23 December 2021
Betting on 2022?
Faites vos jeux!
By John Watson
I don’t know whether Brooks’s Club still has a bet book but it certainly had one in the eighteenth century. The bets recorded in the book reflected its status as the home of aristocratic radical whiggery and often bordered on the treasonable – that we would lose the American War of Independence by a particular date, for example – or the scandalous – that Lord Cholmondeley should receive 500 guineas (equivalent to £75,000 in today’s money) ‘whenever his Lordship f***s a woman in a balloon one thousand yards from the Earth’.
London clubs are rather tamer now so if the book still exists the bets recorded are presumably less striking. But the season of good cheer is a moment for reviving old traditions so don your wigs and ruffles, imagine yourself rich, radical and with a mistress on each arm (sorry ladies but if you are going to imagine yourselves as members of Brooks’s you will have to make a mental gender leap) and reflect on the bets which you, had you been a reincarnation of Fox or Burke, would have liked to see in that book.
Unfortunately articles in the Shaw Sheet are of limited length so we will have to leave aside tabloid wagers of the “Will Harry stay with Megan?” or “Will Boris have an affair with van der Leyen?“ variety. No, let’s try to view some of the issues of the day with the open-eyed clarity of the gambler, prediction unclouded by preference or principle. Since this article is in the nature of a competition, all bets will go to the state of affairs on 1 April 2022, shortly after which date the entries will be judged, and the person or persons getting the nearest to the answer to each question will be awarded a point. Whoever gets the greatest number of points will receive a bottle of champagne.
We should start with something about Covid, of course. Fox, an apologist for the French Revolution who spoke with approval of the storming of the Bastille and admired Napoleon, would not have avoided the subject because it made the public nervous. So where are we in reality? The highly-infectious omicron version is clearly going to sweep irresistibly on, in some cases re-infecting those who have already been ill, until it has spread everywhere. Lockdowns and quarantines may defer the process and keep cases below the level at which health services crack or allow time for more vaccination, but for the betting book the questions are about the numbers. Putting the bets into competition format:
1 As at 16 December 2020 the WHO recorded 545,136 infections in the previous 24 hours. What will the figure be for the 24 hours ending on 1 April 2022?
2 As at 18 December, the UK Covid death rate was holding fairly steady at 125. Where will it be on 1 April?
Then with Frost going and public approval falling, the skids look to be well under Boris Johnson. So:
3 Will he go before the New Year; in January; February; March; or None of Them?
4 Who will be PM on 1 April 2022?
As the troops mass on the border and European leaders waffle on fatuously and portentously about “serious consequences”, the Russian invasion of the Ukraine looks all but inevitable. So:
5 Bet on a date for the beginning of the war or, if you think it won’t happen before 1 April, put none.
6 In which month do you think the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will begin to carry gas? If you think it won’t happen by April or at all put none.
Fox spent most of his political life in opposition where the politics were every bit as rancorous as those currently besetting Labour. So:
7 Who do you think will be the Deputy Leader of the Labour party on 1 April 2022?
8 In which month will Mr Corbyn be readmitted to the Parliamentary Labour Party? If not before 1 April put none.
The emergence of a new variant may show the Government as having emptied the cupboard too precipitately by the original furlough scheme. No doubt Rishi will do his best but:
9 The £:$ exchange rate was at 1.324$ at 1.46 am on 19 December. Where will it be at the same time on 1 April?
10 The annualised UK Consumer Price Index rose to 5.1% for November. What do you expect the annualised rise to be over March 2022?
Following the limited achievement in Glasgow, global warming looks set to continue. So:
11 The highest recorded temperature in the UK in March is 25.6 in 1968 at Mepal in Cambridgeshire. Last year saw the second highest at 24.5. What do you think will be the highest recorded temperature in March 2022?
The Ashes have got off to their usual appalling start after twaddle from the England skipper about it feeling different this time:
12 Scoring 1 for a win and 0.5 for a draw or tie, how many points do you think England will amass?
To lay your bets please email [email protected]. A table which you may copy into the email is provided below.
|1||Covid infection rate on 1 April 2022?|
|2||UK Covid death rate 1 April 2022?|
|3||In which month will Boris go?|
|4||Who will be PM on 1 April 2022?|
|5||When will fighting over Ukraine begin?|
|6||When will Nord Stream 2 begin to carry gas?|
|7||Who will be deputy leader of Labour on 1 April 2022?|
|8||When will Corbyn be readmitted to the PLP?|
|9||£:$ exchange rate on 1 April?|
|10||Annualised UK rise in CPI for March 2022?|
|11||Highest UK temperature for March 2022?|
|12||England’s Ashes score?|
The editors’ decision is final.
Faites vos jeux, messieurs dames, faites vos jeux!