London under lockdown

10 million Britons were living under severe Coronavirus restrictions under a complicated three-tier system which even enforcement agencies say they don’t fully understand

London under lockdown
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Hasan Suroor

Locked down again

By the time this appears in print, Londoners would be under a second national lockdown as the Government admitted that its strategy of local lockdowns to contain further spread of the virus had failed.

Already, roughly 10 million Britons, mostly in poorer immigrant areas of northern England, were living under severe Coronavirus restrictions under a complicated three-tier system which even enforcement agencies say they don’t fully understand. Johnson himself was forced to apologise after he got rules for pub timings wrong.

All this amid a blazing row between Downing Street and regional administrations over funding the lockdown with both sides accusing each other of politicising the crisis and you have a country struggling to find its feet to deal with the pandemic which has already claimed nearly 40,000 lives. The government’s test-and-trace system that Johnson hailed as “world-beating” is in a shambles; the scientific community is divided down the line; and politicians are busy politicking.

Is it really the same country that once ran a global empire?

When a burger is not a burger

Beware vegans: your sausages, burgers and steaks are about to be taken away, and in future you may have make to do with unappetising “tubes” and “discs” instead.


A verbal bun-fight has broken out over plans by European Union’s food regulators to ban vegan producers from using words associated with meat products. If the changes go through, then terms like “sausage” “steak”, and “schnitzel” would be permitted to be used only for products containing meat. These will be replaced with “vegan tubes” or “veggie discs”.

There’s already a ban on vegan dairy products such as milk and cheese being referred to as “soy milk” and “vegan cheese”. Britain can choose to opt out of the new regime after leaving the EU, but British farmers exporting to the EU would still be forced to use the new terms.

The move follows protests from European farmers who say the current branding regime is misleading and amounts to a misuse of meat labels. The EU’s farmers association has called it “an obvious case of cultural hijacking”. And I agree.

I wish a similar law was brought in India to ban chefs hawking hybrid concoctions like the “vegetarian omelette”, “vegetable korma”, “veg kebabs”, and “vegetarian hamburger”.

On a psychological level, why is there such obsession among vegetarians and vegans to call their non-meat products by “meaty” names? As The Sunday Times columnist India Knight asked: “But why constantly hark back to the thing you’re trying to get away from? It’s so psychologically strange, like endlessly saying you’re over someone and then talking about them all day long until people fall asleep with boredom.”

Degrees for sale

Many of Britain’s cash-strapped universities have introduced shorter degree courses that could start in January to attract fee-paying foreign students who missed signing up at the start of the session in September due to the pandemic. Some universities are also offering discounts and scholarships of up to 30 percent of the fee to final-year undergraduates willing to do a second degree next year.

A sharp drop in the number of foreign students this year has plunged universities into a serious financial crisis with some 30 universities said to be “unsustainable”, forcing some to scrap uneconomical courses. Foreign students who pay three to four times more for the same courses as their native British peers have long been the main source of income for British higher education contributing £3.2 billion to the economy.

And, lastly, apparently there’s a new cocktail called The Journalist described as “sharp, stimulating and exceedingly bitter ... “It contains 2 measures gin, 1/2 measure sweet vermouth,1tsp lemon juice, 2 dashes bitters, lemon twist, and is taken with ice.

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