Saturday, 30th May, 2020

[Day 75]

We thought that today the park was going to be exceptionally busy as people were anticipating the end of the lockdown. But, in truth, although it was a little busier than normal, the park was busy but not teeming. We decided to vary our route on the way back through the park and encountered one of our ‘old lady’ friends that we had not seen for several days and hoped she was OK. The husband of this particular acquaintance had worked for the Parks Department and, upon his demise, the family had donated a bench to the borough council and upon this bench, we often sit. The old lady in question can see this bench from the vantage point of her own home as she lives adjacent to the park – and she is always delighted to see that the bench is in use. We had not seen her as she had varied her routine and got into the habit of going around the park very early in the morning to avoid the heat and the crowds. She was having a few problems with her health but at least she had some hospital appointments lined up in the forthcoming week, although the logistics were getting to be a bit of a nightmare as under the Coronavirus rules one couldn’t be accompanied into the hospital. Still, we were pleased to see her. On our way up the hill, we exchanged news with one of our oldest friends and then bumped into an acquaintance who was visiting his parents and who we often see at the weekend. As it happened, he was engaged in the most humdrum of tasks (sieving through a bucket full of slate chippings to remove the bits of leaves and twigs) What was so coincidental about this is that I had detailed myself to do exactly the same task myself in the afternoon. Last year, I had taken the pains to lay down a whole new path along half of the length of ‘Mog’s Den‘ and, to keep a naturalistic look, I had laid down some weed control fabric and then had a ton of slate chippings delivered in the customary large plastic/hessian builder’s bag in our driveway. I had then made the journey down with loaded buckets of slate chippings to lay the path. This is generally quite maintenance-free but although the weed control fabric prevents the problems of annual weeds growing from below, one still has the problem of dried leaves accumulating on the top. This maintenance job didn’t turn out to be particularly arduous and I finished off the whole job with a Bosch blower that I use just to disperse dried leaves and the like. This now completes the makeover of ‘Mog’s Den‘ and whilst there will also be ‘pottering about’ little jobs to be done, at least it is now looking fairly shipshape and should be easy to maintain for the rest of the season. All it needs now is a good downpour of rain, but we will have to wait a little longer for that.

The political news this weekend looks interesting. It seems that the ‘love-in’ between the scientists/health chiefs on the one hand and the politicians on the other has finally broken down, particularly with the added irritant of the Dominic Cummings affair. In particular, they feel that trust has been badly damaged by Cumming’s failure to stand down and the prime minister’s refusal to dismiss him. In addition, they feel that the failure to set up an effective test, trace and isolate regime means that the safety and well-being of the general public are now certainly at risk. Today was a day when I missed the Downing Street briefing but for the first time, one of the senior scientists has made his feelings known. The government’s deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, with Dominic Cummings in mind, laid his criticisms on the line thus : “In my opinion the rules are clear and have always been clear. In my opinion, they are for the benefit of all and they apply to all.” And so say all of us (or over 80% in an opinion poll published over the weekend).