Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I reviewed three films set and/or filmed in the British Isles — two of them featured Judi Dench.
I’ve been passively seeking a news source that is identical to the news that I would get if I were living in Britain. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
When I access big news sites, like BBC or The Guardian, from an American IP address, I get their American edition. There’s a lot of BBC content that is simply unavailable from an American IP address, which is fair since it’s funded by British tax dollars.
I recently discovered that the BBC puts the first 15-25 minutes of their morning show, BBC Breakfast, on YouTube. It’s not that easy to find, but if you start at the Videos tab of the BBC YouTube channel, you can pick out the BBC Breakfast show because the thumbnail has an orange banner above the headline. Now that I’ve watched several episodes, YouTube helpfully puts the program on my home page every morning.
The first headline most mornings is about coronavirus. It’s interesting to see how another country is handling it. Occasionally, there are some good ideas, but the biggest headline, recently, has been about a new law that doesn’t strike me as fair or effective.
On Monday, the Rule of Six went into effect in England. This bans, by law, gatherings of six or more, indoors or out, with monetary penalties. Monday’s BBC Breakfast covered the law extensively, as well as variations in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
England is trying to solve the same problem that we’re having in much of the US — that COVID-19 spread is happening in the population of people in their 20s and 30s because of large social gatherings.
The unintended consequence comes in this scenario: if you are part of a highly functioning isolation pod of a family of five plus a set of grandparents who help with childcare and schoolwork, you can’t have a birthday party with all seven people. But, you can join five of your mates at a pub — which is demonstrably much less safe.
I’ve been more intrigued by the way the British handle hotspots with localized increased restrictions and other measures, like door-to-door testing, to keep the spread limited.
The other headline is a dustup in the Brexit negotiations. In my last Brexit post, in December last year, the UK and EU we’re jumping over the final hurdles toward Brexit, prepared to enter an 11-month transition period during which the details of a post-Brexit world would be worked out. Even then, it felt like the tricky problem of Northern Ireland hadn’t been solved. I wrote about that many times in my Brexit posts, most recently in Brexit, Part 13.
Now, we’re nearing the end of the eleven months — Brexit is to be final on December 31st.
Northern Ireland, again, is one of the sticking points.
The Brexit story was in the middle when I started watching BBC Breakfast, so I turned to three TLDR News videos for the background.
The first one was based on rumors, but it’s the best one for explaining what happened and why.
The next one covered some of the problems with what the government wants to do, with both international and domestic ramifications. This one’s pretty wonky, so I’ll just link to it: The Real Problem with the Internal Market Bill.
I’m writing this on Tuesday and there’s a new TLDR News video to bring us up to date.
This story is ongoing, but now I understand enough to keep up with BBC Breakfast and TLDR News.
Are you tracking British news stories?