Tuesday, 19th May, 2020

[Day 64]

Well, the day has arrived that we were sort of looking forward to and not looking forward to, as it was the day of Clive’s funeral. Instead of walking down to the park, Meg and I made a detour so that we could arrive outside Clive’s house to see his funeral cortege depart. A crowd of some forty people had assembled in total – rather than a clap which I had rather anticipated, the crowd watched in a respectful silence as the funeral cars departed. The poignant moment in all of this was when one of Clive’s relatives held up the two Jack Russell dogs that he had exercised every day for years now so that they could have a final look at Clive before the cars moved off. Not that this would be at all meaningful to the two dogs, of course, but it was still a rather poignant moment nonetheless. Afterwards, we all repaired to our own houses where there was a webcast direct from the local crematorium and a wonderful service that reflected some of Clive’s preferences such as a Shakespeare sonnet, a poem written by one of his grand-daughters and a piece of jazz trumpet by Stan Kenton that Clive no doubt knew very well. [In fact, I recall an amusing story that Clive had told me when he and his brother had been engaged to play at a 50th birthday party. As it happened, the household had a little dog called ‘Delilah’ so when Clive and his brother played ‘No, no. no, Delilah” and got the rest of the birthday celebrants to join in the chorus, the little dog went spare with excitement!]

I had set myself a little project in the afternoon to lay a little path from wooden squares along one of my recently cleared slopes in Mog’s Den but I reasoned I had better try to get the slope moderated by inserting a little timber detente (I suppose you might call it) but I spent some time painting everything I was going to use with a creosote substitute (creosote is now banned on Health and Safety grounds!). I then made a narrow little trench which I lined with builder’s sand and then inserted my timber and held it in place with specially prepared long ‘pegs’ that I had previously prepared (creosoted, put a point on) and which I then hammered in with my 12lb sledgehammer – fortunately, I have done this sort of thing before so I knew what to do and the results were as expected. However, as I somehow thought might happen, although the timber is mathematically in the right place (to the nearest half-inch) the result doesn’t look quite right – it’s one of those cases to which I have alluded before when the human eye can be a better judge than exact mathematical precision might indicate. I think I can ‘soften’ the line by transplanting a few evergreens in front of it so that people won’t notice, so I am looking at my little batch of cuttings to see what I can utilise.

It seems that the government is now coming sustained attack over the COVID-19 deaths in care homes – Matt Hancock the Health Secretary was forced back into the House of Commons today to provide some sort of explanation. It seems fairly clear that in a desperate bid to clear the hospital wards of elderly patients in order to make room for the anticipated influx of COVID-19 patients, many were practically forced into care homes, untested, and the virus spread like wildfire. There was also a semi-admission from one of the scientific advisers that the advice to cease testing came about largely because it was known that testing facilities on the scale required were clearly inadequate. Let us all wait for the official enquiry (which might take years to complete) Another bit of ‘juicy’ political news is that the Brexiteer element of the Tory party are practically salivating at the prospect of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit (where we depart from the EU on minimal World Trade Organisation terms) because the undoubted costs to the British economy will be impossible to disentangle from the economic effects of the Coronavirus and will thus effectively be hidden or lost for all time!