With Bio-Waste Spreader: "The politicians' pledges to plant trees like billy-o was all very well; but given that the UK already imports nearly half the food it eats, and that trees displace agriculture, is tree planting not just another example of Britain exporting its greenhouse gas emissions to less developed countries, as it has already done with manufacturing? The Conservatives campaigned with a promise to plant 30m trees on 75,000 acres of land each year by 2025. The Lib Dems then doubled that, only for them both to be dwarfed by Labour who proposed planting 'two billion' new trees by 2040… "
With MD: "In his desperation to neutralise the NHS as an election issue, prime minister Boris Johnson made a number of expensive promises that could have come straight from the advent calendar of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Now he has such a handsome majority, he will be expected to deliver them. His manifesto promises include £ 6.2bn more for the NHS this year and £ 33.9bn by 2023-24… "
With Dr B Ching: "The sensational news on election night that the Tories had won Blyth Valley was a sign of things to come as a string of northern 'left-behind towns' turned blue. But Labour isn't the only party that left those towns behind. Since 2004, locals have campaigned for regular passenger trains from Ashington and Blyth to Newcastle on a railway that already exists for freight movement. All it would take is upgrading track and signals and building six small new stations… "
With Remote Controller: "One thing Netflix has swept away is the expectation-obligation of programmes being watched on a particular day. The small and increasingly battered island of British TV, though, still has an advent calendar approach to scheduling. As the BBC faces the most uncertain new year in its 97-year history – with the Cummings-Johnson administration openly threatening the end of the licence fee – it has placed behind the 22-24 December doors the reassuring figure of Dickens… [review of the Christmas 2019 schedules ] "
With Old Sparky: "Welsh authorities have been desperately trying to direct 'green' subsidies and other public funds towards anything that might generate jobs, irrespective of whether the projects do what they claim, comply with regulations or technically qualify for the money. Examples are Hendy windfarm (Eye 1490), Minesto's tidal generator (Eye 1499), and of course the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon (more on which next issue) ... "
With Lunchtime O'Boulez: "Wealthy Brits were out in force for the past week's Klosters winter music festival, which was overseen by Geoffrey Richards, a music-loving businessman who, when not in Klosters, lives in London, raises money for the Royal College of Music (he's on its governing council), and knows all the right people. Not least among these is the Prince of Wales, who is roped in by Richards to host RCM patrons' events at Windsor Castle… "
With Slicker: "Repeated forecasts that Minouche Shafik will shortly be named as the first woman to become governor of the Bank of England will, if confirmed, bring some small satisfaction to the thousands of investors let down this year by the Fundamentally Complicit Authority. It would mean the relentless drumbeat of bad publicity (mini-bonds, Neil Woodford, M & G property fund) for the FCA and its pathetic, reactive style of City regulation would then have resulted in another loser: chief executive Andrew 'Ollie' Bailey… "
Letter from Kazakhstan
From Our Own Correspondent: "Leaders in our part of the world usually leave office in a revolution or a coffin, so many were surprised earlier this year when our long-serving president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, announced that he was stepping aside after 30 years at the helm of Kazakhstan. A loyal lieutenant, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who has served as our prime minister, foreign minister and director-general of the UN in Geneva, was handpicked as the successor and given the reins… "