Thursday, 26th March, 2020

[Day 10]

The day did not start off particularly well because, as I might have predicted, I got to the front of a queue of about 60,000 in Ocado only to find there were no slots available. However, this is not quite as dire as it sounds because our daughter-in-law managed to secure a few provisions for us from Marks and Spencers/Waitrose (the ALDIs and ASDAs of this world are a disaster zone) I may see if Ocado have any priority system for self-isolaters although I doubt it, despite government urging. I have also signed up to my local Iceland who is offering free delivery but there are no slots available (whilst my welcoming letter once I had signed up was promising the earth)

Actually, there is quite a jolly atmosphere in our house at the moment. We are all well and aiming to keep that way by being particularly careful about who we interact with. The house is reasonably stocked with food and we do not feel under any great stress, although I must say the local park is a god-send. This afternoon marked the first outing of the petrol mower and I was delighted that it started on the second ‘pull’ – I have to have the mower on a higher cut for the first cut of the season as the grass is so tufty. Incidentally, did you know that petrol contains 5%-10% ethanol at the moment (the petrol companies are very coy about telling you about this) and you need to buy a special ‘fuel stabiliser’ to add to the fuel in the container you use for the mower. It doesn’t matter too much in cars where the motion of the car joggles it all around but it does matter in the case of containers for your mower as they tend to hang around in the garage. The ethanol absorbs a layer of water from the atmosphere and the water and the petrol then separate and you have horrendous problems with the mower. For that reason, I always religiously drain off the oil and the excess fuel at the end of the mowing season and at the start of a new season I only ever use the highest quality of fuel I can and put in a Briggs and Stratton fuel stabiliser additive which lasts forever. I only found out about this because my mower handbook recommended that I use a fuel stabiliser and I did some Googling to find out why. If any reader also runs a petrol mower, it’s worth a search around.

Tonight we had the first? last? episode of the Clap for Carers event – everyone comes to their windows or doors at 8.00 in the evening and applauded the workers in the NHS who are keeping us all safe. We all found it quite inspiring – the most unlikeliest of our neighbours participated.

Today was the day when the Chancellor of the Exchequer unveiled a scheme giving a grant to all the self-employed of 80% of the profits they declared to HMRC. Has it occurred to anyone that many of the self-employed declared everything they could think of as expenses (cars, clothes, equipment, parts of rooms as office space etc. etc.) to minimise their tax liability and consequently paid very little in actual tax (whilst claiming that it was their taxes that paid for the NHS – not the hefty contributions from the rest of us on PAYE) This means that their actual ‘profit’ which is income minus expenditure would have been declared as very little and now they only receive a grant of 80% of this. None of the commentators have explained that but are declaiming how generous the government has been but I suspect not! Those who don’t qualify have to join the rest of humanity on Universal Credit where they wait 5 weeks for the first payment and an horrendous online assessment process. Hey Ho – the German word ‘schadrenfreude’ occurs to me!