55 long years! England beat Germany-June 30, 2021

Fans of the English national football team can be excused if they bunked off work yesterday to go to the EURO 2020 match against Germany at Wembley or watch it on the telly. They’d also be excused if they had a skinful of beers last night after the 2-0 win on the hallowed ground. After all, it’s been 55 years since a win against Germany in a major tournament; the last time was winning the World Cup final in 1966.

After that time, there are many fans who’d never seen such a victory in their lifetime. But, now they can saviour a little of the pleasure in beating an old foe, of many battles.

Pundits and journalists can yack on about how the win came about.

It was a tight match for about 60 minutes, with England’s team selection set up to deny rather than create. That changed when Grealish came off the bench in the 69th minute and a master playmaker was now in play. He had a hand in both goals but more importantly the team mindset had changed from containment to can win.

After Sterling scored in the 75th minute, he nearly went from hero to zero when he gave a short back pass that was latched onto by Müller. He ran through to face Pickford and shot…agonisingly wide. The image of Sterling holding his head in relief should be framed on a wall.

Kane, limping along, sealed the deal in the 86th minute.

It was delirious joy around the country:

At the match, no better sight for that was a cheering Prince William-an avid Aston Villa fan, obviously glad for his man, Jack Grealish.

What I would have done to be closer to all of that. I’d planned lunch with my eldest for after the match and we were both full of adrenaline. It’s been a while and losses to Germany along the way have been PAINFUL, especially after penalty shootouts. But, that’s the past. Now, can England bring it home?

Football on steroids?-June 29, 2021

In any major tournament, big scores can often occur while the field is at its largest and the potential gap between teams is largest, in group play. But, once teams have been whittled down for the knockout stages, we expect tighter games and narrow scores. Well, I don’t know what happened in EURO2020 yesterday, in the round of 16, as Spain and Croatia played to a 5-3 win for Spain, after extra time, with Croatia equalizing in the dying minutes of regular time.

After a little breather, we were off again with France versus Switzerland; the World Cup holders, France, were strong favourites. Well, we know that ‘big’ fish had already fallen at this stage, already, notably The Netherlands toi Czech Republic.

Swiss intentions were clear from the off, and they were not there to show off how well the could make cheese fondue, and they took an early lead. France struggled, and the Swiss could have gone up 2-0 with a penalty, but it was saved. Minutes later, Karma struck as France scored twice within two minutes to lead 2-1, then a super bender from Pogba for 3-1 after 75 minutes made it seem the game was over. Well, back came the Swiss in the 81st minute for 3-2 and it was game on, and they enabled an equalized on 90 minutes. France hit the bar with almost the last kick of regular time. Extra time brought no more goals, thought hot action.

On to penalties and it was tight all the way, with perfection (naturally) from the Swiss, for a 5-4 lead. Up stepped France’s golden boy, Mbappé and he struck the ball well to the top left and Sommer arched himself and slapped it away. He paused, looking to see if there was a refereeing matter, then raced off to the fans in the corner.

So, 14 goals in 2 matches; we often don’t get that in all matches combined.

If it stays like this the quarter finals could be even hotter matches. Is this a COVID effect? Tired minds and bodies? Who knows, just bring on more of it.

Signs of global inequality: vaccines aren’t there for all-June 28, 2021

Cramped for space?-June 27, 2021

I’ve logged more flights and air miles than I can ever begin to count over the past 40 years, but never has someone said I was cramping their personal space.,,in economy class. Is personal space a real option in coach? If it’s such a problem with sharing seats with the plebs, buy a seat in business or first class, I thought. My wife thought get a private jet.

I don’t know what was the man’s real problem, especially as he’d slept most of the 2 hour flight.

I inhaled and rolled my eyes and thought about COVID paranoia.

I’m glad my family thought this was a weird experience, especially as I’d been bumped into the middle seat by my teenager, who bagged the window seat.

Wish this fellow many happy hours of personal space filled travel.

Brexit still bubbling and boiling out of the pot 5 years on-June 26, 2021

How’s Brexit dealing with Britain, which is not so great, at the moment?

Five years on from the referendum, things looks messy:

Puffins and overfishing issues:

Pigeon fanciers’ feathers ruffled:

Computer glitch and jobs for EU women:

British TV not good for EU folks to watch?

Tinned tomatoes and inflation:

Sausages, anyone?

Northern Ireland snaggled:

Steel being stolen:

Touring artistes’ woes:

Welcome to Miami? High-rise apartment collapses in Surfside-June 25, 2021

My wife is on her first work trip since the pandemic began in 2020 and we happen to be passing though Miami. So, it was bizarre to wake up to news that a high-rise apartment just up the coast had collapsed in the early hours of Thursday. It became national news. It was on a strip that we often pass en route to a shopping mall. Ironically, we’re staying south of there, in downtown Miami, part of a city of pale colour high-rise buildings of no great design greatness, about which I was complaining as I looked out of a hotel window.

By day’s end, Florida’s governor had declared a state of emergency (SOE):

Following which, President Biden approved the SOE, so that federal relief assistance could be provided:

Our daughter met some friends around Miami Beach yesterday and noticed that police were everywhere. It’s an odd situation, and we hope and pray that the death toll will remain low: it’s currently 1 person, but about 100 are still not yet accounted for.

Before It’s All Gone: Preserving Jamaica’s Architectural Heritage

Originally posted on Perspectives: Cast iron building on Orange Street – photo: Paul Hamilton This post was first published as a two-part article in …

Before It’s All Gone: Preserving Jamaica’s Architectural Heritage

Holness points to light at end of #COVID19Life tunnel by major easing of curfews-June 23, 2021

PM Holness announced yesterday some major relaxation of Jamaica’s COVID restrictions, notably easing curfew hours to 11pm to 5am for Mondays to Saturdays and 6pm to 5am on Sundays.

The measure will run from July 1 to August 11.

The Opposition were quick to point out that our situation is still highly vulnerable despite improving trends but with a woefully low level of vaccination.

In summary, the other changes from July 1 are:

Churches and Cinemas

* Places of worship – current limit of 50 to move to a capacity-based system. This is where churches can use a measurement of one person for every 40 square feet or 70% of their capacity to conduct services.

* Indoor theatres and Cinemas – These places of amusements are to be allowed to open. They can use the measurement of one person for every 40 square feet or 70% of seated capacity, whichever is lower.

* For drive-in – vehicles should carry no more than the number it is registered to carry.

Controlled Re-entry

* COVID-19 testing – Persons must continue to present a negative test three days before arriving in Jamaica.

* 14-day quarantine remains in place.

* Fully vaccinated persons – eight-day quarantine remains in place.

* Effective July 1, 2021, persons who are fully vaccinated and return a negative PCR test after arriving in Jamaica will be released from quarantine.

Travel restriction

* Travel ban on South American countries as well as the restriction on Trinidad and Tobago and India extended to August 10.

Stay-at-home

* Persons 60 and over must remain at home until August 10. Individuals who are fully vaccinated are exempted.

Funerals and burials

* Services will now be allowed with a maximum of 30 mourners.

* Burials will now be permitted with a maximum of 30 people up from 15.

* Burials may now take place from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mondays to Fridays only.

Markets

* To operate from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Closed on Sundays.

Beaches, Rivers, Zoos and Water attractions

* To operate from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

* 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays.

Parks, Gyms and Bars

* Must close one hour before the start of the curfew.

Amusement arcades

* These entities are allowed to reopen effective July 1.

Events and entertainment

* Organisers of small outdoor events such as parties, concerts, round robins, festivals, corporate mixers will be allowed to apply for permits to host no more than 100 people (50 for public sector)

* For indoor events, no more than 60 per cent of the capacity of the venue.

* Organisers of large events like stage shows, church conventions, festivals, general and special meetings will need to satisfy an approval process through the Ministry of Culture and the Office of the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management.

* Gov’t will waive rental fees for its venues for large events. Other charges will apply.

I’ve been everywhere, man, but did I like being there? Barbados-June 22, 2021

My wife and I are both from islands within Caricom, but never lived on another one besides our homeland. I nearly went to live in Barbados when I was ready to leave the Bank of England in the late-1980s, but the offer to join the Caribbean Development Bank as an economist didn’t make financial sense. The interview visit had been an eye opener because I had assumed all islands were like Jamaica, not least with significant high points. Barbados is relatively flat, and you can see almost all of the island from its high points. But, some good things hit me on that brief weekend visit. Barbados has monkeys: I saw them on the beach. It’s visually appealling, especially seeing pretty sandy coastlines from almost every high point. I was also struck by the Bajan accent. 🙂 It was ironic that my wife’s job took us there, nearly two decades later. What did living there show me better?

Likes

Bus service island-wise: You never really had an excuse for taking a bus in the wrong direction because bus signs were marked ‘Into city’ and ‘Out of city’. Good thing, too, that the island is small enough to make a round trip by mistake no bad thing 🙂

Pudding and souse: I’d never give Bim’s food high marks compared to the rest of Caricom, but pudding and souse is worth the try and has its important place in social activities at weekends, when one could lime happily around eating this cold pickled pork dish, drinking and chatting aimlessly or fulsomely.

History matters: Barbados has a complicated slave history, like all of the Caricom countries, but for me have tried to manage the realities of that by not discarding historic relics. It has many preserved features of slave and plantation life, such as mills and some great houses and enough trappings to let people see how the country once was. You need that to tell the story, properly, in my mind.

Well-run, on the surface: Most things in Barbados appear to work well, and the country’s PR is great at pushing that message. But, it’s got some issues that would make you pull out your hair, in part because despite its progress, it’s still a small island in the Caribbean. It took months to get our new car, which we were told “Is on the water”! Opening a bank account and dealing with public sector agencies is still mired by that Caribbean brand of bureaucracy and redundancy.

Brighton Market: If we were caught in an odd place, it was enjoying going to the farmers’ market at dawn most Saturday mornings. This could have been a trip to an English village field, but it was set in the grounds of a working sugar cane farm. It offered ambience hard to beat and was a safe space for children to roam freely. The best fresh coffee on the island and nice food to go with it, whether fish cutters or occasional yummies of other kinds, and fresh fruit and vegetable to buy, plus some crafts, occasionally. Yes, it was mainly frequented by white Bajans and expats, but it was a great start to any weekend, and we often headed to Lemon Arbor for pudding and souse, after.

Dislikes

‘Little Englanders’: Bajans have a reputation amongst other Caribbean countries for being either ‘Little Englanders’ because of their close historical association with the UK and the constant flow of Brits who decide to take holidays there, bolstered by daily flights provided by British Airways. But, it shows up also in a clear distaste for other black Caricom citizens. We were dissed too many times in favour of British tourists for it not to be noticeable and a chilling ‘welcome’ at the airport was not what we liked.

Bajans love sticking it to Jamaicans how well they’ve done: I think I would have minded less if I had arrived in Barbados at a time when economic signs were pointing in a clearly good direction, in 2007, but I didn’t. Sadly, I pointed out what seemed like a glaring fiscal problem. That came to buck a decade later with (for Bajans, a dreaded IMF program in 2018). But, don’t mention that I told you so. I was not offering popular opinions on the radio call-in programme, ‘Down to brass tacks’. 🙂

Travel: It’s harder to get there than it should from anywhere in the Caribbean. I think that reality might have been worse on another island, but it’s still a major chore to have to duck in and out of a few islands on an air ‘milk bus’.

Polarized politics: I didn’t know it at the time, but living in Barbados was a good primer for life in Jamaica, where many issues are reduced to the colour of the party you’re assumed to support. My points about the economy labelled me as part of the ‘opposition’. What was ridiculous was that my point was valid when Barbados Labour Party (red) were in power and equally valid when they ceded power to the Democratic Labour Party (yellow). So, I was always one of the opposition!

Racial polarization: Black and white people don’t mix that much in Barbados. At a macro level, whites own the economy and blacks own the politics; that’s the ‘devil’s bargain’ that’s been struck. They races sort of co-exists, but the separation is pretty clear, no more so for things like Kadooment, during Crop Over, where there’s a (near) all-white troupe, named ‘Blue Box Cart’, who go out first each year. Nuff said!

Jamaica’s vaccination blitz catches cold and needs to correct a fiasco-June 21

However, you want to look at it, Jamaica’s vaccination programme hit a road block this past week. Depsite recent reassurances that enough doses were in available to give those needing their 2nd doses, we’ve had a week of people being told that was not so, and having scheduled appointments cancelled, pending supply arrivals.

We had chaotic scenes at the National Arena last Saturday, when people crowed outside the venue and it had to be closed early, with further doses only going to those over 50.

Part of the problem was total supply, but some problems were to do with vaccines being not distributed well across the island, with some rural sites nearly empty, according to eyewitness reports. Some wondered if JDF helicopters couldn’t have been used to help redistribute supplies over the weekend.

Unfortunately, much confusion happened as confirmed appointments were cancelled and people were struggling to rearrange their movements and policy decisions were being reversed quickly.

Ir’a not realistic for people to be online all the time and be ready to switch around at a moment’s notice. So, something will have to be done to honour commitments, within a day, at least.

I was called a week ago by RJR to talk about ‘vaccine hesitancy’ amongst Jamaica’s senior citizens. I was adamant that my view was that access was the major problem, not relucance to take vaccines (real hesitancy). I thought this was especially true in rural areas. Minister Tufton reiterated that access point, but now we will have to see the fall out from the weekend’s debacle and if it makes people less trustful of the vaccination processes and generate real hesitancy.