It’s only just begun: Gray report-January 31, 2022

The much-anticipated report by Sue Gray on #Partygate was released today, in full. It’s been placed in the House of Commons library.

PM Boris Johnson had to report on it to Parliament. He struck a defiant pose: resigning is not on his mind, even though a ‘failure of leadership’ is stressed in the report:

Criticism has been wide, including former PM May:

What next? Police investigations are underway:

Let’s go there: leadership stakes are underway:

It’s early days and things could ‘go south’ fast.

Australian Open tennis finals: the tournament is always bigger than any player-January 30, 2022

Saturday and Sunday early mornings were devoted to watching the finals of the Australian Open tennis. We’re tennis fans, my wife much more than me, but we always enjoy the big tournaments, especially the Slams. This one is a challenge, given the 14 hour time difference, for us: games start early evening for us and go on beyond dawn. Two weeks of that and your body clock can go off-whack.

This year’s opening event was overshadowed at the start by the sage of Novak Djokovic, world number 1 men’s player, and his attempt to play despite the mandate to be vaccinated to get into Australia. Short story: he was eventually deported, after two visits to court. He did not play and have the opportunity to defend his title-he’d won it 9 times. That wrinkled his fans and many of his compatriots in Serbia and Australia. However, in a telling interview before the start, Rafael Nadal had pointed out the event would be great with or without Djokovic; he was right!

I may write about the various dramas at another time, but for the moment, I’m just hitting the highlights.

We were up before 3.30am and had long days, especially on Sunday (lots of other sports to watch). My wife-a Nadalist-got very stressed. She couldn’t sit in the latter stages of the final 🙂

Nadal provided the most drama, himself, winning in 5 sets after trailing Daniil Medvedev (Russia) 0-2 in sets, playing for 5 hours 40 minutes:

Before we got there, though, we’d been treated to some epic play, including this 40-shot rally:

There’s lots of context for the win, the most stunning being his nearly retiring due to injuries and doubtful if he’s be able to play in Australia just weeks before the event.

He now has sole lead in the ‘race’ for Slams wins, with 21.

However, Djokovic fans will never accept this as a ‘real’ win. 🙂 But, he chose his hill to fight on, and lost.

An interesting parallel is that both Nadal and Federer came back from injury, aged 35, and won in 5 set finals:

Ash Barty became the first Australian woman to win the singles title in over 40 years:

Her victory was sumptuous: she did not drop a set during the tournament and came back from 1-5 down in the 2nd set to win it in a tie-break against a tough American opponent, Danielle Collins (in her first major final):

Destiny?

She paid due respect to her Aboriginal roots:

Ash enjoyed her after-party beers: Good on, yer!

On court after was the men’s doubles finals, with two Australian pairs, one of which was a wild card entry, of Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkanakis, who’d played doubles before, successfully, winning the Wimbledon Boys title. They’d lit of the event with a mixture of great tennis and some wildcat improvisation and unpredictability. They won by playing better tennis, though:

People will speculate whether Kyrgios can and will use this to springboard his singles playing, where his ‘wayward genius’ comes to the fore too often as a destructive force. Anyway, it was great bromancing by him and his partner:

Another historic moment for Australia, getting one of their pairs as winners for the first time in over 20 years, with a first all-Aussie final in over 40 years:

A ninth straight title for the winning British wheelchair pair is also worth an honorable mention:

Time for some rest?

It’s my birthday! January 29, 2022

I never forget my birthday! However, I don’t think of birthdays as especially special, so I never run to do something special. On the other hand, friends and relatives like to do celebratory things. It can be a bit awkward as I may come over as ungrateful, which is far from true. I’m just not into lots of personal celebrations. I make exceptions for winning things and scoring goals, when I was a regular track athlete and footballer, and since then, as a golfer—yes, I have won on the golf course. Then, I think the rarity of success is what is important to note.

All that said, my wife had an invitation from some friends (Bahamian wife and Jamaican husband—theme, there) for breakfast, on Saturday. I often play golf that morning, but put it off, in part to give space to watch the women’s singles final at the Australian Open. Anyway, watching done, we headed off for a 10 feed.

Funnily, the Jamaican husband had been put in charge of preparing the Bahamian dishes-chicken souse (a hot broth-like dish, not cold pickle, as in Barbados) and boiled fish. My wife had chipped in with her ‘Johnny cake’ (like a cornbread, not like Jamaican fried dumplings. Most of the guests were Bahamians.

We had a lively set of exchanges about culinary differences, which often comes up in ‘mixed’ Caribbean company, and how some of these are just too much for people to handle. For instance, Bahamians love grits; Jamaicans barely know it, except as an American dish. Bahamians live for conch, especially salad (not leaves involved), which is raw, cured with salt and lime. Jamaicans don’t go much for raw things that used to live. (I really was stunned that sushi took off in Jamaica.) I have to convince my wife that Jamaicans do eat conch-curried, garlic, soup, chowder, etc. We’re also a major conch exporter. A level on Jamaican conch exports was imposed in 2021.

Well, in good Caribbean fashion, breakfast ran on, and we weren’t home till 2pm!

We rested and had our eyes on lunch, which had been our main intention from last week, but we had to push back because of the added breakfast. We wanted to try a 2nd time a seafood restaurant, called Sea Krave, which we’d enjoyed last weekend. We like to share good finds with friends, so suggested 2 other couple join us. It was not a birthday event.

Ironically, last week, it poured with rain as we ended our lunch; this week, it pour with rain as we arrived. A theme?

We had a good chat with the owners, who interestingly were connecte to the family who’d invited us for breakfast-their recommendation had spurred us last week.

Well, we arrived just as a fresh supply of fish landed at the restaurant. We made good use of it, by getting a hog snapper to share (cooked with ginger and scallion), and others tried curried lobster and brown stewed fish. The restaurant is full of simple Jamaican vibes and has some pleasant staff cooking and serving. They offer some twists on traditional fare, especially steamed bammy cooked in coconut milk.

All of that was washed down with a little sorrel, beer, rum, ice and a lot of animated talk, especially about NIDS. Imagine!

My wife had sneaked in a cake and brought candles! All present decided to sing ‘Happy birthday’. Cake had to be cut, according to the instructions of a self-appointed cake cutting committee chairwoman 🙂 I did the sharing, though. One of my friends, whom I know loves cake, didn’t disappoint by holding his plate out for 2nds. 🙂

We hung from 5pm till 9, and the rain didn’t subside till after 7.

It was a great end to a nice day, spent mainly with friends, in what passed for near-normal in the COVID times. Thanks.

Sue Gray’s elegy may have 50 shades?-January 28, 2022

As the UK awaits sight of a report into allegations of breaking of COVID rules by PM Boris Johnson and government employees, the whole shebang is being sent into confusion. The report is not yet published, as promised, earlier in the week, and now the police want it policed a bit so that their investigation into possible criminal charges isn’t compromised:

The BBC reported ‘There have been media reports of 17 gatherings in government buildings while Covid restrictions were in place’.

Though, they are not being investigated, the Metropolitan Police may end up smelling less of roses than rotten fish:

Meanwhile, PM Boris Johnson has said he won’t resign over #Partygate.

Party on!

Stephen Breyer going from Supreme Court and Biden has a promise to keep-January 27, 2022

Ace courts reporter Nina Totenberg, of NPR, was busy, yesterday, keeping us abreast of news that liberal justice Breyer is expected to announce (today) his retirement, to take effect in June.

President Biden may now have to come good on his pre-election promise to elevate a black woman to the Supreme Court:

Names of who that may be are filtering out :

Overall, the retirement doesn’t open any opportunity to change the balance of the court, which is tilted 6-3 in favour of conservative justices. But, it could set a liberal justice in place for a considerable time:

Jamaicans warned COVID measures will end soon-January 26, 2022

I’m sharing something I’ve read; no timeline has been set:

National Opposites Day-January 25, 2022

So many ways to celebrate this odd day:

Mottley goes for a crew cut with a smaller Cabinet-January 24, 2022

I like Mia Mottley a lot, having met her a few times while living in Barbados. However, I’m not all googoo-gaga about her every action or statement. She looks different from many leaders, especially in the Caribbean, because she tends to walk the talk a bit more, in part because she’s coming from the point of long-time suffering as a woman in politics in the face of some hostile and sometimes distasteful male opposition.

Her party waltzed the snap election last week, returning again with all seats available, It’s not clear yet if we will see the same ‘trick’ as in 2018 when one of her party moved to the other side to be the ‘Opposition’.

After being sworn in, last week, she moved onto the matter of getting back to government business, by naming the new Executive/Cabinet:

Most notable was her cutting it down to size, with 20 positions, against the previous 26. Compare that with the inflation of Cabinet posts in the newly announced Jamaican Cabinet, after a reshuffle two weeks ago (see post). (Pedantically, a shuffle can be the word when you add ‘cards’ to the deck. 🙂 )

She defined tradition—becoming part of her new traditions—by naming a woman as deputy PM—the 3rd such nomination, but now going for a double-header for women in top political positions:

She also nominated an 18-year old as a Senator:

But, the proof of the pudding is always in the eating, so lets see how this new group performs in the new political setting of Barbados as a new republic.

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