What you need to know:
- A happy side-effect of the Covid pandemic has been to make people kinder.
The much-admired playwright Alan Bennett once said, “If you live to be ninety in England and can still eat a boiled egg, they think you deserve the Nobel prize.”
Unusually for Bennett, that might have been a bit harsh. Certainly, there is admiration for senior citizens in this country, but then some of them are pulling off feats that far exceed the consumption of a boiled egg.
Take the Skipping Sikh, for instance. Rajinder Singh Harzall, aged 73, began skipping at the age of five after being taught by his father, who was in the army. Then it was for fun. Now it is for charity.
“I love skipping, inside the house or outside,” Rajinder said. “It makes you happy and healthy and health is wealth.”
The septuagenarian originally targeted £5,000 for National Health Service staff and volunteers coping with Covid-19 patients. He has now raised more than £15,000 and his efforts earned him the MBE from the Queen and a Point of Light award from the Prime Minister.
A happy side-effect of the Covid pandemic has been to make people kinder. Yes, there are confrontations over mask wearing and social distancing, but many respondents to a nationwide survey said they had become friendlier to others, kept in touch with relatives and donated more to food banks.
One in four of the 2,000 surveyed said they had been inspired by the example of Captain Sir Tom Moore, that is, the late Captain Sir Tom Moore.
The retired army officer raised an astonishing £33 million for the National Health Service at the age of 100 by walking endlessly round his house. Captain Tom died on February 2 of pneumonia caused by Covid.
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The major matter of social shame in this country today is abuse of people on social media under cover of anonymity.
A recent upsurge in the targeting of black footballers put this evil on the front pages, although at least one white referee, Mike Dean, and a Premier League manager, Steve Bruce, have also been targeted.
Newcastle United manager Bruce revealed that he has received online death threats, with someone saying “they hope I die of Covid.”
Bruce, 60, does not use social media but was told by his family that he had been targeted. He said, “Some of the stuff I’ve had has been obscene. You feel the hatred. Something has to be done.”
An open letter from football’s major governing bodies to Twitter and Facebook said, “We have had many meetings with your executives but the reality is your platforms remain havens of abuse.”
A Kenya reader argues that it is not beyond the abilities of the media companies to end the scourge. He writes that they could compile a list of objectionable, including racist, words and phrases and combinations thereof, which they could programme into their systems and thereby flash an alert.
Messages containing words on the danger list would then be redirected for prior vetting before being allowed onto their platforms.
Offending messages would be deleted and their offender informed and removed from the platform. Details could also be sent to the police.
I am no cyber buff and no doubt there would be objections, but that sounds like a good idea to me. Already, apparently, some search engines have been programmed to recognise certain words linked to child pornography to block offending searchers.
So why not with the racists, too?
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There’s a saying that old age and treachery will always beat youth and enthusiasm. True or false?
An old man put up a sign saying, “For £50, I will teach you to be a mind-reader.” A teenager, though doubtful, thought he would have a go. The old man handed him a garden hose and told him to put it to his eye and look in the end.
The youth was suspicious but the old man said it was part of being a mind reader so the boy looked down the hose. The old man turned on the tap and water shot out and soaked the teenager.
“I knew you were going to do that,” yelled the angry teenager. “That will be fifty pounds then,” said the oldie.
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A young man asked a rich old man how he had made his money.
The old man explained: “It was the height of the depression and I had only five pence, which I used to buy an apple. I spent all day polishing that apple then sold it for 10 pence. Next day, I used the 10 pence to buy two apples, which I polished hard and sold for 20 cents. I continued this system for one month, by the end of which I had £2.50.
“Then my wife’s father died and left us two million pounds.”