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The lockdown diaries ride again


Ivory Tower: more journal entries from the good and gooder

Prince Andrew, self-isolating royal

Everyone involved now understands what an extremely foolish and ill-advised thing it was to do, inflicting untold reputational damage across the front page of every newspaper. But enough about the University of Manchester’s decision to put up fences around their halls of residence, I’ve got my route back to public life to plan.

Donald Trump, presidential candidate and litigant

If you count up all the legal votes, I win, bigly. If you count up the illegal votes, then they can steal it from you. At least that’s how they explained planning permission in Aberdeen for my new golf course.

Last time they tried to stop me, bad ombres, I got Sean Connery to phone them up and shout down the phone. I wonder if he’d do it again. He’s what? Really? And I thought I was having a bad week.

But they love me up there, truly. I was even given an honorary degree by some guy called Robert Gordon Yooni, great guy, really one of the best of the Yoonis, lovely family. Maybe, now that I’ve won the election, I’ll go play golf with him. They tell me that all the Yoonis in Scotland are unbelievably open, great guys.

Joe Biden, presidential candidate and vote teller

I just want all you folks to know that I’m a regular Joe, on your side. I’m not one of those pointy-headed lawyers who teach at university and then get into politics, like err…the Obamas, and err…the Clintons.

Let me start again, here’s the deal, I didn’t go to no Harvard or Yale, I went to the school of life, the faculty of hard knocks, at err…the University of Delaware. I played a lot of college football, took some kicks on the head, and was a C average student, which is perfect preparation of being the president of the United States.

I was the first in my family to go to university. I was also the first in my family to steal a speech about going to university from Neil Kinnock. Yes folks, that’s how long I’ve been around, I used to be accused of plagiarising from Neil Kinnock. Just think about that for a minute.

Boris Johnson, prime minister

Let me be very clear, these restrictions will end on 2 December. After that Carrie says I can eat chocolate again because I’ll be able to open my advent calendar.

We are asking everyone in England to lockdown for four weeks. But young people are our top priority, and it is vital that nothing should be done to disrupt their university experience.

Citizens will be able to leave the house in early December, but to save Christmas, we will ask all students to self-isolate for a further 14 days. The students can then emerge from their halls and their digs, just as the modelling suggests the second wave will be reaching its peak.

They will then be free to spread out across the country and spend Christmas with their parents and grandparents. Then when they return to university in the new year, they will be asked to lockdown for 14 days once again, emerging just in time for the third wave that is predicted for January resulting in another national shutdown.

So, to recap, we are asking students to lockdown for 4, self-isolate for 2, stay with their parents for 2, self-isolate for 2, back into another national quarantine. It is so important that they experience a normal time at university.

Chris Whitty, chief medical officer England

There is absolutely nothing wrong with my data. It is based on the best mathematical modelling supplied by the brightest academics in the country.

Let me run through the graph again. Here is the Y axis representing the hours of TV exposure available since September. Here is the X axis representing the number of scientists in the UK looking to submit an impact case study next March.

As you can see, the closer we get to R, or the Research Excellence Framework as we call it, then we see an exponential growth of the number of scientists appearing on TV screens giving contradictory views on the pandemic. Both Patrick and I are agreed that this growth is very worrying—we are the only ones who should be on telly.

That is why we have advised the government that there should be a complete national shutdown of academics appearing on news channels, while the universities must remain open and staff are required to do face-to-face teaching, for the foreseeable future. Anything to keep those scientists off the TV. Next slide please.

Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser

We are rolling it out in Liverpool to test public reaction. We’ve managed to get hold of thousands of swabs which can give near instant results.

The feedback so far is that some find Vallance, by Patrick, to be a bit heavy on the sandalwood, but they like the high notes of the juniper berries. My new fragrance has been such a hit that my agent has asked me to bring out a whole range of products for gentleman of a certain age, but who still have twinkle in their eye, or, as I like to think of them as the “manthers”.

So, I’m just playing with names for the moment: flatten the curves age-defying moisturiser, moonshot revitalising cream, isolation beard oil, quarantine deodorant. My agent says we will need a convincing model to front it, I wonder what Neil Ferguson is doing right now…

Michelle Donelan, universities minister

I was on the phone in a flash. I told Nancy Rothwell to take down the fences around the halls. For once, it was a decision about higher education that I couldn’t possibly look bad making.

I asked Nancy, "where did you find such secure and intimidating fencing anyway?" She said it had been left over from the last Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

She said it wouldn’t go to waste, as Universities UK were thinking of using it for their annual conference. “To keep trouble-makers out?” I asked. “No, to separate the Russell Group vice-chancellors from everyone else,” she said.

Amanda Solloway, science minister

Dom Cummings called me up to talk about rockets. He said that they were going to be a top priority for the UK.

I got really excited as I love bonfire night. He said that he wanted multi-aerial shots, I told him I preferred Roman candles and Catherine Wheels.

“I was talking about space,” he says. I assured him that everyone in our house would be socially distanced in the garden.

“You are making a display of yourself,” he said and put the phone down. “But I’m only following the lockdown rules”, I replied.

Steve Rotherham, Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region

This city hasn’t always seen eye to eye with Boris Johnson, there was the time that Michael Howard made him apologise to scousers for calling them overly sentimental. But we don’t bear grudges in Liverpool, we even let Ringo Starr back from time to time.

When we were offered £40 million to stay at home and not work, Boris thought we’d think it was the best deal ever, and if he threw in Sky Sports, we’d be made up. But now with national lockdown it looks like Southerners are getting what we have been denied on Merseyside, a Waitrose delivery service.

We are to be a pilot for Covid-19 mass testing. When I spoke to Boris, I said, “coronavirus is running through our city”. He replied, “well, if it stood still it might get mugged”. I asked him if he’d spoken to Michael Howard lately.

Terms of use: this is a free email for fun on a Friday, it should be shared widely like blame for government procurement policy at the inevitable public enquiry. Want to rent some high security fencing? Want to say hello? Email ivorytower@researchresearch.com