Which Covid busybody had the gall to turf my cleaner off the bus?
JENNI MURRAY: Which Covid busybody had the gall to turf my cleaner off the bus?
- Jenni Murray, 70, says her cleaner was sent home by a ‘London Transport officer’
- She argues those who can’t work from home are allowed to travel in Tier 4
- She fears Covid Marshals could throw their weight around to feel powerful
Now I’m 70, I allow myself two things which I consider to be essential to keep me sane and for which my mother would berate me for being unnecessarily extravagant. First, I send my white cotton sheets, duvet cover and pillowcases to the laundry. They come back pristine and pressed.
Second, given my loathing of (and, I confess, incompetence at) having to insert a duvet into the cover or, indeed, of any form of housework, I employ a cleaner.
Adam comes to me once a week and roars around the house like a tornado, leaving the place immaculate. All was going to plan last week, Christmas Eve morning. The laundry had been returned and Adam was on his way. Just before 8am, my phone pinged. It was a text from Adam.
‘Hi Jenni. I was on my way to your house, but the inspector came on the bus and I have to go back home. Sorry about this.’
Jenny Murray was outraged when her cleaner Adam was questioned about his bus journey by a ‘London Transport officer’ (file image)
What?! As far as I knew, even in Tier 4, it was permissible to travel to your place of work if the job could not be done from your own home. Were we living in a police state?
Further investigation with Adam confirmed he had been on the bus, travelling to my house, when he was questioned by a ‘London Transport officer’, who had asked him where he was going and for a letter from the company he works for. Of course, he didn’t have one.
Adam, who had been wearing a mask, was in such a state of shock, he couldn’t tell me how many others had been challenged. He got off the bus and went home.
I was outraged. The Government’s guidance for Tier 4 could not be clearer. ‘To help contain the virus everyone who can work effectively from home should do so . . . Where it is necessary for you to work in other people’s homes — for example for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople — you can do so.’
So, what was Transport for London (TfL) up to?
A phone call and a long series of emails were exchanged between me and a helpful young woman, Lucy, from the TfL press office.
First she checked with their enforcement teams and found there is no requirement at present, as there was during the national lockdowns, to produce evidence of essential travel. No letter needed then.
Further investigation, after I gave her the bus number, prompted the fact that they didn’t have any enforcement officers working at the time. Curiouser and curiouser.
Lucy’s conclusion is that all deployments on December 24 were at bus stations and bus stops and not on buses. So, having thoroughly investigated Adam’s case, she finds it strange.
Jenni (pictured) said the virus is making life miserable for all of us, it’s important not to throw your weight around to make yourself feel powerful
They have had examples before where people have impersonated ticket inspectors to get money from people who may not have paid their fare, but there was no financial interest involved here.
There was financial interest involved for Adam, though. Not turning up to some employers might have meant a day’s pay would have been lost. It was not his fault that he was sent home and I have paid him, but I cannot understand why anyone would do such a cruel thing.
When the Government gave councils £30 million to fund ‘Covid Marshals’, this is what I feared might happen — busybodies suddenly flexing their power and control over other people’s lives with little thought as to the consequences.
Give some people a high-viz vest and tell them to order other people around and far too many jump at the chance. I don’t know if this was a Covid Marshal, but why use this wicked virus, which is making life miserable for us all, to throw your weight around and make yourself feel powerful at any time, let alone at Christmas?
The courage of saudi’s suffragette
Loujain al-Hathloul (pictured) received a jail sentence of almost six years for terrorism charges, including trying to advance a foreign agenda
It’s nearly two years since women in Saudi Arabia won the right to drive, after a long campaign by activists. But it seems the celebrations in June 2018 were misplaced.
Loujain al-Hathloul, a prominent figure in the fight to allow women behind the wheel, was arrested in May 2018 together with several others.
They also argued against the Saudi guardianship system which means women need to seek permission of a male guardian — father, husband, brother or son — if they want to enrol in school or university, travel, marry or apply for a passport.
This week, we learned Loujain had been tried and received a jail sentence of almost six years for terrorism charges, including trying to advance a foreign agenda. What she’d actually done was speak to Amnesty International and foreign journalists of whom I was one.
Women like her are Saudi’s suffragettes, imprisoned and punished for their activism in seeking equal rights to men.
Saudi’s de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was hailed as a feminist when the driving ban was lifted. He is no such thing.
- I received an email from my friend Penny whose little farmhouse just outside Ashford in Kent has long been a favourite place to visit.
I often envied her in moving out of London to the Garden of England. No longer. She had steam coming out of her ears at ‘the lack of care this Government is showing to thousands of people stranded through no fault of their own’ last week.
She was impressed by neighbours close to the motorway who provided food and water to the lorry drivers, but not by the two hours it took her son to do a short car journey.
It’s calmed now, but she’s convinced her peaceful country life will never be the same.
Don’t dare tell me I’m retired!
So many people have asked me how I’m enjoying my retirement since I left the BBC.
I hate the word. I’m not retired, just doing something different to keep my brain in gear.
Kay White is a woman after my own heart. She began working in her local Post Office in Shropshire in 1941 when she was 14 years old.
She’s been the postmistress since 1960, but the Post Office will close at the end of this month and she, at 93, will retire.
I bet she finds something else to keep her going.
Jenni argues Daisy Ridley (pictured) shouldn’t make herself smaller or quieter on set
The force be with you, daisy
Why on earth is Daisy Ridley best known for her role as the feisty Rey in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, so worried about being labelled aggressive?
‘Should I be smaller, should I be quieter?’ the English actress asked herself when told she was intimidating on set.
No, Daisy, you should not.
When a man is described as aggressive or intimidating, it’s regarded as a compliment. He’s tough and strong. He’s a leader who knows what he wants and how to get it.
Such qualities have long been considered unfeminine, but you’re an example of a new generation, where women don’t have to fade into the background.
Think Wonder Woman, Princess Leia and your very own Rey, who gave girls and women a new hero who has the Force with her. And whatever you do, please don’t be smaller than the parts you play.
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