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Scott Begbie: Putting your Christmas tree up in November is wrong

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For the avoidance of doubt, putting your Christmas tree up in November is wrong. No discussion or debate, it’s just daft.

Right, rant over, but there is one aspect of Christmas coming early that I’m absolutely behind this year.

Get your shopping done early. Yes, I know, in normal years I would rail against commercialism, but this isn’t a normal year.

Right now, your shops need you more than ever. So put the keyboard away and stop ordering online.

Instead, get yourself along to real shops, with real stuff you can look at and real people who live here and who need your help.

Go hyper-local on this. The little gift shop in your town square, the wee independent place in the city centre that sells cool gifts.

The local producer doing hampers of goodies for Christmas. And after you’ve done your shopping, rest your weary legs by having a meal and a drink in a local pub or restaurant.

Every pound you give to them helps to keep them afloat and their staff in a job.

This has been a dire year for everyone, but retail and hospitality have borne the brunt.

Christmas is a time for giving, so shop, eat and drink local and give them the chance to keep their heads above water. You can even buy a Christmas tree from them. Just don’t put it up until mid-December.

Johnson sends out a Priti vacant message on bullies

Home Secretary Priti Patel

I would like to work for Boris Johnson. Then, no matter what I do or say that is out-and-out wrong, I’ll get to keep my job. All I need to do is say I didn’t realise I was transgressing.

The case for the prosecution presents Priti Patel… actually, the case for the prosecution did present the home secretary and said, unequivocally, she had bullied officials and broken the ministerial code.

The usual response to such a serious charge is to be shown the door.

But, nope, all Patel had to say was “really, me, I had no idea” and that was good enough for Johnson to keep her in post. Not just keep her in post, mind, but urge Tory MPs to “form a square” to protect the bully girl.

It was nauseating to see scripted tweets coming from these lickspittles, talking about how kind Patel had been to them and how hard-working she was.

Perhaps for Christmas these MPs would like a copy of Bullying For Dummies. On the first page they’ll find details of how bullies are nice to those with clout or anyone they know will bite back.

They keep the shouting and swearing and belittling for the people they perceive to be weak and powerless.

Bullies inevitably kiss up and kick down.

Which is why when they are unmasked as the miserable cowards they are in the workplace, they need to be shown the door pronto. Not just as a punishment for their vile behaviour, but to protect the people they targeted.

It also sends a clear message that bullying is never acceptable anywhere, be it in the school playground or the corridors of power.

Apart from anything else, its down to competence. If you can’t do your job without bullying, you can’t do your job full stop.

But, nope, she’s still in post with a mealy-mouthed “sorry if anyone was upset” apology – which doesn’t even come close to addressing her behaviour.

The only person out of a job is the prime minister’s adviser on ministerial standards who quit in protest. After all, if you can breach ministerial standards and be greeted with a shrug from the man who runs the country, then what’s the point?

Once again, Johnson has shown deplorable judgment. It was the same with Dominic Cummings who got away with a trip to Barnard Castle while the rest of the country was in harsh lockdown.

All he needed to do was concoct a fairytale about driving with his kid in the car to test his dodgy eyesight.

It took making up mean-girl nicknames about Johnson’s partner for Cummings to be shown the door. Brilliant priorities from the prime minister there.

The Barnard Castle debacle was a dog-whistle for covidiots to ignore the rules too.

We can only hope this appalling decision to ignore Patel’s actions doesn’t act as a green light for all those workplace bullies waiting in the wings. After all, if staff get upset at being sworn at and abused, it’s their fault for being snowflakes, right?

Wrong, dead wrong. And the prime minister should have made that crystal clear.

Vertigo steps up the pace as I get older

One of the things I enjoy about re-embracing running is the things you learn about yourself.

At the weekend I discovered that my vertigo is getting worse as I get older. Unfortunately, I made this discovery after I started a 5k trail run along the coastal route from Cove and found sheer drops and cliffs staring me in the face. Don’t get me wrong.

That path is as safe as houses and the views are spectacular. Unless your heart is racing and you’re feeling sick with fear.

Hard to see views when you’re staring at the ground. I did finish but in future, I think I’ll stick to trails in the woods. I’m not scared of trees.

This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.