Coronavirus chemicals update, 30th October 2020

Dear Friend,

Happy Friday! It’s Day 221 of Lockdown/ Semi Lockdown, and it’s Hallowe’en tomorrow, when tradition has it that the dead walk the earth, and all sorts of spooky goings on happen.

Breaking news – as suspected, the whole of West Yorkshire, including us in Calderdale, are going into Tier 3 just after midnight on Monday morning. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll go and get my bell and practice shouting “unclean“….

Northern Ireland trade training

Speaking of strange goings on, Northern Ireland are going to be in a very strange situation where they are more in the EU than the UK in a lot of ways.

The Chemical Business Association have just announced some online training, covering an overview lot of the essential areas if you are in NI or want to trade there.

  • Chemical Regulations – REACH, Biocides, CLP
  • Northern Ireland Qualifying Goods (NIQG)
  • Trade controls – Prior Informed Consent, Drugs precursors
  • Customs processes –Declarations, Documentation, Tariffs

This will be on the 24th November from 10am to 12 noon, details here: https://www.chemical.org.uk/training-and-workshops/trading-northern-ireland/ (there is a charge for this, but a discount for CBA members).

An outbreak of coronavirus common sense?

Whatever your position on how the coronavirus is spreading and whether you think Lockdown is a good idea or not, I think we can all agree that it is:

  • not as bad as first feared but
  • obviously a tricky balancing act between dealing with the virus and allowing normal life to carry on (although one of my more cycnical friends notes that the Local Lockdowns always come with “free” money, and has a suspicion that councils are after that, rather than being really bothered about the virus itself).

What has been worrying that we are seeing an increase in deaths e.g. at home which appear to be related to Lockdown and the Coronavirus restrictions in general.

So it’s good to see that a consortium of interested parties has urged the PM to take a more balanced view of the crisis, and to not just focus on dealing with the virus, see https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8891043/Top-scientists-business-leaders-NHS-staff-urge-PM-rational-approach-pandemic.html . (And yes, I wrote this before we had the announcement that we were going into Tier 3 Lockdown).

Fascinating fact – chemical warfare in the ancient world

The Ancient Origins website is a bit on the “conspiracy theory” side of things, but in this case it looks reasonable: https://www.ancient-origins.net/history/archaeological-evidence-1700-year-old-chemical-warfare-002420.

Consolidated versions of UK legislation – Peter Robins writes

In his post Neil Hollis wrote:

“We have the REACH text, a statutory instrument (SI) converting this to UK law via the UK withdrawal act, amendments to the SI that converts the REACH text into UK law via the UK withdrawal act and now, an amendment to one of the amendments to the SI that converts the REACH text into UK law via the UK withdrawal act.

I for one, am looking forward to a consolidated text.”

Neil might like to point the Parliamentary draughtsmen at the EU guidance:

Guideline 18 on Amendments

“Every amendment of an act shall be clearly expressed. Amendments shall take the form of a text to be inserted in the act to be amended.

*Preference shall be given to replacing whole provisions* (articles or subdivisions of articles) rather than inserting or deleting individual sentences, phrases or words. An amending act shall not contain autonomous substantive provisions which are not inserted in the act to be amended.” (My emphasis)

The UK’s drafting has always been pretty poor IMHO: back in the days of CHIP the tendency to reduce all changes to just the words to be changed/inserted/deleted (ie with no context) used to appal or enrage me, depending on the gravity.

Not everything the EU does is good, but this guidance (though as usual somewhat ‘pi’ in nature) reeks of good sense to me:

“Joint Practical Guide of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission for persons involved in the drafting of European Union legislation”

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/content/techleg/EN-legislative-drafting-guide.pdf

(If you don’t know Peter, he is officially retired after running his own chemical business, (including import/export) for 20 years. He graduated (in Chemistry) the year the DSD (Directive 67/548/EEC) was first made, and a year before ADR came into force; and worked in and around ‘chemicals’ all his working life. He describes himself as “a latecomer to product stewardship /per se/, not starting on that until 1982!”).

The Weekend Video

This week, I came across an excellent video of a discussion between Sir Roger Scruton and Jordan Peterson called “Apprehending the Transcendent” (1 1/2 hours). This may sound rather obscure, but actually it covers a lot of ground about how modern society is like and what we as individuals can do to improve the world.

The Weekend Recipe

In the run up to Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night, I thought you might like a recipe for Treacle Toffee, sometimes called Bonfire Toffee (which also makes excellent Christmas presents, especially if you’re a dentist looking for new clients, so be careful when you eat it!).

This recipe makes a big batch, but it takes a lot of work with stirring over a long time, so making a smaller quantity doesn’t make much sense, and in my experience it is very popular. As we have a temperamental oil fuelled stove, I make this on our plug-in electric stove, or a gas camping stove, as these don’t suddenly get cooler than you want when you’re half way through cooking the toffee.

Ingredients

  • 1lb granulated sugar
  • 12 oz butter
  • 8 oz black treacle
  • a 397/ 14 oz tin of condensed milk

Method

Butter a 9 x 12 inch baking tin first. In a large pan (large needed because the contents will rise up during boiling), melt the ingredients together slowly over a low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. This takes longer than you might think, but it’s really important to get rid of all the sugar crystals. Don’t forget to scrape any from the walls of the pan down into the mixture.

Once all the sugar is dissolved, increase the heat to the boil, then simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring continuously, until you get to 132 oC/ 270 oF on a sugar thermometer.

I find a good radio programme or podcast helps the time go a lot faster, and of course you need all small children and animals well out of the way while you do this, and don’t allow anyone to interrupt you (easier said than done in this internet and smartphone age).

Once the toffee is up to temperature, pour it immediately into the tin. Chill until set, then turn it out, and break into pieces using a rolling pin, or a toffee hammer (if you have such an obscure implement in your kitchen equipment).

Hallowe’en notes

I must confess to being mildly appalled by the way the USA version of Hallowe’en has been adopted in England, as this bears little resemblance to a proper Scottish Hallowe’en (for newer readers, I am Scottish but have lived in Yorkshire for over 30 years).

In my young day, we made lanterns by scooping out swedes, often with blunt knives or spoons. I can smell the distinctive aroma of candle soot on hot swede as I write this. Pumpkins as lanterns? That’s for wimps, far too easy! And we didn’t really have pumpkins back in the day, unlike now when they are grown commercially.

The similarity doesn’t end with lanterns – there is “guising” (disguising) in both traditions, although the black faces which were used traditionally in Scotland (although not so much in my day) would not be acceptable in the current climate.

In my Victorian Granny’s day, the idea was originally that children had to perform a “party piece” (that is sing a song, recite a poem, do a dance etc) before being rewarded, which had deteriorated into simply being given treats when visiting neighbours homes by my childhood.

There was none of the implicit menace of “trick or treat”, which owes more to Mischief Night than Hallowe’en proper – but maybe that means the American tradition also has roots in English traditions as well as the Scottish one.

It’s interesting to wonder how what was originally a voluntary transaction, a reward for showing some skill, has morphed into a form of blackmail, however young and cutely dressed the blackmailers may be, and what sort of subtle life lessons we are giving small children by encouraging this.

There are a lot of other Hallowe’en traditions, such as dooking (bobbing) for apples, traditional games (happy memories of a competition for who could eat a treacle scone covered in black treacle the fastest, with your hands tied behind your back, definitely one for the older boys), fortune telling based on apples, the telling of ghost stories etc, most of which seem to have not survived the Atlantic crossing.

A Hallowe’en picture – a Gingerbread Man cut in half for biology purposes: https://twitter.com/LessonToolbox/status/1321140615560704004 .

And of course, it’s All Saints Day on Sunday, the 1st November, and there was a wonderful article on the hymn “For All the Saints” in The Conservative Woman this week (if you know the Vaughan Williams tune, you might find yourself singing it, but be warned there are 8 verses in the full version!)

Reasons to be cheerful

The second last Two Ronnies sketch this week is The Crossword.

And the very last one (thanks to Alan Ritchie) is the Irish pub, which is not politically correct, but very funny.

Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to the newsletter today and throughout the week. As usual, if you have anything you’d like to share, please email me and I’ll do my best to include it in the next newsletter.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and that you, your family, friends and colleagues all stay safe and well.

​Kind regards,

Janet

Janet Greenwood

TT Environmental Ltd