Wednesday, 28th December, 2022

[Day 1017]

The weather today has been wet and windy all day, but not particularly cold although unpleasant enough. After Meg and I had breakfasted, we made a little excursion along Bromsgrove High Street to buy a few things not available in the supermarket. We made a trip to the Age Concern furniture shop wondering if they have a small occasional table for which we have a need. As is often the case, the only thing we really fancied was already sold (and at a very good price just to rub salt into the wound) Undeterred, we pressed onto the well known Cobblers shop which had sold me a replacement watch strap a week or so ago. This had never functioned exactly as it should have done as the central spigot was just a tad too short which meant that it would not engage properly in its intended ‘hole’ thus popping out and rendering the watch strap (and hence the watch) unusuable. In the shop, the assistant confirmed our diagnosis that there was probably a manufacturing fault but rather than suppling us with a new watch strap just replaced the buckle at the end (which I did not know you could do). This now works perfectly and the shop replaced the buckle free of charge to us (they have an excellent reputation for quality service – I use them to glue back the leather band which runs around the rim of my leather hat when it works its way loose after a year or so) We then proceeded on our way and bought some cosmetics from one of the stores we use regularly in the High Street. So we proceeded back home to warm ourselves up with a packet soup in a cup before we started to prepare lunch. On our way into our house, we noticed that our new neighbour was bobbling about doing some outside work and so we seized the opportunity to ask him amd his wife around for the traditional Christms tea-with-neighbours (mince pies and sherry?) and they confirmed later in a phone call that they can pop around on Friday, to which we can look forward.

This afernoon, there was broadcast the full length feature film of ‘Dad’s Army’ with the original cast and although we had seen this several times before, it was the kind of film in which you can read in the background or what have you if you did not want to give the film your undivided attention. The scene in which two German airmen parachuted out of their stricken plane reminds me of story that I was told whilst I was resident in Hampshire in the South of England. The story was told that in the Battle of Britain a young German airman was shot down and the location of the parachute was located on neighbouring moorland by the local group of fierce women who provided a type of territorial defence source. These doughty women made their way rapidly to the location of the young airman who who was obviously terrified and knowing that he could not evade capture, he put up his hands as the universal signature of surrender and cried out ‘Don’t shoot’ The reply from the monstrous regiment of women was quintessentially English and was to the effect ‘We do not do that kind of thing – we are British. Would you like a cup of tea?’

A fairly extraordinary event is unfolding within the confines of China, with the rest of the world looking on in a kind of fascinated horror. With China’s strict zero-Covid policy scrapped, the virus has swept through the country, leaving over 50% of the population of Beijing thought to have been infected – and the city’s hospitals are feeling the strain. There are a few videoclips of patiets lying on the floors of hospital wards as there are insufficient beds and there is an assumption that 50% of the patients will die of COVID. The root of the problem lies in the fact that the Chinese relied upon an exceptionally strict lockdown policy in order to contain the virus, trying to stamp out transmission by effectively confining people to their houses for weeks at a time. As this was the major thrust of policy, comparatively little effort was paid to vaccinating the population – the elderly were left very unvaccinnated compared with us in the West and the Chinese elderly population were in any case a little suspicious of Western technology, favouring of course traditional Chinese medicine. The Chinese authorities are now reaping the whirldwind and one wonders whether they import much superior vaccines developed in the West at the risk of losing considerable face or whether they are prepared to watch their population die in hundreds of thousands. Presumably, this is quite a risk to the rest of the world as well and several countries are already insisting on a COVID free certificate before it will admit visitors from China. The Chinese, paradoxically, are soon to relax all of the controls upon their citizens travelling abroad so we have the possibility of a significant source of infection to the rest of the world. The attitude of the World Health Organisation seems unclear and I have not heard of any announcements from them to date.