There’s an iconic scene in the sitcom Seinfeld, when the character George Costanza is hauled into his boss’s office, having been accused of sleeping with the cleaner at his desk.
Asked if this is true, George takes a long pause as every possible response runs through his head before he finally opts for: “Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I tell ya, I’ve gotta plead ignorance on this thing.”
Dominic Raab could have done worse on the media round this morning than that defence, after a picture was published in The Guardian of what appears to be a party in the Number 10 garden, replete with wine and cheese.
The Justice Secretary even at one point suggested the jamboree couldn’t be a party because, wait for it, people were wearing suits. The picture may not seem especially shocking from a December 2021 perspective, given how low-risk small, outdoor gatherings are known to be.
But in May 2020, when it was taken, members of the public were restricted to social mixing between households of just two people, outdoors and at a distance of at least two metres. And all the while,
grieving relatives were unable to say goodbye to dying parents and funeral numbers were severely limited.
Back to the present, and the Cabinet is meeting this afternoon to discuss further restrictions to counter the relentless rise of the Omicron variant. Options include a modest set of measures including guidance on limiting indoor contacts all the way to a full national lockdown.
The numbers in the capital are dreadful – nearly half of all London boroughs have seen Covid cases more than double in a week. To no one’s surprise, local authorities with the highest proportion of unvaccinated residents are seeing the sharpest increases. You can see where your area ranks in the horror show here.
Elsewhere in the paper, in the event you’ve forgotten what it looks like, the clock face of the Elizabeth Tower, better known as Big Ben, has been revealed without scaffolding for the first time in several years.
In the comment pages, Phoebe Luckhurst previews the reaction to Londoners visiting family in Not London: no one is glad to see you, you’re from plague central.
Meanwhile, Melanie McDonagh explains why It’s a Wonderful Life is the perfect Christmas film. (Even if you haven’t seen it, this is 370 words of joy).
And finally, Rohan Silva calls him the greatest British architect since Sir Christopher Wren. Richard Roger, whose buildings, like, the Lloyd’s of London building and Millennium Dome, “encouraged people to congregate, and feel that little bit happier as they went about their day,” has passed away aged 88.
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