Thursday, 11th June, 2020

[Day 87]

Today was a very cloudy and overcast day with the rain constantly threatening – so it was not a surprise that in our daily walk to the park we did not encounter any of our friends. We did pick up the newspapers, though, in what is becoming an established pattern. We were anticipating several deliveries today from quarters and none of them disappointed, The first of use was a very special spade made by Spear and Jackson that goes by the wonderful name of a ‘Tub Draining Tool’ – the ‘Tub’ is short for Tubular and the whole is manufactured of an extremely strong high strength carbon/manganese steel epoxy coated to reduce rust. What is special about these types of spade is that they are specially designed to make short work of digging fencing posts, moving deep-rooted shrubs or breaking up hard and stony soil. Whereas a normal spade is about 8* wide and 11″ long this is narrower (at 6″) but with a blade that is 50% longer (at 16″) Because of the weight and the design, these types of spade quickly cut through tree roots, submerged concrete, rubble and bricks (which we have a-plenty in our garden) The Amazon reviews included several from landscape gardeners who reckoned it was the most useful spade they had ever bought so at £25.00 (delivered) I thought this was quite a bargain and snapped it up. The next delivery along was the hornbeam tree (‘Carpinus Betulus‘) which I bought complete with a planting stake, tree tie and special root fungus. It arrived in superb condition at 2 metres in height in a special cardboard box and I resolved to try and get it planted this afternoon, which I did. However, the weather was exceptionally windy and not the best in which to try to plant a tall tree but planting was the least of my difficulties. I had already half prepared a planting hole but in making this deeper to receive the tree, I encountered a huge stone which must have been about 18″ x. 10″ at exactly the spot in which I had planned to plant the tree (Now you might appreciate why a specialised digging spade comes in useful) Having got this stone extracted successfully, I then proceeded to drive on the support stake only to be met with more resistance (this time, a Victorian brick in exactly the wrong spot) This seems like Sod’s Law x 2 – but all ended well with the tree well and truly planted, watered and in just the right position. It should grow at the rate of 1-2 ft per year which will help to screen us from the neighbour’s garden. Earlier in the afternoon, I had had a pre-arranged telephone consultation with my cancer surgeon, this being two years after my successful operation. He is going to get a blood test organised for me (but I have to go to a local hospital to get the blood sample taken) and a CT scan – all as part of routine monitoring to check all is well. Thank God for the NHS!

There seem to be three big political stories in town tonight. I didn’t see the Downing St. briefing this evening but apparently, Matt Hancock briefed with the news that 70%-80% of people who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus were not displaying any symptoms. If validated, one can only feel uneasy about this. The major story was the first stats from the test-and-trace regime in which one-third of the people referred to the system would not give (for whatever reason) details of their contacts. If you take the view (which I do) that those refusing details of contacts may have something to hide, then this hardly bodes well for a system that is meant to be our salvation out of lockdown. And finally, there is the real cat-fight between Priti Patel (the Home Secretary) and a group of BAME Labour MP’s who have written to her to say that the views she had expressed on racial abuse she had experienced in the past do not qualify her to make pronouncements on the types of abuse suffered by many of the BAME communities over the decades. Of course, Priti Patel is still responsible for clearing up the Windrush scandal but one wonders if she ever will- sometimes there is no love lost between the Asian and other BAME communities who have shared such different life experiences.