Sunday, 19th April 2020

[Day 34]

After yesterday’s dull and rainy weather, it was predictable that lots of people would be out and about on a bright and sunny morning, and so it proved. We were equally delighted to simultaneously meet two of our sets of friends down the Kidderminster Road so we formed a large circle of six people chatting and wondering whether the police would come and break up a social gathering! Our son and daughter in law had kindly gone to get us some Sunday newspapers and they passed us on the road. In the Sunday Times there was a fascinating article ‘Revealed: 38 days when Britain sleepwalked into disaster‘ which documented in great detail how the British political elite had dithered in the face of the forthcoming COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the revelations were shocking e.g. Boris Johnson had not attended 5 of the vital COBRA meetings and it was evident that in late January the Prime Minister was so concerned with Brexit/divorce/holidays that vital days were lost which has resulted in a possible excess of thousands of lives. This is shocking almost beyond belief.

Incidentally, I thought I would let readers of this blog know that I have been appointed as a spokesman for the Government to assist in the daily COVID-19 briefings and press conference. The training for this was actually very easy and consisted of the following 6 steps that had to be followed, whatever was the question. In this, I was greatly assisted by watching the performance of the Education Minister, Gavin Williamson, today. The formula is really very simple and goes as follows. Firstly, given that each journalist has about a five-minute slot, waste a good few seconds by congratulating the chosen journalist for asking a really pointed and penetrating question that required a full and detailed response (this can waste at least a quarter of a minute) Secondly, preface any remarks by the formula ‘I would really like to pay tribute to the dedicated and hard-working staff who have worked tirelessly on our behalf et… etc‘(another half a minute) Thirdly, particularly in the case of shortages of critical equipment such as PPE indicate that the government had been working tremendously hard on the problem of supplies, ‘had all of the supply lines in sight’ and was working round the clock to solve the problem.. Fourthly, and perhaps as a type of response to the actual question asked, give completely irrelevant response such as the following asking whether the social care staff in Nottingham would receive their supplies of PPE in time reply that you would like to thank the two universities in the region who had been doing a magnificent job as part of the local Resilience team…(I am reminded of the schoolboy who, in a Religious Studies exam, was asked to list the Ten Commandments replied that he had forgotten them but he could recite a list of the first 20 kings of Israel!) Fifthly pass the question sideways to Jenny Whats-her-name who is meant to provide a more ‘scientific’ response, as she has a Phd in Obfuscatory Studies particularly when asked a question such as ‘How would you feel personally about having to be in the front-line of patient support without adequate PPE putting your own life and that of your family at risk’ Finally, and sixthly, invite the journalist to say if they had any supplementary questions knowing that you had not answered the first but you were keen to give the impression that you are being frank and open and willing to answer any supplementary questions, knowing that you hadn’t answered the original question so there was no reason to attempt a coherent answer to any supplementary. The great beauty of this checklist is that it works whatever the question is asked from whichever journalist. Watch out for me on the media briefings shortly!

This afternoon, I thought a would do a little gardening whilst the weather was fine. No sooner had I started then the local cat who has adopted us, Miggles, came to supervise my work. No sooner had I cleared a gully of weeds by the side of our communal grassed area, then she came and sat in it, luxuriating in the sunshine. She pretended to try to catch a robin that was singing nearby and then pretended to catch a Holly Blue butterfly to make it look as though she was actually busily engaged before she got tired of her supervisory duties and wandered off. By the way, I suspect there is some hanky-panky going on with another little black-and-white cat who I have nicknamed ‘Peter’ as they seem very friendly together, particularly first thing in a morning. I have my suspicions…