Wednesday 18 March 2020

Donald Trump and the Coronavirus Cant

NBC have helpfully looked through Trump's masterly pronouncements on the coronavirus crisis. Or not crisis, depending on what Fox News told him five minutes previously.
Jan 22: "It’s going to be just fine. We have it totally under control."

Jan 24 (tweet): "It will all work out well."

Jan 30: "We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment"

Feb 7 (tweet): "… as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone."

Feb 10: "I think the virus is going to be — it’s going to be fine."

Feb 14: "We have a very small number of people in the country, right now, with it. It’s like around 12. Many of them are getting better. Some are fully recovered already. So we’re in very good shape."

Feb 19: "I think it’s going to work out fine. I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that and that type of a virus. So let’s see what happens, but I think it’s going to work out fine."

Feb 24 (tweet): "The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. … Stock Market starting to look very good to me!"

Feb 25: "You may ask about the coronavirus which is very well under control in our country. We have very few people with it & the people that have it are getting better. Theyre all getting better. As far as what we’re doing with the new virus I think that we’re doing a great job"

Feb 26: "Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low. … When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. That’s a pretty good job we’ve done."

Feb 28: "I think it’s really going well. … We’re prepared for the worst, but we think we’re going to be very fortunate."

Feb 28: "It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear."

Feb 28: "This is their new hoax."

Mar 4: "Some people will have this at a very light level and won’t even go to a doctor or hospital, and they’ll get better. There are many people like that."

Mar 9 (tweet): "So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!"

Mar 10: "And it hit the world. And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away."

Mar 11: "I think we’re going to get through it very well."

Mar 12: "It’s going to go away. The US, because of what I did and what the administration did with China, we have 32 deaths at this point … when you look at the kind of numbers that you’re seeing coming out of other countries, it’s pretty amazing when you think of it."

Mar 15: "This is a very contagious virus. It’s incredible. But it’s something that we have tremendous control over."

Mar 16: "If you’re talking about the virus, no, that’s not under control for any place in the world."

Mar 17: "I’ve always known this is a, this is a real, this is a pandemic … I’ve felt that it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic."

Tuesday 10 March 2020

The Four Streets by Nadine Dorries

The Four Streets by Nadine Dorries, reviewed by Christopher Howse.

If you enjoy advertisements for the NSPCC this is the novel for you. The Cinderella Law might have been made for little Nellie, the heroine of Tory MP Nadine Dorries's first novel The Four Streets, who is mistreated by her emotionally stunted stepmother. Little Kitty, her friend, is abused, by a priest of course. If she told on him, they'd call her "mad Kitty".

The setting is a block of streets of Irish dockers' families in Liverpool in the Fifties. The author's axiom is that, though poor, they "had everything of any real value: family, good neighbourliness and friendship". So the evil necessary to make the saga suitably miserable must come from without: the stepmother is English and the priest is in league with paedophile NHS hospital porters, Stanley and Austin, token characters, like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

This makes the novel sound more interesting than it is. "Heartbreaking, gripping, life-affirming" are the qualities promised on the back cover. But these uneasy bedfellows are strangers to The Four Streets. Perhaps, if the story had begun at page 289, on which something happens, it might have stood a chance. As it is, the action repeatedly falls from the author's grip, like a sticky dummy from the lips of a fractious, sickly child in an old pram.

Even a car ploughing into a crocodile of children fails to liven things up. The wicked stepmother falls into the background, comforted by Valium, when a dea ex machina blows in from the Ould Country in the form of Nana Kathleen , a sort of Mrs Brown from the telly, only wiser and warmer. Oddly, since secrecy made the horrors for the kiddies in the novel possible, she is called approvingly "the keeper of all secrets".

The author, who boasts of a background similar to her characters', though now a Bedfordshire MP, seems curiously ignorant of Catholic practice. The Pope certainly did not favour coitus interruptus.

She tells the halting story in often vacuous language. A father's patience with his children "bore testament to his temperament", though he saw his twin boys as "testament to his virility". When Nellie's father protects her, "like a lion, he roared". Anyone surprised is "in shock", which happens "on a regular basis".

If all this weren't bad enough, flame-haired Bernadette, Nellie's mother who died in childbirth, makes periodic ghostly interventions. This is the worst novel I've read in 10 years. Only with imaginative effort might some readers of a mawkish disposition like The Four Streets. A sequel, may the Holy Mother protect us, is due in the autumn.