Great Britain

Yes, I would love to go to the pub… but I want my son back at school more

PUBS or schools? Can you believe we are even having this debate?

I love a pint as much as the next person, but surely the luxury of a couple of beers down your local should never trump the right of an entire generation to a decent education.

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With the Government suggesting that it may be necessary to close pubs to enable schools to reopen, we held a viewer poll on GMB this week. Sixty-six per cent voted in favour of pubs closing.

Perhaps the Children’s Commissioner for England was watching. Anne Longfield burst into action on Wednesday, claiming kids had been an “afterthought” and that, if necessary, pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops should be sacrificed if it meant schools could open their doors. Tough words, but ones I found myself agreeing with.

Just yesterday I bumped into a pub landlord who wanted answers. I told him I was anxious about my son missing another day of school and I know other parents are feeling the same.

We’ll fight for our kids to get back to school.

I also told him I’d been out a couple of times and it’s sobering to witness people’s guards dropping by the pint as they struggle to keep their distance, especially the under-30s who have age on their side.

The Government has also suggested the over-50s stay home if a second wave hits, but is it fair for them to be sent home so the under-30s can play?

More than just your age needs to be considered if we start asking people to shield away indoors.

Surely one thing we can agree on is that we need to prioritise our kids. And if they head back to school in September, as is planned, that means there will need to be some tough decisions. If something has to go, surely, it’s the pint down the pub?

I realise it’s not that black and white. The Government bailout can’t go on for ever and the more pints pulled the better the cashflow, I get it!

But we must protect the taxpayers of the future and get them back into education.

We also need to protect our teachers, especially black and Asian educators, who might be small in numbers, but are high at risk of the deadly virus.

I spoke to a teacher friend of mine recently, who expressed his concerns about returning to the classroom after the holidays. He described the Government’s approach to schools as lackadaisical, saying the onus had been put on BAME teachers to manage under loose guidance.

The pandemic has made life tough for so many, and every industry thinks it should be a priority as we try to get back on our feet.

At least with the blanket lockdown we were all playing for the same team. Now it seems we are at each other’s throats.

We need to rebuild, but that means looking first to the future — our children.

Let’s get them back to school then figure out how we get our economy moving while keeping people safe. I’d drink to that.

New show with Ranvir and furry friends

RANVIR Singh and I had our first production meeting via Zoom for our new ITV Sunday morning show, All Around Britain, which we can’t wait to get going with in less than a month’s time.

The topical magazine program, celebrating people and places, will be shot on location each week throughout autumn.

The producers had us both super excited and Ranvir, being a new obsessed dog owner, only went and signed up both our pets as furry guests.

My pooch Peaches is absolutely barking mad, whereas Ranvir’s is annoyingly well behaved.

In fact, Shmizzles – yes that’s what she called him – will sit quietly on London’s Abingdon Green, opposite the Houses of Parliament, while Ranvir strokes her way through the latest politics on Good Morning Britain.

Peaches, on the other hand, is the lead barker in my neighbourhood dog choir The K9s.

There’s only one direction I’m heading in the coming weeks, and that’s back to doggy training.

SOME LIKE BRIT HOT AND BUSY

LAST week ended with the tarmac at Heathrow Airport sweltering in 37.8C, making it the third hottest day recorded in the UK.

This weekend it’s more of the same, with hotter than average temperatures.

That is welcome news for those of you making the most of British summer staycations and will no doubt add to the level of snobbery projected at those friends and family who have made the bold move to fly abroad to another coronavirus-hit destination.

Today is the peak of the heatwave, although we will continue to pull in the hot continental air over the weekend.

Temperatures in the South will be on par with many European holiday destinations.

The summer sunshine is definitely boosting our spirits and the tourism industry, but I do feel for locals who live year-long in idyllic destinations and have concerns about the risk of infection from the sudden influx of visitors.

Unfortunately, no matter how much they protest, I fear their cries will be drowned out by the sound of seagulls chomping on a bumper feast of leftover fish and chips.

Role model Tony

THIS week ITV News was dealt a massive blow when long-standing news presenter and face of Granada Reports Tony Morris lost his battle with kidney cancer.

Remarkably, but also a sign of the man he was, Tony continued to work despite his illness all the way through the pandemic.

As a Bafta award-winning journalist it’s no surprise so many looked up to him, myself included. When I joined ITV News there was only Tony and Sir Trevor McDonald as role models in terms of men who looked like my father.

I visited the Granada newsroom a few times and, on one occasion, after Tony strolled in wearing shorts and with his cycling helmet in hand, we went to his dressing room, where he gave me some straight-talking advice.

What he said has always stuck with me, but to tell you would be breaking the presenters’ dressing-room code.

FISH OFF THE MENU

I DID my bit this week and Ate Out To Help Out on a table for one at my local trendy cafe.

On the other side of mine were a group of girls chatting about their recent dating-app failures.

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t loosely flirted with the idea of online dating recently. However, I don’t think I’ll be dipping my foot in the water just yet after hearing about all the “wokefishing” that is going on in the dating-app world.

I had to hit spellcheck override three times as I Googled what on earth they were going on about.

Wokefishing is the shady practice of pretending to have progressive political views to appear more attractive in a politically charged era.

It’s just another baffling term to add to dogfishing – using snaps of dogs to lure in pet-lovers – and cat-fishing – using pictures which aren’t yours to lure in, well, anyone.

They say there are plenty more fish in the sea but it seems that plenty aren’t exactly catch of the day.

I’ll steer clear for now.

Focus less on reel life

I WAS one of those parents who caved in and signed up to TikTok during lockdown in a quest to fill time and brush up on my dad dancing, much to the embarrassment of my son.

However, is time about to be called on the Chinese app?

This week Instagram cheekily launched its own version called Reels, in a blatant attempt to try to keep you off TikTok.

I can’t say I’m reeling with excitement. It’s basically the same thing and yet another distraction from what’s really happening around the world in 2020.

I get that we have been desperate for forms of escapism and social media giants, like TikTok and Instagram, reckon they can fill that gap. But I’d like to put my phone down for a minute.

While you are staring at your smartphone, time is rushing by and life is wasted.

Professor Chris Whitty warns ministers have pushed easing of lockdown 'to the limit'

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