Thursday, March 19th, 2020


For a reason that will become evident shortly, the date of March 19th is always burned upon my memory. As it happens, on this date exactly 47 years ago, I was involved in a bizarre accident at my place of work, Leicester Polytechnic. I was with a couple of my students and I had just given a lecture on ‘Science and Magic as alternative forms of explanation’ (to Combined Science students). I explained that in some western cultures, a belief in magic was an alternative form of explanation (if malaria was caused by being bitten by mosquitos, then why should that one particular mosquito bite me? Answer – because someone was directing magical forces against me, whereas in the West we would tend to rely upon statistical probabilities). I ought to have known something was amiss because the handout that I typically gave to the students was peppered with strange black marks! To make matters worse I had just said ‘Look – if I walk out into the street and get knocked down by a car then in the West we would explain this not as magic but just as a statistical probability‘) A quarter of an hour later, a Hillman Imp approached a T-junction at speed (as the driver had apparently ‘fainted’) although he had been to all all night party the night before. I was sent flying as the car hit me first, severely severing all of the muscles in my right leg and damaging the joint in my left knee. As it was a hospital ancillaries dispute at the time, there was no bed for me in hospital but I was sent home and told to take a couple of aspirins for the pain -ditto the following day until I was finally admitted for surgery some 2-3 days later. And when I woke up from the surgery, my penis was covered in rapidly hardening plaster-of-paris which had to be removed (by a male nurse – sex is the last thing on your mind when in severe pain) Talking of which, I endured three hours of intense pain after the operation and eventually when a nurse asked me how I was, I admitted that I was in pain. The nurse consulted my medicines chart as then said ‘O dear, we’ve forgotten to give you any pain relief!’ [I was angry at that point] So that was our NHS in 1973 – things have improved since.

So what about today? I walked down to the park with my rucsack and a flask of coffee which was a bit difficult to manipulate with the rucksack in one hand whilst I poured the coffee and rummaged around for biscuits with the other. There was only one other dog walker in the park and it was raining and gloomy.

In the afternoon, I spent several hours attempting to claim a refund for a holiday to Portugal in May for which I had paid in January. After several fruitless quaters-of-an-hour hanging onto the end of a phone with recorded messages saying ‘all of our staff are attending to other clients in this exceptionally busy period’) I eventually found a website where you had to fill in all of the details of a claim on a form on the web, which you then had to ‘submit’ – although the form refused to submit. But I did find a telephone number and explained my dilemma to a friendly human at the other end who sighed and said ‘Yes, sir, all of our Expedia clients are experiencing the same problem’ Anyway, I got sent a 6 page form on a PDF for me to fill in, scan and send back so I am sort of making progress.

I have composed a little website with just three items on it that people may find interesting. One is a definitive document on everything you needed to know about COVID-19 (a 33 page document) well written and up-to-date from Harvard medical school. The second item is an article how to keep your immune system well-functioning. The third item is from an email which an ex-Winchester University colleague has sent to me which, as she had been a purser on a cruise liner which was afflicted by Norovirus,is full of practical hints and strategies. Here is the URL:

Hasta la vista!