Edna O’Brian declared that the month of August was a wicked month. Whilst agreeing with her that it produces a climate in which wicked things can happen, I am inclined to think August is more of an ‘enigmatic’ month. Why? Because everything goes on hold in August. The schools are on holiday, politicians are on holiday, people are away and the cities are deserted. This year it is even stranger. There are fewer tourists around because of Covid, so London in particular is emptier than usual. However, all this doesn’t stop life going on, or events happening, which of course they do. It’s just that no action is taken when these events occur, because nobody is around to deal with them. There are now problems piling up and the consequences, as always, will be felt in September. It is interesting to note that due to events in August in 1914 and in 1939, two world wars broke out in the following September. I am not suggesting that another world war is imminent, but certainly there are worrying events taking place that definitely look ominous. Afghanistan is a case in point, a tragic mess that our politicians are going to find hard, either to justify or find a satisfactory way out. The world is not a happy place and dark clouds are gathering with particularly threats from both China and Russia. Nearer to home,  there are the consequences of Brexit pending-  Northern Ireland borders, empty shelves  in the supermarkets, rotting fruit and vegetables in the fields with no pickers, unhappy fishermen, shortage of lorry drivers – and so it goes on.  And this will all bubble on through August until the politicians finally return in September to try and sort out the various crises that are now piling up. Finally, there’s Covid.  The rising number of people infected is apparently being ignored. Our hapless band of politicians, surely the most useless bunch we have ever been landed with, are apparently putting all their faith in the vaccine and hoping for the best.  But as we move on towards the winter months the situation can only get worse and where will our poor, depleted NHS be then?  Our underpaid nurses will be even more stretched and the shortage of nurses and doctors  can only increase, as many of them, exhausted from 18 months of Covid, will find a further crisis too much for them.  August may have been a happy month for the young, with so many getting excellent exam results, but trouble is in store for them as well. What will happen when they actually get to the University or further education place of their choice? Our useless Minister for Education, Gavin Williamson, has given no indication that all the problems of last year have been sorted out and nobody has any confidence that he will be able to put things right in the future!

This is a bleak picture, but certain events have given great pleasure, first and foremost, the Olympics. This has been something of a triumph for the GB team and bodes well for our wonderful athletes in the next games in Paris.  Theatres and Opera Houses have opened to packed houses. There has been a return to the crowds watching cricket and football – and August seems to have returned to normal with the Proms back in the Albert Hall. I am just praying that Covid doesn’t put a stop to all this with a fourth wave and a further lockdown in September.  The Pandemic has been so badly handled, I fear it might be likely, but being a natural optimist I live in hope. Maybe the vaccines will keep it under control. We shall see.

Meanwhile, my latest book A YEAR OF TRIALS FOR E G RAWLINGS, was well and truly launched with a great party in the fabulous Barnes Bookshop. Gyles Brandreth made a brilliant speech and a jolly time was had by all.  Now for the really difficult part, to get the book selling.  The many problems authors face in promoting their books, will come in another blog.

Until then I wish you all a very happy, peaceful and relaxed August, leaving you with the slightly sobering thought – that it isn’t eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow… !

Jane McCulloch with Gyles Brandreth