Thursday, 16th April, 2020

[Day 31]

One of the joys of stopping for chats with people is that you discover new points of contact that you never knew that you had in common. And so it proved today when we were chatting with acquaintances along the Kidderminster Road (up and down which we walk daily) only to discover that we had stayed in some of the same places in Spain (Calella. north of Barcelona) Then in turn we chatted to their neighbour who, as it turned out, was a French national by origin and was a teacher of both French and Spanish. So suddenly our number of ‘Spanish’ connections seemed to increase rapidly.

In common with many other people I use the app on my mobile phone called WhatsApp but as this is designed specifically for a mobile, it is not designed to work on a desktop. However, it is so much easier typing on a ‘proper’ keyboard rather than using the fiddly keys on a mobile – I find that even though I bought a slightly bigger than normal iPhone than normal two years ago (an iPhone 8 Plus), my fingers still cover three of the keys at once and despite Apple technology ‘learning’ your particular typing style, I still make multiple errors when texting (and that is before predictive texting takes over). So I was delighted when I found a way to get a version of WhatsApp to run through a browser on one’s desktop, so I spent a certain amount of time last night playing with some of the people in my ‘Contacts’ section (brought over from my iPhone) and sending them a message saying I was experimenting an inviting a reply to see if the messages had actually got through (which they had). Incidentally, one of the interesting features about the command ‘Send‘ is that you actually have started a transmission process (analogous to popping a letter in the post) and do not know whether (a) the message has actually been delivered, let alone read and (b) whether the message was understood. I remember an incident in the comedy series 'Only Fools and Horses' in which Rodney and DelBoy were tested at a local hospital for some condition or other and when they got a message back saying the results were ‘Negative‘, they interpreted this communication from the hospital as though they had contracted a fatal disease from which they would die (a ‘negative’ outcome)

It being a fine afternoon. I gave our communal lawns (500m²) their weekly cut and my trusty ‘Stiga’ (Swedish) petrol mower behaved flawlessly .The only thing I did after it faltered once or twice last week was to soak the sponge air filter in engine oil. After a quick Google search, I have now come to appreciate that this is essential and not just an optional extra – apparently, unfiltered air can rip through and damage your engine but the addition of engine oil makes the filter much more ‘sticky’ as minute particles of pollen and dust which can damage the engine are trapped much more efficiently if the foam air filter is correctly oiled with engine oil. Now I know! When this was done I emailed my very old (in both senses of the word) friend and former colleague with whom I worked in the Central Office of Information (COI) in 1966. I was keen that we both keep in touch during the current crisis so I have given her the choice of communicating via email (which I suspect she prefers), SMS (text), FaceTime, WhatsApp or Skype. I’ll have to wait to get her reply before deciding which to use on a regular basis.

Tonight being Thursday, we had our usual ‘Clap for our Carers‘ session at 8.00 pm. Methinks the response was a little bit down this week but I am still delighted that there are people in our local community who still care. My son rings a bell whilst I bang an open aluminium cooking pot with a spoon which makes a really raucous din. Immediately after this, Question Time was transmitted at 8.00 on BBC1 and one of the panellists, a doctor, argued that wearing a mask may not protect you from the virus but reduces any virus load that you may eject by a cough or a sneeze to 1/36th of the virus load. If true, this makes the case for wearing masks to prevent onward transmission (rather than to protect oneself) almost unanswerable. I think I would like to see it happen but I suspect the government with its present problems would rather not know!