THE weeks just get weirder as 2020 draws to a close.

This strangest of years continues to deliver news which would normally have us all agape with astonishment but which, under these bizarre circumstances in which we live at the moment, does not even merit the batting of an eyelid.

Dolly Parton helped the world get a Covid-19 vaccine? Of course she did. A company is offering £1 tickets to volunteers willing to become ‘time travel testers’ when the technology is invented? No problem. On the day my sons wore odd socks to school to mark Anti-Bullying Week, the Home Secretary got to keep her job, even though an inquiry found she was guilty of bullying behaviour? Sounds about right.

Anti-bullying awareness has been under discussion in our house, with the 12-year-old suggesting odd sock-wearing does not go far enough.

“You can’t really see socks,” he pondered. “Face painting would be better because everyone would see it and talk about it.” He added, in a poignant demonstration of how quickly young people have adapted to new ways of life this year: “Or a customised face mask.”

The 16-year-old, who has been following the fall-out of the Priti Patel case, in which the Prime Minister backed his colleague, believing she had ‘unintentionally’ breached the Ministerial Code in her attitudes towards staff, is unimpressed she remains in position.

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“If it’s a one-off, you can say it’s unintentional, but hadn’t this been going on for a while?” he asked. “I mean, how unintentional is it if you know something upsets people but you keep on doing it? Can you be an accidental bully?”

This is an opinion shared by some senior civil servants, who claim Patel had been warned last year she should not shout and swear at staff. Sir Philip Rutnam, the former Home Office permanent secretary who quit after complaining of a “vicious and orchestrated” briefing campaign against him, said Ms Patel was told “on a number of occasions” that she should treat staff with respect and “make changes to protect health, safety and welfare.”

The work done by anti-bullying charities in school is commendable, but it must be hard when events like these play out in one of the highest offices in the land.

Incidentally, Klook - the company offering time travel tickets -says its research reveals 46 per cent of us would use time travel to bypass 2020. And THAT is the least surprising news of the year so far.

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