Holy Lord, seriously?

Restaurateurs are hoping the scheme will boost a struggling sector. Hawksmoor, the high-end steak restaurant chain, said it received 5,500 bookings in six hours after it advertised the “best steak and chips in Britain” for a tenner (it reduced the cost of a 300g portion of rump steak and chips from £30 to £20 before applying the discount).

£30 for steak and chips? And that’s rump?

I’ve been out of England too long, obviously, given my surprise at that number. I’d expect dinner for 2 including the wine for that. Actually, we do go for – lunch, agreed – for two for significantly less than that. Including the wine, coffee, amuse guele and tip.

67 thoughts on “Holy Lord, seriously?”

  1. Hawksmoor’s prices are higher than the norm, but restaurant prices are generally far too high thanks to the Minimum Wage regulations and the tightening of them to exclude tips from the calculation. Last time we had lunch in a pub I decided not to have a £19.50 steak and chips when there was a steak-and-ale pie for a bit less than half the price (the pie was nice and I was quite content to pay the price for it).

  2. Not outrageous pricing for London. And it will be a good steak too.
    You might find a rump steak for less than £20 in decent gastropubs round where I hail from, but not much under.
    Wetherspoons is probably the only place you’d get steak for a tenner…

  3. Steak is about £18-20 around Swindon (although that is sirloin). It never feels like good value to me. One of the most expensive dishes, but the skill in cooking it is almost non-existent. Compared to making a good pie or a fish stew.

  4. Dinner for 2 for £30? In the UK? Perhaps in the 80s? These days you would struggle to get 2 pizzas plus wine for £30.

  5. I sympathise with Tim. During my sojourn in the UK, I took a couple of French visitors for a pub lunch at a “recommended” pub in Sussex. The food was shit, the service atrocious & the size of the bill had the French shaking their heads in disbelief. I’ve long reckoned the UK to be a horrible place to dine out. The problem’s cultural. For some reason the Brits continue to believe that eating in a restaurant is a “special occasion”. And they’re reluctant to complain because doing so would “spoil it”. Restaurateurs know this & take advantage of it. You can serve any crap to Brits at any price & they’ll eat it & pay for it. And probably tip. They wouldn’t last five minutes in many other countries. Why I avoid the Brit frequented tourist aeas of our town like the plague.

  6. From my experiences of Hawksmoor, it will be excellent steak, cooked to perfection and served in a very nice environment by highly professional waiting staff.

    Whether that is worth £30 is personal opinion, but I never felt I was getting poor value for money.

  7. For special occasions I go to fish restaurants – north of £40 a head without drinks. For normal eating I go Italian and eat fish of the day.

    Even a fish supper takeaway at our local chippy is £8 now (haddock)

  8. Golly, steak is over-rated. I’ve never had a really good one in the Anglosphere.

    France and Italy, yes, but not the US, UK, Canada, Oz, or NZ.
    Roast beef is a plain different case, of course.

  9. BiS
    You’ve said that before about British eateries, and I’ve said before that it simply doesn’t accord with my experience. In Suffolk, Norfolk, and North Yorkshire, I have found wonderful food at restaurants and gastropubs. Not as good value as Spain, but at least as good, if not better, quality. Where UK restaurants fall down badly is in the lack of reasonably priced wine of decent quality.

  10. Like djc I can do far, far better at home. The only time I’ve eaten out and got absolutely delicious steak, cooked just how I’d ordered, was Gauchos at Richmond.

  11. Dearieme,

    I’ve had some excellent steaks in Aus, usually a thick eye fillet.

    The worst steak I’ve ever had was in Paris, it was inedible. Fortunately, they were as crap at organising bills as they were cooking. We got the bill for people who just had drinks so happily paid and left. Still gave them one star on TripAdvisor.

  12. @djc and others

    “If I’m going to dine out it won’t be steak, I can do better at home.”

    Interesting sentiment. As a vegetarian I’m afraid the joys of expertly cooked meat/fish are alien to me but it does mean I almost never dine out – the vegetarian options at a typical restaurant or pub are almost invariably equivalent to what I would have at home. There’s a lot of skill to preparing meat that just doesn’t apply to quorn.

  13. I see that the BBC are reporting the latest “expert” who is stating that pubs will need to shut in order that schools may be able to reopen next month…

    Either the man’s a rabid temperance adict or the pubs in his area have very relaxed attitudes to underage drinking! 🙂

    Really, enough is enough. Haven’t these over-qualified idiots done enough damage to people’s livelyhoods?

  14. Yes, Theo. You can get good food in the UK. But it tends to be roulette, if you don’t know the restaurant. You’re just as likely to come across crap at the same prices with the same level of patronage. Place I took my French friends just wouldn’t survive in France. (Maybe Paris, but Paris isn’t acknowledged to be anything to do with France) They certainly wouldn’t put up with the disinterested service. Entered & went to bar to ask for table. Waited while barmen finished whatever he was doing at the cash register. Got pointed in direction of unattended restaurant area. Sat at table but was asked to relocate to other table. Given menus. Waited 10 minutes to order. Various meals turned up over a period of 20 minutes. One dish was obviously microwaved up supermarket freezer fare at 800% mark-up. Even paying for the rubbish involved going to the bar & trying to attract someone’s attention.

  15. Bloke in North Dorset

    Baron Jackfield,

    They’ve been talking about that on the Coffee House Shots podcast for a while now. The thinking, or probably lack of thinking, is that there is an “R” budget and the government can choose how to spend it. In this thinking pubs + school + rest of economy > 1 so something has to give and it will be pubs.

    I refer you to my rant on Thursday for my views on where we are now.

    PS MBE, I read your response to my rant and I generally agree about protecting others etc and I’ve been wearing a mask in crowded places like supermarkets since lockdown began and I don’t think mask compulsion is a hill to die on even, though I’m against compulsion.

  16. bis,

    “For some reason the Brits continue to believe that eating in a restaurant is a “special occasion”. And they’re reluctant to complain because doing so would “spoil it”. Restaurateurs know this & take advantage of it. You can serve any crap to Brits at any price & they’ll eat it & pay for it. And probably tip. They wouldn’t last five minutes in many other countries. Why I avoid the Brit frequented tourist aeas of our town like the plague.”

    My diagnosis is the opposite. We generally don’t think of eating out as a special occasion any longer. Going out now is much more about not being bothered to cook. The rise in the hospitality industry hasn’t been more branches of Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons, but more Pizza Express.

    Because these people don’t cook much at home, or stretch their personal culinary skills, they are ignorant about what a good meal is. Our family was invited to dinner by another family. I assume it would be cramped around a dinner table, or something, but no, they meant Pizza Express. We spent £130 for 7 of us to have mediocre pizza, defrosted factory desserts and pepsis. I could have done the whole thing for £30, even with my skills.

    Like, we’ve always had basic eating out that served certain requirements, like truckers stopping for a full English, or workers nipping out for McDonalds at lunchtime, but you didn’t have families with a cooker going out every week for something that a child could cook or living off a lot of microwave meals. You have people talking about “loving a cheeky Nando’s”. It’s chicken breast pieces with a spicy sauce. A child can make it.

    People are ignorant and chasing fashions in food (partly led by TV that disposed of Delia Smith and replaced her with people on mopeds). Pubs jump around cuisines, so have to microwave food, rather than having a set of dishes passed down the family that they know how to do. That’s the reason France has such high standards. You go into a place in Charente-Maritime and get served mouclade by a bloke who learned mouclade from his mother and has made it for a decade. It’s going to be pretty damn good mouclade by that point.

    Oh, and most people taking over pubs care about the liquid side. They want to be the guy pulling pints, despite the fact that most of the money is in food now.

  17. @Baron Jackfield

    The logic of Medley’s statement is that if we have reached the limits of what society can do without causing infections to grow exponentially again, but we have done so with schools shut, and if reopening schools creates new routes for transmission, then to prevent exponential growth you need to cut transmission routes somewhere else. Doesn’t have to be among kids. Doesn’t have to be pubs either – the BBC article has centred in on that but if you listen to what he said it was only given by way of example. There are some big ifs in there, including whether we really are at the limits and to what extent rises in recorded cases are due to improved testing and tracing, but the epidemiologists who have the most data available seem genuinely concerned that’s where we are at the moment.

    What Medley alluded to the need for – and this is something we really haven’t seen enough during this pandemic – is some kind of cost-benefit analysis to figure out which areas need to be prioritised, in terms of their contribution to wellbeing and the economy but also their contribution to viral transmission.

    Of course that still leaves the other trade-off, of how far we are preprared to compromise on allowing transmission and accepting a certain amount of disease, death and long-term sequelae among survivors, in return for the bulk of us being able to live more normal lives. But I can’t see any politician or advisor being prepared to accept a return to exponential growth, because that’s unsustainable as a policy. It won’t take many weeks of that to return to the situation of pressure on hospitals and more stringent lockdowns being imposed – you might not like the policy but in terms of big, blunt tools in the toolbox, the government doesn’t really have many at its disposal once things kick off. I’m not convinced that a rollercoaster ride of outbreaks and lockdowns is going to do anyone’s livelihood a favour, and will certainly produce economic uncertainty. To the extent the government has the ability to do fine-tuning, it’s likely to come by means of trading off one group of freedoms or sectors of the economy against others, while growth remains sub-exponential.

    Fingers crossed it never comes down to it but in terms of what I’m planning for businesswise/personally, I think there’s at least a chance of some further restrictions coming into place when the September term starts and maybe more once the annual flu season kicks off…

  18. @djc and others

    “If I’m going to dine out it won’t be steak, I can do better at home.”

    Inclined to agree with that. I prefer to eat what I wouldn’t cook at home. Often because whatever it is isn’t worth doing at small scale.
    Steaks for us are slinging kilo sized chunks of fillete in a pan or on the barbie & searing, but leaving the blood leaking out. Brasileras are enthusiastically carnivorous.

  19. Ethnic restaurants are still a bargain. Took the in-laws to a curry house last year, £11 a head for starter + main, drinks at normal pub prices. This is in London.

  20. BlokeInTejasInNormandy

    I can get remarkably good steak from the supermarche in Texas (HEB). I can and generally do get served remarkably good steak in restaurants in Texas (TX = Austin area, here).

    I have not yet found any reliably good steak in the supermarche in Normandy. Every now and then it turns out to be delicious, but ‘sporadic’ would be a kind term. Picard – the chain frozen food chain – is reliable with thie frozen dead cow, but not as good as excellent fresh. Most mid-priced restaurants (eg, menu at 25 euros; main plate 15 euros a la carte) have mediocre dead cow. But we do have one such resto nearby – the kitchen is staffed by a pair of blokes, one of whom used to be a well-respected butcher around here. Their dead cow is always excellent. Almost as if they knew where to buy dead cow.

    We ate there Thursday night – a la carte, with a couple of nice kirs to start with, a ‘Traditional’ Beaujolais at 22 euros, and a shared dessert; all for 70 euros for the pair of us – service included, of course.

    Dining at the resto across the street is a classier affair, with decidedly more elegant cooking and stuff, coming out at close to 100 euros for two Menus and vino and kirs.

    Dining at the nearby Creperie is decidedly lower end of the market, has an enormous selection of savoury crepes. BUT the wine ‘selection’ is to sneeze on. Sigh.

    Long time since ate in Blighty. Some really good things around the Oxford/Abindon area, though.

  21. @MBE
    I’d say the problem is more psychological than medical.It’s not as if Covid has a heavy death toll. Current excess deaths are in negative territory now, aren’t they? Wasn’t so long ago people would have just accepted it & got on with their lives. Now they expect intervention. Either through direct medical means or the theatre governments are imposing. If they don’t get it, they’ll panic & self-lockdown, bringing the entire economy to a halt. Don’t know what my grandmother, who got on with normal life under nightly bombing, would have made of it.

  22. @BIND

    Cheers. I think perhaps the reason so much disproportionate debate has has gone into the masks issue is precisely because they are marginal and poorly evidenced either way… definitely more heat than light there. There are some things that seem to matter a lot, in comparison, and effort there might be more productive. (For example making sure a “protective ring” really can be thrown around care homes at short notice … I think as it stands, there are still care homes sharing staff with each other and with hospitals, which has to be a recipe for disaster for any local outbreaks.)

    The concept of an “R budget” has been doing the rounds for some time like you say and was one of the rationales for phased ending of the lockdown – trying to get some understanding of what levers public bodies can push or pull to control the viral spread. Obviously it’s more sophisticated than a piece of simple arithmetic because changing viral transmission among children and among adults has different effects on the dynamics – as I understand it the people working on this are actually using age-structured transmission matrices, the notion of it as a “budget” is more for the convenience and understanding of politicians, officials and the media.

    In a different context I have met and talked with Medley before, far as I can tell he is very far from an idiot even though I disagree with many of his political views. His suggestion that we should think about what sectors or freedoms we want to prioritise (SAGE’s suggestion really, it isn’t only coming from Medley) is certainly logical for the objective he has in mind. Whether that underlying objective is the “correct” (or more accurately perhaps, socially desired) one is a different question of course.

  23. @ djc
    Fully agree: the occasions when I still# eat steak in a restaurant is when it looks the only safe alternative that I’m prepared to eat (or when my sister-in-law books us into a steak-only restaurant). Generally I prefer the steaks I cook myself.
    Since the first post I’ve checked the retail price of rump steak at my local high-quality butchers £8.99 for 300gm: it would obviously be 20-30% less at wholesale-type prices for a volume buyer like Hawksmoor, so that’s nearer a 300% than the standard 30% mark-up. [It gave me an excuse to buy a sirloin steak]
    #When I was younger I was in the habit of treating myself to a steak with, usually, mushrooms, chips and peas, on my way home after a marathon but I haven’t run a marathon since I tore my hamstring.

  24. @ MBE I feel some sympathy for you: my elder son’s partner is a vegetarian (not a vegan, and generally very tolerant of my omniverousness) and we have, on occasion, walked into a well-regarded restaurant as a family and walked out again because there was nothing tolerable for a vegetarian. I get annoyed when all the options in a sandwich bar are so trendy that they all contain something I strongly do not want to eat but Chris never makes a fuss because it is so common that he has determined to live with it.

  25. @bis

    Won’t disagree there’s a big psych element to this, and it affects the politics because anyone not seen to be “taking the pandemic seriously” (including potentially taking heavyhanded or even pointless window-dressing actions to prevent any Covid deaths while ignoring the value of literally anything else) is going to suffer in the polls. And for politicians who take the motherly/matronly approach to coddling the hysteria (Sturgeon, Jacinda) the rewards can be immense. Expect both of those to make big gains at their next respective elections if the polls are correct.

    Having said that, there are medical considerations hanging over the decision-making. Lots of illnesses have far higher fatality and hospitalisation rates than Covid, including many we used to grin and bear, or at least accept as a background risk, in the past. But there haven’t been many respiratory pandemics worse than Covid in this respect, nor many that are this highly contagious – in both respects Covid poses problems that your typical flu doesn’t. Moreover its long term effects seem worse, with a lot of hospitalised survivors having pulmonary fibrosis which will limit both the quality and length of the rest of their life. (If I were to catch Covid I would have a non-negligible chance of dying but I think the risk of sequelae would worry me more.) Once you throw that into the mix, Covid is nastier than the mortality stats suggest.

    Now you’re undoubtedly right that in this country we have developed certain expectations about trestment. I’ve seen videos from Ecuador of people just keeling over in the street in a way that wouldn’t be accepted here. But for many serious cases Covid is still a treatable condition and so if those serious cases don’t get to hospital for treatment the death rates would be far worse. Combine that with Covid being so unusually contagious and a greater proportion of cases needing hospital than for the flu, then uncontrolled Covid very quickly leads to exponential growth, swamped hospitals, and the kind of scenes we saw in Lombardy, death rates like we saw in Madrid. We haven’t faced a problem quite like it probably since your gran’s time – the HIV/AIDS pandemic will have killed more people, but it didn’t have that capacity to overwhelm a modern healthcare system from a standing start within weeks.

    No politician and no advisor is going to be up for a rerun of Lombardy. General public aren’t either, and that’s not just because they’re being scared by the media but because they’re rational. So the disease isn’t going to be allowed to just “sweep through” and there will be restrictions, that much is inevitable. Even hundreds of years ago societies did take protective measures against mysterious pandemics, despite having no cure, not much of a healthcare system to protect, and no modern biological or epidemiological understanding of the disease or its spread (worth looking up the etymology of the word “quarantine” as an example of such a measure, or think how London would close theatres if plague deaths were high that year) so the mere fact modern society is putting up protective measures isn’t all that out of line with history, though their extent is unprecedented. The question remains of whether our measures are any more sensible or effective than our predecessors, and whether poor choices are being driven by our public/media hysteria. There’s plenty of that about – not wanting Lombardy Mark II is rational, being worried that two people metres apart standing outside at a sparsely attended County cricket match while politely applauding are going to trigger it is pretty clearly irrational.

  26. “Place I took my French friends just wouldn’t survive in France.”

    There are thousands of dire restaurants in France with appalling service serving mediocre food. The house wine is usually good, though.

    Next time, do some research. Just Google ‘Michelin starred restaurants near…’.

  27. Here in the sticks you have to factor in a £30+ surcharge for the taxi to/from restaurant, unless someone wants to volunteer for the role of nominated driver. Bottle of wine per person is usually necessary to make the food palatable. Generally prefer to entertain at home (am married to a cook). Local restaurants may not be up to much but the quality of produce in the west country – steak or fish – is outstanding.

  28. “Since the first post I’ve checked the retail price of rump steak at my local high-quality butchers £8.99 for 300gm: it would obviously be 20-30% less at wholesale-type prices for a volume buyer like Hawksmoor, so that’s nearer a 300% than the standard 30% mark-up. ”

    That’s a little confused. Standard restaurant economics is 30% of costs is food, 300% mark up on food. 30% food, 30% labour, 30% rent, 10% profit if you’re lucky.

  29. @DocBud: things in Oz may have changed since our time, back when Aussies didn’t even hang the bloody meat properly.

  30. MBE

    You keep talking, here and other threads, about policy in relation to “a return to exponential growth”.

    If you look at the death stats / trends for the UK, for Sweden where they are already considerably less locked down than we are and have been throughout, and elsewhere where there have also been high deaths rates (ie 4/5/6/7 hundred per million deaths) and already less locked down than in the UK, exactly how do you think this return to exponential growth that “is going to overwhelm the health system when it didn’t in March” is going to happen?

    Are you still in the 5%/60% way of thinking (had it/need it for HIT) that I saw you mention earlier? Despite something like that simply no longer being in any way plausible if one stops to examine the data, including that from Sweden?

    As I can’t personally take the 5/60 ratio seriously, and as you’re clearly a bright and well informed pair of ears, I guess I’m just curious as much as anything?

  31. Living in the Spanish Basque Country is a foodie drinker’s heaven.

    Largest number of Michelin stars per capita. Pricey at the top end? Yeah but not a scandal. Hundreds of affordable runners up and loads of decent ‘menu del día’ from €10 to €14. (3 courses with a glass of house wine. Pinchos (tapas) are an art form and a great dinner alternative. Fish can be out-of-this-world

    Spain is perhaps the most interesting wine nation currently. Spectacular wines at justifiable prices. Good wine is cheap.

  32. Yup, restaurant food here is mostly dire and overpriced, but there are exceptions. I don’t understand that people find what’s on offer unacceptable, but I guess it’s because they don’t cook well themselves

    I’m almost always disappointed when I eat out in the UK. Mediocre food for inflated prices.

  33. I concur with the general thrust that you have to know where the decent places are, usuallt knowledge guarded by locals. Full English Breakfast almost too big to finish for a fiver at my local, and a Sunday Lunch to send you catatonic for £7.50. 🙂

  34. Bloke in North Dorset

    BoM4.

    People are ignorant and chasing fashions in food (partly led by TV that disposed of Delia Smith and replaced her with people on mopeds). Pubs jump around cuisines, so have to microwave food, rather than having a set of dishes passed down the family that they know how to do.

    Apart from our local we tend to only eat in pubs when we’re out in our motor-home and living off grid (not campsites). Some pubs let motor-homes stay overnight if they are having a meal and our rule of thumb is that we don’t use them if there’s more than about 6 main courses on the menu or they have a specials board the changes regularly. There’s a couple of good internet motor-home sites that recommend pubs for motor-homes and then we look at the menu online.

  35. @ Tim
    I was talking about my cooking a steak as against buying it in a restaurant – standard retail mark-up is, allegedly, 30%. Of course my labour cost is nil and, incidentally, so is rent. The cost of the chips, peas and mushrooms are all in pence (probably single-digit pence).
    So I pay a 30% mark-up to buy a sirloin steak from my butcher or a 300% mark-up to buy one in a restaurant.
    Is that more lucid?

  36. Bloke in North Dorset

    MBE,

    As PF says, the issue of exponential growth is misleading without knowing the susceptibility population. Initially this was thought to be close to 100% as it is a novel coronavirus but we’ve now had quite large part of the population exposed to it and there is growing evidence that exposure to other corona viruses provides some immunity at the T-cell level.

    So whilst a total hands off approach will lead to exponential growth the question is how quickly will it peak? Furthermore, we also have better therapeutics to help those who do get infected and have a bad reaction.

    So the question is, how bad will another wave really be? The evidence from Sweden points to it not being too bad, but of course no politician is going to allow that “experiment” to run, even though the evidence seems to point at it not being too bad.

    I sympathise with your position on getting the disease and its long term effects, as I’ve said before my brother is still suffering with shortness of breath some 4 months after ending up on a ventilator and its not nice. I’m also wary and do my best to stay fit as I’m at risk because we’re an inter-generational household with my son and his fiance living with us and both working.

    By the way, its looking more and more like Vit D is worth taking as a prophylactic:

    https://www.bmj.com/content/356/bmj.i6583

    https://www.israel21c.org/vitamin-d-helps-us-fight-covid-19-significant-study-finds/

  37. BiND,

    “Apart from our local we tend to only eat in pubs when we’re out in our motor-home and living off grid (not campsites). Some pubs let motor-homes stay overnight if they are having a meal and our rule of thumb is that we don’t use them if there’s more than about 6 main courses on the menu or they have a specials board the changes regularly. There’s a couple of good internet motor-home sites that recommend pubs for motor-homes and then we look at the menu online.”

    This is sound. It’s a lot of effort to make a sauce properly,or prepare a stew. The effort is worth it when you serve lots of plates of it.

  38. BiND

    So whilst a total hands off approach will lead to exponential growth.

    I’m not even convinced of that? Because, on the run up to 23rd March, people were changing their own behaviour quite willingly. And which clearly must have been at least part of the reason it peaked and turned before 23rd (unless it had already mostly burned).

    Sweden copied us, without enforcing a lockdown. But it did lock down – it was voluntarily, like us before 23rd March – and continues as such today, albeit still far less locked down than we are today.

    All of this points for me towards a policy of “loosening off and then not panicking at some sort of multiple cluster type up-clicks”. One could easily put a very large “random” scale testing process in place whilst that was happening, just to stay ahead of needing deaths as a proxy (if an upturn became material). But I don’t think it’s about that any more. I think the Government know all this. It’s simply about saving face, and hence the change in narrative to “defeating the virus”, and screw everything else?

    Unless someone has a more convincing explanation for all the data to date? If so, I’d love to see it, I don’t have any ideological reason for saying what I have above?

    So the question is, how bad will another wave really be? The evidence from Sweden points to it not being too bad, but of course no politician is going to allow that “experiment” to run, even though the evidence seems to point at it not being too bad.

    I agree.

  39. Theo. I’ve lived in France. I’ve travelled extensively through France. I was married to a Frenchwoman. Lived with another. I’m an adopted member of a French family. I’m not just some Brit who goes there for a fortnight’s holiday.
    Perhaps that’s it. I probably wouldn’t go into sub-standard restaurants. I’m certainly not going anywhere near where Brit tourists go.
    Eating out, often as a family, is part of French culture. As it is in Spain. Any French restaurant, outside of the city cores, will survive on its regulars. Some who may eat there every day. It’s another aspect of French culture. Regarding “your” restaurant as an extension of your home. Some are used for generations. A crap restaurant is just not going to survive that for long.
    And maybe you’ve banged up against French customs. When you’ve finished a course you put your knife & fork down on the table. Not together on your plate. That signals you’re still eating it. And you may only get one plate & cutlery set for the entire meal. Depends how French your French restaurant is.

  40. Bloke in North Dorset

    PF,

    “ One could easily put a very large “random” scale testing process in place whilst that was happening, just to stay ahead of needing deaths as a proxy (if an upturn became material). ”

    We shouldn’t need to wait for deaths, hospital admissions should be the indicator used to tell us if it’s getting bad and might need intervention in a given area. Although I agree that mass testing would also help and to that end group testing could provide the fastest and cheapest solution.

    We’ve long forgotten that it was all about flattening the curve, never about reducing the area under the curve, to protect the health care system something that we should all agree was a laudable aim.

    As a 60+ year old I was certainly alarmed by stories of Italian and Spanish doctors taking the ventilator tubes out of those >60 to give the ventilator to younger patients and giving the old palliative care. Of course we now know that ventilators in most cases were doing more harm than good and there are many other forms of therapeutic care.

    And I agree that people had already changed their behaviour, we were amongst them 🙂

  41. Restaurants: I find best are small owner operated in cheap rent back streets/basements of city centre and often many in same street competing for your custom

    @BraveFart
    You should try Morrisons takeaway – Fish Supper with mushy peas or baked beans and 2 slices of bread and butter for £5.50

    Eat in is plus tartare sauce, minus bread and butter for £4.95

    @BoM4 August 1, 2020 at 12:30 pm
    Spot on. Too many people are scared of attempting to cook – removal of Home Economics at school?

    Grammar School for boys I attended in NI offers Home Economics as a supplementary subject and due to demand an after school activity too

  42. @bis, PF August 1, 2020 at 4:05 pm

    +1 Number testing positive for C-19 in UK – 0.07% of population (ONS)

    MBE is infected with Covid Derangement Syndrome – being a vegetarian a co-morbidity

    The Government’s Incoherent New Measures in the North

    Hancock said this decision was “based on the data” and referred to “an increasing rate of transmission in parts of Northern England”.
    The ONS estimates that about 1 in 1,500 people in homes in England are infected (roughly 36,000 people in total)

    Even though these data show a slight uptick in the number of cases in the past few weeks – from 0.05% of the population to a whopping 0.07% – the overall number of cases is far lower than it was at the end of April 0.34%

    More changing of the way they collect stats. Now they’re no longer taking the most recent test result, they’re counting all positives, even if a later test was negative. Inflates positive tests. They just cannot stop trying to fiddle the figures
    https://twitter.com/JaneDryden4/status/1287409365343969280

    @BiND

    By the way, its looking more and more like Vit D is worth taking as a prophylactic

    HCQ too
    A round-up of the evidence from 65 different countries on the effectiveness of early treatment of COVID-19 with hydroxychloroquine. It works

  43. ‘said it received 5,500 bookings in six hours’

    Business 101: Pricing – balance margins and volume.

    Seems they set the price a little low.

  44. A friend of mine is a school administrator. Talked with her yesterday. Asked her about school opening.

    She said governor declared that schools must open. In class instruction.

    Followed by 114 pages of directions on how schools are to be run. Her words, “Written by people who have never been in a school room.”

    Gonna be a mess.

  45. Pcar is correct and budesonide (sic) an inhaled corticosteroid also works a treat to stop the supposed burst blood vessels /heart attacks that C19 is supposed to bring on.We have a half dozen effective treatments and don’t need the vaccine the state is determined to force on us.

    MBE–Everything you say about damp squib flu is bollocks.You have become a pseudo-science NiV replacement. The only positive is that at least you aren’t up to his million word missives of error.

    BiND–Those who say masks aren’t a hill to die on wont be dying on any fucking hill anywhere . They don’t have the balls for low level trouble but they’re saving themselves for high noon. Sure they are.

  46. Bloke in Spain

    I’ve had terrible dining experiences in Spain. Catalonia, in and around Barcelona to be specific. Some really awful food.

  47. BiS

    “Perhaps that’s it. I probably wouldn’t go into sub-standard restaurants.”

    Exactly. Classic confirmation bias. Your French friends select and take you to good French restaurants, from which you conclude that all French restaurants are good.

    You then select one poor Sussex restaurant without researching it and conclude that all UK restaurants are dire.

    Never mind the tourist hotspots, there are dreadful restaurants even in la France profonde – scruffy, fly-blown and serving a couple of warmed-up staples indifferently cooked and presented by some rotund hag and her retarded grandson.

  48. BIS,

    I used to regularly holiday in the Charente and that’s what all the restaurants were like in the villages. You’d go back the following year and most of the staff were the same. And yes, their regulars. The farmer next door would always go to one place nearby, and for special occassions would go to the Cheval Blanc a few villages away (which was brilliant). And the standard was pretty good.

    The only bad place I’ve been was in Boulogne, which was a tourist place up in the old town.

  49. Pcar,

    “Restaurants: I find best are small owner operated in cheap rent back streets/basements of city centre and often many in same street competing for your custom”

    Major street places can rely on passing, occasional trade. To get people to go to a side street depends on word of mouth. Same applies in provincial towns in the UK. The best places to eat are in the villages around, not in the town.

  50. Theo. My “family” live on the French/Belgian border up in 59. I operate as as far south as Perpignan, Biarritz & Port Grimaud. If they’ve taught me anything it’s how to avoid bad restaurants. First rule, stay away from Brit tourists.

  51. Pcar,

    “Spot on. Too many people are scared of attempting to cook – removal of Home Economics at school?”

    This always seems the simplistic answer, but those classes were crap (in my experience) and unnecessary. Cooking is a general skill. It’s not like trigonometry which most parents don’t know. And what they taught was stuff almost every mother knew, like toad in the hole or scones. I learned baking and a few other things by doing it with my mother. There’s value in teaching chefs for advanced stuff, sure, but not for everyday cooking. And you can learn gradually. Start simple, build up over the years.

    I think it’s really more about incentives. More women working who trade cooking for work, people getting married later, so they live on ready meals and eating out longer.

  52. @PF/BIND

    As I said, I think Medley’s views are at least logical, and I’ll go further and say they seem quite plausibly consistent with the facts, but I’m less convinced that he’s actually “right” – in the sense that as far as I can see, it might well be that we could both get schools going and relax other restrictions and still get through winter okay. There are several things that point in that direction – awareness that the antibody tests have not turned out to be the game-changer initially expected, with more people having potentially been infected than their results suggest; better therapies that should improve survival rates and, importantly from a capacity perspective, reduce time spent in hospital; the T-cell stuff; the fact that, as yet, nowhere hit as hard as the UK was the first time, has experienced a second wave of similar magnitude.

    Weighted against that, though, are a few serious concerns. There’s no consensus yet – in fact extraordinary disagreements between scientists – on what the T-cell/antibody studies tell us about remaining susceptibility or the idea of herd immunity, and we know even less about how immunity to Covid wanes. Top-rate epidemiologists with access to far more data than is publicly available are concerned there’s a genuine uptick going on in England (and several European countries too) and in layman’s terms we may have “exhausted our R budget”. This may not be clear in the public data yet, but something that gives me an uneasy sense they may be on to something is something that worried me a lot during the height of the lockdown – despite imposing the most extreme restrictions this country has ever seen, with results clear to see in the economic and transportation data, the estimated R number was only barely below one. It would have been far more reassuring to see it dip well below 0.5 so there was clearly more room to play with … I know many people’s great hope is that herd immunity can be achieved with far fewer infections than originally believed, and we may – at least in London – have been getting there already, but the effects of immunity on the disease dynamics are already incorporated in the R-number, and given those were less than reassuring this isn’t a basket I’d want all my eggs in. (Some technical caveats here, though – R actually approaches 1 rather than 0 as herd immunity is reached, and when the number of infections is small R might not be the most informative measure to be looking at, particularly given the wide confidence/credible intervals around its estimates.) As for the “no-one’s had a second wave yet”, the fear is we might witnessing the very beginning of one.

    Exponential growth is problematic because it limits the ability of governments to just sit back for a couple of weeks and watch how the data unfolds, before deciding whether the trend is “real” and what response would be proportionate – data is noisy at the best of times, the effects of changes in testing and tracing policies need stripping out, and even then disease spread is inherently stochastic anyway, with considerable variance from “super-spreading” events. But you don’t need to sit on your hands for very long before you are faced with a situation which is very hard to turn around, the “moving oil tanker” scenario, which tends to push governments into extreme actions. The alternative is governments playing at fine-tuning civil liberties on the back of small changes in noisy data, which isn’t ideal either. Unfortunately the dynamics of disease outbreaks are such that roughly exponential growth in the early stages is the norm, and it’s very hard to achieve “controlled spread”. (There was a long article, possibly by Reuters, about this being an element of early UK strategic thinking around the time of the “herd immunity” debate, thinking of ways to protect the vulnerable and allow it to pass through the less vulnerable, before it was abandoned as it was deemed unachievable. It was worth a read but I can’t find it now. The basic difficulty is there’s not a very responsive “brake pedal” for keeping things under control, the disease is too contagious to keep it contained only to the relatively healthy, and the way you quickly run into the limits of hospital capacity.)

    So I’m afraid my view is nuanced, rather like I feel about masks (sceptical they make that much difference, very sceptical they’re the silver bullet their most extreme proponents claim, accept there’s probably a greater chance of them being somewhat net positive than net negative, on-board with why their use was advised, unhappy from a political philosophy perspective that their use would be enforced in criminal law on the back of such weak evidence, but – looking at how usage remained low in the UK before they were made compulsory – sympathetic with the political pressure that government felt to put it into law). Might we be okay to ease things off and focus on the economy now? Some scientists smarter than me think so, but they’re far from a majority. More likely is that there’s some form of trade-off, but in principle unembuggering the economy might be worth more deaths (though no politician or advisor can afford to be seen stating this so plainly). Is there a real risk of Lombardy Mk II? Well, a couple of London hospitals came very close to being overwhelmed last time out, but we just about dodged it. We’re certainly better prepped this time round. But the NHS always has capacity issues and we only made it through by de-prioritising non-Covid patients, which undoubtedly had nasty long-term effects. If we have to do that again before the backlog is cleared, then the effects on those patients is going to be even worse. Since winter is a bad time for NHS capacity with falls and flu (fingers crossed that’ll be reduced this year by the way we’ve adapted to Covid) even a Covid spike half as bad as what we saw before would be an unacceptable risk. This is why I reckon even if some of the numbers like PF pointed to look better now than our earlier estimates, that improvement may not make much difference. I don’t think politicians are in a position where they can act on the “rosy” scenario, especially if they’ll cop the blame for the ill-effects of easing restrictions against their scientific advice. This is compounded by the popularity of those politicians who’ve publicly taken an “area-under-curve-squishing” stance, which is a somewhat different objective.

    I’m afraid the political realities that underlie the policy response “matter” more for me in some ways than the more abstract issue of “who’s right in principle” (which we may never know), at least when it comes to policy suggestions that are clearly never going to be implemented (not a snowball in hell’s chance of a UK government of any stripe switching to Toby Young-style Covid-libertarianism). Medley may, in fact, be incorrect about the effects of further opening of the UK economy, but understanding the logic and principles of “R-budgeting” is important because that line of thinking is likely to prove influential in UK policy, therefore I need to take account of it both in my business planning and my investment portfolio. Medley’s views matter in a way that Toby Young’s don’t. Sorry Toby. A “who’s right” question which is of personal importance to me is whether, given the likely UK policy over the next few months, there is a second wave here and if so, how severe? To which my gut feeling at the moment is “probably not”, but that’s coupled with an expectation of a pretty authoritarian (arguably excessive) policy response continuing.

  53. “despite imposing the most extreme restrictions this country has ever seen, with results clear to see in the economic and transportation data, the estimated R number was only barely below one.”

    But that would have depended on how complete the lockdown was. People are people. They’re all in favour of things when the affect other people. Far less keen when it affects them. Look at road speed limits. Any one disagree with speed limits? Yet what actually happens? Go on any road & half the cars will be travelling above the limit, slowing when they think there’s a camera. Try driving at the limit & you’ll have cars all over your back bumper. So how complete was lockdown, actually? We know that some high profile figures breached it, because they made the news. Common sense says a lot of others did too. It’s just the way people are. Restrictions are for other people whist their needs are always a special case. It’s not as if it was hard. Our lockdown here was far stricter than anything you saw in the UK. We managed to drive a coach and horses through it. For, as far as we were concerned, justifiable reasons.

  54. Home economics wasn’t just about cooking.

    On cooking, you learn essential cooking skills no matter what you are making. Even scones. Planning. And managing all to come out at the right time. Seeing your mother getting it right isn’t the same as doing it yourself.

    But then it became Family and Consumer Sciences. Which I presume are Leftist indoctrination.

  55. Thanks for taking the time to write that, MBE, I certainly learnt something from it. I’m sure you’re right that it would be a ‘brave’ politician (in the Sir Humphrey sense) who would risk seeing the NHS overwhelmed, even if there’s a case to be made (purely on the cost in lives lost) for allowing that to happen if the alternative is trashing the economy for the next decade.

    But I don’t think a second, possibly even more severe, lockdown is going to work. There are already plenty who’ve taken their personal decision to ignore aspects that don’t suit them (and there’s no real way of universal enforcement – we’re not China, thank God, and can’t weld people’s doors shut).

    I’m lucky that I’ve no risk factors (other than being over 60), but friends who are older and ‘riskier’ than I are already taking the view that life is for living and spending the next year hiding under the bed is not for them – let the chips fall where they may.

  56. Bloke in North Dorset

    MBE,

    All good points and I agree there’s no right answer.

    My sympathy for politicians is declining rapidly, though. My position is that decisions made in good faith with the available data and advice should not be pilloried no matter what the outcome. However we’re now seeing that there is a moral weakness when it comes to explaining the trade-offs and trusting the public. I’ve always had a low opinion of Boris and that’s been confirmed, the story about his response when the Treasury explained the economic position says it all. He’s too lazy to master a brief and therefore never in a position to ask advisers searching questions.

    As to masks, I’m of the same opinion and the data will probably be too noisy to work out whether or not compulsion made a difference. The much missed Slate Star Codex had a great post on the subject, which got in to the ethics of double blind random controlled trials and noting that we didn’t do them on parachutes to know they make sense in some situations.

    I’m probably more optimistic on the second wave issue. I still have faith that the combination of good sense following social distancing and hygiene advice and the reduced susceptibility numbers will means not as high a peak, but Like you I don’t think we’ll find out because politicians will over react to small changes. As prof Karol Sikora says: we should be positive but on our guard.

    Chris,

    I’m also 60+ and with no known other problems and don’t plan to live the next 12 months under the bed, no matter what the the government says. Mrs BiND unfortunately does have other problems so whilst I will not be under the bed I will be very cautious.

    And now it’s off to the golf course for a major seniors’ competition

  57. BiND,

    “I’ve always had a low opinion of Boris and that’s been confirmed, the story about his response when the Treasury explained the economic position says it all. He’s too lazy to master a brief and therefore never in a position to ask advisers searching questions.”

    What did he say?

    Boris is your enthusiasm guy. He pulls in crowds at Conservative fund raisers. I’ve worked for people like Boris and when you point out a flaw in the approach they’re backing, they always hand wave with “oh, well, we’ll sort that out”. Then you say “how” and they’re all “look, this is just detail. don’t worry”. I’ve learned to start looking for a new contract when I find I’m working for one. Because in a month or two, it’ll all go to shit anyway.

  58. Bloke in North Dorset

    BoM4,

    Apparently he went white and muttered something along the lines of “I didn’t realise it was so bad”.

    I don’t have a problem with the enthusiasm,I quite like it, my problem is he won’t put the hard work in when needed, and I have that from a senior civil servant who worked with him on the Olympics and not just from the usual sources.

  59. @BoM4 August 2, 2020 at 8:49 am

    City/Town centre Main Street Passing trade – yes, for lazy & visitors

    Locals know where the good inexpensive restaurants are; which is one reason I always explore ‘back streets’ too

    Bristol: SS GB – trendy expensive restaurants on ‘peir’ – walk down allyway and cheap, better there

    Cooking? Yes, bit of both. I watched a BBC ‘three chefs help poor to feed themselves’ docu. One unemployed mother opened cupboard:
    – Chef: Good, you have spaghetti, what do you make?
    – Woman: Food bank gave it to me, don’t know how to cook it

    I learned by watching and helping parents in kitchen and by parents allowing me freedom from birth. No plastic hammers & nails, allowed to use real tools

    Crawling? I didn’t, watched others then at 8 months stood up and walked

  60. @MBE August 2, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    More NiV style screeds

    You raised cost-benefit analysis, then ignore conclusions

    You raised ‘second wave’ spike and panic, then ignore a “50%” increase from 0.05% to 0.075% of population is Nothing. Covid Derangement Syndrome proven

    .
    You passed number test on virus vs CO2 size, yet ignore C-19 numbers to feed your hysteria. You’re a scared hysterical bed-wetter – fine, wear your nappy and keep washing your hands, face, clothes, hair, shopping, mail…. every 20 minutes. I will carry on as normal

    Stop compelling others to do as you do

    Face-nappies?
    As I forecast when compulsion announced:
    ‘Customer numbers fall after compulsory face masks were introduced in shops, figures reveal‘ – Mail reports that the introduction of mandatory face nappies has meant fewer people going shopping, not more
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8584347/

    Seems that the Dutch ‘science’ can find no benefit in face-nappies at all, so not mandatory or even recommended there
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8583925/The-land-no-face-masks-Hollands-scientists-say-theres-no-solid-evidence-coverings-work.html

    Face masks make you stupid
    Why face masks are a form of dehumanisation
    https://thecritic.co.uk/face-masks-make-you-stupid/

    Compulsory Masks Will Divide Britain More Bitterly than Brexit
    …Boris Johnson likes to describe himself as a One Nation Conservative. But he could scarcely have dreamed up a way of creating a more viciously divided Two Nations than with this silly, iniquitous masks policy.

    I’m sure it will come back to bite him. Note, for example, that the most Machiavellian player in his government – and effective second-in-command – Michael Gove has let it be known that he himself did not want masks to be made compulsory. Perhaps Gove is positioning himself to take advantage of the inevitable backlash…
    https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2020/07/24/compulsory-masks-will-divide-britain-more-bitterly-than-brexit/

    @MBE
    Don’t forget to wear your face nappy in bed, you never know what could come through air-vent as you sleep

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