Updates and Observations

  1. I’ve written about my problem thumbnail before. It’s probably no surprise my ageing fingernails have grooves in them, but that one of them grows with a groove so deep that it splits every time is distressing. And I’ve tried so many products over the years in hopes of a miracle cure, including Miracle Cure. Five or six different Nailtiques products, including oil, moisturiser, protein formulae: none helped. Treatments for ageing nails, base coats, groove fillers, nail therapy liquids, Sally Hansen’s aforementioned Miracle Cure, and three different Eveline Cosmetics therapies: none helped. I reserve particular contempt for Eveline’s “Diamond Nail Professional Therapy” which stands out as the most useless of them all, chipping hopelessly within 24 hours of application. My current treatment is Nail Envy strengthener. I have no hopes: I’m simply applying a coat to glue the two halves of my thumbnail, which I keep short so it can’t catch on things, together.
  2. This year’s Tour de France, against all expectations, has been great. There was very little British interest (one of the Yates brothers finished in the top 10) following the withdrawal of G and Froome. Earlier in the summer, I watched re-runs of 2018, which was oddly comforting at the height of lockdown. I was convinced that a September Tour would be beset by bad weather, but the only ironic rain was right at the beginning, down in Nice. While we’ve all been tutting the gathered crowds on some mountain stages (particularly those horrible people who scream directly into the faces of the riders as they pass), for the most part it seems to have been well-run. And when there haven’t been crowds, you really didn’t notice. The truth is the face screamers are horrible at the best of times: it’s just another way that the sociopaths who live among us reveal themselves. Yesterday’s stage, passing very close to home-in-France, over hills I’ve ridden myself (though not the last one) was actually one of the most exciting and dramatic I can remember.
  3. The ITV television coverage of the TDF here in the UK has been excellent, as ever. Although the team were based down in Kent, instead of following the tour, they still managed their usual informed and informative discussions. Chris Boardman was back, which was great, and his short films were excellent. Whoever edits the musical montages at the end of the highlights show deserves an award, and I’d love to see a Director’s Cut of their whole-Tour-in-two-minutes clip. I could do without the rider interviews, however. The word “yeah” does a lot of heavy lifting in these mostly content-free interviews, and without a personality like Wiggo or Cavendish, nobody has much else to say. The International Cycling English lexicon mainly consists of short bursts of staccato boilerplate, peppered with ummms and punctuated by yeah. And that includes the British riders. Only Green Jersey winner Sam Bennett moved the needle, and that was just because he sobbed instead of speaking.
  4. And, oh, the humanity, but the advertising! As I said, ITV do a good job, but Jesus Christ the advertising is dire. In the evening, for the highlights, you get a break every 8 minutes or so, which is bad enough. The Zwift music is playing on a loop in my head, perhaps forever. But it’s during the afternoon live coverage that you encounter the absolute worst that this industry has to offer. Adverts for life/health insurance interspersed with charity advertising so distressing it really ought to be banned. All of this presumably aimed at an assumed audience of fixed-income shut-ins who are easily manipulated by heart-wrenching scenes of sick children and abused donkeys. Needless to say, none of these charities is ever going to get a penny of my money.
  5. Meanwhile, of course, the virus in France is now peaking higher than it did in the Spring. And, just like then, the UK is not far behind. And although the death rate is not all that high yet, you can’t help thinking that all the scoffed-at predictions of the Nudge Unit types – who argued that we’d all get Lockdown Fatigue if we jumped too early – have come true. It’s hard to know what will be best. Every trip out that involves wearing a mask is horrible, a situation not helped by completely irrational and onerous mask-wearing policies at work. I’m sure we’ll all be instructed to have open windows in classrooms this winter, even though that might be counter-indicated by the science. According to a recent edition of the BBC’s Inside Science, humidity matters a lot, and it might be better to keep windows closed and use a humidifier (about 50% humidity is what you’re aiming for).
  6. I keep forgetting to call the chimney sweep.

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