Queen Elizabeth II young

Tomorrow, the Queen will have ruled Britannia for 70 years.

It was on February 6th, 1952, when her father, King George VI, died. She was vacationing at the Treetops Hotel in Kenya at the time and became the first Sovereign in over 200 years to “accede while abroad.”

She wasn’t actually told until the next day.  A telegram to Government House in Nairobi couldn’t be decoded because the keys to the safe holding the codebook were unavailable. The person who told her was her husband of five years,  Prince Philip.

She reacted with the same sense of duty she’s shown ever since, discussing the practicalities of getting back to England and writing letters of apology for the cancellation of the tour. She was driven to a nearby airstrip, where a Dakota waited to fly her home.

As The Guardian reported: “The mask slipped once they were airborne. The Queen left her seat after a while. Her face was set when she returned, but it was obvious to the other passengers that she had been in the loo, having a good long cry.”

But no need for us to weep, because this week’s Omnium-Gatherum is here:

1. Your winter boots won’t keep you from falling. Or at least 5 out of 6 winter boots won’t. But there is a place you can learn which boots will send you to the ER and which will make the iciest street a walk in the park. The No. 1-ranked Rehab Research Facility in the World is at the Toronto Rehab on University Avenue. They have an online testing service called Rate My Treads which, well, the name says it all. So if you want to walk safely this winter, check out if your boots are as safe as you think.

2. The soccer pitch that turns into a rock concert. The new home of the storied Real Madrid soccer team, the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, can – poof, like magic! – become something else entirely. See here.

3. What’s the big film at Sundance this year? A small film about the Russian opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, who was poisoned by his own government, survived, then tried and thrown in prison. The Guardian described it as “riveting” while the National Review said it was an “urgent and exciting” documentary. See Navalny in Navalny here.

4. Small fires lit on Chicago train tracks. This is not to destroy them, but to save them from freezing in the winter. Last week, it was so cold in Toronto that my shadow froze on the sidewalk. It seems Chicago got colder.

5. Endemic doesn’t mean ‘end of the pandemic.’ It simply means infection rates remain steady; they’re neither rising, nor falling. Colds and the flu are endemic. But so are Lassa fever, polio and malaria and, in 2020, malaria killed 600,000 people.  As this article in Nature points out, it’s not that the best is yet to come. It’s that the rest is.

6. This is not a modest proposal. There’s a plan afoot to ban all cars in Berlin. Not in downtown Berlin, or old Berlin. But all of Berlin, that is to say twice the area of Manhattan. It’s a fascinating proposal for how cities can function without cars. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom to see the Before and After of Berlin Autofrei.

7. There’s ‘corrupt’ and then there’s Syria. The 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index is now ready, published by Transparency International. Predictably, Canada is one of the least corrupt countries on earth, though like Australia it’s fallen out of the Top 10 in the past decade, and at #13 is well below Denmark, Finland and New Zealand. Meanwhile, the US stands at #28, just behind Bhutan, the UAE, and France. China was 66th, Russia, 136th and Syria 178th.

8. Ken Whyte on Mordecai Richler. A lovely tribute to Mordecai Richler, who would have been 91 last weekend, on a liquor company’s efforts to name a whiskey after him.

9. “I know a lot of people who make an extraordinary amount of money.” But, as Scott Galloway writes, “few people who are rich. Rich is having passive income greater than your burn.”Here’s the difference.

10. Speaking of big anniversaries, Ulysses turned 100 this week. Here’s the opening of Chris Hedges’ essay on Joyce’s book that changed the world: “One hundred years ago this week, Sylvia Beach, who ran the bookstore Shakespeare and Company on 12 rue de l’Odéon in Paris and nurtured a community of expatriate writers that included Richard Wright, T.S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, Thornton Wilder, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, placed in the bookstore’s front window a 732-page novel she had published, “Ulysses” by James Joyce.”

11. Bolero on One Cello. Here’s how to perform a complex orchestral piece, all on one instrument, all at the same time. Gentlemen, you’re on.


Who is our Chief Guest on our exploration of Israel?

In 2018, we took a group of friends to Israel. It was our first trip there, and aside from having some of the best meals of our lives, we were awestruck by this tiny land, its mighty culture – and challenges.

So from October 27 to November 7, 2022, we’ll be touring Israel again and we’d love it if you could come along. In fact, journalist Susan Ormiston, the foreign correspondent who’s reported from 30 countries, will be our “Chief Guest”, and will speak from her first-hand coverage of events in the Middle East.

Here are the details and the application for our trip, which has already started to fill up.

We hope you can join us all.

For more information on this and other RamsayTravels adventures, click here.

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