When facing an impossible decision

Our prime minister with his government face the most appallingly difficult decision for decades – when and how to end the national lockdown. Lives or livelihoods? It’s an impossible choice. To avoid economic catastrophe you can ease the lockdown but then you risk a second wave of the disease greater than the first as was the case for the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. Get it wrong either way and we face disaster, the whole nation. Even the experts do not agree (they rarely do). Is it the Oxford model or the Imperial College? Both have very different forecasts. It doesn’t help to know that these two distinguished science departments have history – some 20 years ago Imperial poached 80

Light at the end of the tunnel?

We need hope, particularly as the lock down continues into an uncertain future. So at yesterday’s press conference foreign secretary Dominic Raab seeks to reassure: "There is light at the end of the tunnel" Some years back my good friend Jeff, a New Yorker, was experiencing major problems with his businesses. I recall him emailing me to say that the only light he could see at the end of the tunnel was the front-end lamp of the approaching locomotive. It was a grim time for him. Sometimes you just have to laugh. As it happens Jeff is Jewish and one of the blessings of the Jewish faith is the gift of humour, not least from the rabbinic tradition. Two Rabbis, Rava and R Zeira, get t

What did the centurion see?

On this grim day, three powerful statistics: * Now 100 doctors in Italy have died of COVID-19. * In the UK the 10 doctors who have died from the virus were all immigrants. * Nine London bus drivers have died from the coronavirus along with five other transport workers. What holds these disparate people together is a strong sense of duty. Certainly medics know the risk. Sadly Abdul Chowdhury, the latest doctor to die, warned the prime minister directly to provide NHS workers with adequate PPE. Even so they showed up, some out of retirement. But the vulnerability of bus drivers, certainly in London, was not given media attention until they started to die. Similarly for many minimum

When we need to smell their breath

“A.A. saved my life. Can it work online?” asks a contributor in this morning’s New York Times. You may be familiar with the work of the tremendously influential Alcoholics Anonymous, founded in 1935 in Ohio with the stated aim of enabling its members to "stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety. Over the years I have become impressed with this mutual aid fellowship. Certainly one person I know became a disciple of Jesus through its ministry. He was totally convinced that its Twelve Steps were thoroughly Christian, not least in #3, “to make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.” At the heart of the ministry of AA is the regul


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