Friday, 29th May, 2020

[Day 74]

The end of another hot week – and more hot weather to come. We were particularly pleased to see our domestic help arrive to assist us in the burden of housework and we always seem to have a lot of news to catch up on. We do try to be careful to not be in the same room at the same time so there is a certain amount of calling to each other from doorways! We had a chat with one of our regular friends on the way down the hill and wondered if the park was going to be teeming today. However, despite the proliferation of picnic blankets, the park was only moderately busy and we enjoyed watching various antics with dogs and balls. By the way, by consulting Google, I have just discovered that the official name for the device that throws a ball further than one could unaided is called a ball-launcher – you live and learn.

After lunch, I cut the communal lawns and our own lawn with the trust petrol mower, but in truth, it had hardly grown at all but I succeeded in removing the wispy bits of dandelions. The two ‘weeds’ that I liberated from the roadside verges (an ox-eye daisy and the dandelion-like cat’s ear) seem to have taken in their planted plots and the trees I recently transplanted are just about surviving the heat (I think) Halfway through the afternoon, we took delivery of the lilac bush/tree that was a birthday present from the rest of the family. I also took delivery of a dozen half-round fencing posts with which I intend to construct a hand-rail to assist in reaching ‘Mog’s Den’ in the lower recesses of the garden. Although I have all the materials in place (posts, screws. cement, hole-boring implement) I think this job might be a bit more than a one-man job so I have sent off a text message to a useful contact of ours to see if we could do the job together sometime in the next few weeks (time is not of the essence)

Life next week will start to see some of the ‘turning of the analogue dial’ as the country as a whole is entering the first stages of release from the lockdown. As a family, we will face some changes – our daughter-in-law is in charge of the complicated logistics of getting the primary school in which she teaches ready to receive Year 1 and Year 6 pupils. I am going to enter a regime in which I go and collect my own newspapers which entails going to a small newspaper shop in town. I will go masked-up and will not enter the shop unless it is clear of other customers for a start. I have acquired a collection of face masks which will now come into their own. In addition, we are having the outside of the house receive a routine painting which is another small return to normality. As the government attempts to gradually end the various furlough schemes, the grim reality of how many businesses will be able to survive will become all too apparent. My own feeling is that this stage of the unlock down is going to be incredibly difficult. I suspect that as people have got used to new patterns of doing things (e.g. using online grocery shopping), then the old ways of doing things may never return.

Our local newspaper is reporting that Bromsgrove is in the top 20 of COVID-19 hotspots in the country. Of 329 local authorities, Bromsgrove has the 15th highest coronavirus death rate with a standardised rate of 106.4 per 100,000 (Birmingham was 89.7 per 100,000 and Worcestershire 50 per 100,000) A local consultant neurologist has pointed to the high death rate in residential homes (38 of the 105 deaths reported in Bromsgrove) and has argued that it is the neglect of care homes by the government that has led them to become pockets of infection where it is easy for the disease to spread and to re-spread. A sobering thought!