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DVSA LogoA DVSA alert clarifies once and for all that theory test certificates will not be extended for road safety reasons.

The government has further considered the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the validity period of theory test certificates.

After careful consideration and in response to a recent petition the government has decided not to extend theory test certificates for road safety reasons.

This is the government’s decision – not DVSA – so I’d advise a lot of people to think of that before venting on social media.

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Plymouth Hoe - Historic UKBasic geography lesson for non-UK readers.

It will undoubtedly come as a surprise to learn that ‘England’ consists of more than just ‘London’. Yes, I’m looking at you, Americans. It actually has quite a few other cities, towns, and villages – thousands, in fact.

However, although never originally intended to cater for primary school toilet humour, some places have strange names. For example, we have ‘The Wallops’, the ‘River Piddle’, ‘Sheepy Parva’ and ‘Sheepy Magna’, ‘Wetwang’, and so on. Then, for those whose minds have never left primary school, we have ‘Shitterton’, ‘Cocks’, ‘Bitchfield’, and many others.

All of these have completely logical etymologies – ‘Wallop’ for example (the three villages that comprise ‘The Wallops’ are ‘Upper Wallop’, ’Middle Wallop’, and ‘Nether Wallop’) is derived from the Anglo-Saxon or Old English words for stream (waella) and valley (hop), and is mentioned in the Domesday Book as ‘Wollop’. ‘Shitterton’ probably comes from the Old English word for sewer (scitere), meaning the place by the sewer. Even my own city of Nottingham was once called ‘Snottingham’ – or ‘’Snotengaham’ – and that began in the 6th Century when it was a settlement called ‘Snotta inga ham’ (‘Snotta’ was a person – a Saxon chieftain, whose people were the ‘Snotingas’ – ‘inga’ means ‘belonging to/the people of’, and ‘ham’ means ‘village/homestead’ in Anglo-Saxon). Nottingham appears in the Domesday Book as ‘Snotingeham’ and ‘Snotingham’. The ancients seemed happy to move vowels around and vary the consonants a bit without worrying about consistency, but you get the general idea. They were never intended as rude names, and they aren’t rude names.

As an aside, when I was seven, I began to support Arsenal Football Club. I freely admit that it was the ‘arse’ part which attracted me, but I grew up, and by the time I was learning German and French at school the desire to laugh at words which ‘sounded’ like rude things but weren’t had long since passed. Not so for many of my peers – a certain Mr Spence in my class found enormous humour in words like ‘fuchs’ (fox), and sought out every opportunity to say them loudly and with great emphasis.

Of course, and back to the present, in the last few years all hell has broken loose. Even place names that even once related to someone who lived in colonial times are under scrutiny. Most of the time they shouldn’t be, but such is the mindset of people today. And that leads further in the direction this discussion is going.

On the south coast of England – and no, Americans, I don’t mean ‘London’ – there is a coastal city known as ‘Plymouth’. It’s in the county of ‘Devon’ (which is also not in ‘London’). There’s no real problem with that name, because there’s a Plymouth in the USA, too. However, the original one in the UK has a seafront on a limestone cliff that is called ‘Plymouth Hoe’. The word ‘hoe’ derives from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘hoh’, which means ‘a sloping ridge in the shape of a heel or foot’. The same Saxon word is in the root of another place name in the UK called ‘Sutton Hoo’ (the inconsistent spelling of the same word by the ancients, again). Plymouth Hoe is known as ‘the Hoe’ to people who live there. As you can see, there is nothing untoward in any of this, and nor has there been for centuries. The name simply related to the Anglo-Saxon word for the geographical feature it is built on.

Enter: Facebook. The refuge of those with primary school minds and intellects.

It seems that a group on there which is based in Devon had been having posts removed and users receiving warnings for breaching ‘community standards on harassment and bullying’. Some were even banned from posting. It seems that one user had been making hats, and had forgotten to mention where people could pick them up from. So she said ‘Plymouth Hoe’.

Although the actual mechanics of what happened after this are extremely unclear – was it a manual report by someone or an automated software action – this was what triggered the removals and bans.

Facebook has apologised and has said it is ‘looking into what happened’. My money would be on some prat trawling Facebook groups looking through a dictionary of words, which they then automatically complain about and have removed. Seriously, some people on Facebook (a hell of a lot of them, actually) only use it for this purpose these days anyway.

Some forums use automated checkers which are basic at best. You’d probably never get ‘Shitterton’ past the censor, for example. My own local newspaper will happily write an article about the discovery of a cannabis factory being shutdown by the police, but woe betide anyone who uses the word ‘cannabis’ in the comments section. It immediately goes to ‘awaiting moderation’, and it is 50:50 whether it will be approved once one of the trained monkeys (aka moderators) has looked at it.

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COVID VaccineI have had my parents vaccinated. They both received the Pfizer jab. The only concern I have is that their second jab is scheduled for March, in line with this government’s ‘expert’ appraisal of the situation.

Much was made of the approval process of the vaccine in the first place – all the stuff about examining the data properly and not cutting any corners. The data they have from Pfizer and BioNTech very specifically relate to having a jab on Day One, then receiving a booster jab on Day Twenty One. Nothing else, just that. There are no data which directly looked at giving the booster after three months instead of three weeks.

But our ‘experts’ have somehow decided that it is OK to have the second jab on Day Ninety (or thereabouts). This is primarily driven by vaccine availability, though we won’t admit to that and it is therefore officially explained away as ‘trying to get as many people as possible protected because the jab is almost completely effective after one dose anyway’. Then there’s a bit of standard government obfuscation thrown just in case it still made any sense even then.

However, an Israeli study – and Israel rolled out the vaccine much more effectively than we did, even if we approved it before the French or the Germans (a major detail to far too many in this country) – suggests that the first dose might only be 33% effective instead of the 90% figure we somehow came up with back in December.

So that has now triggered our ‘experts’ to say they will ‘look carefully’ at the Israeli data.

You couldn’t make this up if you tried. The Pfizer/BioNTech jab requires shots 21 days apart. Nothing else. Three months has not been part of clinical trials, and is a theoretical mathematical computation – which is now being questioned – albeit non-peer reviewed – by real data from Israel. At the very least, it means ‘90% effective’ is probably wrong, and the real figure lies in some as yet unknown middle ground between 33% and 90%.

I was concerned at the decision to change it to three months when I heard about it, because I knew what the clinical trials had been based on. But I grudgingly accepted what our ‘experts’ said. But now I don’t – or at least, I’m not so sure.

It. Should. Be. Twenty. One. Days. And. Not. Three. Months. Between. Shots.

That’s what Pfizer’s clinical trials studied, and ONLY that.

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Fruit and vegetablesI just placed my weekly Asda shop – well, updated my weekly delivery for tomorrow – and discovered something very interesting. And very annoying.

They have no cucumbers, no grapes, no sweetclems, no broccoli, no aubergines, and various missing choices for other fruits and vegetables. It’s the worst I’ve seen it, and that includes anytime other than a couple of weeks at the start of the first lockdown, after which it calmed down.

In the first lockdown, items which ended up selling out due to stockpiling were along the lines of pasta, toilet rolls, rice… stuff that could be, well… stockpiled. All the items this time only last a few days, and do not fit into the stockpiling bracket in any way whatsoever. If people were going to stockpile things to eat almost without preparation, it would be snacks and frozen food – not fresh fruit and veg.

That hasn’t stopped the Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis, from claiming empty supermarket shelves in Northern Ireland are due to COVID, and not the little matter of Brexit. No one agrees with him, though.

We already know as an absolute fact that Brexit is screwing up at least some imports. Even The Brexit Daily (aka Daily Mail) reported a few days ago that there had been delays in ‘cauliflower packs, citrus fruit, aubergines, courgettes, mushrooms, strawberries…’ which had already resulted in shortages on shelves. Another source reports Brexit-specific delays to around half of the normal import shipments, affecting fruits, seafood, and meat.

The real explanation is that Brexit HAS caused it, and COVID is simply making things a whole lot worse than it had done while it was still working alone.

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Virus imageI’m utterly convinced the idiots I used to work for are in charge of the COVID vaccine rollout!

It stands to reason that we need to get as many people as possible vaccinated as soon as possible in order for it to be effective. After all, the fewer people who have COVID, the fewer they can pass it on to.

It doesn’t matter if a 40 year old gets it before a 70 year old – if both are jabbed within days of each other. But right now, we have decided to administer it to people who are considered ‘at risk’ first. That’s laudable at first glance, but it isn’t until you start considering the logistics of doing that that you start realising it is just a series of accidents waiting to happen. We’ve already seen that it results in situations where incompetent bureaucrats make mistakes which result in vaccine being thrown away because it hasn’t been properly refrigerated. As a result, we’re not getting it to enough people anywhere – no matter what their age or vulnerability.

Getting the vaccine to care homes, which are often in remote locations not on the government’s Big Atlas of the UK – anywhere outside London, for example – is fraught with problems, in spite of what the imbecile Johnson keeps saying. There are over 18,000 care homes in the UK, with just over 400,000 residents. Yet there are barely 7,000 GP surgeries covering the entire remaining population of over 60 million! On top of that, GP surgeries are already able to give vaccinations, whereas many care home staff will not be. It’s obvious who should be administering the vaccine right now in order to stop the spread.

This idiotic approach initially resulted in the decision to administer the second dose after 12 weeks instead of three – something that wasn’t part of the clinical trials that led to it being approved, and that’s all tangled up with the new, highly infectious variant sending the R rate skywards. In the meantime, they’re focusing on getting temperature and time-sensitive vaccine shipped to remote locations at the likely expense of ruining a lot of it. This is why the company I used to work for must be involved somewhere. It is incompetence to the max.

Look, you f***ing idiots. Just vaccinate as many people as possible, as soon as possible. By all means, aim to vaccinate the same people with the second dose in your calculations based on availability, but stop pissing around working out who to vaccinate first. It automatically leads to delays and screw ups. And fine, since you’ve spent the whole summer arguing that ‘young people don’t die from COVID’ then don’t prioritise them.

Just get the shots out and into someone’s arm! The workforce’s arm. Use GPs and pharmacies. The more people there are who are protected, the more everyone else will be protected. Especially in the care homes.

The government is targeting 2 million doses a week, yet they’ve barely managed a million in a month to date. They have no chance if they keep pissing about trying to get it to care homes before anywhere else, because too much can go wrong. It has gone wrong. And much more will go wrong.

Vaccinating anyone provides protection to care homes. Not as much as if you only vaccinated care homes, but infinitely more than what is happening right now. Then, don’t let anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated anywhere near a care home, and if they attempt to do so for any reason, jail them. It’s a far easier solution. Christ, we are so nearly out of this.

The Pfizer vaccine’s storage limitations were always going to be a challenge for the incompetents who run this country and healthcare system. But my worry is that the Oxford vaccine’s fewer limitations plays into their hands even more, because it allows them to be bureaucratically incompetent without the obvious and measurable wastage to highlight it. Creating a logistics situation that rivals a Gordian Knot plays into their hands still further.

If you don’t believe me, look at this story on the BBC today. It is a bureaucrat’s’ wet dream scenario, and they are playing it to the max.

Get. People. Vaccinated.

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Generic Credit CardI’ve mentioned this before in several articles. There was the one about buying fuel and groceries, and the one about how my Asda Credit Card – which is no longer available – being transferred to the original agent (Creation) and the rewards extended.

Basically, several years ago, Asda was offering a credit card with 2% cashback. You only got the cashback on items from Asda. but since I did all my grocery and fuel shopping there, it was a lucrative offer (as a driving instructor, I typically spend a lot on fuel). Cashback was paid via a voucher you printed off, and you could only use it in-store – not on fuel – but it all levelled out in the end. Depending on how much I’d allowed to build up, I could pay for a full £150 weekly groceries shopping spree by voucher.

Then, I learned that Asda was discontinuing its partnership with the provider – Creation. I expected to lose some or all of the cashback benefits. Much to my surprise, Creation subsequently informed me that from when their card kicked in, I would now gain 2% cashback on any purchase from anywhere! And the cashback would be effectively paid in cash monthly by being credited to my balance. The only tiny, tiny negative was that Asda cashback was immediate, but now it would be monthly.

I pay off my whole balance almost every month (unless I miscalculate), so I am not paying interest except for a few pence. Since the switch in summer, I’ve earned around £300. That’s £300 back on an overall spend of £15,000 – I direct everything I buy to the credit card, whether it’s a TV, an XBox, some new software, or a drone. Even bills.

I’ve noticed recently a small surge in people searching for ‘cashback cards’, so it was worth a bit of an update for them. I can fully understand why they would be asking in these times.

As I have said, you cannot get the Asda Cashback Card I had any longer. You also cannot get the same cashback deal from Creation that I currently have. But there are other deals out there.

Creation does have a couple of choices. But there are others shown on Money Saving Expert. I have been lucky – in the right place at the right time for once – and you won’t get anything like what I have been fortunate enough to find myself getting. Frankly, I can’t see me getting this indefinitely, but you never know. But depending on where you shop, there are still some decent cashback offers and other deals (Nectar points, airmiles, vouchers, and so on). But they are worth checking out,

And Asda says it is ‘working on a new credit card’, so that’s worth keeping an eye on.

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Virus imageAnd as if that previous story didn’t illustrate why we so urgently need to get the vaccine out without having morons involved in the distribution, I saw this on the MSN Newsfeed just now. It’s titled ‘Unbelievably long queue for butcher winds around London street’.

The interesting part is how London – which has just gone into Tier 4 and has the new COVID variant circulating – has so many people in close proximity to each other not wearing masks.

In fact, around 90% of them aren’t.

They are why we have a problem. And they exist in great numbers.

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COVID VaccineYou couldn’t make this up. Not content with the ridiculously slow rollout of the COVID vaccine, or giving it to celebrities first when there are people far more in need of it, or throwing bits away (same article) which amount to almost a sixth more availability if they didn’t, some twat has now caused 1,000 doses of it to have to be thrown away.

The vaccine was sent to a GP surgery in Macclesfield, but for reasons which haven’t been made fully clear, a ‘refrigeration issue’ made it unusable.

The thing is, the vaccine can be used for up to 5 days when stored between 2°C and 8°C, and the fact it had to be disposed of suggests that even this wasn’t adhered to.

Whoever is responsible for this should be sacked. And someone is responsible,

A spokesman for NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: ‘This temporary issue is being resolved…’

No it isn’t. We don’t have enough vaccine to go around in the first place, and it is is exactly what it looks like. A full thousand doses have been wasted because of someone’s complete and utter incompetence. It can never be ‘resolved’.

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Rosalind Knight in Carry OnNot necessarily a name on everyone’s lips, but Rosalind Knight – whom I remember from school holidays watching St Trinians and the old Carry On films – has died at the age of 87 (I have all the Carry On films on DVD).

She played parts in a lot of 50s and 60s British films, and she was Bella Cresswell in the Only Fools And Horses Episode ‘The Jolly Boys Outing’.

RIP, Rosalind. And thanks for the memories.

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Notts COVID Cases (EZGIF Creator)Well, we have a vaccine, but we’re not out of the woods yet. We’re close, but not in time to ‘save Christmas’.

Actually, people are pissing me off more and more all the time. There are still those who believe it is all a hoax, closely followed by those who believe we should ‘just get on with life’ as if the virus didn’t exist. Many refuse to wear masks, and many refuse to comply with any restrictions. And the media encourages them.

My local newspaper keeps publishing ‘updates’ on cases in the Nottinghamshire area, and these frequently contradict each other depending on whether they are reporting daily or weekly figures, or if they publish them just after a government announcement. The real problem – apart from the obvious fact the journalists who write the articles clearly don’t understand what they are saying – is the nutjobs who read it and then comment on it, because they mainly consist of the anti-vaxxers and deniers.

The animated GIF at the top of this article shows how cases have varied between the beginning of October and last week across Nottinghamshire. Each frame represents the one-week rolling average taken from the Government website interactive map, The white areas are labelled as ‘suppressed’ on the Government website – which could mean anything from ‘not measured’ to ‘deliberately withheld’ (and given that the white areas exist from as recently as December, and in some cases relate to areas desperate to get out of Tier 3, that latter possibility isn’t as unlikely as it might seem).

There is no pattern whatsoever. It’s like a kaleidoscope. And yet the aforementioned nutjobs immediately see any of the paler areas (including the white in some cases) as justification for opening up and carrying on as normal, egged on by the newspaper in question trumpeting loudly at any low figures after a period of high.

The simple fact is that you can be pale green one week and purple the next,

The other annoying detail is the vaccine rollout. I said we had one at the start, but I am suspicious. You see, my mum and dad are 84 and 92, respectively. Both have COPD, and they are therefore in the higher risk categories. I came across this Vaccine Queue Calculator today, and ran both my parents’ details through it. It suggests they will be vaccinated between 22 December and 18 January. I’d not have any major issue with that a) if it turns out to be accurate; and b) if it wasn’t for the fact that the BBC was trumpeting about how Prue Leith had been vaccinated earlier this week.

I have no issue with Ms Leith being vaccinated and wish her well, but I cannot understand how or why she has been done so soon. She’s ‘only’ 80 and she is working normally – which suggests no earth-shattering underlying health issues that no one knows about. She’s also pictured queuing and walking into the clinic normally, and I can assure you neither of my parents could do that – even if they’d been asked to do so. There are people who are considerably higher in the Priority Groups who haven’t been contacted yet – this 108 year-old lady only got it today (yes, she’s in Wales and not London, but it’s still odd).

Having my parents done is all the more important, since I’m not due until March next year – whether I have an underlying health condition or not!

Then there was a story which suggests we might be throwing vaccine away. The US has scrapped an order whereby one sixth of the vaccine was being discarded, saying it was a ‘labelling error’. From what I can gather, each vial contains a clear 5 injections-worth, plus a bit extra to make sure that can be achieved. It’s the ‘bits extra’ that are being discarded. The reasons why this was happening are quite complex if you’ve ever worked in the industry, but they are primarily bureaucratic in nature (unless you ask a pharmacist).

There is no reason whatsoever – other than bureaucracy – why the extra bits can’t be combined and used. That’s what this story is detailing. Fortunately it is pharmacists and GPs who are advocating it, so a lot of the potential bureaucracy is stripped away. But it raises the question of what the UK has been doing, and indeed it would appear that some vaccine has been wasted. It is likely it still is.

Pfizer has said:

At this time, we cannot provide a recommendation on the use of the remaining amount of vaccine from each vial; this is a matter for regulators to advise on. Excess vaccine from multiple vials must never be pooled.

If it’s from the same batch there is no solid reason why it cannot be pooled. Even if it’s different batches there’s still not much reason (unless you speak to a GP or pharmacist before they thought of it first).

As a result of the aforementioned nutjobs, we need the vaccine quickly. No wastage, and no f***ing about giving it to celebrities first. Just get it out so we are safe from the idiots. Christ, I’ve got until March to have to dodge them. Then, you won’t have stories like this.

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