The Spectator

How does the ‘red wall’ story end?


At Redwall Abbey

Does fiction provide any guide as to the ultimate fate of Labour’s Red Wall?

— Redwall Abbey was the setting for a series of children’s novels written by Brian Jacques between 1986 and his death in 2011. It revolved around the peace-loving creatures of Mossflower Wood who were forced to fight invading vermin. The first of the novels, called Redwall, featured an orphaned mouse who had become a novice monk and was forced to fight off an evil, one-eyed rat. At the end of the final novel, published posthumously, an otter and hedgehog emerged triumphant over the ‘vermin’ — a loose band of creatures which included rats, foxes, wildcats, magpies, rooks and crows. Critics complained that the plots were somewhat repetitive.

The biggest killers

So far, 3.2 million deaths have been attributed to Covid-19, over 16 months. Meanwhile, how many people are dying of other infectious diseases, globally?

Sepsis 11 million (estimate from 2017)

Tuberculosis 1.4 million (2019)

Pneumonia 808,000 (just children, 2017)

HIV/Aids 690,000 (2019)

Flu 290,000-650,000 (annual estimate, not for any particular year)

Malaria 409,000 (2019)

Cholera 143,000 (annual estimate, not for any particular year)

Measles 140,000 (2018; most measles deaths are children under five years old)

Typhoid 128,000-161,000 (estimate not attached to any particular year)

Yellow fever 29,000-60,000

Tetanus 34,000

Source: WHO

Near and far

Hugging will be allowed again but social distancing will remain. In which countries, pre-pandemic, did people like to stand closest to strangers while engaging in conversation, and in which countries did they prefer to be furthest away?


Argentina 0.76 metres

Other countries where people stand at less than 0.9 metres distance are Peru, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Austria, Slovakia.

Furthest away:

Romania 1.4 metres

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