust, I visited thousands of independent shops, literally the length of the country, that included the ‘casino arcades’. Many had a heavy atmosphere of despondency, people pushed buttons in zombie-like mode. It was worse in poorer areas, but with employment at record highs, unemployment is low, so what would it be like otherwise? I interviewed Tracey Crouch at the London Grill Club recently. She resigned over the Government’s refusal to implement on-time legislation to control betting stakes, you can see it here. It was a resignation of integrity that led to the government backing down and making the changes. We know that drinking and smoking, and even excess eating, can be driven by boredom, and now gambling is being added to that list. I am about to celebrate my first 70 years by playing cricket with three generations of my family, and so much has improved in that time. But are we deluding ourselves and living a Greek tragedy in which we destroy all that good from within?
This is seriously bad. Someone killed themselves. ITV tried to prevent documents shown to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee becoming public, but thankfully the MPs were having none of it. They showed that vulnerable people were being exploited and that the lie detector was at best 60/70% accurate. I can’t stand any of these programmes and think they insult our intelligence, but the trouble is mediocrity is becoming the new and accepted norm in so many areas of life. Not for me! I’m with Freddie Mercury and want to raise standards!
I thought we lived in an age of equality! I certainly think we should in all areas, and that includes the bedroom! But I read that women use two thirds of the storage space in the average shared bedroom, with some men having as little as one drawer to use! Apparently, 80% of couples argue over storage space and some men are being forced to store clothes in the garden shed! Several words come to mind but let’s keep it simple! Declutter and fairness… anything else is madness!
Now, this is mad, and I love it! Emily Maitlis has a yoga partner. What’s mad about that you say? Well nothing, except it’s a goat! As she lives in Penzance, I wonder if it lives in the garden?!
I have a rare picture of me in which Emily appears, as does Ian Hyslop, taken when she won the London Press Club ‘Broadcaster of the Year’ award. It’s special because I don’t think there has ever been a picture of me with two other adults where I’m the tallest! Where was the goat, I ask?
But while that is delightfully mad, having your dog on a train seat is maddening! Come on, play fair. Maybe on a blanket if there is room, but not just lying on the seat, that’s not fair. If I’m in a set of four seats alone, especially at night, I might put my feet up on the opposite chair, but on a paper. In the old days when print came off that might have been as bad as a street walking shoe, but not today.